Born on this day!! Singer Thelma Houston is 78. Actor Robin Strasser (“One Life To Live,” “Passions”) is 76. Singer-songwriter Bill Danoff (Starland Vocal Band) is 75. Drummer Bill Kreutzmann of the Grateful Dead is 75. Drummer Prairie Prince (The Tubes) is 71. Director Amy Heckerling (“Clueless,” “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”) is 69. Actor Michael E. Knight (“All My Children”) is 62. Guitarist Phil Campbell of Motorhead is 60. Actor Traci Lords is 53. Actor Morocco Omari (“Empire”) is 51. Singer Eagle-Eye Cherry is 50. Actor Breckin Meyer (“Herbie: Fully Loaded,” “Road Trip”) is 47. Drummer Matt Helders of Arctic Monkeys is 35. Comedian Aidy Bryant (“Saturday Night Live”) is 34. Actor Alexander Ludwig (“Vikings,” “The Hunger Games”) is 29. Actor Dylan Gelula (“Jennifer Falls,” “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”) is 27.
THIS DAY IN GENIUS HISTORY
1824 – Beethoven’s 9th Symphony premiered in Vienna.
1847 – The American Medical Association was organized in Philadelphia, Pa.
1915 – The British ocean liner Lusitania was sunk by a German submarine in World War I off the coast of Ireland.
1945 – Germany unconditionally surrendered to the allies in Rheims, France.
1954 – The 56-day-long battle of Dienbienphu ended with Ho Chi Minh’s forces defeating the French, signaling the end of French power in Indochina.
1992 – The 27th Amendment to the Constitution, prohibiting mid-term Congressional pay raises, was ratified.
1994 – Edvard Munch’s painting, The Scream was recovered a few months after it had been stolen.
1999 – During action against Yugoslavia, NATO jets mistakenly bombed the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, killing three and injuring 20.
2000 – Vladimir Putin was inaugurated as Russia’s president.
Today Is: Child Care Provider Day, Cosmopolitan Day, Cystinosis Awareness Day, International Space Day, International Sauvignon Blanc Day, Military Spouse Appreciation Day, National Barrier Awareness Day, National Public Gardens Day, National Provider Appreciation Day, School Lunch Hero Day, Tuba Day, Worldwide Day of Genital Autonomy
TODAY ON TV!
Primetime TV (All Times Eastern)
CBS – 8:00 – McGyver / 9:00 – Magnum P.I. / 10:00 – Blue Bloods
NBC – 8:00 – Blacklist / 9:00 – Dateline NBC
ABC – 8:00 – Shark Tank / 9:00 – 20 20
FOX – 8:00 – Friday Night Smackdown
CW – 8:00 – Charmed / 9:00 – Dynasty
TV Talk Shows
Stephen Colbert: Sen. Bernie Sanders, Julia Michaels (R 4/28/21)
James Corden: Trevor Noah, Grouplove (R 3/10/21)
Lilly Singh: Nick Offerman (R 4/19/21)
The View: Day of Hot Topics
The Talk: David Oyelowo, guest co-hosts Jerry O’Connell & Justin Baldoni
Live with Kelly and Ryan: Jennifer Hudson, Katheryn Winnick
Ellen DeGeneres: Mother’s Day Show
Wendy Williams: Michael Che
The Real: The hosts celebrate Mother’s Day
Kelly Clarkson: Julianna Margulies, Kristin Hensley, Jen Smedley, Danielle Kartes
Tamron Hall: Christian Serratos, Laura Benanti
Drew Barrymore: Vanessa Hudgens, Jessica Alba, Iska Lupton, Anastasia Miari
WHAT ARE YOU TALKIN’ ABOUT? Here are today’s PPM-Friendly Topics!
QUESTION: Is it a good idea for CELEBRITIES to GET INTO POLITICS?? Stern says no… and he explains why to THE ROCK and MATTHEW MCONAUGHEY!!!!
QUESTION: Where did THEY come from?? Woman is told she’s going to have seven babies, winds up with NINE!!! Whoaa.. YOUR MOVE, OCTOMOM!!!!!!!!!!
QUESTION: Is it OK for older guys in Hollywood to be matching up and chatting with 20-YEAR-OLDS on dating apps? She chatted with Matthew Perry and taped it!!!!
QUESTION: What happens when you snatch a hat off the head of FLOYD MAYWEATHER?? He says, “I’m gonna kill you, mother-f’er!!” (you should pay attention!!)
QUESTION: Why did Meghan and Harry choose to share THIS picture of Archie on his second birthday?? Message to the Royals: “YOU CAN KISS MY BUTT!!!!!!”
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s son Archie – who turns two on Thursday – received several birthday messages from his famous relatives across the pond. Prince William and his wife, Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton, shared a photo of the royal family from Archie’s christening. “Wishing Archie a very happy 2nd birthday today,” they captioned the photo. Archie’s grandfather, Prince Charles, also shared a photo of himself with Harry and Archie on Twitter. “Happy birthday to Archie, who turns two today,” his office wrote. A tweet from the royal family also shared on Thursday: “Wishing Archie Mountbatten-Windsor a very happy 2nd birthday today.” The photos shared by Prince William and Prince Charles were the same ones they used last year to celebrate Archie’s first birthday. Archie is seventh in line for the British throne.
*******Meghan is ready to schedule his first plastic surgery!!
********The relatives in Britain had to use old pictures because Meghan hasn’t allowed them to see Archie since last year!!
*****The Queen has never held Archie.. but Oprah gets to play with him all the time!!
******His first words were “Off with their heads!!!”
“The Simpsons” has earned the number one spot on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 100 best sitcoms of all time. They praised the show for its “subject, style and sheer density of humor” in its first decade on the air alone. “What began as a slice-of-life animated family comedy — really, as shorts on ‘The Tracey Ullman Show’ — soon expanded into a broad social satire that saw Homer (Dan Castellaneta), Marge (Julie Kavner), Bart (Nancy Cartwright), Lisa (Yeardley Smith), and Maggie (Elizabeth Taylor!) traveling the globe, and occasionally orbiting it, mixing it up with ex-presidents, Hollywood celebrities, and homicidal kids’ show sidekicks,” the outlet gushed. Furthermore, Rolling Stone pointed out that there is a “Simpsons”-related meme for “nearly every topic imaginable. “In its early days, ‘The Simpsons’ was condemned by conservatives as the show that was going to destroy Western civilization,” wrote the publication. “Instead, no show will be a better artifact of what that civilization was like on either side of the millennial divide.”
******The Simpsons are number one because they wore us down over 30 years!!
******People thought the show would destroy civilization… and now civilization is pretty much destroyed.. so it worked!!
******Bart is like Benjamin Button. He’s 30 years old and still looks 10!!!
********For the actors, this show is more than a career… it’s a lifetime!!
TOPIC: Which sitcom is the best of all time in YOUR opinion???
Mark Wahlberg’s personal chef is helping him to put on the 30 pounds he needs to gain in a short period of time. Lawrence Duran customized a 7,000-calorie meal plan for the “Ted” actor, who already gained 20 pounds in three weeks for his movie “Stu,” to help him get to the goal weight safely. “We try to hit 7,000 calories a day, but it’s not easy for anyone to take in that much food even though we’re breaking it up into smaller meals,” Duran, who noted Wahlberg wants to gain 10 more pounds, told E! News. “He’s eating about every three hours. We do good carbohydrates, dark green vegetables, and then, just switch up the protein throughout the day and, at least, a dozen eggs a day.” Duran said 49-year-old Wahlberg’s “pre-breakfast” of four eggs is at 3 a.m. when he first wakes up and before his daily workout, and then he eats another eight eggs and six strips of bacon, one cup of rice, two tablespoons of olive oil and a protein shake after he gets in his exercise. “It’s his protein-inspired mass weight-gainer to help build on a little more muscle as well,” Duran shared.
*********7,000 calories?? That’s our mid-morning snack!!!
*******We could do that with a frappe at Starbucks!!!
*******Is there really a “healthy” way to gain 30 pounds???
*****We think the “dad bod” is catching on!!!
Ellen DeGeneres revealed she has been bunking up with Courteney Cox because she recently sold her Beverly Hills home, dispelling any marital-woe rumors with wife Portia de Rossi. “I’m not having marital troubles,” the talk show host says on Thursday’s episode of “Ellen.” “I’m not living with Courteney Cox because I’m kicked out of my house.” While Cox was more than happy to allow DeGeneres to temporarily stay with her, she hasn’t been thrilled with her actions. “You’re my style guru, so I was nervous about you staying there, being that I haven’t redone it. I haven’t been there in a year,” Cox explains. “I had it cleaned. I moved everything off of the right side of the bathroom, so you’d have your space in the drawers. I was just really ready for you.” She then sent her assistant over to make sure everything was copacetic at the house only to hear DeGeneres more than made herself at home. “And all of the sudden it was like, ‘Wait a minute. Ellen’s toothbrush is on my side!’ I had her open the drawer and I was like, ‘Well, where’s my makeup?’” Cox recalls. “So essentially you’re a terrible roommate. You took over my side and your side.”
********Maybe Ellen is making her big move!!! Who knows? Courtney could switch teams!!
********Ellen is leaving old copies of “Penthouse” in the bathroom!!!
******Portia is nervous!! She always thought Ellen might be into Cox!!!
In a new video, George Clooney lets fans take a peek into his private life, not with his wife Amal, but bunking with his new pal, Byron. The four-minute sketch is part of a promotion for the Clooney Foundation for Justice, launched by the charity platform Omaze, which promises to send two people out to meet George and Amal at their home on Italy’s breathtaking Lake Como. The prize package includes two flights and hotel booking, and “a little get together” with the global power couple. No big deal! “You never know when a lifelong friendship is gonna blossom,” he teases in the video. Viewers get to know a lot about the “Sexiest Man Alive,” including that he’s a big fan of another “Sexiest” man — his on-and-off-screen pal Brad Pitt. During one scene, Byron stumbles into George’s room to find the “Ocean’s Eleven” star’s face splashed across his walls, bed, wardrobe and DVD collection. “Can you believe Amal wanted me to throw this away?” he asked while clutching a pillow with Brad’s face. “Not throwing this out. No way man.” Will winners of the Omaze fundraiser see inside George’s man cave? Enter here to win and find out. A portion of donations will go to support human rights efforts in marginalized communities around the world.
*******Sorry… we gave at the office!!!
*****If you enter, you have to think: “Do I really WANT a lifetime relationship with George Clooney???”
A new report suggests that Bill and Melinda Gates decided on divorcing months ago – long before they made an official announcement on May 3rd. Sources alleged to TMZ on Thursday that the pair had planned to share the news in March and were preparing for the big day. Melinda, 56, allegedly rented Calivigny Island in Grenada for $132,000 a night to escape the media scrutiny. The couple’s children, along with their significant others, were supposed to arrive. Insiders alleged Gates was not invited to the island because “there was a considerable amount of acrimony associated with the split.” “We’re told virtually everyone in the family took Melinda’s side,” the outlet claimed. “Another way of putting it … we’re told they were very angry at Bill, and that’s why he wasn’t invited.” The outlet claimed that while there are still “outstanding issues that couldn’t be resolved at the time of the trip,” Melinda went anyway. “So here’s the takeaway,” the outlet alleged. “First, we’re told this was not a friendly split. We’re told Melinda and most of the family were furious at Bill for various things they claim he had done. Second … it’s clear this divorce has been a long time in the making.” Bill Gates was formerly the world’s richest person and his fortune is estimated at well over $100 billion. How the couple ends up settling their estate and any impact on the foundation will be closely watched.
*****HE’S SLEEPING WITH A CHINESE SPY!! (maybe) See the Twitter thread HERE!!!!
********Bill warned her: “It’s a bad time to leave, just when I’m about to enslave the human race!!!”
*****Sure, they’re super rich, but… who gets the cats???
Ripping The Tabloids (Throughout the week, we’ll give you the stories from that weeks tabs!)
**Please Credit Publication!
Tom & Bond: Who’s the “Top Gun”?-(National Enquirer)
James Bond will be gunning for “Top Gun: Maverick” on movie screens in November-and Tom Cruise ain’t happy! “Moving the ‘Top Gun’ sequel from July to November has left Tom shaken and stirred,” an insider squealed. “No one is more competitive than Tom and going up against the new 007 film starring Daniel Craig has put the fear of God into him. Tom likes to win and coming in second is not an option. Get ready for an all-out box office war between Tom and James Bond. This is going to get ugly!”
Halle’s Sizzling Romance-(Globe)
Isn’t it romantic? Halle Berry, 54, is so very VERY much in love-swooning over boyfriend Van Hunt like she’s a lovestruck teen shot by Cupid’s arrow! “I’ll be ya groupie baby, cause you are my superstar,” she drools online, sharing a seductive snap holding the 51-year-old Grammy-winning musician from behind as he strums a guitar. And that’s not all! Halle-who went public with the sizzling romance last year-has been posting all sorts of sexy snaps of the middle-aged twosome-and gushing mushy stuff like this: “A real woman can do it all by herself, but a real MAN won’t let her,” and “I only wish I’d known you sooner so I could have loved you longer!”
Trish & Garth: Country Strong-(Us Weekly)
Garth Brooks is Trisha Yearwood’s person-no matter what. In previous relationships “I was really happy to bail” when things got hard, the 56-year-old songstress admits. But with Brooks, 59, “that’s not an option because this is [the] love of my life,” she gushes of her husband of 15 years. “He’s perfect. There are things that he does that drives me nuts, but at the end of the day, he really is pretty great.”
Jen to Justin: Move On!-(Star)
Thank you, next! Jennifer Aniston wasn’t exactly touched when Justin Theroux gushed about how much he still loves her in the new interview. Complaining about feeling like a “hermit” during the pandemic, the single 49-year-old nearly got misty discussing FaceTiming and texting his ex. “I cherish our friendship,” he says. “We can not be together and still bring each other joy.” He’d be bereft, he added, if they weren’t still in touch. “And I’d like to think the same for her.” But in the end, says an insider: “Justin needs to know he’s got no chance whatsoever of winning Jen back. She doesn’t feel anything remotely close to passion for him anymore.”
Angie: Forced Back Into Acting-(Life & Style)
There’s no limit to what Angelina Jolie wouldn’t do for her kids. Instead of living abroad, the actress, 45, purchased a home for them in LA because she “wanted it to be close to their dad,” Brad Pitt. Now, in a shocking new interview, Angie reveals she’s had to give up her dream of directing, too. “I love directing, but I had a change in my family situation that’s not made it possible for me to direct for a few years,” she explains. “I needed to just do shorter jobs and be home more, so I kind of went back to doing a few acting jobs.”
Nick & Lauren Carter
The Backstreet Boys singer, 41, and his wife, 37, welcomed their third child, who joins son Odin, 5, and daughter Saoirse, 18 months, Nick announced on April 22. Four days later they were “home safe and sound” after “experiencing some minor complications.”
Last Laughs-(In Touch)
“The Oscars are Zoom-free, a disappointment for anyone who was hoping to Dame Judi Dench chowing on Buffalo wings in her sweatpants.”-Stephen Colbert.
“The newest installment of The Fast and The Furious series is called F9: The Fast Saga. Interestingly, if you hit F9 on your computer, it will write another Fast And Furious screenplay.”-Seth Meyers.
“We all had a rough year-a little escapism in movies would have been appreciated. This is why Godzilla vs. Kong finally got people back to theaters. Because it’s Godzilla vs. Kong, not Godzilla vs. Kong and His Crippling Battle With Depression.”-Bill Maher.
Man Finds Missing iPhone With Metal Detector
A man using his metal detector to hunt for treasure at a Florida beach made an unexpected discovery in the knee-deep water: a tourist’s lost iPhone. Joe Lynch said he was walking Fort Myers Beach with his metal detector, when he was alerted to something in the sand under about a foot of water. “I put my scoop in, pulled it up and there was an iPhone sitting in my scoop. My first thought is well it’s broken, it’s not gonna work. I flipped it over and it was still on, which amazed me that it was on and working,” Lynch told WBBH-TV. Lynch said the phone was locked, but the emergency contact button connected him with the owner’s sister in Michigan. Lacy Moulton, a tourist visiting Fort Myers Beach, said she had lost her iPhone in the water the night before it was fished out of the sand by Lynch. She said she never expected to see it again, so it was a surprise to learn he found it.
*********She didn’t have anything to carry it in because she was naked at the time!!! (FLORIDA!!!)
*****iPhones even work in salt water!! This is how badly Apple wants to spy on your every move!!!
*******The phone had some Great White Shark selfies on it!!!
Get Paid To Take Naps
A company announced it is seeking “nap reviewers” to get paid $1,500 each to take daily naps for 30 days and document the experience. EachNight.com, which offers comparisons of mattresses, bedding and other items, said it is researching the “pros and cons of napping” and is seeking a team of “nap reviewers” to document their mid-day rests. “Over the course of 30 days, our dedicated nappers will be required to take part in a variety of experiments testing out theories such as the best nap duration for feeling refreshed, the effects of napping on overall levels of fatigue, and the effects of napping on memory, motivation and productivity,” the company said. The nap reviewers will be required to participate in video calls before and after each nap to document the experience. Applications for the five positions are being accepted through May 31 on the company’s website.
********Hope we don’t fall asleep an forget to put in our application!!!
*******We start planning our nap when we get up in the morning!!
TOPIC: There are nappers and non-nappers. Which one are you????
Wine Aged In Space
Auction house Christie’s announced a bottle of French wine that spent more than a year aging on the International Space Station is expected to sell for around $1 million. Christie’s said the bottle of Petrus 2000 was one of a dozen bottles of wine that were launched into orbit in 2019 and spent nearly 440 days in space before being brought back to earth. A bottle of the wine that spent time in space was compared to a bottle that aged on Earth in a tasting that featured a dozen wine professionals and scientists, and the panel said the space bottle was found to have its own unique flavor profile. “The aromatics were more floral and more smoky — the things that would happen anyway to Petrus as it gets older,” Jane Anson, a journalist and wine researcher who participated in the tasting, told the BBC. Christie’s said the bottle of wine is being sold with a second bottle that was aged on Earth so the buyer can compare the two. The sale also includes “a decanter, glasses and a corkscrew made from a meteorite.” “After spending almost 440 days in space, or the equivalent of 300 trips to the moon, legendary Bordeaux wine Petrus comes back having been transformed in a way which is, literally, out of this world,” Nicolas Gaume, CEO of Space Cargo Unlimited, the startup that sent the wine to the space station, said in a Christie’s news release.
*******Does time pass more quickly… or more slowly in space???
*****They didn’t drink it on the ISS because they forget their corkscrew!!
*******That’s over $100,000 per glass, so it had better be good!!!
Pig On The Loose!
Police in Arkansas responded to a call about a loose pig and recounted the effort in a pun-filled social media post. The Barling Police Department said in a Facebook post that its code enforcement and animal control officer was dispatched to capture a “hamburglar” — a loose pig wandering a neighborhood. “Officers established a perimeter around the suspect to keep from getting hambushed by any partners in swine he might have. We’re happy to report that our culprit’s owner was sowprized it was loose and quickly helped apprehend our suspect,” the department said. The pig was returned to its owner.
*******The pig was just “snout and about!!!”
*****How is 3:30 am like a pig’s tail?? It’s “twirly!!!”
*******He wanted to find a female pig and start “makin’ bacon!!!”
STUFF THAT’S COOL AND VIRAL
VIDEO: CHARLES BARKLEY FIXED HIS GOLF SWING!
VIDEO: BUYING A COMPUTER IN 1994.
A LIST FOR FRIDAY
100 Best Sitcoms of All Time
See the full list HERE
**Here’s the top 20!!!
20 – ‘BoJack Horseman’ (Netflix, 2014-2020)
“All I know about being good, I learned from TV,” explained the title character of this animated tragicomedy, a washed-up former sitcom star (Will Arnett) with a host of addictions and a knack for hurting everyone who cares about him. BoJack was a hilarious satire of Hollywood and the many antiheroes it supports, on and off-screen, while also being a sincere, periodically devastating examination of what makes one of those antiheroes tick — even if he is an anthropomorphic cartoon horse. The shifts between the silly comedy — say, BoJack’s manager/ex-girlfriend Princess Carolyn (Amy Sedaris) dating Vincent Adultman (Alison Brie), who is clearly (to everyone but her) just three boys stacked on top of each other in a trench coat — and the pain that BoJack inflicts on himself and friends like Diane (Brie) and Todd (Aaron Paul) have no business working together, but the emotional extremes complement each other beautifully. Among the saddest shows on this list, but also one of the most likely to inspire the kind of old-fashioned spit-take BoJack had to perform back in the Nineties, when he was on a very famous TV show. A.S.
19 – Roseanne’ (ABC, 1988-1997)
Few series, comedy or otherwise, have been blunter or smarter than Roseanne when it comes to depicting the challenges of living in America when money is tight and the system is stacked against you. Inspired by the stand-up comedy of Roseanne Barr, the series kept the Conner family’s financial difficulties front and center, even as it mined plenty of laughs from how brassy matriarch Roseanne, her husband Dan (John Goodman), and their daughters Becky (Lecy Goranson) and Darlene (Sara Gilbert) got along, or didn’t. It’s also the rare vintage show where a revival — now called The Conners, after Barr was fired for racist tweets — makes perfect sense, since times are even harder today. A.S.
18 – ’30 Rock’ (NBC, 2006-2013)
Maybe the smartest early decision Tina Fey made in telling this fictional version of her life as SNL’s head writer was to establish early on that TGS — the show-within-the-show run by Fey’s Liz Lemon — wasn’t very good. Spared the burden of having to create convincing fake sketches (a problem that helped sink Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, NBC’s other backstage-at-faux-SNL series from that era), Fey instead put all her energy into making 30 Rock itself a hysterical poison-pen love letter to television, actors (including Tracy Morgan and Jane Krakowski as the TGS stars), corporate America (represented by Alec Baldwin’s Jack Donaghy, a ruthless exec who takes Liz under his wing), and more. A live-action cartoon in the best way. A.S.
17 – ‘Taxi’ (ABC, 1978-1982; NBC, 1982-1983)
NFL coach Bum Phillips once famously said of a rival, “He can take his’n and beat your’n, and then turn around and take your’n and beat his’n.” This is more or less how Taxi worked. A versatile ensemble about a group of New Yorkers working for a cab company while waiting for their real dreams to come true, it could be a wistful, kitchen-sink comedy, digging deep into realistic characters like Judd Hirsch’s sensible Alex Rieger. Or, it could cast its gaze on the collection of surreal sidekicks who worked alongside him, including Christopher Lloyd as addled Sixties burnout Jim, Andy Kaufman as eccentric immigrant mechanic Latka, and Danny DeVito as Napoleonic dispatcher Louie. In its absolute best moments, Taxi pivoted in unexpected ways, wringing goofy laughs from Alex and genuine tears from Jim or Louie. A.S.
16 – ‘The Cosby Show’ (NBC, 1984-1992)
As with Louie, it is an enormous challenge to separate the art from the artist here, especially since the family of obstetrician Cliff Huxtable was so obviously modeled on that of star-producer Bill Cosby, who would eventually be unmasked as a serial sexual predator. But nor should we ignore the series’ sharp, endearing humor, especially in the early seasons, or its considerable influence. The show was credited, rightly, with reviving the sitcom itself when the genre was on the verge of extinction, and its depiction of Cliff and lawyer wife Clair (Phylicia Rashad) as wealthy and wise parents did much to reshape attitudes about African American families. The Cosby Show shouldn’t be forgotten, even if it’s impossible to watch now (outside of Cliff-less scenes like Malcolm Jamal-Warner’s Theo trying on an imitation Gordon Gartrelle shirt). A.S.
15 – ‘Arrested Development’ (Fox, 2003-2006; Netflix, 2013-2019)
No sitcom has used running gags more or better than this Bush-era satire about the insecurities, stupidity, and other failings of the generationally rich. From each member of the Bluth family having their own chicken dance to cold matriarch Lucille’s (Jessica Walter) childish glee at the sight of private eye Gene Parmesan (Martin Mull) to never-nude ex-psychiatrist Tobias’ (David Cross) obsession with joining Blue Man Group, Arrested piled the foreshadowing and callbacks so high that the series quickly became impenetrable to new viewers. But it was an absolute joy to those who started watching before Michael (Jason Bateman) first learned that there was money in the banana stand. (Though the less said about the two belated Netflix seasons, the better.) A.S.
14 – ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ (CBS, 1960-1968)
Is there a wiser, gentler, or more likable character in all of television than Griffith’s Sheriff Andy Taylor? This sitcom was the original hangout show, where Griffith’s folksy charm and the bucolic, small-town life of Mayberry, North Carolina, would have been appealing even without the sputtering comic dynamo that was Don Knotts as Andy’s incompetent deputy Barney Fife. “Opie the Birdman,” where widower father Andy helps his son Opie (Ron Howard, then so young he went by “Ronnie”) deal with the consequences of accidentally killing a mother bird with his slingshot, demonstrates the wide range of emotions made possible in this simple, peaceful setting. But it was a pleasure to stop by Mayberry even when very little was happening. A.S.
13 – ‘Frasier’ (NBC, 1993-2004)
The best spinoff ever, period. In sending uptight Cheers psychiatrist Frasier Crane (Kelsey Grammer) to his hometown of Seattle — where he bantered with his radio producer Roz (Peri Gilpin) and even more uptight brother Niles (David Hyde Pierce) while he and home nurse Daphne (Jane Leeves) helped care for his blue-collar father Martin (the late, great John Mahoney) — Frasier used its title character’s highbrow affectations to fuel great comic set pieces that could be equal parts literary and lowbrow. A.S.
12 – ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ (HBO, 2000-Present)
Curb is essentially the same show as Seinfeld, only if George were the main character, represented by his inspiration, Larry David, and so rich that he never needed to work or to suffer any social consequences for his behavior. It’s also spectacularly filthy, like the episode about a typo in the obituary for a beloved aunt of Larry’s wife Cheryl (Cheryl Hines). Seinfeld was the more consistent comedy, but is Curb at its best (Larry having to choose between Jewish ethnic pride and his love of Palestinian chicken) funnier than Seinfeld at its peak (say, Kramer slamming the money on the counter after dropping out of “the contest”)? We just might have to side with Curb on this one. A.S.
11 – ‘The Dick Van Dyke Show’ (CBS, 1961-1966)
Creator Carl Reiner wanted to turn his experience as an actor and writer on the 1950s Sid Caesar variety programs Your Show of Shows and Caesar’s Hour into an autobiographical star vehicle for himself. CBS loved everything about the idea — except for the part where he’d play the lead, Rob Petrie. Instead, Reiner swallowed his pride and hired Broadway star Van Dyke, along with a young ingenue named Mary Tyler Moore. The rest was history. The Dick Van Dyke Show was the first real workplace sitcom, and its mixture of slapstick, wordplay, and sophistication still reverberates through shows made today. A.S.
10 – ‘The Larry Sanders Show’ (HBO, 1992-1998)
Garry Shandling had done dozens of guest-host spots for Johnny Carson over the years, and was on a shortlist of people who could potentially take over The Tonight Show when the Great One retired. So who better to turn out a workplace comedy about a narcissistic, neurotic talk-show host that doubled as a cringe-comedy satire of the format, complete with celebrities playing obnoxious versions of themselves? (We still ’ship a Larry Sanders-David Duchovny romance.) The comedian turned the whining, self-conscious persona he’d perfected in his stand-up into a brilliant caricature of showbiz neediness, aided by a deep bench of supporting players: Jeffrey Tambor as his McMahon-esque sidekick Hank “Hey Now!” Kingsley, Rip Torn as the show’s unctuous producer Artie, Janeane Garafalo as the perpetually scrambling talent booker Paula, Penny Johnson as Larry’s eternally patient assistant Beverly. It remains the last word on how 1990s late-night TV’s sausage got made. No less than David Letterman once told Shandling, “This show is like every day of my life.” D.F.
9 – ‘Parks and Recreation’ (NBC, 2009-2015)
Originally born from NBC’s desire for an Office spinoff, Parks almost immediately became something different — and better. In the first few episodes, Amy Poehler’s civil servant Leslie Knope seemed like a naive cousin to Michael Scott, but Parks creators (and Office alums) Greg Daniels and Michael Schur quickly realized that other characters should react to Leslie’s boundless enthusiasm with awe instead of irritation, and that made all the difference. The warmth provided by Leslie’s relationships with her co-workers and friends makes Parks endlessly rewatchable, even before you get to all the belly laughs provided by one of the deepest sitcom ensembles ever — a murderers’ row that includes Nick Offerman as taciturn meat-lover Ron Swanson, Chris Pratt as childlike rocker Andy Dwyer, Aubrey Plaza as Leslie’s fiendishly deadpan protégé April Ludgate, Adam Scott as flustered numbers expert Ben Wyatt, and Aziz Ansari as swag-obsessed Tom Haverford. There has never been a sweeter or funnier testament to the power of, as Leslie once attempted to put it in order, friends, waffles, and work. A.S.
8 – ‘The Honeymooners’ (CBS, 1955-1956)
The tenement-apartment kitchen of volatile bus driver Ralph Kramden (Jackie Gleason) and his disappointed wife Alice (Audrey Meadows) easily could have been the setting for a tragic stage play about desperate people grappling with the smallness of their lives. Instead, Gleason and company used that harsh reality to ground the ridiculous interplay between Ralph, Alice, gregarious sewer worker Ed Norton (Art Carney), and Ed’s wife Trixie (Joyce Randolph), and to make the jokes feel like sweet release from Ralph and Alice’s painful circumstances. Ralph’s fierce bluster — including recurring (if empty) threats against Alice that would get him and the show canceled today by the second commercial break — barely masked a desperation, and an unspoken awareness that his get-rich-quick dreams would never come to fruition. Technically, Gleason and Carney played these characters in sketches for years before and after this show, but the “classic 39” episodes are what everyone remembers. Consider it the greatest one-season series in TV history. A.S.
7 – ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’ (CBS, 1970-1977)
Moore invented a whole new TV archetype in the 1970s: an adult single woman in the big city, where she’s gonna make it after all. As Mary Richards, Moore was a feminist heroine, happily living alone and working in the newsroom of Minneapolis TV staton WJM. She had a deep bench of co-workers: Ed Asner as her gruff boss Lou Grant, Betty White as her snide rival Sue Ann, and Ted Knight as the world’s most pompous anchorman Ted Baxter. Off the clock, she hung with Valerie Harper as her wisecracking BFF from the Bronx, Rhoda. Most iconic moment: Mary fights to keep a straight face at the funeral of Chuckles the Clown. The Mary Tyler Moore Show went out on top, signing off in 1977 at the peak of its popularity. R.S.
6 – ‘M*A*S*H*’ (CBS, 1972-1983)
M*A*S*H spent 11 seasons covering the Korean War, a conflict that lasted only a fraction of that time. That lifespan allowed the series to essentially have three separate runs under one title: as an anti-establishment farce in the spirit of the Robert Altman film that inspired it, then a more warmhearted and experimental sitcom (remember that black-and-white documentary episode?), and finally an earnest dramedy about the toll the war had on Army medical personnel like Hawkeye (Alan Alda), Margaret (Loretta Swit), Colonel Potter (Harry Morgan), and the rest. It was in that last guise that M*A*S*H gave us its tear-jerking, epic-length series finale, which remains the most-watched single episode of television nearly 40 years later. But the lines often blurred, with those screwball early episodes making room for tragedy, while Hawkeye occasionally busted out his Groucho Marx impression, even near the more sentimental end. A.S.
5 – ‘All in the Family’ (CBS, 1971-1979)
A transformational show for television, and a Rorschach test for its audience. Blue-collar main character Archie Bunker (Carroll O’Connor) was a reactionary, a racist, a sexist, and a homophobe, who was forever getting into arguments with his wife Edith (Jean Stapleton), his daughter Gloria (Sally Struthers), and his liberal son-in-law Michael “Meathead” Stivic (Rob Reiner). Budding sitcom mogul Norman Lear (adapting the British series Till Death Us Do Part) was clearly on Meathead’s side, as were the show’s more progressive viewers. But plenty of conservatives — President Nixon included — took Archie as the hero, and Meathead as the clown rightly being lampooned. The show’s blunt discussion of current events was revolutionary, but so was its crude humor (the studio audience went wild at the sound of Archie’s “terlet” flushing), as well as its focus on a theoretically unlikable protagonist. In time, it would pave the way for Tony Soprano and the modern age of antiheroes. A.S.
4 – ‘I Love Lucy’ (CBS, 1951-1957)
Even without the white-hot comic genius of Lucille Ball as firecracker Lucy Ricardo, the energy of Desi Arnaz, Vivian Vance, and William Frawley as her sparring partners (playing Lucy’s husband Ricky and their best friends Ethel and Fred Mertz, respectively), and the ingenuity of iconic set pieces like Lucy and Ethel at the chocolate factory, I Love Lucy would be the most influential, imitated show in the medium’s history. As producers, Ball and Arnaz essentially invented the idea of filming a sitcom episode with multiple cameras in front of a live studio audience, a format still in use on shows like The Conners. And they insisted on recording episodes for posterity, rather than broadcasting them live and then forgetting about them. When you add those technical innovations to just how funny the show can seem decades later — even if the gender politics of bumbling housewife Lucy constantly being bailed out of trouble by paternalistic bandleader Ricky haven’t aged well — few comedies can match it. A.S.
3 – ‘Seinfeld’ (NBC, 1989-1998)
Yada yada. Master of your domain. Spongeworthy. Double-dipping. No soup for you! The catchphrases of Seinfeld have so wormed their way into everyday use, they’ve all but consumed the legacy of the rest of the series. Perhaps this is because one of those phrases, “a show about nothing” — from the Season Four arc where Jerry and George pitch a familiar-sounding show-within-the-show to NBC execs — undersells exactly what Seinfeld did so brilliantly. Yes, co-creators Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David obsessed over ephemera, but they did it with the kind of comic precision the medium had never seen before. In particular, David’s masterstroke was figuring out how to make each episode’s plots collide with one another at the end (like Kramer’s golf game inadvertently helping George play marine biologist) — now among the show’s most-copied (if rarely as well) elements. Seinfeld is the gift that keeps on re-gifting. A.S.
2 – ‘Cheers’ (NBC, 1982-1993)
A girl walks into a bar. Her fiancé strands her there, and she’s condemned to spend her days enduring insults from the other waitress and shameless come-ons from the guy who runs the place. From that simple set-up sprang the best live-action sitcom ever. In its early years, Cheers was an alternately witty and raucous romantic comedy about the unresolved sexual tension between pretentious grad-student-turned-waitress Diane (Shelley Long) and smarmy ex-jock bartender Sam (Ted Danson). The formula was so successful, its will-they-or-won’t-they DNA has been baked into half the shows made since. When Long left to pursue a movie career, and Kirstie Alley arrived as hot mess Rebecca, Cheers nimbly pivoted into an ensemble comedy, understanding that with a cast including Kelsey Grammer, Woody Harrelson, Rhea Perlman, George Wendt, John Ratzenberger, and Bebe Neuwirth, it could make up in volume of punchlines what had been lost in that priceless Long-Danson chemistry. Decades later, sometimes you still want to go where everybody knows your name — and you’ll always be glad you came. A.S.
1 – ‘The Simpsons’ (Fox, 1989-Present)
What else could it be? Some Comic Book Guy types would hold the animated comedy’s second, third, and now fourth (!) decades against it, but we’re not having that. There’s more good material in those later seasons than you’d think (Comic Book Guy himself recently starred in a clever and poignant Wes Anderson homage). Plus, those first 10 years cover so much ground in subject, style, and sheer density of humor, everything after could just be Frank Grimes listing his grievances against Homer, and it still wouldn’t drag the series’ batting average down. What began as a slice-of-life animated family comedy — really, as shorts on The Tracey Ullman Show — soon expanded into a broad social satire that saw Homer (Dan Castellaneta), Marge (Julie Kavner), Bart (Nancy Cartwright), Lisa (Yeardley Smith), and Maggie (Elizabeth Taylor!) traveling the globe, and occasionally orbiting it, mixing it up with ex-presidents, Hollywood celebrities, and homicidal kids’ show sidekicks. The sweep of the series has become so wide, and its jokes have cut so deep, that there is a Simpsons meme for nearly every topic imaginable (Homer backing into the bushes; “Old Man Yells at Cloud”), and not just because the show has been accidentally prescient about so many things, like the Trump presidency. In its early days, The Simpsons was condemned by conservatives as the show that was going to destroy Western civilization. Instead, no show will be a better artifact of what that civilization was like on either side of the millennial divide. A.S.
The preceding material was compiled and edited by Brandon Castillo. The Editor-In-Chief is Gary Bryan. The Radio Genius Show Prep Service is licensed for use on-air only by subscribing radio stations. Other means of redistribution is forbidden.
© 2020 – Radio Genius Show Prep