Friday, January 30, 2015

5 TV Dramas That You Should Be Watching

1.  The Americans (FX): After two full seasons, the Americans is already a top 10 TV drama of all-time for me.  You really should be watching.

Premise: Keri Russell (of "Felicity" fame) and Matthew Rhys play KGB spies living as a married couple in America.  A sentence I never thought I'd write: Felicity is a bad ass in this role.  Rhys is equally convincing.

How to watch:  Seasons 1 and 2 are on Amazon Instant video (free with an Amazon Prime account and worth it).  Season 3 is currently airing on FX on Wednesdays at 10.

2.  Transparent (Amazon Instant): Amazon Instant is following Netflix's lead and now airing original series.  Transparent is Amazon's first hit.  Much like the outstanding Orange is the New Black (which I assume you already watch), Transparent has some elements of a comedy and some elements of a drama.

Premise: Jeffrey Tambor (best known to me as George / Oscar / Pop Pop on Arrested Development) is brilliant as a divorced father of three adult kids who is now living as a transgender woman.

How to watch: Season 1 is exclusively on Amazon Instant.

3.  Orphan Black (BBC America): Orphan Black is one of my favorite shows, and I don't know many other people who watch it.  It's a little bit sci-fi, which is not normally my thing, but this show is so good.

Premise: Sarah Manning (played by the outstanding Tatiana Maslany) sees a woman throw herself in front of a subway train, and right before the woman dies, Manning notices that the woman looks exactly like her.  It turns out they, and many others, were part of a clone experiment.  It may sound weird, but just give it a chance.  Maslany plays several roles (because of the clones), mostly in different accents, and she should be taking home a lot more awards than she has been.

How to watch: Season 1 is on Amazon Instant.  Seasons 1 and 2 are on Netflix.  Season 3 comes back to BBC America in April 2015 -- so get caught up before then.

 4.  Rectify (Sundance Channel): Rectify is a very under-the-radar show that is well-written and well-acted.  It would be a huge hit if it were on HBO or AMC rather than Sundance Channel.

Premise: A man in his late 30s gets released from prison after serving 19 years on Death Row in Georgia, and he and his family struggle to get adjusted to normal life in the community.

How to watch: Seasons 1 and 2 are on Netflix.  Season 3 returns to Sundance Channel later this year.

5.  The Affair (Showtime): I really only started watching The Affair because it came on after Homeland, but by the end of the season I started looking forward to it more than Homeland.

Premise: Dominic West (who played McNulty on the greatest TV drama of all-time - The Wire) plays a husband and father who begins an affair with a waitress during a family summer in the Hamptons.  The story is told in the backdrop of a murder investigation in which a detective is interviewing Noah (played by West) and Alison (the waitress - played by Ruth Wilson).

How to watch: Season 1 recently ended on Showtime so Showtime on Demand is the only way to watch right now.  I assume Netflix or Amazon Instant will pick it up soon.  Showtime renewed the series for another season, which will air in late 2015.

Note: I assume everyone is already watching Game of Thrones, Mad Men, Homeland, True Detective, House of Cards, and Orange is the New Black.  If not, stop what you're doing and watch them now.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Reverse Jinx

It's been almost a year since I posted the Hopeless Sports Fan article about the pain and suffering inflicted upon me by UVa sports teams, the Detroit Lions, and the Washington Nationals.

Since then, the Lions and Nats made the playoffs, UVa basketball has gone 26-2 (19-0 this season) and is now ranked #2 in the nation, and UVa football is...UVa football.  Take away Mike London and the boys, and I think the article has created a reverse jinx that has transformed my favorite teams into winners.

Based on past history, I am not booking my flight to Indianapolis for the Final Four just yet, but Tony Bennett has orchestrated a true contender in Charlottesville.  And I'll take the credit for the reverse jinx.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Early Preseason Hoops Top 25 for 2014-15

1) Wisconsin

2) Kansas

3) Arizona

4) Duke

5) Florida

6) Kentucky

7) UVA

8) Villanova

9) Texas

10) Michigan

11) Wichita State

12) UNC

13) SMU

14) UConn

15) VCU

16) Iowa State

17) Louisville

18) Oklahoma

19) Gonzaga

20) Maryland

21) Michigan State

22) Oregon

23) Utah

24) Syracuse

25) West Virginia

Monday, February 24, 2014

Hopeless Sports Fan

I wrote about this subject a few years ago, but I have updated and expanded my hopeless sports outlook.  Spoiler alert: my favorite teams still suck...

Some people are hopeless romantics. I am a hopeless sports fan. My favorite teams find new and seemingly impossible ways to lose every year. I am so used to mediocrity that I started to feel guilty when one of my favorite teams won a championship – so much so that this particular team is no longer my favorite. This is my story…

University of Virginia

I attended Hampden-Sydney College, a small liberal arts college in Virginia that plays Division III sports, but my dad went to UVA so I have been a fan of the “Hoos” since as early as I can remember. Unfortunately, I was born in 1981 and am not old enough to remember Ralph Sampson.

I would like to think I’d still be a UVA fan even if I had gone to another school with Division I sports, but it was easy to remain a UVA fan since I went to a D-III school. Sometimes people say to me, “but you didn’t go to UVA.” First of all, I’m cheering for the athletic teams, not for the ranking of the academic institution in U.S. News & World Report. More importantly, for the most part is it not fun to be a UVA fan. I didn’t ask for this pain and suffering. I’m not “that guy” who roots for Duke basketball and Alabama football (but none of the other sports). Being a UVA fan brings far more sorrow than enjoyment – at least when it comes to revenue-generating sports. If you want national championships in soccer, lacrosse, rowing, and tennis, then UVA is your team. On the other hand, UVA basketball and football – with a few exceptions* – have been an embarrassment of epic proportions over the last 20 years.

(*UVA basketball is currently 23-5 overall and 14-1 in the ACC, but longtime UVA fans are still cautiously pessimistic about the team's ACC Tournament and Final Four chances)

UVA fans got spoiled in the 90s and started to grumble that a Sweet 16 trip in hoops and a 7-4 football season capped off with a middle-of-the-road bowl game just didn’t cut it. These days, a trip to a bowl game sponsored by a mortgage company or a low-end department store and an invitation to a March Madness play-in game would be cause for celebration in Charlottesville.

A perfect illustration of the heartbreak UVA fans endure is the 1990 football season. The Hoos were 7-0 and ranked #1 in the nation for the first (and still the only) time in school history when they played Georgia Tech at home. Down 3 points in the 4th quarter, UVA had two illegal procedure penalties inside of the Georgia Tech 1-yard line, the second of which nullified a touchdown. UVA settled for a game-tying field goal with two and a half minutes left. Georgia Tech went on win 41-38 on a game-winning field goal en route to a co-national championship. The loss started a downward spiral for the Hoos that culminated with squandering a 16-0 lead against Tennessee in the Sugar Bowl and a disappointing 8-4 finish.

And those were the golden years. Is it lax season yet?

Detroit Lions

I have no connection to Detroit, but in 1990 I randomly decided to become a Detroit Lions fan even though just about all of my friends were Redskins fans. Of course, the Redskins won the Super Bowl in 1992 so Redskins fans should be thankful that I did not declare my allegiance to the gold and burgundy in 1990. I have no idea why I chose the Lions, but Detroit drafted UVA wide receiver Herman Moore in 1991 so the decision made more sense at that point.

In my lifetime, the Lions have exactly one playoff win. They have never been to a Super Bowl. They usually ruin my Thanksgiving. Calvin Johnson will likely end up being considered a top 5 receiver of all-time, and halfway through his career he has managed to play in one playoff game. The Lions failed to win their division this season despite serious injuries to division rivals Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler. Nonetheless, I have a good feeling about next year – which is probably a recipe for a letdown.

Boston Red Sox

This is where things get strange. When I was growing up in Virginia, the closest major league baseball team was the Baltimore Orioles, but I was always more of a Cal Ripken fan than an Orioles fan. During a family vacation to Boston in 1995, I went to three games at Fenway, and it was a life-changing experience. I instantly became a Red Sox fan.

At the time, of course, the Red Sox had not won a title since 1918. Keep in mind that the Sox didn’t have Nomar, Manny, or Big Papi back then (Nomar was called up in 1996). Mo Vaughn was probably the best player on the ’95 team. Boston was usually a playoff team, but it’s not as if I were hopping on a bandwagon. It wasn’t as if I had become a Yankees fan in 2000 after they had won four of the last five World Series (as many people did). In fact, the Red Sox missed the playoffs in five of the first eight seasons of my fandom. The heartbreak of the 2003 ALCS and Aaron F’ing Boone felt real to me. The improbable comeback against the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS and subsequent World Series victory was the first championship I had ever experienced as a fan– at age 23. I enjoyed the 2004 MLB postseason more than any other that I can remember.

But then something unexpected happened: I started to feel guilty.

Sure, I had been a Sox fan for nine years, but I didn’t feel like a real Bostonian. I felt as if I didn’t deserve to celebrate as much as lifelong Sox fans. Even worse, after the 2004 World Series, I hated when people asked me my favorite baseball team. I wasn’t“that guy” who buys the new lid as soon as a new team wins a championship, but I felt like him.

Despite my winner’s guilt, I remained a Red Sox fan. I should have been ecstatic that the Sox brought another World Series title back to Beantown in 2007, but my jubilation was outweighed by a sense that I was being thrown off the bandwagon. I was happy to see Boston win yet another title in 2013, and I was rooting for them in the World Series, but ever since 2007 I have been cheering for a team that better fits my personality, my sensibility, and my ever-present yearning to be disappointed by all of my favorite teams.

Washington Nationals

I am a Nats fan for two reasons: 1) they are the closest team to my current home of Richmond and 2) my favorite player Ryan Zimmerman played at UVA. All you need to know about why rooting for this team perpetuates my status as a hopeless sports fan is the following: in 2012, the Nats not only made the playoffs but also had the best record in MLB and home field advantage throughout the entire playoffs (thanks to a National League All-Star win). However, the Nats decided to shut down their best pitcher (Stephen Strasburg) just prior to the playoffs and lost in the deciding game of the divisional series (after giving up 4 runs in the last inning). Strasburg came back fresh in 2013…and the Nats missed the playoffs. Sounds about right.

Dear UVA, Detroit Lions, and Washington Nationals, it’s not you, it’s me. Actually, it’s you. But I know the bubbly is going to taste sweet when if we get that elusive championship one of these days. And there will be no winner’s guilt next time.

Monday, February 10, 2014

ACC Hoops Midseason Report

The ACC hoops season has not gone exactly as I expected.  The league is much more top heavy than I predicted -- instead of 8 or 9 teams dancing, the ACC will get 6 at the most.  I did not expect there to be any cupcakes in the league, but Virginia Tech and Boston College have been getting pushed around by everyone.

The pleasant suprises are UVA (I picked them 3rd but did not expect a 10-1 start) and Clemson (6-4, I picked them 14th) while Georgia Tech and Notre Dame have been disappointing.

Here are the current league standings (compared to where I picked them preseason):

1) Syracuse (2)
2) UVA (3)
3) Duke (1)
4) Pitt (6)
5) UNC (4)
6) Clemson (14)
7) Maryland (7)
8) NC State (11)
9) Florida State (10)
10) Wake Forest (12)
11) Georgia Tech (8)
12) Notre Dame (5)
13) Miami (13)
14) Boston College (9)
15) Virginia Tech (15)

1) Syracuse: The Orange are 10-0 in the league and 23-0 overall.  As expected, C.J. Fair leads the team in scoring, but you could make a strong argument that freshman point guard Tyler Ennis is the most valuable player on the squad.  He leads the league in assists and rarely turns the ball over.  I expect the Cuse to lose at least one conference game (still have away games at Duke, UVA, Pitt, and Maryland), but they should land the #1 seed in the East Regional -- which means they won't have to leave the state of New York until the Final Four.

2) UVA: I predicted that this year's team would be UVA's best in 20 years.  After a 9-4 start and a 35-point beatdown at Tennessee, that seemed like a foolish prediction.  11 games (and 10 wins) later, I stand by the statement.  No one in the nation plays better team defense than UVA.  The offensive production is by committee, but Malcolm Brogdon always seems to get a bucket when the Hoos really need it.  I like that Joe Harris is an unselfish player, but UVA needs him to look to score a little more often.  London Perrantes, much like Tyler Ennis, is a freshman point guard who plays well beyond his years and has a calming influence when running the halfcourt offense.  I expect UVA to end up with a 5-seed in the NCAA tourney.

3) Duke: Duke is starting to look like a top 10 team.  Coach K is giving Andre Dawkins and Rasheed Sulaimon some more minutes, and they have responded well.  In my opinion, those two should be getting much more playing time than Tyler Thornton.  Amile Jefferson has thrived in a supporting role, and he is Duke's only viable big man.  Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood have been as good as advertised.  Don't be surprised to see Duke win the ACC tournament and get a 2-seed in the Big Dance.

4) Pitt: Lamar Patterson and James Robinson lead the way for Pitt.  The Panthers have been very solid all year long, but some critics have questioned their strength of schedule.  Close overtime wins over Miami and Virginia Tech this week have not helped that perception.  They are safely in the NCAAs, but the next few weeks will determine if they get as high as a 6 seed or drop as far as a 10 seed.

5) UNC: The Heels have come on strong in the last few weeks, winning five conference games in a row.  They get Duke at home on Wednesday so we should find out just how good they are.  Without P.J. Hairston, the Heels only have one reliable shooter in Marcus Paige.  I expect them to get invited to March Madness, but their stay will be a short one.

6) Clemson: Clemson is UVA with a little less talent.  They play tenacious defense and keep their games in the 50s, but they often do not score enough to win.  Clemson is 6-4 in the league, but they probably need to finish at least 11-7 in the ACC to get an NCAA bid.  Their schedule is manageable enough to do so. 

7) Maryland: The Terps are leaving the ACC exactly as I expected them to: as an average, middle of the road team.  They have enough talent to make a run and have a shot at March Madness, but I don't expect it to happen.

8) NC State: Sophomore T.J. Warren leads the league in scoring and freshman Cat Barber is exciting to watch, but the Wolfpack has been too inconsistent this season.  Assuming they don't lose anyone unexpected to the draft or to transfer, watch out for this team next season.

9) Florida State:  FSU is 5-6 in ACC play, yet most bracketologists still have the Noles in the field of 68.  I think FSU needs to get to 10 league wins, and I think they will barely get there.  I see them as an 11-seed in Madness.

10) Wake Forest: I can't take Wake seriously until they get a new coach.  Under Jeff Bzdelik, Wake is 2-28 in ACC road games.  The Demon Deacons are composed almost entirely of freshmen and sophomores so a new coach could bring in results immediately next season.

11) Georgia Tech: The Jackets have been bitten (no pun intended) by the injury bug (no pun intended) this season.  Robert Carter and Trae Golden must be in the lineup if this team expects to win conference games, and they have missed too many games for Georgia Tech to be successful.

12) Notre Dame: Most of the blame for Notre Dame's woes has to fall on Jerian Grant's dismissal from the team for acaemic reasons.  He was one of the five best players in the ACC.  However, even without Grant, Notre Dame should still be in the top half of the league.  They have been the biggest disappointment in the ACC.

13) Miami: In fairness to the U, they have lost five conference games by 5 points or less.  They had Syracuse on the ropes twice.  So, even though they are 13th in the league as I had predicted, they are a much better team than I expected.  They will play spoiler for one or two teams down the stretch.

14) Boston College: I still like Olivier Hanlan's game, but there is not much else positive to say about BC this season.

15) Virginia Tech: I think Devin Wilson could be a quality point guard for four years in Blacksburg, but I don't think Coach James Johnson will be there to see him graduate.

Midseason 1st Team All-ACC

Jabari Parker, Duke (also Player of the Year & Rookie of the Year)
C.J. Fair, Syracuse
Lamar Patterson, Pitt
Rodney Hood, Duke
T.J. Warren, NC State

2nd Team

Tyler Ennis, Syracuse
Malcolm Brogdon, UVA
Marcus Paige, UNC
Olivier Hanlan, BC
K.J. McDaniels, Clemson

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

2013-14 ACC Basketball Predictions

This seems like deja vu, but UVa is on a six-game losing streak in football and college hoops kicks off on Friday so it is again that time of year to turn our attention to basketball season.

With the additions of Syracuse, Notre Dame, and Pitt, the ACC is now without question the best conference in college basketball.  I think the ACC could get as many as 9 teams in the NCAA tournament this season.  There are really only three bad teams in the league this season so 12 squads will be fighting for likely 7-9 March Madness berths.

My predictions for the upcoming ACC season are as follows:

1) Duke - Despite losing Seth Curry, Mason Plumlee, and Ryan Kelly, the Blue Devils are stacked.  For the first time in what seems like decades, Duke does not have any annoying white guys in the rotation (although the third Plumlee brother could potentially fill this role). This is a young, athletic Duke team.  Time will tell if Jabari Parker (freshman) and Rodney Hood (transfer from Mississippi State) are as good as advertised.  Quinn Cook and Rasheed Sulaimon are solid in the backcourt.

2) Syracuse - Every other ACC team is glad that Michael Carter-Williams is playing for the Sixers instead of the Orange this season.  The Cuse still has some weapons, most notably C.J. Fair, and will look to challenge Duke for the ACC title.

3) UVa - At the risk of sounding like a homer, this should be the best UVa squad since 1995.  Seniors Joe Harris and Akil Mitchell lead the way, but there is a lot of depth with Anthony Gill, Mike Tobey, Justin Anderson, Malcolm Brogdan, Evan Nolte, and two freshmen point guards.  Gill (redshirt) and Brogdan (foot injury) both missed last season, and they will need to play significant roles to get the Hoos over the hump.

4) UNC - I think the Heels are slightly overrated in the preseason polls (#12 in AP, #11 in USA Today).  There is still talent on the roster, but the team played a lot of lazy basketball last season.  I'm still waiting for James Michael McAdoo to show us why many consider him a sure-fire lottery pick.  P.J. Hairston should be the Heels' leading scorer, if he can get his life together off the court.  UNC plays Michigan State in its 7th game so I fully expect Hairston's suspension to be for 6 games or less.

5) Notre Dame - I think the Irish are a dark horse to win the league.  Seniors Jerian Grant and Eric Atkins make up one of the best backcourts in the nation.  It will be interesting to see Mike Brey coach against his mentor, Coach K, and Notre Dame - Duke could become a good, new rivalry.

6) Pitt - I would like Pitt's chances of winning the league much more if 7-footer Steven Adams had returned to school rather than declare for the NBA draft.  Pitt has three returning starters, including point guard James Robinson, and should have a good chance to dance in March even if they don't finish in the top 5 of the league.

7) Maryland - Alex Len is gone, but quite frankly, he wasn't that great at Maryland.  The Terps have some talented wings in Dez Wells, Nick Faust, and Jake Layman.  Michigan transfer Evan Smotrycz will provide another scoring option. No one will be too sad to see Maryland leave the ACC after this season, especially with Louisville replacing them next year.

8) Georgia Tech - The Ramblin' Wreck is my sleeper team in the ACC.  Most projections have the Jackets finishing in the bottom 5 of the league, but I think they have a chance to make the NCAAs.  Tennessee transfer Trae Golden is eligible immediately, and returning sophomores Robert Carter, Jr. and Marcus Georges-Hunt will play bigger roles this season.

9) Boston College - Sophomore guard Olivier Hanlan is a star, and Ryan Anderson is one of the league's best post players.  Notre Dame transfer Alex Dragicevich is eligible this year, and the 6'8'' guard should fit in nicely in Steve Donahue's up-tempo offense.  The Eagles will be much improved this season.

10) Florida State - FSU is probably the hardest team in the league for me to get a read on.  Mr. Clutch-- Michael Snaer -- is gone, but there is still some talent in the cupboard.  Okaro White will be their top scorer, and he'll need some help from Ian Miller, Devon Bookert, and 7-footer Kiel Turpin.  Prized recruit Xavier Rathan-Mayes has been ruled academically ineligible, which severely hurts the 'Noles chances of making the Big Dance.

11) NC State - The Wolfpack underachieved last season, and then lost almost all of its starting lineup.  Sophomore T.J. Warren, the only returning starter, is now the leader of the team.  Sophomore Tyler Lewis and blue-chip freshman Anthony "Big Cat" Barber (from Hampton High) are a legitimate 1-2 punch at the point guard position.  This is a young team with a bright future, but this season could be a struggle.

12) Wake Forest - Poor Travis McKie.  The only senior on the Demon Deacons squad has had a great career with very little success to show for it, including three straight losing seasons.  Unfortunately, it will probably be more of the same this season.  This is a sophomore-laden team that will be very competitive, but I think they are still a year away from battling for a March Madness berth.  The NIT is a possibility this season if they overachieve -- but knowing Coach Jeff Bzdelik's track record, I don't expect them to.

13) Miami - Miami had a great run last season, but the Canes lost their top 6 scorers from a year ago.  Rion Brown is the top returner, and he only averaged 6 points a game last season. This season will be a struggle for the U.

14) Clemson - Clemson lost Milton Jennings and Devin Booker from a team that went 13-18 last season.  Things will be worse this season.  K.J. McDaniels will likely be the leading scorer, but will he have any help?

15) Virginia Tech - The Hokies finished last in the league last season, even with Erick Green.  Ouch.  Much like Clemson, things will go from bad to worse in Blacksburg. 

1st Team All-ACC

C.J. Fair - Syracuse
Joe Harris - UVa
Rodney Hood - Duke
Jerian Grant - Notre Dame
Olivier Hanlan - BC

2nd team All-ACC

Jabari Parker, Duke
T.J. Warren, NC State
P.J. Hairston, UNC
Eric Atkins, Notre Dame
Travis McKie, Wake Forest

Player of the year: C.J. Fair, Syracuse

Rookie of the year: Jabari Parker, Duke

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Top 20 TV Shows for Early 90s Kids

I was born in 1981 and, like most kids from my generation, I love everything about the early 90s -- the clothes (Hypercolor, flannel, Zubaz, Starter jackets), the music (grunge, slow jams, the East coast / West coast hip hop rivalry), the fads (slap bracelets, Starter jackets again), the movies, and most importantly, the teen television shows.  After school in those days I did two things: ate a Handi-Snacks and watched TV.

My television remote frequented NBC's Saturday morning lineup, Nickelodeon after school, reruns on the Disney channel, TGIF on ABC on Friday nights, and SNICK on Saturday nights on Nick.  Kids today are watching scandalous shows on ABC Family.  We kept things clean in the early 90s.  DJ Tanner making out with her boyfriend of the week was as PG-13 as we got.

Recently, I have posted the top 20 TV sitcoms of my lifetime and the top 20 TV dramas of my lifetime.  I started thinking about all the great shows that I watched growing up that did not make the cut on either list, and I became convinced that I needed another list.  The ground rules are simple: 1) no animated series (The Simpsons is out), 2) must be a scripted show (Wild & Crazy Kids and You Can't Do That on Television are out), 3) doesn't necessarily have to hold up when you watch it today but it must be a classic in your memory as a 12-year old, and 4) must not be on one of the aforementioned lists of best shows of my lifetime (which takes 90210 and The Wonder Years out of contention).

Saved By the Bell: the New Class barely missed the cut.  Actually, it missed the cut by a wide margin.  Screech as Vice Principal?  Come on.

Top 20 TV Shows for Early 90s Kids

20.  California Dreams: Surf dudes with attitude.  I couldn't tell you one plot line from this trainwreck of a show, but the theme song alone is enough to make this list.

19.  Blossom: Whoa!

18.  The Secret World of Alex Mack: If Winnie was my first crush, then Alex Mack was my second.  Big fan.

17.  The Adventures of Pete & Pete:  A Nickelodeon classic.  Brothers with the same name, a tattoo named Petunia, and a personal superhero named Artie - the strongest the world! Great show.

16.  Hang Time: The basketball scenes were laughable and the acting was worse, but this was a staple on the NBC Saturday morning lineup.  Coaches Reggie Theus and Dick Butkus had very different coaching styles but the same end of game strategy: get the rock to the blonde chick with the ponytail.  Anthony Anderson as Teddy was one of the few bright spots from an acting perspective.

15.  Party of Five: Star-studded cast in this FOX drama -- Matthew Fox, Scott Wolf, Neve Campbell, Jennifer Love-Hewitt, and a pre-teen Lacey Chabert.  Somebody take the keys -- Bailey's been drinking.

14.  Sister, Sister: The Parent Trap called and wants its plot back.  Sister, Sister had a brief run on TGIF, but it found a permanent home on the WB after it was canceled by ABC.

13.  Doogie Howser, M.D.: The two best parts of the show were Doogie's friend Vinnie and Doogie's computer diary.  Unbelievably, Neil Patrick Harris is still one of the biggest stars on TV.

12.  Home Improvement: This show prominently featured two of my favorites things: the Detroit Lions and wearing button down shirts untucked and unbuttoned.  JTT's flannels were a revelation.

11.  Perfect Strangers: The anchor for the original TGIF.  Larry and his distant cousin Balki from Eastern Europe (Mypos) form an unlikely friendship and hilarity often ensues.  Tremendous theme song.

10.  ALF: How could you not watch a show featuring this guy?

9.  Hangin' With Mr. Cooper: Another TGIF staple.  Strong supporting role from Wild & Crazy Kids host Omar Gooding.

8.  Step by Step: I bet I could watch most Step by Step episodes today and not laugh once.  In 1993, it was hilarious.  TGIF does it again.

7.  Saved By the Bell: The College Years: Preppy with long hair.  Screech getting hazed.  Bob Golic as the RA.  Kelly transfers in.  It's not the original, but let's just be glad it's not the New Class.

6.  Hey Dude: In honor of the Bar None Dude Ranch's own Ted McGriff, I named myself "senior staff" on the Kingsmill recreational maintenance team in 2002.  I'm still trying to score some of Danny Lightfoot's famous flatbread -- it's the Hopi way.  Mr. Ernst is a personal hero of mine.

5.  Family Matters: Urkel, Stefan Urquelle, Waldo Geraldo Faldo, Little Richie's jheri curl -- Family Matters was equal parts intentional comedy and unintentional comedy.

4.  Boy Meets World: I'm ready for 2014's spinoff Girl Meets World.  It's perfectly acceptable for a 32-year old man to watch the Disney Channel, right?  Topanga's still got it, and Cory Matthews is back to show why he's in the outkick your coverage Hall of Fame.  Mr. Feeney is a national treasure.

3.  Full House:  Just three bros sharing a house in San Fran with one bro's three daughters.  No big deal.  When I think of TGIF, I think of Full House and that speaks volumes about the significance of this show.  I almost wrote that with a straight face.


2.  Salute Your Shorts:  Camp Anawanna had it all -- awful waffles, Pinsky Family Salami, Budnick's band Roadkill, Ug, Donkeylips, Zeke the Plumber, Dr. Kahn.  Not to mention a theme song that will stay in your head for days.  Nickelodeon hit a home run with this one.

1.  Saved By the Bell:  I guarantee SBTB was the first show that came to your mind when you started reading this list.  It was the definitive early 90s teen show.  Bayside High was the perfect setting for the series -- I'm so glad that Zack, Screech, Lisa, and Mr. Belding all decided to move from Indiana to California.  What a coincidence!  Jessie, Kelly, and Slater were a vast improvement over Mikey and Nikki.

Did I forget any classic early 90s shows?

Monday, August 26, 2013

High top fade > bowl cut > Bama bangs > Lloyd Christmas > rat tail

Amanda Bynes 2003 > Amanda Bynes 1998 > Amanda Bynes 2013

Early 90s computer games: Oregon Trail > Where in the World in Carmen San Diego? > Space Invaders > Doom

Valerie > Kelly > Claire > Brenda > Donna > Emily Valentine ... > Andrea Zuckerman

Kan Jam > cornhole > horseshoes > ladder ball

Wedding seasons: Spring > Summer > Winter > Fall

Bands with geographical names: Chicago > Boston > Alabama > Kansas > Phoenix > Of Montreal > Alabama Shakes > North Mississippi Allstars > Atlanta Rhythm Section > Virginia Coalition

Full beard > mustache > mutton chops > Abe Lincoln > goatee > soul patch

Jack Nicholson 1995 > Meg Ryan > Jack Nicholson 1974 > any other joke Adam Sandler ever did in a movie

Jersey Mike's > Which Wich > Firehouse Subs > Jimmy John's > Quizno's > Subway

Pacey > Dawson > the World

Most hated Duke basketball players: Laettner > Wojo > Hurley > JJ Redick > Greg Paulus > Danny Ferry... > Jay Bilas

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Judge Judy > People's Court > Judge Greg Mathis > Judge Joe Brown > Eye for an Eye with Judge Extreme Akim

Pudding: chocolate > butterscotch > vanilla > banana cream > tapioca > rice

Most exciting ways to end a sporting event: hoops buzzer beater > walk-off home run > penalty kicks > hockey overtime > college football overtime > NFL overtime

Chappelle Show > Key & Peele > Kroll Show > Saturday Night Live > All That

Fast food sandwich: Chick Fil-A Sandwich > In & Out Double Double > Arby's Beef n' Cheddar > Big Mac ... > Filet O'Fish