These fictional blocks of television programming creep up in a variety of situations -- a character may work as a TV personality in the narrative, or we may just see characters watching the tube while they're chilling on couch. They may fill up just 30 seconds of screen time, but shows within shows have to be flawless in order to drive the story and serve their often-comedic purposes. So here's our attempt to recognize the best TV shows within TV shows.
May I have the envelope, please?
Not sure why the first season of 'Sports Night' is being released again. Actually, the series has been released as "Complete Series" packages twice now (there were only two seasons), and the 10th Anniversary edition is still available so I'm not sure what 'Sports Night' fan would spend money on the first season alone. It doesn't look like there's anything on it that you can't get on the other set.
- 'The Abbott & Costello Show' - Complete Series Collector's Edition
- 'Alvin & The Chimpmunks' - Cinderella Cinderella
- 'Ben 10: Alien Force' - Vol. 6
- 'Celebrity Rehab' - Season 1
Over at TV Guide magazine, Sorkin says that his next show will once again (like Studio 60 and Sports Night) be set in the world of television, a behind-the-scenes look at...something. He doesn't say what the show will be, but when Studio 60 ended there was talk that he would do a show set at a fictional cable news channel. Considering that all of Sorkin's shows have had some sort of news and/or political side, this seems like a natural. He'll be able to talk about all of the things he wants to talk about in a setting like that.
Sorkin says that he will start working on the show when filming of The Social Network, the big screen movie about the start of Facebook, is over. I can't wait.
I agree with most of the critics that the series took a drop in quality in Season 5. With the departure of Sorkin, the characters began to make decisions that seemed inconsistent with the first four seasons (I'll write more about that in a separate article). Seasons 6 and 7 saw an upswing in quality, mostly due to the change in the whole premise of the show (making it about the Presidential Election rather than the Presidency).
The West Wing was a very deep and intelligent program and probably better than we deserve. Next up: Aaron Sorkin's other television contributions, Sports Night and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.
In Plain Sight has become one of my favorite TV shows. I didn't think that way last year, its rookie season, when the show lurched a bit to try and find balance between Mary's professional life as a U.S. Marshal in the Witness Protection Program and her dysfunctional personal life with an alcoholic mother, a troubled younger sister with a drug-dealing boyfriend, and an on-again/off-again relationship with a hot Latin minor league baseball player.
When it went well, it was very satisfying, but the show seemed to be struggling to find its tone. Well, this season is a whole new thing. Perhaps there were changes behind the scenes, perhaps the first year was about shaking out all those story strands and building a stronger foundation, perhaps it was simply the actors getting more comfortable in their roles. Whatever the case, In Plain Sight is now hitting on all cylinders.
His last show utilizing this concept, Studio 60, didn't fare so well and was cancelled after a single season. However, this program concept would also incorporate the discussion of politics, which Sorkin excels at, as proven in The West Wing. We may have a winner here.
Sorkin is certainly a multi-talented writer. He's written movies and plays as well as television. I believe he can make this sort of program work. I even confess to liking an earlier incarnation of this concept, Al Franken's Lateline.
So what do you think? Do you welcome a return by Sorkin to television or is his reputation overblown?
You can immediately guess which shows are on the list: Seinfeld, The X-Files, Sports Night, Oz, The Sopranos, The Larry Sanders Show. There are some shows that I certainly would never put on such a list, but I can understand why they were chosen, such as Party of Five, Dawson's Creek, and Ally McBeal. I think this is probably yet another example of "best" being confused with "popular" or "buzzworthy." Actually, I would never include Ally McBeal on any sort of best of list.
But what really confuses me? There are two major shows, two shows that are often mentioned in a "best of" list (not just the 90s, but all-time) that aren't on the list! Can you guess what they are? Both appeared on NBC, and one of them was created by someone who created one of the above shows.
But this isn't any old list – our Top 40 TV Shows of the '90s is just the first in a new series of countdowns in which we'll put our AOL Television seal of approval on the top 40 series of every decade.
Every other month we'll tackle another decade, going all the way back to the '50s, to recall the best comedies (hello 'Lucy'), the best prime-time soaps (do you remember who shot JR?), the best cop shows, animated series and groundbreaking TV shows.
So kick off 50 years of silver-screen bests with the greatest shows of the '90s, including everyone from 'Beavis,' 'Buffy' and 'Simpsons' to 'Freaks and Geeks' and teens on the 'Creek.'
Glad I held off on getting the season one set of Banacek, as the complete series gets released on DVD tomorrow. I'm also interested in The Starlost, since I think it's something I haven't seen before but I've heard many things about (not all good).
Of course, you Sports Night fans are going to want the new 10th Anniversary complete series set, even if you have the old set.
- Adam-12 - Season 2
- B.L. Stryker - Complete Series
- Banacek - Complete Series
- Beauty and the Beast - Complete Series
- Click & Clack's As The Wrench Turns
- Edward the King - Miniseries
- Laredo - Best of Season 2, Part 1
- Mr. Bean - Best of Mr. Bean, Vol. 2
- My Name is Earl - Season 3
- My Three Sons - Season 1, Vol. 1
- The New Fantastic Four - The Impossible Man
- Numb3rs - Season 4
- Lewis Black's Root of All Evil
- Sports Night - Complete Series
- The Starlost - Complete Series
- When We Left Earth: The NASA Missions
Well, now we do. Shout! Factory has released a new 10th Anniversary set for the show, and all of the the extras that were missing in that set are here, and then some.
Sorkin actually feels guilty about the entire thing, because he knows he screwed it up. He tells Mickey Rapkin that the ultimately the show didn't work because he made too many mistakes:
I was too angry when I wrote Studio 60. The show became like the cover of Abbey Road. Everybody was trying to figure out who this character was in real life or what that incident was trying to be.
All of these lists are starting to get more and more specific. This one is a list of the ten best sitcoms since 1980. Soon we'll have the 8 1/2 best hour long dramas that appeared between 1988 and 1994 on Sunday nights (that start with "J").
But lists always get us talking and this one has some great picks. Arrested Development fanatics will be glad to see their show on the list (I won't tell you where you'll have to click the link above), along with shows like Scrubs, Cheers, and Sports Night. But there is one show that is obviously missing. There might be more than one show that isn't on the list that should be, of course, but this show stood out to me immediately. Can you guess what it is? I'll name it after the jump but don't click ahead until you read the list and guess yourself.
Who says you can't learn anything from television? We talk about a lot of things here on TV Squad each week, and it's amazing what TV Squad and TV in general can teach you about life.
TV ... it's like the Bible!
1. America likes making a point rather than rewarding talent. Let me say upfront that even though I wrote this, I still think that David Cook is a good singer, and it was great that the American Idol final came down to him and David Archuleta. But I'm baffled as to why he won by 12 million votes! It's almost as if viewers were voting for Cook not just because they liked him, but because they didn't want to fulfill the predictions many had weeks and weeks ago that Archuleta would win (as if the kid could control any of that). They didn't want to prove to everyone that American Idol is predictable, or that Simon's comments about Archuleta winning the final night of singing meant anything. And what about that night? Come on, Archuleta clearly won that night, but it's almost as if they don't even have to have that final night of singing, because fans are clearly voting for other reasons. The Archuleta backlash has to be one of the weirder things that has happened this TV season. I have a very good friend who is a Cook fanatic. Nothing could make her say anything bad about him and I think she broke her phone calling in to vote for him, and even she admits that Archuleta did better that last night. I think fans convinced themselves that they had to vote for the "rocker" (cough cough) and not the kid who sings well (and I have to disagree with my cohort Debra - there's nothing "unique" about Cook).
The box set costs $69.99 and contains a 10th anniversary book, behind-the-scenes featurettes, new interviews, blooper reels, commentaries by the cast and creative team, and deleted scenes. A complete series box set has been available since 2002, but that version had no special features.
This news could make Sports Night fans go crazy like ... well, people who go crazy and stuff.
TV Shows On DVD is reporting that a 10th anniversary set for the short-lived ABC comedy is in the works, to be released this fall. As fans know, a complete DVD set for the show was already released a few years ago, but it didn't have any extras on it at all (and I remember that some of the first DVDs had a lot of problems with skipping and freezing, though I've never had a problem with my set). This set is rumored to have extras on it, and we can only hope that includes commentaries by the cast and Aaron Sorkin.
No word yet on who is putting it out or even why this set is getting the anniversary treatment (other than it's a great show and deserves it!). Maybe the success of Felicity Huffman and Brenda Strong on Desperate Housewives helped.
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