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Best Television Shows of the 90’s

90s shows collage

A recent 90’s trivia night took me back to the decade that shaped me (and explained all the major issues I still have today) and recall the best television shows from that time in my own personal rankings.

There was no Netflix, TV on DVD, or amazing cable dramas for us to obsess over and build entire conventions and reddit pages around. In the 90’s, the major networks still largely cornered the market for top television and we had to watch the night it was on or set the VCR if he wanted to keep up with our favorite shows.

Now, I don’t have any set criteria for this list. It’s entirely my subjective opinions, so I’m sure many will want to argue and debate the choices I made. But I did not exclusively make this list of shows I watched at the time. I tried to think which shows were popular then and have had the most cultural impact since in determining how all the shows were slotted.

So, without further ado, here’s my list of the top TV shows from the 90’s.

 

10. Boy Meets World

Boy Meets World

The legendary status of Cory Matthews and crew seems to grow by the year as 90’s kids everywhere reminisce. And Cory’s misadventures with Shawn, his pursuit of star-crossed lover Topanga, and the many lessons the ganglearned from the iconic Mr. Feeny, should have a required place on all best of 90’s TV recollections.

And what about Cory’s cool brother Eric? What, you don’t remember him? Me either. I prefer the goofy version he morphed into that breathed new life into the show in later seasons.

9. Saved By the Bell

Saved by the Bell

Another nod to our adolescent/preteen nostalgia, “Saved by the Bell” is the only Saturday morning show to make the list. And it’s crazy to look back and recall how much we adored this show when you consider the time period it was on.

Saved by the Bell was basically after school special running smack dab in the middle of the angst filled early nineties. How crazy is it that so many whose formative years were 1989-1993 would tune into “Saved by the Bell” in the morning, then pop in the “Chronic” CD and listen to “Smells Like Teen Spirit afterwards.

Zach and the gang deserve their spot on this list just for finding their foothold in that environment.

8. NYPD Blue

NYPD Blue

I never watched the influential detective drama. But it clearly had its audience. And if you like the random placement of bare bottoms on cable/network TV, be sure to thank NYPD Blue for knocking down that barrier.

7. Beverly Hills 90210

Beverly Hills 90210

90210 was another show I did not watch. But every decade needs its angst filled teen drama. And 90210 fit the bill with its tension-filled relationships and handling of 90’s social issues.

90210 was also one of Fox’s (then a new network) first big hits. And while summer seasons are common place for many hit shows across various network and cable channels now, it was a rare summer run in 1991 that propelled 90210 hit status.

6. Home Improvement

Home Improvement

Comedian Tim Allen became a star with “Home Improvement,” the top family comedy of the 90’s.

Playing Tim “The Toolman” Taylor, Allen was the best of the many goofball dads of the decade, always finding himself injured or breaking a major household appliance while trying to make a repair or give it “more power.”

5. Roseanne

Roseanne Cast (TV) 1988 1st Season Credit: ABC/Courtesy Neal Peters Collection

Before Roseanne, sitcom families were mostly affluent, living charmed lives in pristine homes. Roseanne, however, represented how far more American families lived than had been previously represented on network television.

Also, Roseanne became a pipeline for many of the stars/recurring stars that would appear on “The Big Bang Theory,” a top comedy from the modern era of television.

4. Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

Fresh Prince

Mega star Will Smith was born Monday nights on NBC in the hit comedy “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”

But Smith’s presence wasn’t all the made this hit comedy last. There was “the Carlton” (cue “It’s Not Unusual” by Tom Jones), Jazz getting thrown out of the house by Uncle Phil, and that unforgettable theme song that’s been in your head since you started reading this entry.

3. ER

ER

The fast paced medical drama that introduced the world to George Clooney was the best drama of the 90’s, winning 23 Primetime Emmy Awards. But it wasn’t just the high stakes patient story lines and drama surrounding the everyday lives of the staff at County General Hospital in Chicago that kept us interested. ER was one of those shows that wasn’t afraid to kill off departing characters at a time before Game of Thrones made it cool.

2. Friends

Friends

My wife will hate this choice, but I have to go with shows that were popular and had impact. And no show in the nineties (well other than the two shows still remaining on the countdown) had both of those like “Friends.”

For popularity, just look at the ratings, where “Friends” was top 10 show for its entire 10 season run. As far as impact, “Friends” was an early example of a show that broke the conventional family sitcom model. Shows like “The Big Bang Theory” and “How I Met Your Mother” can thank “Friends” for the “friends are your family” model of sitcom that is commonplace in today’s TV landscape.

1b. The Simpsons

The Simpsons

Anybody out there have a primetime animated show they just love? “Family Guy?” “Bob’s Burgers?”  “South Park?” Well, it was “The Simpsons” who cleared the path for the primetime animated show that appeals to an older audience.

And congratulations to “The Simpsons” for being the only show on this list still on the air. 4LN’s own Bill Clark is still a huge fan of Springfield’s most famous family. In fact, the show may very well still be on the air as a way just to keep Bill off the streets on Sunday nights.

1a. Seinfeld

seinfeld

Cultural impact can be measured in many ways. And one of the best ways to measure it in a TV show is through quotes. “No soup for you,” “I was in the pool,” “Not that there’s anything wrong with that,” “Yada, yada, yada,” “Double dipping,” “There real, and their spectacular,” and “Regifter” are all popular phrases and quotes that Seinfeld either originated or revived in American language.

I also consider Seinfeld to be one of the first shows (though “All in the Family” could be considered strongly for this as well) that revolved itself around really unlikable people. We currently live in the age of the antihero. But “Seinfeld” takes that a step further, asking us to follow people who aren’t heroes at all. They’re just inconsiderate jerks who obsessed over the small things in life. But yet, we laughed anyway (and felt a little guilty at times knowing we’d complained about many of those same things).

How is your list different from mine for the 90’s best shows? Who did I leave off that should be? Who did I include that has no business there? Let me know in the comments.

4LN Music Review – Okilly Dokilly: “Howdilly Doodilly”

od

 

For a while now, word has been travelling far and wide of the best darn-diddly Ned Flanders themed metal band this side of Ogdenville. I think the first time I became aware of them was when this O.C. Weekly profile piece started trending about a year ago. As a long time metalhead, and even longer time as a Simpsons-head (that nickname needs work), I could not have been more excited. At the time the band only had some demo tracks available, but those showed how much potential the whole thing had. This past week, Okilly Dokilly released their first full-length album “Howdilly Doodilly”, and it’s clear those demos were barely scratching the surface of possibilities.

 

 

The band, (rumored to hail from North Haverbrook, “Where the Monorail is King!”) self-describes themselves as the world’s only Nedal band (Ned+metal). I would almost 100% agree this is true. Their commitment to the tribute is admirable, as the members all go by “Ned” as well. There’s Head Ned on vocals, Stead Ned on guitar, Red Ned handling synths and keyboards, Thread Ned slaps the bass, and Bled Ned pummels away at the drums. (Even their manager gets in on it, going by Reverend Killjoy.)

Per the band themselves, “The lyrics are 75% Ned quotes and 25% other characters/original.” So right off the bat this is sure to be a crowd-pleaser for Simpsons fans everywhere. If you are one of those die-hard Simpsons fans, you should consider getting the CD from their online store because in the liner’s they include exactly what season and episode each set of lyrics are from. With classics like “Ann Landers is a boring old biddy” and “I don’t want any damn vegetables”, you’ll be singing (screaming? growling?) along at the top of your lungs.

 

 

The spirit of the whole thing is probably somewhere between Tenacious D and Dethklok. It’s sort of parody and sort of homage, but they create something completely original out of it. Obviously their sound would fall closer to Dethklok, but there’s a playfulness that gives it that “Tribute” sense.

Musically, the band is pretty eclectic but, if I have to generalize, I’d say that overall the sound feels like “Burned Alive By Time“-era Evergreen Terrace mixed with some influence by 70’s Black Sabbath. It’s very early-mid 2000’s metalcore, but the synth and keys add a classic metal vibe to it. As I said though, it’s very eclectic, and you can pick out lots of different influences. For example, “You’re a Jerk” has a punk feel and sounds like it could’ve been a 90’s-era-AFI song,  “Press Destruct Button” reminded me of something off of Showbread’s “No Sir, Nihilism Is Not Practical“, and the song “Panic Room” starts with a ZZ Top-esque riff, but then when the “We’ll be safe inside our fortress when they come” verse kicks in the song hilariously changes to a Country Western style, borrowing from “She’ll be comin’ ’round the mountain when she comes.” (Sadly there are no noticeable Andy Williams influences on the record.)

The first single off of the album is “White Wine Spritzer”, which they also shot a music video for that you can see right here!

 

 

“Howdilly Doodilly” is everything you’d expect a Simpsons themed metal album to be, and more. I haven’t stopped listening to it all week long. It’s heavy, fun, and delvers plenty of catchy tunes that I guarantee you’ll find yourself singing randomly throughout your day, which is pretty much what we already do with Simpsons quotes anyway, only now they’ll have melodies to go along with them!

The band has made the album available on Spotify, but I would strongly encourage you to buy it directly from them through their Bandcamp or their online store, the “Online Leftorium Superstore“. They’re completely independent and it’s really important to support independent music so that the artists you love (be they parody or otherwise) can keep serving up great jams. Also, this would make make a great holiday gift for that Simpsons lover/metalhead in your life. Just sayin…

You can get the album from iTunes and Amazon as well.

They’ve also announced that they’ll be supporting Mac Sabbath and Metalachi on the “Mockstrosity 2017 Tour“, so make sure you head out and catch them if they roll through your town! I know I’m going to!

 

4LN’s Favorite Free Comic Book Day 2014 Titles

Well folks, Free Comic Book day 2014 has come and gone, and all we’re left with… are these tons and tons of great free comics! Man, were there some GREAT ones this year! We here at 4LN have been avidly working through our stack and we wanted to share with you our favorites!

 

Stephen Andrew – My favorite book was definitely Rocket Raccoon. I’ve always been a fan of the character anyway, and seeing him get an opportunity to be showcased more on his own (well, Groot’s there too) is really exciting. The book features Rocket and Groot on a mission to rescue a princess from some intergalactic baddies. But, as you can imagine, things don’t go quite as planned. I like serious comics, but I honestly prefer my books to more on the “ridiculous” side of things. I like a comic that knows it’s a comic. That’s why I loved this first in what will hopefully be many more adventures of Rocket.

 

Lycan (6 year old) – My favorite book was Zombie Kid Diaries, because it was about a high school kid who’s a zombie.

(Editor’s Note – This title appears to have been leftover from our local shop’s Halloween Comicfest stash, but it was still free!)

 

Cam – This was my very first FCBD and I had a great time! The only book I have been able to read out of my free books is Guardians of the Galaxy. I am pretty unfamiliar with the series, but with the movie coming out I wanted to give it a try (I’m a sucker for trends). The first part of the book served as an introduction to the members of the Guardians through narration by Marvel Cash Cow, Tony Stark, as well as introducing a new member to the team, Agent Venom (who seems to be a cross between Spider-Man and the Punisher – what could possibly go wrong). Tony’s perspective is hilarious, and giving each character a page or two of back story was a great idea for us newcomers (most people). The second part of the book had to do with a Thanos storyline. Thanos seems to be more introspective and emotional this go around, but I probably won’t read the rest of that storyline so I guess I will never know why. The third and final part had to do with the Spiderverse and included a Spider-Man in a Shakespearean era that was killed by what appears to be a Vampire… no idea. The GotG introduction was great; the Thanos storyline was alright; the Spiderverse story just left me befuddled enough to use the word befuddled when describing it.

 

Bill– One of my favorite books was actually The Simpsons book from Bongo. Growing up, my brother always had The Simpsons on in the house so my love for them has been since birth. I ALWAYS enjoy a Simpsons comic because they are just fun. Its a simple little read and you don’t have to know what’s going in in the previous 100 issues and what is going to happen in the next 100 (I’m looking at you Johnathan Hickman!). My favorite Story in this book was the Bart and Milhouse arc where they try to find their own superheros. I mean, how awesome would that be? We could finally have our own Bartman book! If you aren’t familiar with The Simpsons in the comic book world, you should be reading these hilarious books.

 

Austin (A Nerdy Guest Contributor) -My favorite title from FCBD was actually one I bought, Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft Volume: 1. Not to give too much away, but this was a fantastic read from start to finish. First of all, the art is phenomenal. The violence is not teen rated, there is some brutal f***ing stuff in here. The art is very cartoony, which adds an even stranger element to the panels. The characters have big eyes similar to Japanese manga’s, and the emotions are easily seen within every characters facial expressions. The story paces itself very well, and seems to keep to real time, almost as if you were actually watching this happen. Which is a nice change of pace, compared to feeling like things are happening to quickly that you can’t keep up, that is where Locke and Key shines. The whole volume is shrouded in questions, and you’ll have a lot of them by the end. Picking up Volume 2 is a must for me, because I NEED to know what the hell is going on. I bought this as a Hundred Penny Press (which is a fancy way of saying that it cost a dollar) and it was one of the best comic decisions I’ve ever made. By the end of Volume: 1, Pandora’s Box of questions had been opened for me. Locke & Key: Welcome to LoveCraft has left me with a lot of questions, and I leave it with a 4 out of 4.

 

From The Nerdery: Comic Book Covers, Superhero Video Games, and Breaking the mold… Badly.

For our nerd of the week we’ve chosen Pete Holmes. Pete is a stand-up comedian that you may recognize from some brilliant sketches with College Humor. He’s got a brand new show called “the Pete Holmes Show” premiering after Conan on 10/28, on TBS. We’ve chosen Pete as our Nerd of the Week because of these two, absolutely hilarious, videos…

 

Sometimes you have to poke fun at things you love…

On to the Nerdery…!

 

Stan – What’s your favorite comic book cover?

Man, what’s my favorite comic book cover? That is a really hard question. There is so man to pick from, there is no way I can break it down to just one book, so I am going to go with three different books. Yeah, I know that seems like a bit much but I don’t know what else to do. So for my first one, it’s an old X-Men book, Uncanny X-Men 141. Yeah it’s been done so much and it’s so cliché, but that’s what makes it special to me. It’s one that just pops out into my mind; the other is another X-Men comic, Uncanny X-Men 136. I love the bright colors and everything that’s going on in the background.

Scott holding Jean in his arms and Xavier hanging his head in disbelief in the background, it’s just got a lot of emotions on it. The finale book is a Green Lantern #23. I think its f—king hilarious! It’s called “Threat of The Tattooed Man” for crying out loud! As a man with tattoos, this is amazing. I always enjoy being portrayed in a negative light for my ink! – Bill

 

That is a tough question… I’d have to say “The Death of Superman”.

I remember buying the book as a kid and I felt sadness like I hadn’t before. Seeing Lois hold Superman’s body with blood dripping everywhere messed me up. I went most of my life without losing a close family member or friend and looking at this cover made me terrified. Death wasn’t even on my radar until the moment I picked up that book. I thought, “If Superman can die, then I can die too…” I instantly became terrified of dying. That cover had a very lasting effect on me and will always be one of my favorites. – Stephen

 

I love the cover of Thor: God of Thunder #12.

I love the mythology of Thor, and there is just something epic about his return to Earth. Overall the picture is pretty simple – Thor and buildings, but the artwork is beautiful. The artist does a good job of blending modern times with a mythological epic, which is really what Thor is all about. Well done, sir. – Cam

 

 Lee – “Batman: Arkham Origins” is coming out today. With that in mind, what is your favorite comic book video game?

There is only one answer for best comic book related video game. Arkham Asylum. I don’t feel like I need to even debate why Asylum is the best in the video game world. But I’m a nerd so I like to argue about nothing of importance. I loved the story so much behind Asylum and I loved the riddles. It was all so new and exciting; I had never played a game like that. And Scarecrow was absolutely terrifying in that game. I loved unzipping my dead parents and having Scarecrow pop out. Arkham is the game that started everything for the Batman Extended Game Universe. I think it really helped DC feel more comfortable with a video game franchise. I think with the awesome-ness of Arkham Asylum it gave DC a better feeling to green light Lego Batman 2, Arkham City, Injustice, Arkham Origins and even DC Universe Online. So, thank you Arkham Asylum for being one of my favorite video games of all time, and my absolute favorite comic book game. –Bill

What Bill said (minus the whole unzipping dead parents’ thing) because I am not a sociopath… – Cam

I’m going to go with Arkham City. And while I can’t really do the game justice by trying to explain in words how amazing it is, I will say that one of the main reasons I love it so much is because of how they humanize Mr. Freeze better than he’s ever been portrayed. They did a great job of conveying that he’s just a man, in a shitty situation, trying to save the love of his life. He doesn’t have some grand, elaborate plan of world-domination. He just wants to cure his wife of an illness and bring her back because he misses her. He’s not propelled by greed, or madness, or anarchy, he’s propelled by love. Very few video games can capture something that powerful. Also, Catwoman was hot. – Stephen

 

Nathan – Now that Breaking Bad has set the mold on how a TV show arc should run, what current show with more than 10 years running would you like to see the main character go down in a blaze of glory, and how would it happen?

Man… this was a really tough question for me, simply because there aren’t that many shows on television with the same cast, at least live people that is. I thought about CSI and really it would make sense for someone on that show to lose it and turn against their coworkers in some maniacal way, but I felt that was a lazy answer. I’m going to have to say The Simpson’s. The great thing about cartoons is that they can go anywhere and it won’t really surprise the viewer, but with being such a comical style show it would be very crazy for it end on dark/sad note. How would it end though? Following the Breaking Bad method, there is a definite end for Walt. Even though no one knew how he would die, we all knew it was coming. Who’s the favorite though in the Simpson’s; the whole family. If I had to imagine how the whole family would go down in a blaze of glory it’d be this…

The last season would follow the Simpson’s as they try and survive the apocalypse. Being that they are a resilient bunch (remember the Simpson’s arcade?) they would do whatever they needed to survive. Ultimately starvation would be their end, and the final scene would be with them sitting on the couch one last time. A little macabre, but hey, you asked. – Cody

 

That question is the hardest one I’ve ever had to think about on here. I mean, I was trying to think of a show with that much history that would make sense to end so intensely and I’ve had a hard time. I thought about something like Law & Order: SVU or CSI, but those shows have had such a rotating cast that it’s hard to really be invested in any of the characters the way we were captivated by Walter White. I suppose I’ll have to cheat and say Mad Men. I know it doesn’t have a decade of history behind it, but it’s justifiably demanded our attention since it premiered in 2007.

As up and down as Don Draper’s moods have been, it’s hard to not root for the guy on some level. You can tell that he feels, deeply, but he drowns his regrets in excess living. He wants to be a good person, and I believe that he thinks he is, but he’s clearly divided inside between what he believes he’s supposed to be and what he believes people have to see him as. Watching him slowly die from lung cancer or liver failure on his deathbed, with tears in his eyes, lamenting his mistakes and failures to his daughter would wreck me, but would make so much sense. Seeing the tough, proud father, husband, and boss crumble beneath the weight of what he did with his life and finally seeing him broken would be a very sad, but very fitting close to the show. Watching Walter White die was hard, but watching Don Draper die would hurt. – Stephen