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Television's best

TV's best EVER, says TV Guide, was Mary mourning Chuckles the Clown

Web posted June 23, 1997

 A list of the best shows

AP Television Writer

NEW YORK - TV Guide loves Lucy - but it loves Mary just a little more.

The best television show ever, the magazine has decided, was the 1975 episode of ``The Mary Tyler Moore Show'' where the WJM-TV newsroom gang mourns the death of Chuckles the Clown.

It came in just ahead of Lucille Ball's tipsy turn as the Vitameatavegamin Girl.

Moore figures in four of TV Guide's picks as top 100 episodes, two as star of her eponymous 1970s series and two as Laura Petrie in ``The Dick Van Dyke Show.''

Choosing the top episodes involved ``lots of arguing, which we're still doing,'' among the weekly magazine's editors and the staffers from cable's Nick at Nite who were called in to help, said Steven Reddicliffe, TV Guide's editor in chief. The list appears in this week's issue.

Not only was Chuckles' demise the high point of one of television's best shows, it managed the delicate trick of getting laughs from a funeral, he said.

``It still makes you laugh and laugh uproariously,'' he said. ``And it really opened the door for comedies to look at subject matters that they hadn't before.''

Ball's 1952 ``I Love Lucy'' episode where she gets drunk on a health elixir designed to make ``happy, peppy people'' shows her talent for physical comedy ``at its most vibrant and resourceful,'' the magazine said.

Episodes from today's two most popular shows were third and fourth on the list.

No. 3, the top drama, was a particularly hectic 1995 day on ``ER'' when Anthony Edwards' character misdiagnosed a pregnant woman.

In fourth place was a 1992 ``Seinfeld'' with former baseball star Keith Hernandez. TV Guide editors snubbed another episode, ``The Contest,'' where Jerry and the gang try to prove who's master of their domain.

``It was the one that got the most attention, but we didn't feel it was the best one,'' senior editor Jill Rachlin said.

Ten series showed up twice each on the list, including three still in production: ``The X-Files,'' ``The Simpsons'' and ``Seinfeld.''

The Vitameatavegamin Girl episode was the oldest show picked. ``Ellen's'' coming-out episode, ranked No. 35, was the most recent.

Editors sifted through about 750 nominees. Their arguments included one fight on whether to choose ``The Brady Bunch'' episode where Marcia dates former Monkee Davy Jones or the one where she gets hit in the face with a football. Davy won.

Shows that didn't make the cut included ``Dallas,'' ``Maude,'' ``Designing Women,'' ``The Rockford Files'' and ``Golden Girls.''

Among those that did make the grade were some that were easy to miss, such as ``On the Air,'' which was on the air for only three episodes in 1992.

The final tally suggests the golden age of television may be right now.

``People will argue that the '50s were,'' Reddicliffe said. ``For this kind of list, there were a surprising number of contemporary shows - `Seinfeld,' `Frasier,' `The X-Files,' `The Simpsons.' This is a great time to be watching television. I don't think there's ever been as many great shows on.''

Television's best episodes, as ranked by TV Guide:

1. The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1975), ``Chuckles Bites the Dust.''

2. I Love Lucy (1952), ``Lucy Does a TV Commercial.''

3. ER (1995), ``Love's Labor Lost.''

4. Seinfeld (1992), ``The Boyfriend.''

5. The Odd Couple (1972), ``Password.''

6. The Honeymooners (1956), ``The $99,000 Answer.''

7. Cheers (1986), ``Thanksgiving Orphans.''

8. The Dick Van Dyke Show (1965), ``Coast-to-Coast Big Mouth.''

9. The Bob Newhart Show (1975), ``Over the River and Through the Woods.''

10. The X-Files (1995), ``Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose.''

11. The Twilight Zone (1962), ``To Serve Man.''

12. Fawlty Towers (1980), ``The Germans.''

13. All in the Family (1972), ``Sammy's Visit.''

14. Wiseguy (1988), ``Blood Dance.''

15. The Dick Van Dyke Show (1963), ``It May Look Like a Walnut.''

16. Columbo (1971), ``Murder by the Book.''

17. The Simpsons (1990), ``The Crepes of Wrath.''

18. I Love Lucy (1956), ``Lucy's Italian Movie.''

19. Taxi (1981), ``Latka the Playboy.''

20. M-A-S-H (1975), ``Abyssinia, Henry.''

21. Roseanne (1993), ``A Stash from the Past.''

22. Thirtysomething (1990), ``The Towers of Zenith.''

23. The Fugitive (1967), ``The Judgment, Part II.''

24. The Andy Griffith Show (1963), ``Opie the Birdman.''

25. Twin Peaks (1990), ``Twin Peaks.''

26. The Honeymooners (1955), ``TV or Not TV.''

27. The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1973), ``The Lars Affair.''

28. Gunsmoke (1966), ``The Jailer.''

29. The Wonder Years (1988), ``My Father's Office.''

30. Playhouse 90 (1956), ``Mount.''

31. The Twilight Zone (1961), ``It's a Good Life.''

32: Homicide: Life on the Street (1996), ``Prison Riot.''

33. Seinfeld (1991), ``The Parking Garage.''

34. Moonlighting (1985), ``The Dream Sequence Always Rings Twice.''

35. Ellen (1997), ``The Puppy Episode.''

36. NYPD Blue (1993), ``True Confessions.''

37. The Brady Bunch (1971), ``Getting Davy Jones.''

38. My So-Called Life (1994), ``Life of Brian.''

39. The Larry Sanders Show (1996), ``The Truth is Out There.''

40. WKRP in Cincinnati (1978), ``Turkeys Away.''

41. Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1960), ``Man From the South.''

42. Leave it to Beaver (1957), ``Captain Jack.''

43. Frasier (1994), ``The Matchmaker.''

44. St. Elsewhere (1986), ``Time Heals.''

45. Cheers (1987), ``Home is the Sailor.''

46. Brooklyn Bridge (1991), ``When Irish Eyes Are Smiling.''

47. Absolutely Fabulous (1994), ``Absolutely Fabulous.''

48. Bewitched (1966), ``Divided He Falls.''

49. Hill Street Blues (1984), ``Grace Under Pressure.''

50. The Bob Newhart Show (1977), ``Death Be My Destiny.''

51. Perry Mason (1963), ``The Case of the Deadly Verdict.''

52. Gilligan's Island (1966), ``The Producer.''

53. The Phil Silvers Show (1955), ``The Eating Contest.''

54. The Cosby Show (1985), ``Happy Anniversary.''

55. The Prisoner (1968), ``Fall Out.''

56. The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show (1954), ``Columbia Pictures Doing Burns & Allen Story.''

57. On the Air (1992), ``The Lester Guy Show.''

58. The Odd Couple (1971), ``Fat Farm.''

59. Green Acres (1968), ``A Star Named Arnold is Born.''

60. Murder One (1995), ``Chapter 1.''

61. Car 54, Where Are You? (1962), ``How Smart Can You Get.''

62. The Beverly Hillbillies (1964), ``Hedda Hopper's Hollywood.''

63. Taxi (1979), ``Reverend Jim: Space Odyssey.''

64. The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis (1959), ``The Best-Dressed Man.''

65. Northern Exposure (1990), ``The Aurora Borealis.''

66. The Simpsons (1993), ``Gabbo is Fabbo.''

67. Get Smart (1968), ``The Groovy Guru.''

68. Family Ties (1987), ```A' My Name is Alex.''

69. Buffalo Bill (1984), ``Jerry Lewis Week.''

70. Star Trek: The Next Generation (1990), ``The Best of Both Worlds: Part 1.''

71. The Patty Duke Show (1964), ``The Cousins.''

72. The X-Files (1997), ``Small Potatoes.''

73. Mister Ed (1963), ``Leo Durocher Meets Mister Ed.''

74. Combat (1963), ``Survival.''

75. 3rd Rock From the Sun (1996), ``Hotel Dick.''

76. Lost in Space (1966), ``The Great Vegetable Rebellion.''

77. Barney Miller (1976), ``Hash.''

78. The Partridge Family (1971), ``Soul Club.''

79. Law & Order (1994), ``Sanctuary.''

80. M-A-S-H (1976), ``The Interview.''

81. Maverick (1958), ``Shady Deal at Sunny Acres.''

82. The Love Boat (1985), ``The 200th Episode.''

83. Have Gun, Will Travel (1958), ``Hey Boy's Revenge.''

84. Mad About You (1995), ``The Alan Brady Show.''

85. Dragnet (1967), ``The LSD Story.''

86. Batman (1966), ``The Purr-Fect Crime'' and ``Better Luck Next Time.''

87. China Beach (1989), ``Tet '68.''

88. Happy Days (1975), ``Richie Fights Back.''

89. Speed Racer (1967), ``Who is Racer X?''

90. Miami Vice (1985), ``Out Where the Buses Don't Run.''

91. L.A. Law (1991), ``Good to the Last Drop.''

92. Star Trek (1967), ``City on the Edge of Forever.''

93. Naked City (1961), ``Sweet Prince of Delancy Street.''

94. Mork & Mindy (1980), ``Mork's Mixed Emotions.''

95. The Mod Squad (1970), ``Mother of Sorrow.''

96. Picket Fences (1995), ``Heart of Saturday Night.''

97. Little House on the Prairie (1978), ``I'll Be Waving as You Drive Away.''

98. The Outer Limits (1963), ``The Zanti Misfits.''

99. The Untouchables (1960), ``The Rusty Heller Story.''

100. Friends (1996), ``The One With the Prom Video.''

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