#4. Poor Richard's Almanack
Richard Franklin can't catch a break. It rained on his wedding day, he always runs into traffic jams when he's late, every time he wants to find a knife he finds about ten thousand spoons and Alanis Morissette stole the potential hit song he wrote about his life and completely mistitled it. His terrible fortune also leads to him losing his job and his life savings in the pilot episode, causing the show's title to work on multiple levels (two).
Despite being homeless and continuing on his way to rock bottom, Poor Richard turns out to be a fount of wisdom -- the catch being that his wisdom only benefits others, and not himself. When he suggests that "a penny saved is a penny earned," his friend Penny puts her monthly lottery fund into a savings account and is soon able to buy a house. Meanwhile, Richard finds a penny on the street and catches hepatitis from it somehow.
Saying "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," he advises his brother Donny to swallow his pride and see a doctor before his symptoms worsen, and a test catches a lurking tumor just in time. Meanwhile, Richard takes his own advice and begins practicing safer sex. Unfortunately, the discount condoms he purchased were made in China, where they were ironically contaminated with syphilis.
Also, most of Richard's misfortunes seem to fall upon his genitals, causing the title to work on three levels.
#3. Encyclopedia Britannica
"Encyclopedia" Britannica Wutheringtonshire is a precocious English girl who solves minor crimes around the neighborhood, such as scone theft, cottage burglaries, tea fraud and corgi poaching.
Encyclopedia Britannica is an homage to the Encyclopedia Brown series of children's books, where the solution to each mystery was buried in either an obscure trivia fact no one could be expected to know or a single word in a single sentence in the story, forcing you to read every terrible line of the author's insipid prose in order to solve the mystery.
Encyclopedia Britannica continues the tradition by forcing viewers to keep their eyes peeled for the single, almost subliminal frame that contains the solution and can occur anywhere within the episode, including commercials, which is sure to appeal to advertisers.
To cover up the lack of actual content and story, the show relies heavily on Americans' love affair with all things British. The dialogue is extremely authentic, with lines like "Cheerio and tut tut, good sir, I daresay that smashing bit of evidence in the lorry turned out to be bollocks," and Britannica is accompanied by charmingly quirky British sidekicks Queen Elizabeth II and Winston Churchill's ghost.
#2. DSM: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual
Piggybacking on the popularity of both the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the authoritative psychology reference book, and CSI, the formulaic, brain-cell-destroying crime show, DSM is a crime procedural about an elite team of police psychologists.
Led by the brilliant Johnny "The Pencil" Kwon, the DSM team solves cases by diagnosing every person involved in the case until someone confesses. For example, when Johnny diagnoses the wife of a murder victim with anorexia, she naturally immediately confesses to the killing, as people often do in real life.
But the show requires more than just exciting recitations of psychology texts, so members of the DSM team also chase down subjects, make arrests, lead interrogations and go undercover, just like actual police psychologists and crime scene investigators, who often take over the responsibilities of homicide detectives without asking.
#1. Rand McNally's Atlas of the World
"Walker, Texas Ranger meets Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?" is not a phrase you hear very often, and it's time for that to change.
This show centers around good ol' boy Rand McNally, a highly respected sheriff who specializes in doling out a fistful of justice. When Sheriff McNally's daughter embarrasses the family at a beauty pageant by failing to find the U.S. on a map, he realizes it's time for some drastic geography education.
Accepting a position as a goodwill ambassador for U.S. law enforcement, McNally takes his daughter Bree from country to country, where she learns that there's no such language as "Mexican" while he punches his way through bloodthirsty cartels, or she discovers that Africa is actually made of multiple countries while her father delivers the left hook of justice to a corrupt warlord.
With a perfect mixture of punching and education, Rand McNally's Atlas of the World is sure to appeal to the punching man who wants his kids to know something about other cultures.
For more from Christina, check out 7 Things From America That Are Insanely Popular Overseas and A History of Pop Culture's Obsession with Human/Cat Hybrids.