Friday, February 10, 2006
The Best Show On TV
One of my favorite pages on the entire internet (for reasons better left unexplored) is the WWE title histories page. For some reason I could stare at these lists all day (I would imagine a distant cousin of the reason why I was fully capable of staring at a map for three hours at a time when I was a kid. Or even now).
In the spirit of the WWE title histories page, I introduce The Best Show On TV, to be updated on the occasion that the torch is passed, willingly or forcibly, from one show to another. Some title reigns may be extremely short-lived, like those of Kane or Mankind. Some could be downright Hulk Hogan-esque.
Now, there have been The Best Show On TVs before, but there was never a record kept, never an official title declared. So, to all of those former The Best Show On TVs, -- to all you "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"s, all you "Cheers"es, even all you "Dukes of Hazzard"s (it's my list) -- we can only apologize that this list is so long in coming. Such is the nature of life.
And so, without further ado:
The Best Show On TV
"The Office" (NBC) -- 2/9/2006 - present
The title is inaugurated with NBC's adaptation of the BBC's "The Office," considered by some to be the greatest television show of all time. Does NBC's "The Office" get extra credit because it accomplished the once-unthinkable task of adapting such a great sitcom?
It's become a great show in its own right, finding its own characters in some cases where attempting to duplicate the British version would have been an exercise in Quixotic futility, but importing the heart of the show intact without changing a thing.
Does the show occasionally (but only occasionally) suffer from that post-modern, winking, trying-too-hard brand of humor? A little, but less and less. For example, Steve Carrell's boss Michael Scott may be a bit of a social retard, but he's not an idiot; it's hard to believe that he would sincerely call New York, New York "the town so nice, they named it twice," then declare, without irony, that "'Manhattan' is the other name."
But Michael is the toughest character to do, especially given the giant shadow cast by Ricky Gervais's unforgettable performance as boss David Brent, so we'll have some leeway there. Especially since for every "Manhattan," there are five or six touches like Michael's wildly off-the-mark but earnestly (and ably) put-together "The Faces of Scranton" documentary, shown as he is supposed to be reporting on the Scranton branch's performance for the new CFO, that concludes with a homemade "Great Scott Productions" production company logo featuring pictures of Steve Martin and Robin Williams and accompanied by a recording of Michael shouting "Great Scott!" in a bad Scottish accent.
As with the British version, NBC's "The Office" uses its socially needy and inept boss as comic misdirection, making you laugh as it feeds you one of the best unrequited (well, semi-but-therefore-much-more-painfully-requited) love stories in the history of television just a little at a time. The BBC version's brief twelve-episode run (followed by a feature-length special) allowed the Dawn and Tim arc to play out at the perfect pace; the American version, with 20-odd episodes a year, might have more trouble with Pam and Jim as the years go on, but so far they been pitch perfect. A brief reference to Pam's interest in illustration and graphic design in a previous episode hints that the NBC folks may just keep right on going in the same direction as the BBC version; here's hoping they can pull it off. I imagine they can; after doubting the wisdom of remaking the show in the first place, and doubting that it could ever be anything but a pale imitation of the British version, I'm through doubting "The Office."
Still, as great as it is, it's not The Best Show On TV by a particularly large margin. "Boston Legal," "Veronica Mars," "The Amazing Race," "My Name Is Earl"... the title is there for the taking. Let the games begin.
Oh yeah, The Office is good too. The British version might be too, if I understood a goddamn word they were saying.
Probably because it's the WCW/NWA title, and although WWE owns all that stuff now, those titles didn't really occur within the WWE universe. The World Heavyweight Title is basically the old WCW title, though it's not officially called that. I'm sure a wild debate rages somewhere in the deepest recesses of the internet over whether the World Heavyweight Title (currently residing with Kurt Angle on "SmackDown!") traces its lineage back to WCW.
What basically happened was this: WWE took over WCW, and so for a little while there was a WWE champ and a WCW champ, both of whom wrestled on WWE programming (i.e., "Raw" and "SmackDown!"). They, they unified the belts (Chris Jericho becoming the champ). In the meantime, "Raw" and "SmackDown!" had been divided into their own universes, with wrestlers appearing exclusively on one show or the other (except for a few Pay-Per-Views a year).
The champion would appear on both shows, but, after doing that for a little while, they invented the World Heavyweight Title (the belt of which looks a lot like the old WCW title), so that there could be in effect two champions at a time (and, in the opinion of this wrestling fan, cheapening both belts).
So, long story short, there is officially no belt in the WWE right now that traces its lineage back to the old WCW title, so I'd guess that's why they don't have that title history on their page.
Also, I saw Kane and the Hurricane beat Christian and Lance Storm for the tag team belts live in Anaheim. So, there's that.
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