Top Ten TV Shows About The Media Business and Advertising
- Mary Tyler Moore 1970-1977
This show probably makes the list of all-time TV shows period. Mary and friends comically tackled the world of local Minneapolis TV news and showed a behind the scenes look at the craziness it took to get on the air each night. Although Mary was the center of the show, Ted Knight as the pompous, wacky, egotistical news anchor and Ed Asner as the gruff, but softhearted, liberal general manager, stole the show. Don't forget Galvin MacLeod, as wise cracking copywriter Murray, in his pre-Love Boat days.
- WKRP in Cincinnati 1978-1982
Great ensemble cast, full of ridiculously stereotyped, radio-industry characters that were out-in-out funny - the hip black DJ (remember Venus Flytrap), the cool sixties-burn out DJ, the smarmy sales exec, the nerdy news reporter and of course Loni Anderson as the buxomly blonde receptionist. The episode when they aired a live Thanksgiving Day promo where they broadcasted turkeys being tossed from a helicopter still makes me laugh 25 years later just thinking about it.
- Thirtysomething 1987-1991
It's why many of us got into the advertising business during the 80's. The first show I remember that showed how an ad agency worked - brainstorming creative ideas, pitching the account and losing the business. Short lived, but it left a lasting impression on this industry. Still the best of its genre.
- Murphy Brown 1988-1998
While many remember this show for the single-mother Murphy Brown versus Vice President Dan Quayle controversy, it still was very funny show that skewered the magazine-format evening news shows. Unlike most shows where much of the action took place "off-air," Murphy Brown's funniest moments were the FYI "on-air" interviews.
- The Larry Sanders Show 1992-1998
Garry Shandling hilariously bites the hand that feeds him in his dead-on clubbing of the late night talk show world. His portrait of Larry Sanders as a self-absorbed, paranoid, semi-talented host has his tongue so firmly entrenched in his cheek, it is a wonder he can talk. Brilliant stuff from his side-kicks to the "real" stars who wanted to be on the fake show more than the Tonight Show.
- Lou Grant 1977-1982
Ed Asner, in a spin-off of his role from the Mary Tyler Moore Show, but this time as a gruff, but softhearted, liberal newspaper editor. Unlike MTM, this drama took on hard-hitting issues that broke much ground at the time. Don't forget the late Nancy Marchand, as the paper's publisher, twenty years before she became Tony Soprano's Mama on The Sopranos.
- Melrose Place 1992-1999
Once you get past the catfights, bed hopping and melodramatic situations of living in a cool southern California apartment complex, there was a great storyline about the catfights, bed hopping and melodramatic situations of young people working and struggling at an ad agency.
- Home Improvement 1991-1999
Tim Allen's role as a clumsy host of the television program Tool Time made him a star and a mega-money maker for Disney. Like Murphy Brown, the best part of the show was not Allen's dysfunction family life, but the "on-air" antics of his dysfunctional home improvement show.
- Just Shoot Me 1997-2003
Set in the New York editorial offices of the fictional fashion magazine Blush this wacky ensemble shows just what it takes to publish a magazine each month. David Spade keeps the humor on high octane, but how they pull the magazine off each month is also compelling.
- NewsRadio 1995-1999
This show will always be remembered for the program that the late great Phil Hartman was on when he was murdered. But the show, about the staff of WNYX, a wacky radio station in New York City, also stands on its own, and just behind WKRP, as the best take on the radio business.
Honorable Mention: Fernwood 2Night (TV Talk Show), Bewitched (Advertising), Dick Van Dyke Show (TV Variety Show), Suddenly Susan (Magazine), Sports Night (TV Sports Show)