Why ''Picket Fences,'' ''Little House on the Prairie,'' and ''Thirtysomething'' are must-see TV for aspiring writers

By Kevin Williamson
Updated October 25, 2000 at 04:00 AM EDT

”Anything from the first three seasons. David E. Kelley is the master of one-hour television. No one can dissect an issue or theme like this man can. Thought provoking, funny, emotional, and smart. Kelley is my greatest influence as a TV writer. He’s truly a writer of ideas. I’m always amazed how he so effortlessly blends humor and drama together with smart characters and interesting conflicts.”

”The show had heart. Tons of it. And great casting, which is key to a successful series. When Charles Ingalls cried, I cried. Mary going blind was my favorite story line. Few shows today can accomplish what Michael Landon and his gang did. It managed to stay fresh and constantly reinvent itself. A great example of family television.”

”The show was amazingly written. It was very real for its time. Never have I been so in love with characters and annoyed by them at the same time. I loved hating Hope and Michael. I would tune in week after week just to scream at whatever stupid issue they were dealing with. But I tuned in. Patricia Wettig’s ovarian cancer story line was my favorite. A great actress playing a great character dealing with such an intense issue. The actress and writers did a great job of constantly surprising me. It was one of those shows that I never thought I would enjoy — then I found myself completely hooked.”