Should Mere Favorite Television Programs Be Counted as the 'Greatest'?

Article excerpt

Byline: Jack Mabley

The greatest television show of all time was the coverage of the World Trade Center disaster.

Or was "Seinfeld" the greatest?

It depends, of course, on what we mean by "great." The word has many definitions, but I'll settle for "of outstanding importance or significance."

Great or Favorite?

The top five shows in the TV Guide's all-time greatest list are "Seinfeld," "I Love Lucy," "The Honeymooners," "All in the Family," and "The Sopranos."

Perhaps "All in the Family" could be called great, relatively, because it had a major impact on the social attitudes of its generation.

"Victory at Sea" was great television, as was "Roots." But they don't show on the 50 greatest list.

Most of the 50 "greatest" were fluff. The Ed Sullivan show which ranked 15th was merely a televised vaudeville show.

The list should have been labeled "favorite" and not "greatest." It conveys the personal tastes and prejudices of the writer or writers or whoever voted.

TV on 8-inch screen.

I like to think I am part of mainstream America. I occasionally tuned in "Seinfeld" and switched to something else. That makes me anything but mainstream.

My credentials in this field are mixed. My first set, a Motorola with an 8-inch screen, cost $210. That was 1947. My next set was a Zenith with a round screen. Gene McDonald, head of Zenith, figured the human eye is round so the TV screen should be round.

I became the first newspaper TV editor. They were exciting, creative times, but I'm more proud that I was the first TV editor in the nation to quit. I couldn't take having to watch all that television.

The Best? "60 Minutes"

I've been an ordinary viewer since then. My preferences are a little out of line with mainstream. One of my favorites, "Northern Exposure," doesn't show on the list of 50. …