Last week, Jim Werdell, the chairman of MENSA — you know, those people who are smarter than not only a fifth grader, but you and me, too — released a list of the 10 brainiest shows on the aptly named boob tube. And for many critics, his list might just as well be titled “Fighting Words.”
The show which seems to be creating the biggest outcry is the inclusion of the classic NBC sitcom MAD ABOUT YOU. Apparently, that witty, winning look at the joys and trials of marriage is not considered by many to be “worthy” of the list.
Did I mention that the list includes CSI?
I suppose we should back up and start with the list. Here, according to the brainiac, are the 10 smartest shows in the history of television:
5. THE WEST WING
6. BOSTON LEGAL
7. ALL IN THE FAMILY
9. MAD ABOUT YOU
Now granted, it’s not like anybody expected the list to include SURVIVOR or GENERAL HOSPITAL. But for me, the standout show — and not in a good way — has to be CSI. Several years ago, TV Guide ran a fantastic piece in which they asked real-life forensic experts to evaluate several cases undertook by Grissom and company. Turns out that according to the experts, fiction was a whole lot stranger — and less believable — than fact.
I also don’t know that I would consider ALL IN THE FAMILY one of the “smartest” shows of all time. Groundbreaking? Without a doubt. Ahead of its time? No question. But smart enough to beat out such shows as, say, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA or ? Based on what? And how is BOSTON LEGAL, which goes over the top more often than DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES (which is truly saying something), more worthy of a Golden Brain (which is the award I’ve decided winning entries should be granted) than Kelly’s earlier, superior offering, PICKET FENCES?
HOUSE may be good television, but does spouting complex medical jargon while following what is basically a “disease-of-the-week” formula make the crotchety doc more MENSA worthy than LAW & ORDER, which is so accurate in its courtroom proceedings that for years, it was used as a teaching aide in classrooms dealing with legal maneuverings?
As with all such lists, this one was designed to spur conversation, and it’s done that. And now’s your chance to chime in: What shows do you think should have been on the list? Which ones would you bump? MENSA may not listen, but we will!