Coming Soon: This Was Television’s Hall of Fame

By Cory Barker and Les Chappell

In July, Cory wrote a piece pitching the idea of a newly-constructed television Hall of Fame. If you haven’t read that, please go check it out. Although we here at TWTV aren’t as qualified as veteran TV critics, historians or industry folk, we think this space is a great one to at least toy around some more with the idea of a Hall of Fame. Clearly, we’re aware of all the hang-ups with Halls of Fame, lists, canons, etc.: They’re biased and some would even say pointless, focused on a certain group of acknowledged texts and disregarding too many more. We are aware of this problem and we’re going to try our best to combat it, but honestly, it’s just always there. We also know that doing something like this is just an exercise (especially for people like us, even if we think our opinions are valid). However, the hope is that it will be a fun exercise that you can be involved in.

So, beginning in September, we’re going to spend the first week of every month building up our very own “Hall of Fame.” Because there are only two of us taking on this project at the moment, there won’t be the expansive tier system like Cory suggested in his piece. However, there is a process in place. Each “nomination period” starting out will feature three nominations from whomever is part of that month’s discussion, so with two of us involved for September, there will be a total of six nominations. To follow that post’s lead and avoid certain influences (most notably a bias towards recent or currently airing shows), we’ve incorporated a five-year “retirement” clause, i.e., shows have to have been off the air for five years before they can be nominated. (Sorry, Community. We still love you.)

Moreover, the plan is to build each month around some kind of theme. For September, we’re taking it easy with a basic foundation, which should also help get our first choice picks out of the way. There’ll be three picks each, with one drama nomination, one comedy nomination and one “wildcard” nomination which can be from any genre other than comedy or drama, such as sports programming, reality, game shows, etc. Moving forward, we plan on focusing more tightly on various formats and genres, so our nominations can be as specific as can be. We want the process to be democratic as possible and not just two of us debating in an echo chamber, so we welcome any ideas or themes.

Also to that end, we’re going to conduct this process with the involvement of you fine TWTV readers. Our current plan is that we will provide the nominees at some point at the beginning of the week, along with our “stump speeches” for why our picks should be “inducted” into the TWTV Hall of Fame. We’ll then debate each others’ picks, posture for position and more with the hopes of convincing you to confirm our nominations. After that, we’ll have polls ready for each of the three “races” and it will then be your turn to be heard. Please vote! The votes of the readers will determine who gets in and who does not, because otherwise we could just have an eternal stalemate between the two of us, and nobody wants to see that. The polls will be open for a few days and we’ll bombard you with reminders to rock the vote, or whatever. Winners will be announced, celebrations will commence and losers will cry. (They’ll be able to try again, but in an effort to avoid rehashing the same debates they’ll be excluded from the ballots for at least three months.)

Again, we’re aware that this isn’t a super-serious endeavor, and certainly not the final word on what makes quality TV. Still, we are going to try our best to make it fun but also highlight some television of old that deserves to be recognized. We promise it won’t be all Buffy and Seinfeld and Hill Street Blues up in here. Be here next week when the festivities get off and make sure to vote. 

10 Responses to “Coming Soon: This Was Television’s Hall of Fame”

  1. Keith

    Two questions on voting: Will there be a “none of the above” option?; and will 50%+1 of the vote suffice, or will a supermajority be required? It shouldn’t be easy to get into a Hall of Fame, after all.

    Reply
    • Cory Barker

      Ha! I like the idea of “none of the above.” My working thought was that a show would have to get 50 percent of the vote, period. Adding none of the above makes it a little bit more of a challenge. Appreciate the words.

      Reply
  2. FlyingGaSquirrel (@fgsgeneg)

    I hope you have a couple of old farts on your nominating committee, people who are familiar with the Saturday morning Sealtest Circus, or The Goldbergs, or Crusader Rabbit. Those shows may not qualify for the TVHOF, but they were of an era filled with shows that are, and that era needs to be represented just like the “classic” teevee of the eighties and nineties.

    Reply
    • Cory Barker

      We don’t have any “old farts” starting out, but I think we’re A.) open to having more people and/or bringing in the readers more and B.) going to try really hard not to simply talk about NBC shows from the 1980s.

      Reply
  3. Chris Becker

    Re: the retirement clause, I wonder if you might make exceptions for exceptionally long-running shows still on the air, like Today, Meet the Press, Jeopardy, General Hospital, etc. Today will probably only end when NBC does (insert #nbcfail joke here), but it deserves HoF consideration.

    Reply
    • Cory Barker

      Chris:

      I think that’s a great idea, and something that I’m sure we will take into consideration as the process goes along.

      Reply

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