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TVWW Seal of Approval Reaches Golden Anniversary
February 25, 2014  | By David Bianculli  | 1 comment

No, it hasn’t been 50 years since TV Worth Watching started handing out Seals of Approval to DVD collections of TV’s best shows. But we’ve just awarded #50...

The latest, up there right now in the Seal of Approval corner, is a German TV miniseries called Das Boot (photo at top), which was imported by the Bravo cable network in the mid-’80s.

It’s fitting that our selection #50 for a TVWW Seal is a superb long-form TV drama from another country, because so was the very first Seal of Approval, given in 2012 to a British miniseries by Dennis Potter, The Singing Detective (right).

In between those two poles have been 48 other suggestions for building an outstanding, entertaining library of some of the best TV shows in history.

Looking back on that list generates the same level of pride in me, as the compiler, as it should for television itself.

It includes some examples from the earliest days of television, and some recent shows as well. It includes sitcoms and dramas, documentaries and miniseries, made-for-TV movies and international imports.

The rest of the initial 10 shows awarded TVWW Seals of Approval, after 1986’s The Singing Detective, are a representative sampling of impressively eclectic fare. ABC’s fanciful Pushing Daisies series from 2007. CBS’s Young People’s Concerts, with Leonard Bernstein, which began in 1958. NBC’s modern classic comedy, Seinfeld, from 1990, and a classic CBS sitcom from 1961, The Dick Van Dyke Show.

ABC’s modern masterpiece by David Lynch and Mark Frost, 1990’s Twin Peaks (right), made the initial cut, as did Steven Spielberg’s career-making 1971 ABC telemovie, Duel.

Aaron Sorkin’s The West Wing, begun in 1999 by NBC, also made the initial 10 Seal of Approval roster, as did CBS’s imported, impressionistic 1968 miniseries, The Prisoner. And finally, a based-on-fact political telemovie from ABC, The Missiles of October, providing a 1974 dramatization of the behind-the-scenes White House decisions during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

And that’s just the first 10.

After that, Seals have gone to such TV pioneers as Ernie Kovacs and Edward R. Murrow, such classic children’s series as Pee-Wee’s Playhouse and Shelley Duvall’s Faerie Tale Theatre (seen at left), and such classic documentaries as Planet Earth and The Civil War. The obscure but great has been celebrated (The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy), alongside some of the most famously iconic productions in the long history of television: The Twilight Zone, I Love Lucy.

And there’s plenty of room for more, as TVWW Seals, like quality television, just keep coming.

Oh, and on this anniversary occasion, a special thanks to Eric Gould, who designed the Seal icon based on my own twisted suggestion: a Seal that looked like a seal on a rock, with a silhouette that also looks like one big “thumbs up.”

Which, of course, is precisely what the TVWW Seal of Approval is all about…

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John McKiernan
Why can't we get Death in Paradise on WHYY (Ben Stiller)? What a great show!
Mar 3, 2014   |  Reply
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