As we adjust to quarantine life and prepare for the “new normal” that awaits us, our everyday routine has brought us closer to our living rooms and our remote controls. It may be monotonous, but we should remind ourselves that it could be worse. Imagine being ordered to stay at home during the time of the Spanish Flu that paralyzed the country in 1918. Imagine how your days would be spent before the era of television, mobile devices, and the internet.
It was a simpler time, which is not necessarily a bad thing. One could argue people spent more quality time with their families before those technologies. I remember earlier days of playing cards with my entire family. Although we only played for pennies, those games remain some of my memories that I always cherish and will never forget.
That said, we now live in this technology era. During this quarantine, without family around (other than of course my wonderful wife), I have gone back in time and binge-watched some of my favorite TV series. Here’s my all-time Top 5 with a few of my favorite clips to enjoy. Stay safe friends, this will all be over soon enough…
1. The Sopranos
How could I not rank a show from New Jersey about Italian wise guys my #1?! I had the pleasure of hanging out with the crew on a few occasions. All of them were down to earth and incredibly nice people. James Gandolfini and I spent some time hanging at the Golden Nugget back in the day.
While he played a tough-guy killer on the show, he was a kind, gentle person and has been missed since his sudden passing.
Some of my favorite scenes were Tony in therapy explaining what made him happy/sad/upset with work and family.
The scene below was from his first session with Dr. Melfi:
2. The Honeymooners
This is the first TV show I ever watched and still one of my all-time favorites. Jackie Gleason was the first TV star I remember from childhood. I still watch the reruns and can’t help laugh at the chemistry Gleason, Carney, and Meadows had. The back and forth between characters “Ralph” and “Norton” have been emulated by comedians decades after the show was over. Some may be surprised that there were only 39 episodes in the series, but I’ve always said, quality over quantity. Below is a clip from one of my favorite episodes where Ralph finds a briefcase of cash and, for a fleeting moment, feels rich.
This NYC comedy ranks high on many people’s list. Dubbed “A show about nothing”, it remains the undisputed champion of smart sitcoms. Not a week goes by in my everyday life when I don’t find myself in a situation that reminds me of an episode. Renting a car, waiting for a table at a restaurant, or facing a break-up, Jerry and his crew provided laughs and insight on the most mundane of events. Amazingly, the show was almost cancelled after one season before it caught on and became part of our social consciousness. It remarkably stands the test of time and truly never gets old. I probably have seen each episode 10 times and whenever it comes on, I am there for the eleventh. From “Yada Yada” to “Close Talker” to “Shrinkage”, Seinfeld made contributions to the English language that no other show can match. And by making the decision to call it quits after season 9, it is one of the few shows that never jumped the shark, still pumping out classic episodes into its final season – like one of my all-timers, “Kramerica Industries”.
This one doesn’t make the list for a lot of people, but it always be near the top of mine. It’s more of a happy good vibe show. The first few seasons definitely were the better ones, showing an insider’s view of how the entertainment business works. Based loosely on executive producer Mark Wahlberg and his hometown buddies, they kept each episode fun and the music always was great. The 30-minute episode length keeps the attention of ADD watchers like me. The primary comedy came from Johnny Drama (Kevin Dillion) and Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven). Some of my favorite scenes were, like the Sopranos, set in a therapy session – specifically, Ari and his wife in marriage counseling.
5. Breaking Bad
At first blush, “Mild mannered high school chemistry teacher becomes badass Meth Kingpin” is not a pitch that would pique my interest. Well, that changed after one episode. No episodic drama can match what Breaking Bad provided week after week. With only 5 seasons, BB became the most awarded television show ever. Every single scene has a purpose. There are no throwaway moments. Every scene also fits into the massive series landscape, which makes it seem like the writers had everything plotted out start to finish from Day 1. The show is supported by a perfect cast playing characters with depth unlike any other show. Bryan Cranston’s portrayal of Walter White and the transformation he goes through from beginning to end is nothing short of mesmerizing. The show kept you on not only the edge of your seat but also a roller coaster of emotions swinging back and forth on who to root for. This was the genius of the show – the hero and the villain became one. Chills went down my spine when Walter flipped the final switch and revealed to Skyler who the man she married had become.