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October 10, 2015

The Five: Great ensemble casts

by Bob Sassone, posted Mar 27th 2006 2:16PM
NewsradioFirst, what exactly is an ensemble cast? It's not just a matter of numbers, it's how the characters interact on the show. But if we are talking about numbers, let me explain that I'm not talking about 3 or 4 people. It has to be larger than that. Which is why you won't find Seinfeld or The Dick Van Dyke Show on this list. (But if I ever make a Five Great Foursomes, they'd be right up there.)

1. Newsradio: It's amazing how quickly these actors got into their roles. After only a few episodes, this large ensemble (8 regular characters: Dave, Lisa, Bill, Matthew, Catherine, Joe, Beth, and Jimmy) were like a comedy machine, and each character not only has easily noticable quirks and likes and dislikes and character traits, but even (dare I say it ) some depth. Some casts can't get that chemistry after 3 seasons let alone 3 episodes. Perfect in every way.

2. The West Wing: Another cast that clicked from the get-go, and things only got better after Moira Kelly left after the first season.

3. Cheers: A classic for a reason. Even when Shelly Long left and Nick Colasanto passed away (replaced by Kirstie Alley and Woody Harrelson), this show remained great.

4. MASH: I'm sensing a pattern to my list. A large cast of great actors, in a workplace setting. Yes, an army camp can be considered a workplace too.

5. The Office/Arrested Development: OK, so this is cheating a little. But could you leave off either one of these shows?

Now I know that everyone is going to disagree with me, so let the debate begin!

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Gilligan, the Skipper too,
the Millionaire, and his Wife,
the Movie Star, the Professor and Mary Ann

May 14 2006 at 3:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Brent McKee

Well you can't ignore Gilligan, the Skipper too, the Millionaire and his Wife, the Movie Star, the Professor and Mary Ann, no matter how much the network execs wanted to. (Read Sherwood Schwartz's book on "Gilligan's Island" to see how they wanted to change each character - outrageous!)

March 28 2006 at 3:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

First of all, why isn't there an Emmy for this category? And secondly, OZ OZ OZ. I think that part of what makes a great ensemble is if it lasts throughout the series even if one of the ensemble is gone. Newsradio was an amazing show, but it was TERRIBLE after Phil Hartman died. OZ killed off a number of characters in the main ensemble (which at one time included Edie Falco) but remained strong. OZ gets my #1.

March 28 2006 at 1:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

While this is one of those debates that is more about the discussion than the actual results I will have to 2nd the Buffy/Angle Vote. And as much as I loved Firefly I agree it needed to be on just a bit longer to really qualify.

But my main point is we look not only at the top five but many of the other mentioned:

Dick VanDyke
Mary Tyler-Moore
Bob Newhart (the first one, not that Newhart wasn't bad)

They all are related. . .writers/directors/(cast) went from one show to the other teaching and passing on TV Greatness from one generation to the next. You Can actually trace Friends all the way back to Dick Van Dyke through James Burrows (Director). Check him out on IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0123273/. Now i'm not saying that its all him, just that he's an example of how great The Dick VanDyke show was that it has influenced great TV for decades.

Oh yea and I agree Sports night needs to be on the list.

March 28 2006 at 10:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Ok I agree that "OZ" should be on the top 10 list. Even though many of the regulars would die at some point there were alot of people that made it through to the end like: Beacher, Kelly, Seid, the warden, the govenor, Sister Pete, the Preist (B.D Wong is hot), The old guys who's name I can not remeber, Poet, and Schillinger (the Ayran bastard).

Also a show that people foget because it only lasted 2 season's on the WB in the early years of the network is the show "Popular". That show had 12 yes count then 12 regulars on just about every episode and the show rocked! "Popular" is one of my all time favorite show. A 1 hour comedy/drama. It was "Grey's Anatomy" before there ever was a "Grey's" and it was a shit load funnier. Everyone should buy seasons 1 and 2 on DVD and see what I mean.

March 28 2006 at 8:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The Cast of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel Both.

cant find chemistry as good as that and have done it a lot longer than Arrested dysfunctions, and The Orifice

now if you had said, The office (UK) then I would agree.

March 28 2006 at 8:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Grey's Anatomy is going to have to go on there before too long...

March 28 2006 at 7:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

3 sitcoms you missed
FRIENDS...6 characters with something to do each time
SOAP...2 families...20 nut balls
HAPPY DAYS...Not just Fonzie and Richie but a large cast of characters
NIGHT COURT...Bull, Dan, Harry, Christine, Mac, Selma, etc.

3 Dramas you missed

March 27 2006 at 11:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Come on... I'm as much a Firefly/Serenity fanatic as the next guy, but I wouldn't think they belong on this list. A great ensamb. cast (to me) is defined by how great everyone interacts with each other. The characters on Firefly mainly interacted with certian other charcters (Simon/River, Simon/Kaylee, Wash/Zoe, etc). A GREAT cast has so many wonderfully woven inter-relationship stories (and what I did there with the English language was just wrong). I'll add Sportsnight to the list, as all of the main characters had special relationships with each other. Firefly just didn't get the opportunity to be there yet.

A Top Five list I'd like to see is best cadre of guest stars or recurring guest stars. I'm sure the L&O shows would be there, but I'm watching all of the West Wing DVDs now, and I'm struck by how seemingly EVERYONE was on the show at some point.

March 27 2006 at 11:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Stargate anyone?

March 27 2006 at 10:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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