For those of you who have gazed upon Entertainment Weekly‘s New Classics list – i.e. their version of the best things to hit us in the last twenty-five years – have you, like me, felt nostalgia to the point of embarrassment at gazing upon some of the movie and television picks now available only by DVD or box set?
Particularly the TV list. I don’t know about you, but I can get invested in a television series to the point of clinical pathology. I know far more details, for example, about the life of Lorelei Gilmore from Gilmore Girls (no. 32 on the EW list) than I do about my closest female friends. Sad, but true. So when a series that I have given of my time – and my heart (sob) – ends its run, I grieve. To see so many of my departed friends on the EW “New Classics: TV” list makes me happy to see my friends again, while at the same time miss them all over again.
One of the series I miss most acutely is number 36 on the list, thirtysomething. This series, created by Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick, ran from 1987 to 1991, and listed a small band of terrific writers including Paul Haggis and Jerry Stahl. What made the series so unique for the time, and therefore utterly addictive to me, was that this was a show not about doctors or police or private detectives – things I was never likely to see in my own personal adulthood – but about couples and families and kids and friendship. Their issues of work stress, faithfulness, illness, and disappointment in the daily minutiae were challenges I could either already relate to or envision myself addressing at some point in the near future.
Throughout its four seasons, though their hair stayed totally 80s, the characters all developed in engaging and surprising ways, except for Gary (Peter Horton), who basically stayed a likable pig, and Michael’s boss Miles Drentell (David Clennon), who also remained unrepentently amoral. [Random cross-reference: When Peter Horton showed up as Sophie’s wayward dad in In Treatment (not on EW‘s list, much to my horror), I praised the casting and resurrection of a character who was, essentially, Gary; the episode was, not to my surprise, directed by. . . Gary’s old girlfriend, Melissa (i.e. Melanie Mayron)] And they all got to say the best lines. A few that I was able to find on the Internet:
“Sorry we can’t answer the phone, ’cause Nancy has cancer.” Elliot (Timothy Busfield) on the answering machine
“I always try to get complimentary cookies. In fact, these cookies are downright obsequious.” Ellyn (Polly Draper) to a caterer
“Michael and I had just come out of this awful movie and were walking, we couldn’t find the car. It as just starting to get dark and we were laughing about it, but we were getting tired. All of a sudden I – leaned on this car and looked at at him and I didn’t see him, I just – heard him, like a pressure and a sound inside of me, in a a place so deep I didn’t think anyone could ever reach..And I knew I could listen to that sound for the rest of my life… Hope (Mel Harris)
Michael, Hope, and the gang, I (for one) still miss you. Congrats on making EW‘s list.