TV Top 10s
Top 10 Things I Never Expected to See on Television
1. David Letterman getting teary-eyed during Late Night With David Letterman. While thanking physicians and hospital staff who tended to him during his bypass surgery, the typically acerbic Letterman showed his human side.
2. The Rock baking cookies with Martha Stewart on Martha Stewart Living. It wasn't creepy until Martha kept referring to her guest in third person ("Does the Rock like chocolate? Can the Rock stir this?")
3. News anchors from the major networks falling over themselves after calling the winner of the presidential election prematurely, and ...
4. ... seeing Dan Rather at 4am, lapsing into a folksy Texas twang to explain the mess the newscasters found themselves in.
5. Survivor game-show winner Richard Hatch, naked. His goods were blurred, but you still got an eyeful.
6. Survivor game show contestant Susan Hawk schmoozing with George W. Bush on The Regis Philbin Show.
7. George W. Bush interviewed by Don Francisco on Sabado Gigante.
8. Tom Green's cancerous testicle (removed).
9. A grown man (Jeff Probst, the host of Survivor) saying, "This is the conch shell of truth" and "The tribe has spoken" without busting out laughing.
10. A grown man (Johnny Knoxville of MTV's Jackass) allowing himself to be locked in a full Porta Potti, which was lifted and tipped over, making him the garnish in a "poo cocktail."
Top 10 Things I'd Like to See (or See More of) on Television
1. John Leguizamo, Spike Lee, Anna Deveare Smith, David Sedaris, James Gandolfini, Edie Falco, Khandi Alexander, Lalo Lopez, Michele Serros ... the list goes on. Even if these people aren't seen in front of the camera, their influence behind the camera could be intriguing.
2. More live telecasts. Although the script was dated, the live telecast of Fail Safe -- presented ô la Playhouse 90 -- brought a buzz to the small screen.
3. Normal-sized women. Emaciated women, from Calista Flockhart to Lara Flynn Boyle, please go eat some mayonnaise-and-cheese sandwiches.
4. President George W. Bush guest hosting Sabado Gigante.
5. More people of color, in front of the camera, behind the camera, in the writer's den.
6. Poetry breaks. Oh heck, why not? If books of poetry can be placed in hotel rooms next to the Gideon Bible, why not offer public service "cultural breaks," during which poetry can be shared?
7. Michael Moore. He's found a home on Bravo, but not everyone can afford cable. His wicked critiques of big business and other forms of greed at the expense of the ordinary working person are often hilarious and eye-opening.
8. David Lynch. He had a surprise cult hit with Twin Peaks in the early 1990s, and there was some rumbling about an ill-fated drama that a major network dropped after it became too skittish. Whatever caused that skittishness is something I'd like to see.
9. Chris Rock. He could have been included in the list above, but he deserves his own listing here, especially since he just left his HBO series after a successful run. Sharp, often witty, mostly dead-on, Rock would be a treat to see on late-night TV. Will the regular networks go for it? It's doubtful, even if he were interested, which also seems doubtful.
20. B. Smith. I'm simply mesmerized by this woman. She appears (not often enough, by the way) on the Food Network, chatting it up on style and entertaining.
Top 10 Things I Wish Would Disappear From Television
1. Kathie Lee Gifford ... gee, wishes do come true.
2. Titans (another wish come true).
3. Jerry Springer (oh please, oh please, oh please ...)
4. Rosie O'Donnell (another wish come true, if rumors of her so-called farewell announcement in January don't prove false)
5. The Ricki Lake Show. Ricki's a much better actress.
6. That "humorous" No-Nonsense Pantyhose commericial that features a wife having a smiley-faced conversation with her husband's new associate, an attractive younger woman, while the viperous things the wife is really thinking are revealed in a gritted-teeth voiceover. The wife assumes the younger woman is a rival for her husband's attention. What's so humorous about casting women back a couple of decades?
7. Any miniseries based on a sensationalized news event, the creation inspired solely on the event's "now and wow" factor (i.e. the Elian Gonzalez story, the JonBenet Ramsey murder).
10. Those David Blaine stunts. As a street-corner magician, Blaine is surprisingly cool and engaging, but those events -- freezing himself in a block of ice, burying himself alive in a sarcophagus -- come off as overblown gimmicks.
And finally ...
Top 10 Reasons to Watch Television
1. The West Wing
2. The X-Files
3. Angel and Buffy the Vampire Slayer (tie)
4. The Sopranos
5. Judging Amy
6. Everybody Loves Raymond
7. The Gilmore Girls
8. That's Life
9. Sex and the City
10. Third Watch
Belinda Acosta can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.