Another old gray head bites the dust. Andy Rooney, 92 years young with eyebrows like John L. Lewis’s, went to his maker as though he’d planned it all along. Less than a month since he said his goodbyes to the faithful of 60 Minutes, he died as he had lived, a curmudgeon giving his finger to the world. How fitting to be able to retire from one’s life’s work and then retire from life. He was always remarkably quotable. Here are just two of the things he had to say: “There are too many events, too many movies and too much television. There are too many books to read. The newspaper keeps coming. There's no time to sit down and stare out the window without feeling you ought to be doing something.” “Sometimes it's hard to decide what to think and write about. For instance, I might be able to make something out of the difference between the words some time and sometime and even sometimes.” So, goodbye, Andy, you old reprobate. We won’t see the likes of you for a while.
I’ve been thinking about tv comedies, which ones were then and are still now my favorites. I can think of seven that fill that bill: Mash, Seinfeld, Cheers, The Bill Cosby Show, Dick Van Dyke, Lucy, and All in the Family. Have I missed any? I don’t think so, although Frasier might be another. Or Friends. The order? Probably Seinfeld, then Mash, then All in the Family, Lucy, Cheers, Bill Cosby, Dick Van Dyke. Lots of people would put Lucy in first place, remembering her and Viv on the candy factory assembly line, or mashing grapes in the big vat, or making the vitamin elixir commercial. Many would pick the dysfunctional family and its affairs as Archie traded insults with Mike the “Meathead.” And many would choose Mash, from its years and years in syndication, the show winning new audiences of young people tuning in to see the shenanigans of the crazy mash unit during the Korean War. Many would pick The Bill Cosby Show, faithful viewers of Bill doing his father-knows-best bit each week. But of all of them, Seinfeld and his about-nothing scripts has to be the best of the best. There are so many episodes that I and millions of others remember, still universally funny: George and shrinkage, the soup Nazi, George and double-dipping, the Newman greeting, the big salad, Kramer’s entries to Jerry’s apartment, the puffy shirt. There are too many to mention, but I find myself laughing even as I remember them. Have I missed any other shows? Do you disagree with the order of my listing? If so, let me know in the comment box.