What’s the greatest Tv depict of all time? Easy. The Simpsons13 days ago
TV critics Alan Sepinwall and Matt Zoller Seitz, who have written a volume ranking the best US depicts ever, explain why TV is as good as its ever been
Its a dirty chore, but “someones got” do it: TV critics Alan Sepinwall( HitFix) and Matt Zoller Seitz( New York) have ranked the 100 greatest comedies and drama broadcast in the US. The volume theyve co-authored TV( The Book ), which is out the coming week is sure to inspire debate, especially their number one pick: The Simpsons. The Guardian spoke to them about the project, the power of the Simpsons and why they included such outliers and oblivions as Franks Place in their rundown.
Hey guys. Where did the idea for the book come from ?
Matt Zoller Seitz : It was a couple of years ago. I dont remember the exact situations but Alan and I were talking and there are a lot of volumes along the lines of Maltins film guide and David Thomsons Biographical Dictionary of Film, but there wasnt really an equivalent for television. I thought that the time was right for a volume like that because Alan and I have been in the business long enough to say not just What do you think is great now? but What do you think are the greatest indicates in TV history?
Alan Sepinwall: Tv is in this extraordinary day right now. Some people are calling it Peak TV, some people are calling it the Golden age. Whatever you want to call it, TV is as good as its ever been if not better, and has finally achieved a level of respect that the medium has been striving for basically since the 1950 s and yet theres been very little done in terms of canonization, to its implementation of trying to legitimize it through other forms.
Why did you pick The Simpsons as your number one ? MZS : Well, The Simpsons is not just a television show. In a lot of ways, it is television. Theres virtually no political or cultural development in the last 30 years that The Simpsons hasnt addressed and in many cases had the last word on.
AS : Its done everything you can possibly do, and its done it for a ridiculously long time, and its so funny, and its so quotable and so versatile and covered so many topics. And its stayed good! Thats the dirty little secret that people dont want to acknowledge. Its not as good as it is in season four , nothing could be. One of your biggest disagreements was over the fourth season of Arrested Development, wasnt it ? AS : Matt has already said that if theres a second edition, hes going to write an essay just about Arrested Development season four because he thinks Im a gentile and a lowbrow over it.
MZS : Its a milestone in television storytelling. Its the first season of a series that is devised and constructed with streaming in mind. The way people watch things on Netflix is very different from they style they watch things on a regular broadcast or cable channel. Mitchell Hurwitz understood this, and it was also an attempt to solve a practical problem, which is that the cast were all in much more demand in 2014 than they were when the prove went on the air. I suppose the solution he came up with was ingenious, which is basically that the entire season is one long episode of Arrested Development: the scenes are 20 to 30 minutes long instead of three.
Why did you choose only American Tv ? AS : Our impression was Doctor Who would certainly be on here, Prime Suspect would certainly be on here, Fawlty Towers would certainly be on here, but while we is considered that we know what the best British proves are, we likely dont. We have some blind spots here, while there are probably some shows that are not anywhere in the book and likely should be. If were not going to know what those are, were just half-assing it in terms of foreign TV and were just going with whatever PBS aired, which is not really fair. What were the other areas of discrepancy ? MZS : There are things in there that I suppose Alan thinks are really what-the-hell like I did an entry on the HBO series K Street by Steven Soderbergh, which only operated 10 episodes and I think was watched by nine people, but I thought it was an amazing depict and that television had never seen anything like it and likely never will again. AS : I dont know that we need to have every single show that Michael Mann ever made for television included in the book, but Matt loves Michael Mann. Its less the main section than the A Certain Regard section where we deal with sentimental favourites, Matt threw in a lot of shows that attained me go, Actually? Hell tell you this: hes really not happy that Boardwalk Empire is in the top 100. There are some actually obscure choices in the book. Whats your most underrated depict ? MZS : One of our pantheon presents is Franks Place, which operated on CBS for one season in 1988. It was by Hugh Wilson who created WKRP in Cincinnati, and Tim Reid[ of WKRP] was also the starring, and its one of the greatest shows in the history of American television, and almost nobody watched it when it was on except me. Its never gotten a proper DVD release because of what I think are rights issues. I genuinely hope some attention will be paid to Franks Place and that it will be given the reception it deserves.
Theres perhaps two full episodes and fragments on YouTube. Its a shame, because that indicate was shot on 35 mm cinema without a laugh track in the style of a motion picture. The fact that the casting was predominately African American throw people a little bit because I think at that point in time, viewers were conditioned to expect that every time you ensure a non-white face on TV there was a laugh way on it, and this was not like that.
How much rewatching and ranking did you have to do ? AS : The rewatching, when it happened happened during the writing and not the ranking. To do what we do as well as we aspire to do it, you really have to be able to absorb the displays into yourself. I can recite whole Cheers scenes, or diagram Deadwood story arcs without looking at them. These are the proves we know, were going to score them accordingly. As it was all written and we were getting ready to turn the manuscript in, we went to a bar in Brooklyn and rescored everything somewhat. There were not a lot of major changes. MZS : We originally had five categories, which were innovation, influence, storytelling/ film-making, performance/ characterization and consistency. We realized we needed one more category that accounts for the extraordinary explode of ingenuity that they are able make a present great even if its not perfect, which we called peak. Wed originally held casting a much wider net sports displays, live reveals, sketch comedy displays, variety shows and childrens entertainment but as we proceeded down that road we realized the book would be 2,000 pages long.
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