From the Writers Guild of America comes the news that The Sopranos bag the top slot in the list of 101 of the best written TV Shows. The HBO series created by David Chase took the number one spot in the list.
The Guild made a list of what it considered to the the top 101 best written TV shows of all time. Interestingly enough, out of the entire list only one of the TV shows that made it, is still on television, AMC’s Mad Men. Amusingly enough, Seinfeld, the NBC sitcom that was often referred to as the show “about nothing,” took the number two slot on the WGA list.
Despite being the only show, “still on air,” Mad Men placed number seven on the list.
While compiling the list, The Writers Guild of America, both the East and West chapters, evaluated talk shows, daytime soap operas, primetime features, cartoons, variety shows and all the other “hard to define” television shows since the medium began, to come up with their definitive list of the 101 best-written shows of all time.
According to the WGA West President Chris Keyser and WGA East President Michael Winship in a joint statement, “At their core, all of these wonderful series began with the words of the writers who created them and were sustained by the writers who joined their staffs or worked on individual episodes. This list is not only a tribute to great TV, it is a dedication to all writers who devote their hearts and minds to advancing their craft.”
The Sopranos bagging the top slot in the “all-time” list of 101 best written TV shows is quite surprising considering the competition the show was up against.
The Sopranos was an American television drama created by David Chase. It premiered on the premium cable network Home Box Office (HBO) on January 10, 1999 and did not finish its original run until June 10, 2007 when it became a syndicated program.
The series was focused on New Jersey-based Italian-American mobster Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) and the difficulties he faced as he tried to walk a fine line between his personal family life and the criminal activities that his other “family” was involved in.
It featured Tony’s family members and Mafia associates in prominent roles and storylines, focussing more on his wife Carmela (Edie Falco) and cousin and protégé Christopher Moltisanti (Michael Imperioli). One prevailing theme that ran through the series was his professional relationship with his psychiatrist, Dr. Jennifer Melfi (Lorraine Bracco).
It is very revealing to see the top five of the list:
3. “The Twilight Zone” (1959)
4. “All in the Family”
Out of that top five, only one, Seinfeld, could be termed as a modern television show. The others, The Twilight Zone (1959), All in the Family finished in 1979 and M*A*S*H finished in 1983.
Out of the four remaining television shows in the list, two of the show’s creators are dead; Rod Serling, who died in 1975 who created the original Twilight Zone and Larry Gelbbart, who died in 2009 who created M*A*S*H.
And on the much loved sitcom All in the Family, actress Jean Stapleton, who played Edith Bunker, died on 31 May, 2013. She was 90.
Like The Sopranos, the top five – and all of the TV shows on the list – live on in the millions of fans who used to tune in each week, and watch re-runs after the season, to see their favourite show with their favourite characters.
The top five shows all had one other thing in common. They all had fans that were devoted to the shows and the actors who were in them.
So congratulations to The Sopranos who bag the number one slot in the WGA best written TV shows list. It was well deserved and I only wish that my favourite show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer had placed higher than 49 on the list.
By Michael Smith