Arts & Entertainment

The Mary Tyler Moore Show, I Love Lucy, The Sopranos... NJ-Based Critic Ranks Greatest TV Shows of All Time

Alan Sepinwall, here at his office in Scotch Plains, will sign copies of TV (The Book) at The Town Book Store (270 East Broad St., Westfield) on Saturday, Jan. 28 from 2:00 - 4:00 p.m. Credits: John Mooney
“TV (The Book)” by Alan Sepinwall and Matt Zoller Seitz (c. 2016, Grand Central Publishing, $19.99, 432 pages)

SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD, NJ -- It's barstool talk at its best: Who is the greatest of all time. 

Oftentimes, sports is the subject. However, classic films and TV shows also inspire such passion. Scotch Plains-based TV critic Alan Sepinwall and his co-author, Matt Zoller Seitz, debated countless shows and came up with the 100 best. Everyone has their favorite: The Mary Tyler Moore Show, I Love Lucy, The Twilight Zone, The Sopranos, Star Trek... Somehow Sepinwall and Seitz were able to choose one.

The authors have established the Pantheon of top TV shows using a complex, obsessively all-encompassing ranking system by which to order and stack them up against each other. With a mix of lively entries on critically acclaimed and commercially successful classics, such as Seinfeld, The Sopranos, and The Simpsons, and illuminating essays on short-lived favorites, such as Taxi, Freaks and Geeks, and My So-Called Life, TV (The Book) is sure to spark conversation and debate among readers.

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The programs were ranked based on:

  1. Innovation
  2. Influence
  3. Consistency
  4. Performance,
  5. Story Telling, and
  6. Peak Value (How great was the show in its best season). 

"I was working at Tony Soprano's 'hometown paper' during what TV's 'New Golden Age'," said Sepinwall, the former longtime TV critic for the The Star-Ledger. "Matt and I both wrote for the paper and wanted to work together again. We figured out what the rating criteria is and wrote the book over the space of two years."


TV (The Book) is a must-have for long-time television and for enthusiasts who, fresh off their latest Netflix binge, are looking to expand their knowledge of the medium and wondering what show to start streaming next.

Sepinwall, who has been writing about TV for over 20 years, began as an online reviewer of NYPD Blue. Then, for 14 years, was the TV critic for The Star-Ledger, then at and now as author of the popular blog What's Alan Watching? on

Sepinwall's episode-by-episode approach to reviewing his favorite TV shows "changed the nature of television criticism," according to Slate, which called him "the acknowledged king of the form." He is the author of "The Revolution Was Televised," about the origins of the dramas that led to TV's current Golden Age.

You can meet Alan Sepinwall at The Town Book Store located at 270 East Broad Street in Westfield (corner of East Broad and Elmer Streets) on Saturday, Jan. 28, from 2:00 - 4:00 p.m. If you are unable to attend this event, call The Town Book Store at (908) 233-3535 to reserve an autographed copy of TV (The Book): Two Experts Pick the Greatest American Shows of All Time. is Scotch Plains-Fanwood’s only free daily paper. Sign up for our daily eNews and follow us on Facebook and twitter @SPF_TAP.

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