Unfortunately you’ll also have to put up with some perennially overrated shows. Some of these are still drawing strong ratings, while others have been put out of their misery. If you’re unlucky enough to stumble upon one of these shows, well . you have my deepest sympathies.
“Friends” wasn’t bad, just way, way overrated. The writing wasn’t anything special, but the series had its moments.
9. “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”
Will Smith is overrated as a comic actor, serious actor and rapper. But given that he’s overrated in so many areas, you might think he’d be a total waste. which, somehow, he isn’t.
8. “That ’70s Show”
A friend of mine thinks this was the funniest show of the ’90s. This same friend used the word “techniquely” on the high school assessment test, so take that opinion with a metric ton of salt.
7. “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno”
The only tolerable part of this show is the “Headlines” segment, which is pretty much just five minutes of accidental double entendres. Conan can’t take over soon enough.
6. “Mad TV”
They haven’t had a single genuinely funny sketch in 12 years. Some people call it a “poor man’s Saturday Night Live.” In my mind, it’s more of a “dead man’s Saturday Night Live.”
5. “Mind of Mencia”
Comedy Central replaced “The Chapelle Show” with this travesty. That’s like Guns ‘n Roses replacing Slash and Axl with Art Garfunkle and a fire hydrant in a bandana.
4. “Drawn Together”
The less said the better.
3. “American Dad”
It’s been said that “Family Guy” took “The Simpsons” and added a talking dog. Well, “American Dad” took “Family Guy” and subtracted all the jokes.
Four nobodies plus the always-overrated Jeremy Piven? Sounds great. Each character is more annoying than the last, but the show’s a phenomenon. Maybe I’m missing something.
1. “Mind of Mencia”
Yes, it’s already listed at number five, but you could argue that Carlos Mencia deserves numbers one through five all to himself. It’s as though a team of the world’s finest engineers got together to make the least funny show possible. Mission accomplished, gentlemen.
Even if I were offered a million dollars to make this show less funny I don’t think I could do it. It would be easier to stumble upon the Fountain of Youth on your way between classes.
There are some fantastic shows that you might not have even known existed. A lot of these can be found on DVD or in syndication. But only one of the shows is coming back this fall, so enjoy it while you can. If history is any indicator, underrated shows have a way of disappearing.
10. “Arrested Development”
An ensemble cast, a ton of self-referential jokes and season-long storylines are what made this show so amazing. They’re also probably what got it canceled, because casual viewers never watched.
9. “Upright Citizens Brigade”
To be honest, I’ve only seen one episode of this show, but it started with a Girl Scout selling cookies to the Unabomber and only got weirder from there.
8. “Andy Richter Controls the Universe”
When Andy Richter left his gig as Conan O’Brien’s sidekick, it seemed like a really bad idea. And, actually, it still seems like a really bad idea. But after leaving Conan, Andy landed his own show, which was decent while it lasted.
7. “Cheap Seats”
Basically “Mystery Science Theater 3000,” except the robots are replaced with twin brothers. And the bad movies were replaced with really old, bizarre ESPN telecasts (rodeos, mini-golf championships and lawnmower races).
6. “The Sarah Silverman Program”
When this debuted it seemed destined to be cancelled, because although it was good, it was kind of out there. Luckily, Comedy Central is bringing it back this season.
5. “The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn”
Remember Yambo? And Five Questions? Craiggers Kilbornagain has kind of dropped off the map since his cameo in “Old School” (“Good talk, I’ll see you out there”), but this show was great.
4. “Mr. Show”
Essentially Bob Odenkirk and David Cross acting in sketches for a half-hour. Cross still pops up in things, and Odenkirk achieved immortality by writing Matt Foley, motivational speaker for his friend Chris Farley.
Yes, there was some half-baked story that held the show together (Norm MacDonald as an ex-hockey player turned social worker), but it really could’ve been anything. Norm could’ve read the phone book every week and it would’ve been hilarious.
2. “Dog Bites Man”
It got canceled after just nine episodes, but (or maybe because) this was some groundbreaking comedy. Similar to “Da Ali G Show,” starring a fictional news team out of Seattle. One of the funniest shows I’ve seen.
Ricky Gervais followed up BBC’s version of “The Office” with this equally-good series about a struggling actor in London. Like a British “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” but maybe even funnier.