This popped into my mind last night as a good off-topic post where people can share something non-baseball related about each other, but hopefully not get into something controversial.
What are your favorite non-baseball TV shows of all time?
Looking at my own list (below), almost all of them are things I loved in my childhood and had some sort of impact on the kind of person I became.
1) Star Trek: The Original Series, the adventures of USS Enterprise NCC-1701, no bloody A, B, C or D. Some of my earliest memories are watching this show in afternoon reruns after preschool. It definitely had an impact on the person I became, not just making me into a geek, but impacting my ethical, political, and social development as well. Kirk was an early hero (along with others below), but as I got into adolescence and my sense of alienation from the rest of society grew, I identified more and more with Spock.
2) Beavis and Butt-head: It was crude and rude at first, but by the middle of the series Mike Judge and his writers found a terrific balance between toilet humor, Three Stooges slapstick, and relatively sophisticated social satire. It was brilliant and incredibly funny and, for me at least, it never gets old. Hehehehhhehehhehhehehehe.
3) Hogan's Heroes: Another show that was often misunderstood. As with Star Trek, I watched this every day in reruns as a kid. Colonel Hogan was sort of a funnier version of Captain Kirk, always finding a way to outsmart the opposition, charismatic and intelligent but with touches of humanity. I've been watching the show again in reruns the last couple of months, and am now finding all kinds of touches that went over my head as a kid. The writers put all kinds of accurate or semi-accurate historical references into the scripts that i didn't understand then, but understand now. Example: a throwaway line in one episode about Sergeant Schultz being a Social Democrat, not a Nazi...that goes a long way towards explaining why Hans always looked the other way and "knew nothing, saw nothing" about what the prisoners were doing. This is the only 1960s sitcom that I find remotely watchable nowadays.
4) The CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite: When I was a little kid, I would demand to sit in front of the TV and eat dinner while watching the evening news. And it HAD to be the CBS Evening News! I credit Cronkite with instilling in me a strong interest in current affairs, politics, and history.
5) Gunsmoke: I haven't watched this in 25 years....but I remember that watching Gunsmoke was a weekly ritual in my house, and that Matt Dillon was the fourth member of the "strong male TV presence" that impacted my young mind along with Kirk, Hogan, and Cronkite. TV Land has been showing Gunsmoke and I think I may start picking up the show again to see how it holds up.
6) The Mary Tyler Moore Show: In retrospect, Mary Richards was my first crush. This was another show we never missed in our family. This show, along with MASH and WKRP in Cincinnati are the only 70s sitcoms that I remember fondly.
7) M*A*S*H: I guess I just liked the military-themed sitcoms, and interestingly many of the people who worked on Hogan's Heroes later worked on MASH. The show was a sex-themed farce at first, found a great balance between humor and social relevance in the middle, then got way too preachy towards the end. It went on a few years too long, but it was a terrific show. I guess that Hawkeye Pierce was another hero. Pierce, Kirk, Hogan, Dillon, Cronkite...the television heroes of my youth apparently.
8) Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Sisko kicked ass. Simply a great series, much better than The Next Generation.
9) Battlestar Galactica: the reboot, not the original, which had a few good moments but was cheesy even by 70s standards. The reboot probably took the "gritty" and "dark" to excessive lengths at times, but overall this was a show that I never missed.
10) The Daily Show with Jon Stewart: The only program currently on TV that I make a point of watching.