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'The Sopranos' tops Writers Guild of America list of 101 best-written series

James Gandolfini, second from left, and Tony Sirico

James Gandolfini, second from left, and Tony Sirico in a scene from the HBO series, "The Sopranos," which tops the Writers Guild of America list of 101 best-written series. (Credit: HBO)

In one of those lists expressly designed to create debate -- or dissent -- the Writers Guild of America has released its 101 best-written series compilation topped by (no surprise) "The Sopranos."  

It's unclear what constitutes "best written," so one must assume a certain degree of  subjectivity has crept in here -- subjectivity and conventional wisdom -- for where is it written that a show that lands in 57th place is all that better than one that lands in 58th? And so on. 

Nevertheless, the list is a fun one, and it's certainly safe to say that the top choices here are very well-written indeed... though really surprised "The Simpsons" didn't land in the top 10. Recount! (It's at number 11.)

Other oddities: "The Daily Show" of course gets a top billing (17) and should, but not even the slightest mention of Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show" anywhere on this? Recount! Oh wait, I've already asked for one of those.

And David Letterman's "Late Night" barely makes the top 100, but no mention of "Late Show?"  And how can you do a list about great TV writing without at least one tiny mention of "The Ernie Kovacs Show," since we're talking "Late  Night" -- so deeply inspired by Kovacs?   

Honestly, I'm mostly bugged about the Carson no-mention and the ridiculous passover of Letterman's "Late Show." (Which brings to mind that old Bob Hope joke at the Oscars -- "what's Oscar night in my house? Passover..." Ba dum.)   

See? The debate has begun even before I finished this post. The WGA doesn't explain methodology, but I am assuming this was thrown open to membership to vote...

I have more quibbles, but let's get to the list... Here's the top 10 and if you want to read the full 101 go here. (Have patience with the page - it takes a while to load as it loads up all the cookies on your computer, but it's worth the wait... ) 

1. The Sopranos (HBO), Created by David Chase

2. Seinfeld (NBC), Created by Larry David & Jerry Seinfeld

3. The Twilight Zone (CBS, 1959), Season One writers: Charles Beaumont, Richard Matheson, Robert Presnell Jr., Rod Serling

4. All in the Family (CBS), Developed for Television by Norman Lear, Based on Till Death Do Us Part, Created by Johnny Speight

5. M*A*S*H (CBS), Developed for Television by Larry Gelbart

6. The Mary Tyler Moore Show (CBS), Created by James L. Brooks and Allan Burns

7. Mad Men (AMC), Created by Matthew Weiner

8. Cheers (NBC), Created by Glen Charles & Les Charles and James Burrows

9. The Wire (HBO), Created by David Simon

10. The West Wing (NBC), Created by Aaron Sorkin

Tags: . The Sopranos (HBO) , Created by David Chase , , Seinfeld (NBC) , Created by Larry David & Jerry Seinfeld , The Twilight Zone (CBS , 1959) , Season One writers: Charles Beaumont , Richard Matheson , Robert Presnell Jr. , Rod Serling , . All in the Family (CBS) , Developed for Television by Norman Lear , Based on Till Death Do Us Part , Created by Johnny Speight , M*A*S*H (CBS) , Developed for Television by Larry Gelbart , The Mary Tyler Moore Show (CBS) , Created by James L. Brooks and Allan Burns , Mad Men (AMC) , Created by Matthew Weiner , Cheers (NBC) , Created by Glen Charles & Les Charles and James Burrows , The Wire (HBO) , Created by David Simon , The West Wing (NBC) , Created by Aaron Sorkin

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