On a lazy Labor Day eve, ABC indulges in one of programming’s more durable fallbacks: Make an arbitrary list and invite us to argue about it. “TV’s Most Dynamic Duos: Presented by the Paley Center for Media” (8 p.m. Sunday, ABC) presents a roundup of 30 small-screen couples, buddy pairs, allies and rivals who defined their particular series or, in some cases, all but stole those shows from their titular stars.
I love or rather, love to hate these kinds of shows. Like the old AFI roundups of the “100 Most (fill-in-the-blank) Movies,” they’re maddeningly arbitrary and contrived. But I rarely fail to watch them, screaming “wrong, wrong, wrong!” at the screen the whole time, not unlike the nerdy Comic Book Guy on “The Simpsons.”
The list focuses on a few married couples, such as Cliff and Clair Huxtable from “The Cosby Show,” and Tony and Carmela from “The Sopranos.” We don’t get “Will & Grace,” but instead get Jack and Karen. Forget Lucy and Ricky; it’s Lucy and Ethel. Were Ralph and Alice Kramden the “Dynamic Duo” from “The Honeymooners,” or Ralph and Ed Norton?
Don’t go looking for George Burns and Gracie Allen, Agents 86 and 99 or “McMillan & Wife.” Hey, where are “Starsky & Hutch”? Or Rowan and Martin? The Smothers Brothers? “Donny & Marie”? Sonny and Cher? Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker?
And don’t go looking for any duos from reality TV. Perhaps the producers thought that might open the floodgates to Snooki and JWOWW.
Who do you think the show will feature as the notable duo from “Lost”? Or “Modern Family”? You’ll just have to tune in. And scream at the TV, along with me.
Sunday’s other highlights
• Scheduled on “60 Minutes” (6 p.m., CBS): the new Chrysler; the science of flavor; a website that educates millions.
• A stranger in town gets Regina and Emma’s attention on “Once Upon a Time” (7 p.m., ABC).
• The IRS has its eyes on Kalinda on “The Good Wife” (8 p.m., CBS).
• The gang uses a vintage car to ensnare a Wall Street criminal on “Leverage” (8 p.m., TNT).
• Cullen confronts a threat from within on “Hell on Wheels” (8 p.m., AMC).
• While tying up loose ends, Walt makes a fateful move on “Breaking Bad” (9 p.m., AMC).
• A lynching rekindles racial tensions on “Copper” (9 p.m., BBC America).