Great TV Shows – Part I – Seinfeld, Friends and Breaking Bad
There have been many great TV shows since TV was invented. I can say loudly that I have enjoyed many of them. As a tribute to these shows I decided to create several posts with general information, interesting facts and links related to the shows. In this first post I chose three very popular shows: Seinfeld, Friends and Breaking Bad.
It is true that these three shows are among my favorites, but there are many more that I enjoyed or continue to enjoy today. I will include all of them in future posts.
Without any further introduction, here are the shows…
Seinfeld stars Jerry Seinfeld as a stand-up comedian whose life in New York City is made even more chaotic by his quirky group of friends who join him in wrestling with life’s most perplexing, yet often trivial questions. Often described as “a show about nothing,” Seinfeld mines the humor in life’s mundane situations like waiting in line, searching for a lost item, or the trials and tribulations of dating.
It originally ran for nine seasons on NBC, from 1989 to 1998. It was created by Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld.
Jerry Seinfeld as Himself
Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Elaine Benes
Michael Richards as Cosmo Kramer
Jason Alexander as George Costanza
TV critics championed Seinfeld in its early seasons, even as it was slow to cultivate a substantial audience. It was no until season 4 that the show’s entry into the Nielsen ratings Top 30. After that Seinfeld became a hit. It led the Nielsen ratings in seasons six and nine, and finished among the top two (with NBC’s ER) every year from 1994 to 1998.
TV Guide named Seinfeld the greatest television program of all time; and “The Contest” was ranked No. 1 on the list of TV’s Top 100 Episodes of All Time.
After nine seasons, Seinfeld decided to call it quits, rejecting NBC’s offer of $5 million an episode – $110 million for the season – to continue the show for a tenth year.
Seinfeld has made more than $400 million since becoming syndicated in 1995. TBS and CW local station continue to show reruns.
Hulu obtained the rights to stream all 180 episodes of the classic sitcom. The Wall Street Journal estimated the price tag at $700,000 an episode, or $126 million.
The Television and Record Industry History Resource ranked Seinfeld at number 45 TV Series of all time.
Cool link: All 169 episodes, ranked from Worst to Best.
Follows the personal and professional lives of six 20 to 30-something-year-old friends living in Manhattan. Sometimes touching and often hilarious, it addressed universal themes like falling in—or out of—love, finding a job and dealing with (as well as becoming) parents.
Friends was created by David Crane and Marta Kauffman, which aired on NBC from September 22, 1994, to May 6, 2004, lasting ten seasons.
Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Green
Matt LeBlanc as Joey Tribbiani
Courteney Cox portrays Monica Geller
Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay
The show was originally called insomnia café, among other names. At the time of the premiere they decided to simply called Friends.
It was an audience hit from the beginning. It finished in the top 10 TV shows in all of the 10 seasons. It finished number 1 of season 8.
Netflix made a deal to stream all 236 episodes for about $500,000 each totaling 118 million. In 2019, WarnerMedia paid $425 million to make it part of its new service HBO Max for the next five years.
NBC wanted to continue with the highly-rated series, but the cast wasn’t interested in doing an 11th season.
Cool link: 25 Things You Might Not Know About Friends
Breaking Bad follows protagonist Walter White, a chemistry teacher who lives in New Mexico with his wife and teenage son who has cerebral palsy. White is diagnosed with Stage III cancer and given a prognosis of two years left to live. With a new sense of fearlessness based on his medical prognosis, and a desire to secure his family’s financial security, White chooses to enter a dangerous world of drugs and crime and ascends to power in this world.
Bryan Cranston as Walter White
Anna Gunn ad Skyler White
Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman
RJ Mitte as Walter White, Jr
Dean Norris as Hank Schrader
Betsy Brandt as Marie Schrader
The show originally aired on the AMC network for five seasons, from January 20, 2008, to September 29, 2013. It was created by Vince Gilligan, who spent several years writing the Fox series The X-Files.
Gilligan admits that the pitch for the show “was turned down all over town” before AMC purchased it. At the time, AMC was an unlikely buyer as smaller cable networks like AMC had only recently entered the scripted originals game.
None of this success was assured, however. Breaking Bad debuted in 2008 to an audience of only 1.4 million – not bad for cable, but by no means a hit. The audience grew, however, thanks to a rabid and digitally connected fanbase. Weekly viewership increased to an average of 2 million in 2009, then to 2.58 million in 2010. Then the audience nearly doubled between 2011 and 2013, with more than 5.9 million viewers tuning into the premiere of the final season.
Many attributed the jump in the audiences in 2011 to the deal done with Netflix to stream the early seasons. Many viewers catch up with the series and were anxious to go to AMC for the new episodes.
All 5 seasons are now on Netflix.
Cool link: Breaking Bad: 36 things you didn’t know