76) Opie the Birdman (The Andy Griffith Show)

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AndyGriffithCastMayberry, the setting for The Andy Griffith Show, isn’t real, and no one ever wanted it to be. Andy Griffith wanted Mayberry to be better than the real world. A place where honesty is always rewarded, and where bad people are always punished. A place where a father can always trust that his son learns his lesson, even when it has dire consequences. Andy Griffith’s character, Sheriff Taylor, was always tough on his son, Opie (Ron Howard), but he was also perpetually loving and supportive. Andy Griffith didn’t just want to be the change he wanted to see in the world, he wanted to make sure everyone could see what that change should be.

To make sure that all of that didn’t make the show boring, however, they cast Don Knotts as Barney Fife, the ultimate example of “he’s not smart, but he means well.” Knotts could wring…

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78) Death Be My Destiny (The Bob Newhart Show)

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BobNewhartPhone.jpgBob Newhart is one of the funniest men who ever lived. If Stalin had watched Bob Newhart do stand-up… well, he’d still have been an irredeemable despot who deserved death, but he might have been distracted for a few hours and not killed some people. The show was pretty much an excuse to watch Bob do stand-up, with great supporting characters like his wife, Emily (Suzanne Pleshette), and his receptionist, Carol (Marcia “I was Edna Krabappel, and you will remember me” Wallace). Newhart’s job as a psychologist gave him no end of material to work with, and he could turn it into half-hour laugh fests that would leave you concerned that you can’t breathe.

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One of the biggest themes of the show is that Bob Hartley (Newhart’s character) is constantly questioning if the reality presented to him is genuine, or if the craziness surrounding him is just a vivid hallucination…

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79) Richard Pryor (Saturday Night Live)

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Saturday Night Live is a sketch show that has run for forty years on television. It’s been great, it’s been terrible, it’s been everything in between. One thing is pretty universally agreed upon, though: When it first started it was freaking amazing. This is season one.

SNLCastOriginal.jpg Pictured: Genius

Saturday Night Live did not run, and usually does not run, with a delay. Some bits are pre-recorded, but everything else is broadcast live, for better or for worse. Now, the first host of SNL was George Carlin, so that’s taking a risk right off the bat, but the producers didn’t truly worry until the seventh episode, when they asked Richard Pryor to host. If you don’t know who Richard Pryor is, he’s usually considered one of the best comedians of all time, but was also one of the most foul-mouthed people on television in the 70s. Also, he was a constant…

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80) The Puppy Episode (Ellen)

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EllenEllenThe year was 1997 and Ellen DeGeneres was sick of living in the closet. Good for her. Actually, Ellen DeGeneres came out of the closet publicly on Oprah in February of 1997, which was a big deal. Despite the fact that it was only 20 years ago, publicly coming out was still uncommon among celebrities. This meant that outing her character on her show was also a huge deal.

SUMMARY

EllenLauraDern.jpgThe episode begins with Ellen Morgan, her character, going out to dinner with an old friend/crush, Richard (Steven Eckholdt), who brings along his producer, Susan (Laura “No, really, Laura Dern” Dern). Ellen is slightly turned off by Richard, but finds herself drawn to Susan. After Susan tells Ellen she thought she was gay, Ellen denies it and accuses Susan of trying to convert her. Susan laughs this off, telling her that she was trying, and that she’s only…

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82) Hey Boy’s Revenge (Have Gun – Will Travel)

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“Have Gun — Will Travel” reads the card of a man. A knight without armor in a savage land. These words pretty much described the premise of the show: If you need help, you’d better hope someone hands you a business card with a picture of a chess piece on it, a white knight, and then do what it says. Wire Paladin, San Francisco. Expect a man to show up who’s well-dressed, usually in all black, and has a Colt at his hip. He’s played by Richard Boone, who is basically a fist in the form of a man.

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Despite the name of the show, and the cards Paladin often hands out, he was a gentleman gunfighter, who usually tries to resolve issues without violence. Since it’s a Western TV show, however, he always had to do some violence before the episode ends. The show also demonstrated that Paladin was…

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83) Blood on the Scales (Battlestar Galactica)

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What would happen if the world ended in the future because of mankind’s own hubris? That’s the basic premise of the show. We make the Cylons (robots who can also sometimes be people), and then the sci-fi standard plays out: rebellion, war, temporary truce. However, it eventually ends when they blow up all of our stuff in a Pearl Harbor reenactment X 1,000,000. The only one who saw it coming was Admiral William Adama (Edward James Olmos), which is why his spaceship, the Galactica, survives to fight.

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The reboot of Battlestar Galactica expanded the role of Science Fiction television. It’s a show that can be interpreted as political commentary, religious commentary, a psychological study of humanity under both stress and during times of disarming peace, or just a show with awesome spaceships. There are probably brighter men than I who have written dense tomes on the philosophical implications of human/cylon…

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84) Time Heals (St. Elsewhere)

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No one watched St. Elsewhere. That’s not much of an exaggeration, the show never got above Number 49 in the ratings. By modern standards, that may not seem that bad, but the show was on in the early-mid 80s. There weren’t that many channels. Fox didn’t exist yet. The 1984 Cable Act hadn’t even really been enacted. Despite this, the people who did watch it were very dedicated, and the show repaid them in kind. It had crossovers, guest appearances, running gags, inside jokes, crossover jokes, and, perhaps most famously, in the end the entire show was just a hallucination in the mind of an autistic boy named Tommy Westphall.

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Which, implicitly, puts SO MUCH of TV in Tommy’s mind.

StElsewhereTommyWestphallUniverse.jpg According to the website above, there are 89 current shows airing in Tommy’s Mind.

The cast of characters has now sort of come to embody the cast of most…

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