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MENSA chairman picks the ten smartest shows of all-time

by Bob Sassone, posted Feb 18th 2008 9:01AM

Mad About YouEverybody loves lists, even MENSA members.

Jim Werdell, the chairman of the brainy group, has picked what he considers the ten smartest TV shows of all-time. While some of the shows are no-brainers (ha!), I'm not quite sure why he picks some of the shows he does. The full list is after the jump, along with my suggestions for other shows that should be there.

I mean, seriously...Mad About You?!

1. M*A*S*H
2. Cosmos
3. CSI
4. House
5. The West Wing
6. Boston Legal
7. All in the Family
8. Frasier
9. Mad About You
10. Jeopardy!

OK, right off the bat, I can say that I don't really have a problem with M*A*S*H, Cosmos, The West Wing, and Jeopardy being on the list (though I wonder if we could put a lot of other science/education shows in the Cosmos spot). My main dispute is with Mad About You. It had some great episodes and some great seasons, but they put this above The Dick Van Dyke Show, Seinfeld, Arrested Development, and even Everybody Loves Raymond? As for the other shows, I can't really speak about Boston Legal since I haven't watched it enough to make a judgment (though I wonder if the MENSA Chair has watched enough TV to say this is smarter than other dramas in TV history). If you're going to pick a game show, then Jeopardy is the right one to pick I guess, but there's no way that CSI is a smarter show than Columbo. And no Simpsons or science fiction shows?? No Lost or Twilight Zone?

There are so many examples of shows I could pick that should be on that list but I don't think TV Squad has enough space. What would you put on the list (and take off)?

[via Ken Levine]

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Melissa Powers

Oh my GOD! I so agree with you on "The Dick Van Dyke Show". It is still one of the smartest, edgiest sitcoms ever. Seriously. And style and fashion? Fahgedaboutit. Rob and Laura will always be the most stylish couple on television.

April 09 2011 at 1:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Melissa Powers

I hated f***ing "Cosmos". It was total stoner freak-out crap. I was really disappointed. Instead, why not include "The Power of Myth". That was truly intelligent, watchable (and listenable) television.Or how about "Art:21"? Did it not exist when this list was made? And where the Hell is "Cheers" or "Taxi" on this list. How did the f***ing annoying "Mad About You" make this list. That show does NOT hold up, whereas, I'm watching the first season of "Cheers" and it is still hilarious and incredibly smart. This just goes to show my mom was right about IQ tests. They are essentially meaningless.

April 09 2011 at 1:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Hmm. I would agree with some of the contenders so far, such as:

- The Twilight Zone
- The Prisoner
- Cosmos
- The Dick Van Dyke Show
- (I refrain from commenting on Omnibus since I never saw it)

But I would argue that many of the smartest TV shows did NOT originate in the past 20 years, although being more current they are closer to consciousness and easier to recall -- which I suspect is why they have been over-emphasized.

It seems to me several several viable candidates have been overlooked:

- Fawlty Towers [John Cleese, mid 70's],
- Meeting of Minds [Steve Allen, late 70's]
- Connections [James Burke, late 70;'s, early 80's]
- Nova [1973-present]

February 27 2008 at 4:06 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Totally lame without The Wire and The Sopranos.

February 23 2008 at 4:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Thank god these geniuses took the time to let us know what shows were the "smartest". Geniuses are awesome.

February 22 2008 at 10:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

A MENSA chair should be smart enough to know that television started long before the 1960s, and a failure to include "Omnibus" over several of the programs he chose is a sign he might want to retake the qualifying IQ test for his org., or at least review television history :)

see this for a description of "Omnibus"

February 22 2008 at 10:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

How do you judge a show on its intelligence? Sure, we can agree that shows like Flavor of Love and Cops are universally stupid, but other than that, the whole essence of this list is pompous and elitist.

February 22 2008 at 6:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Okay, we can all agree this list is garbage. CSI? How can a show in which people that deal with bodily fluids and chemicals dress and coif like models be considered intelligent? The Wire, Twilight Zone, Law and Order, Arrested Development, even Battlestar Galactica are smarter than almost anything on this list. Maybe the first decade of Simpsons but the last decade erased it from consideration. Scrubs, Six Feet Under, Futurama are all good shows and very clever but not top 10 intelligent

February 22 2008 at 6:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This story was initially written by and posted on Fancast.com, the number one source for watching, finding and discovering TV and movies on the web.

February 22 2008 at 5:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Mad about you? totally lame.
The smartest show EVER is Arrested Development. Come on! I'm in awe of how perfectly written is was and how everything always came together...and also BLACKADDER--that show was brilliant and clever.

February 22 2008 at 5:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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