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Television and its Influence

Technology? I may be a Luddite. I try to use technology to accomplish a particular objective rather than use technology just because its available. On my farm I didn't get a round hay baler until 24 years after they became available because I felt that their only advantage over square hay balers was in labor saving and I didn't have a problem with labor during those 24 years. I didn't have a VCR for several years after they were available because I thought we watched enough TV anyway. I didn't get a camcorder until the smaller hand held ones came out because I didn't think I would actually lug one of the bigger ones around enough to use it much. On the other hand I have always been the first in any community I have lived in to use computer technology. But I don't buy the newest thing on the market until it has been proven for at least a year. I didn't have a Pentium or Windows 95 or use Java until 1998. It was years after they became available that I found a use for answering machines. I found no use for credit cards until most companies began accepting them for phone orders. That was several years after they became available. Until then I saw them only as a very expensive way to borrow money. I still find no use for a cellular phone.

Which is most significant in its influence and effect on society, in changing our culture, the printing press, the automobile, refrigeration and air conditioning, flight, radio and TV, computers, the internet or something else that I have missed?

To what extent is television a device for killing time? If time, which is life, is the most precious thing we possess why would we want to kill it?

In what ways is television positive in its effects on our society?
In what ways is it negative?

Should children be limited in the amount of time they are allowed to watch per week?
Should adults?

Should parents limit which shows children can watch?

Should parents use banning TV watching as a punishment for misbehavior?

Should TV be used as a baby sitter?

Should children have their own TV in their room?

How about a TV turn-off week for the whole family?

Here are my nominations for the best 20 commercial TV shows of all time

These are in no particular order.

  1. The Ed Sullivan Show
  2. Barney Miller
  3. The Today Show
  4. The Tonight Show - with Johnny Carson
  5. All the Star Trek Series
  6. The Twilight Zone
  7. Hill Street Blues
  8. St. Elsewhere
  9. The Andy Griffith Show
  10. Green Acres
  11. M.A.S.H.
  12. Law and Order
  13. The Red Skeleton Show
  14. The Honeymooners
  15. Over There
Oops! That's not quite twenty. Below are my second tier choices. Note: I have purposely excluded all PBS shows from this listing because the offerings of PBS are uniformly of such superior quality that their shows would easily dominate the list. The challenge is not to find good PBS shows but good commercial shows.

Maybe you can let me know which shows you would move from second tier to the top 20. Or let me know what other shows you think should be listed.

Most significant events of the last half of the 20th century - join the discussion

As with everything else on this internet site you are encouraged to send me by email your thoughts on this subject and, if they are substantive and well presented, I will make them available here.

People to People - How to be an active participant on this Internet site.

Sender: Shanna Cantrell

I am quite impressed by your list of top tv shows. While it seems like I am just another person agreeing to your site, I must inform you that I am only 17 years old. Most teens my age would disagree with you totally. I do believe you left out a few tv shows. You may or may not agree wiht me, but I thought I would give you my imput...

    *Toughed By An Angel
    *Walker, Texas Ranger
    *Martial Law
    *Early edition
    *I Love Lucy
    *Gilligan's Island
    *The Pretender
    *Any Discover Channel or History Channel presentation
There are a few shows that are aired on the Disney Channel that I feel are some of the best shown on TV. Some are Disney Channel oringinal series. I thought I'd give you these too, for any parents that may check out your site.... These shows are top rate. My 5 and 7 years cousins and 8 and 11 year old niece and nephew watch these all of the time. They are perfect for any age group.
    *The Famous Jett Jackson
    *Boy Meets World
    *So Weird
    *Flash Forward
    *In A Heartbeat
    *Even Stephens
    *The Jersey
    *Totally Circus
    *Totally Hoops
    *any disney channel movie

Sender: Terry Fethe

How about eliminating TV altogether?

I thought this was a radical concept until I read "Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television", by Jerry Mander. The author's name sounds fake, but it's not. He used to work in PR, got into writing. Also wrote the "Great Paper Airplane Book" for Scientific American.

Sender: Kenneth White

I definitely think that you've missed out the most important show on your list. Not only should it be in the top 20, but it should be at #1. The show was rated by Time Magazine as the greatest show of all time, as did Entertainment Weekly. It has had 11 Seasons, 15 Emmy's & is still going strong with it's 12th Season in production now. What's more it is the longest running sitcom still on TV today, & it is a cartoon. It is The Simpsons, & I was very surprised to see it not listed at all. I think a show of this calibre that has lasted almost 250 episodes without fear of cencellation should definitely be on top. Whether you like it or not, you have to admire it.

Sender: Michael Morgan

Just thought I'd mention a show you haven't selected (or possible overlooked)?
The Glen Campbell GoodTime Hour was (and I believe still) the best television entertainment had to offer.
Each show had top quality stars and the music was very fresh & exciting. It's too bad that someone has not released these shows on videotape to purchase.

Just an fyi of what I'd move to the top 20:

(you should take a look at http://www.glencampbellshow.com - lot's of nice items there)

Sender: Michelle Folendorf

What can you tell me about the t.v. series Frank's Place?
Who starred in it?
When was it on the air?

Reply from Duane:

"Frank's Place" was a half hour comedy starring Tim Reid. It was only on TV for a short time, probably one season, in the late 1980s I think.

It was about a man who had to leave the life he had started elsewhere to return to New Orleans because his father had died and left him a restaurant and a cat. The man, Frank, ended up keeping the restaurant and stepping into his father's shoes as manager.

Its strength was in the wonderful characters that Frank (Reid) came in contact with each week from a witch, to a dead man, to an older woman undertaker in a wheel chair who had a beautiful daughter, to many others.

Maybe some of our web visitors can fill in more details for you.

Sender: Judith A. Grimes


I am impressed with your list and agree almost completely on your choices.

I also have a question. Frank's Place was too short lived, in my opinion and I miss it a lot. One thing about it I've been trying to remember for years is the name of Frank's cat. Can you help?

Thanks in advance, and thanks for a great site.

Sender: Todd Miller

Is it possible to obtain tapes of Franks Place? It was an astonishingly imaginative show. I am still annoyed that it rarely appeared two weeks in a row on the same day much less same time. I think it was a fabulous program. I would appreciate any help in finding it.

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Last revised January 5, 2006.

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Duane Bristow (oldky@kyphilom.com)

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