Changing Channels

Carroll O’Connor

Yes, I saw the 20-20/People Magazine special about the best TV programs of all time, and I have to disagree about the choice of best comedy.

While the program’s top choice, I Love Lucy, was a great program in its time only a few episodes still stand the test of time as great viewing today.

To me, Lucille Ball was certainly a remarkable talent but I can only take so much of that crying, and that ‘Oh, Ricky!’ not to mention those pain in the neck neighbors; Fred and Ethel.

The best? not quite …

All in the Family, No. 5 on their list, should have edged out their No. 2, Seinfeld, for top honors due to a great cast that made humor out of every day nuisances and the most important iissues of the day. Many of the show’s issues, like health matters and race, remain hot-button political issues to this day.

And ‘Edith’ (Jean Stapleton) and ‘Meathead’ (Rob Reiner) were a more important ensemble than Lucy’s ‘Ricky’ or Ethel … as good as they were.

No. 3 Mash too was brilliant, but the dreary war setting sets it back a notch or two, whether fair or not, despite the greatness of Alan Alda and others. In fact, maybe Alda was too much to take after a time, similar to Ball.

The Cosby Show at No. 4, similarly, “suffered” in being so strong at the top in Bill Cosby that no other cast mate could compare or “stand up” to his brilliance. The ABC program certainly disagreed, naming Phylicia Rashad as TV’s top-ever mom in what could have been a slight reach, along with bringing up Michelle Obama by comparison.

I am in agreement on No. 2, Seinfeld, as it boasted THE strongest overall cast in the history of TV comedies. In fact, the cast was stronger than its star, comedian Jerry Seinfeld, and each 30 minute program could have up to four story-lines at the same time.


All in the Family gets the edge at the top overall, however, since it made an IMMEDIATE impact on television whereas Seinfeld took six seasons to make it to the top.

Congrats Arch, you are still No. 1 to me!


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