9 SEINFELD (NBC) Last season’s concluding episode, in which George’s fiancee Susan died a ridiculous death (poisoned by the glue on cheap wedding-invite envelopes), was widely decried for its coldheartedness.
I laughed at the episode and at the protests — what, from writer-cocreator Larry David you expected warmth?
This season, Anthony La Paglia replaced Benzali and offered a hero who was prickly and arrogant in a more engaging way.
The Waltons’ Ralph Waite has been a marvelous skunk of a baddie, and Missy Crider’s work as a hapless murder defendant who also happened to be, as one character puts it, ”a major hottie,” gave One a fresh jolt of energy.
The ongoing theme — alien invasions in the time of the Kennedy administration — manages to be boring, trite, and tasteless all at the same time.
4 NEWSRADIO (NBC) Former Sanders collaborator Paul Simms has managed something Shandling has opted not to try: an iconoclastic sitcom that nonetheless adheres to the strictures of network TV.
6 FRIENDS (NBC) Overexposure has led to a widespread underrating of this still-excellently written, hilariously performed show.
True, Lisa Kudrow’s Phoebe seems stuck in a dumb-chick rut, and David Schwimmer’s Ross is becoming dismayingly sappy.
5 THE SIMPSONS (Fox) Unappreciated now because the media celebrated Bart-mania years ago, The Simpsons continues to be the most reliable satire on network TV.
The season opener, in which Homer and family left Springfield to work and live in a happy-faced, fascist corporate community was such a dead-on critique of the Disney empire, I swear I heard Rupert Murdoch chuckling.
And, as if in response to the criticism that NYPD seems unable to create a female character who’s not primarily a foil for the men, there seems to be a breakthrough: new addition Jill Kirkendall (Andrea Thompson), a cop who is already looking like the most resonant crime-solving woman since Helen Mirren’s Jane Tennison in Prime Suspect.