Top 100 TV Shows Of All Time 91-100 (Or Nick C Has No Taste)

First an introduction to this little opinion piece.  This is my opinion, and my opinion only.  It’s about as accurate as the TIME magazine articles that traced the top 100 TV shows, movies, and albums of all time that were released in I believe 2007.  I can promise one thing:  This list will not have a gaping hole in it like TIME’s Top 100 Albums that somehow didn’t have one Pink Floyd album.  What that will show you is that at least I know what I’m doing (unlike them, that kind of disqualified them from being able to even discuss top albums).

Lets get some things out of the way:  These aren’t my favorite shows.  In fact some of them I may not have liked all that much (like say DALLAS) but I recognize them for what they did or didn’t do.  Some of these shows are my favorites.  Feel free to discuss my horrible or brilliant choices but understand:

This is summer.  I’ll release 10 shows a week every Monday Night and you guys can have a week to use it as ammo that I either have a clue or do not.  This is to basically start conversation and it’s quite possible I’ll leave a good show out just from being forgetful.  I at least have the balls to RATE my list and not just throw 100 items out there.  It’s for the summer and I figure it will give us something to talk about at least once a week!

So here we go counting backwards:

100.  KOLCHAK: THE NIGHT STALKER  (1974-1975 ABC)

Universal was famous for pioneering TV Movies and one of their early success stories was 1972’s THE NIGHT STALKER a movie about Carl Kolchak a journalist who gets involved with a Vampire story in Las Vegas.  After the success of the movie it was inevitable that Kolchak would return and it only took 2 years.  This time however it was as its own series.  20 episodes in all of Kolchak hunting down the story on some impossible to believe “monster.”

The series is like watching a bad B movie that just happens to entertain you despite or perhaps because of the cheese.  Kolchak resides in Chicago and is frequently seen driving his convertable around when they keep saying it’s the winter.  The name of other characters on the show seem to change with every episode.  A boom mic can be seen in one seen!  It’s all held together though by Darren McGavin who plays Kolchak.  He does it with such a style that it’s hard not to like the guy.  When you look past the cheese you also see some interesting well written bits.

The show definitely influenced a lot of people including those who went on to make THE X-FILES.  It’s also where Robert Zemeckis got his first gig as a writer (in a story about a headless motorcycle biker who beheads members of his old gang).

99.  STAR TREK:  THE ANIMATED SERIES (1973-1975 NBC)

It took only 4 years after the premature cancellation of STAR TREK for it to find a new avenue for story telling:  30 minute animated episodes on Saturday Mornings.  They only made 22 episodes and somehow those 22 were enough for 2 whole seasons of broadcasting (kids must not mind re-runs).  The original cast all reprised their roles and Roddenberry left the show in very capable hands.  The “success,” of the animated series would lead to a re-launch of the Series.  That would of course get turned into a movie after the success of STAR WARS.

98.  SOAP (1977-1981 ABC)

Billy Crystal played the first openly gay character on TV in primetime.  That was the least surprising or outlandish thing the show ever did.  Since we’re talking late 70s here that says something!  A parody of the incredibly popular soap opera’s of the time, SOAP was over the top and provided far better satire than the crap “satire movies based on popular movies,” of today.  It even sparked a spinoff:  BENSON.

97.  ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT (2003-2006 FOX)

The best American comedy of the last 6 years.  The Bluth family was outragious, smart, and just a whole lot of fun to watch.  Mired by FOX’s inability to create a non-animated comedy block the show never gathered the viewer respect that it earned from critics.  Despite its early cancellation we still received around 50 episodes of guaranteed laughter.  A show that dared to make fun of corporate greed, incest, and wannabe magicians.  A true classic.

96.  BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (1978-1979 ABC)

I might as well throw something up here that will bring me some heat right?  Well I’ll let another cat of out the bag:  The remaker isn’t going to appear on this list.  The original was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Drama.  The story of the last survivors of a civilization searching for their lost home “Earth,” while being chased by evil robots out to destroy them once and for all is a good one.  It was well written, well acted (Richard Hatch was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Drama), and well produced.  The show won an Emmy for best FX.

Obviously right now it’s popular do to the remake.  A remake that in my mind was done wrong from the get go.  There is only one Starbuck for me and he has balls.  The show pushed TV at the time, something the remake did not do.  In fact the show only left the air do to costs.  It was popular (winning a People’s Choice Award for best new show) and could have stuck around for a long time.  The details the creators and designers put into the series was exceptional.  The ties to Egyptian relics in modern space suits, etc. was all well done and added some depth.

95.  THE ODD COUPLE (1970-1975 ABC)

In an almost impossible task Tony Randall and Jack Klugman were asked to fill the shoes of Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau.  They pulled it off.  Based on the Neil Simon play Gary Marshall was able to transition it successfully to TV.  Jack Klugman did such a fine job he won an Emmy 2 of the 5 seasons the show was on and Randall won once himself.  One of the funniest TV shows of its time it was able to surpass the play & movie in comedy.  The characters took on a life of their own and in a brilliant move it ended while still in its prime.  Which is something some shows (CSI *cough*) could learn a thing from.

94.  SURVIVOR (2000-???? CBS)

Ok.  It’s a Reality TV Show.  It’s still possibly the best.  Over a month in some hot isolated place (it has to be hot so the women wear bikinis) bickering over who will be the last “player,” left.  Yes, it’s entirely overdramatic and nonsensical at times.  How someone could be a total bitch knowing that over 10 million people will be watching them be a bitch is beyond me.  The concept of taking popular reality shows and turning it into such a back stabbing contest was total brilliance.  After 9 years and 18 seasons the show is still kicking!  It’s not my cup of tea, but I respect what it did and how.  Unlike many others I don’t think it has “ruined,” TV.  There is still plenty of room for quality scripted product out there.

93.  WISE GUY (1987-1990 CBS)

One of the most brilliant programs on TV in the late 80s.  It followed the story of Vinnie, an undercover agent for an Organized Crime department of some Bureau.  The character development on this series was amazing and the acting chops they got to show up (including Kevin Spacey showing how he’d definitely be famous some day) and just flat out perform resulted in serious critical acclaim.  Ken Wahl would even win a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Drama for his work in the series.  If you like organized crime dramas this is one of the best ever.  “WHITE NOISE,” is possibly one of the best episodes of TV ever.

92.  THE SHIELD (2002-2008 FX)

The first cable produced product on the list THE SHIELD is quite deserving.  For 6 years we watched Detective Vic Mackey do things we couldn’t believe.  As a whole the show has serious issues, as a character study it is however amazing.  What Chiklis delivers over the course of 6 years keeps you on the edge of your seat and the depth of character is simply unmatched by the vast majority of television.  No it’s not a great show.  It is however a great look into one character done right.  That makes up for a lot of other things and the work of Chiklis is so brilliant it deserves to be on all top 100 lists of all time.

91.  THE DAILY SHOW (1996-???? Comedy Central)

Ok.  I admit it.  I liked Craig Kilborn more than John Stewart.  I still love the show and its infamous line of “When The News Breaks We Fix It,” still makes me smirk at times.  It’s better than The Onion, better than the weak SNL Weekend Update (they so need Dennis Miller or even Chevy Chase back), and all the other poor imitations.  Simply the funniest place to get your news.

Remember tune in next Monday where you can disagree with more of my opinions.

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32 responses to “Top 100 TV Shows Of All Time 91-100 (Or Nick C Has No Taste)

  1. Wow. With Kolchak and Wiseguy, you’ve nailed two of my own all-time top 6. So I obviously am impressed that they are included, but curious as to what 90+ shows you think are better.

    You broad take on Kolchak differs from mine. You say cheese with good bits if you look, I say good bits with added cheese (that you can ignore).

    91. and 94. are non-scripted so I don’t watch them, but with all the others you’ve picked shows I love. And agree with.

    Your unabashed love for BSGmk1 gains extra cred from me because I love it, too, and it’s just so easy/common to bash it. When, as you say, it was actually a multi-award winning, hugely successful show. It was also, to my mind, the first sci-fi show to do a story arc. In fact, it was probably the first show of any genre to dabble in the story arc concept until Wiseguy pioneered the concept properly. (Some sources credit Crime Story with being first, I don’t.)

    Great start. But, as I say, what are the 90+ shows that are better than Kolchak/Wiseguy?

  2. What! Arrested Development in the 90s? Gosh, like RD, I can’t wait to see what comes above. I loved Wiseguy, that brings back memories.

    I didn’t know there was a Star Trek: The Animated Series. Not like I wasn’t alive then, either.

    Looking forward to more!

  3. Yeah, Arrested Development should be way higher than 97. 🙂

  4. Fun list, although Soap easily would have been in my top ten!

  5. 100. KOLCHAK: THE NIGHT STALKER (1974-1975 ABC)

    It’s too bad it only lasted a season. This show is still well remembered and reruns on Sci-Fi from time to time.

    99. STAR TREK: THE ANIMATED SERIES (1973-1975 NBC)

    Totally agree. Bringing it back as a cartoon with the original cast was a great touch.

    97. ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT (2003-2006 FOX)

    For a low rated show, it got a lot renewals even if Fox didn’t handle promotion well.

    95. THE ODD COUPLE (1970-1975 ABC)

    Growing up, I this show is what I though the Odd Couple was not knowing anything about the play or the movie.

    91. THE DAILY SHOW (1996-???? Comedy Central)

    Yeah, I liked Craig better then he left to do a late night show on CBS that flopped and as far as I can tell he hasn’t been heard from since.

    96. BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (1978-1979 ABC)

    This version always had that mythic positive feel that the remake didn’t have at all. I hear that if the movie version shows up it’ll be more like this.

  6. Lots of love for BSG TOS. You have good taste.

    If Magnum, pi doesn’t make this list I may have to rethink that though. LOL!

  7. Just so people know, I don’t delete disagreeing opinions, I delete infantile ones. There are plenty of places for people to act like a child, but not here.

    Sure ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT is in the 90s, but isn’t that damn impressive itself? Anyone want to guess at the number of TV programs that have aired since the 50s? Just being on a top 100 list is impressive.

  8. The original Battlestar was fun but the second version was light years better in every way.

  9. Jennifer Roland

    I think Arrested Development is the obvious descendant of Soap. Both shows had the same feel to them. I’m glad to see that they both made it onto your list.

  10. Arrested Development is in my top 10 list.
    The Daily show is amazing (I think Kilborn sucks compared to Stewart), but I agree with the 91. place. Didn’t watch any of the rest.

  11. Jack, the vast number of people who watched BSG in the 70s obviously disagree because they never tuned in for the remake. If they had it would still be on the air.

  12. You know, comparing the ratings of a big budget network series in the 70s with a recent basic cable remake in a more fractured media doesn’t strike me as a fair comparison at all. It’s great that you prefer Starbuck to have balls and love the original, but using that unlevel ratings playing field as a bludgeon to dismiss the remake’s quality is weak.

  13. Will, Ron Moore couldn’t write himself out of a wet paper bag. How is that for a bludgeon?

    I could do a side by side breakdown on why the original was VASTLY superior but it’s mostly pointless. The remake has a small fanatic group of followers who will just argue relentlessly about it.

    The fact is the remake had a strong solid foundation of a fanbase to call upon. They never tuned in. To say it’s cable vs. network tv is kind of pointless. I’d also suggest that the smaller budget wen much further than the budget for the original series.

    Plot, believable characters, etc. aren’t as good in the remake. It’s an entirely different show really. It’s basically BSG in name only.

  14. Right, they never tuned in, because…..? You’re arguing that (# of 1970s BSG viewers) – (# of Sci Fi viewers) = the number of dissatisfied viewers who obviously preferred the original.

    So all it took to keep this devoted fanbase from watching even one single show was to make Starbuck a woman?

  15. Will, I bet you lost 75% from the changed Starbuck, Boomer, Cylons looking like humans, etc.

    It was BSG by name only. The only thing that is comparable are names and the idea of fleeing from Cylons. There is nothing else that is even similar.

    So yeah, they lost a huge number of possible viewers for that. Despite all the praise some critics gave it, it didn’t grow in viewers did it?

    It wasn’t a bad show, but it wasn’t good either, and it most definitely did nothing to further TV in any way. They won’t be mentioning it in classes in 20 years, but they’ll still bring up the original in classes just like they do now.

  16. I didn’t mind the changed Boomer(who seemed to be under used in the original) but, the Cylons looking like humans(Boomer being) one of them didn’t sit with me too well. Having Apollo ending up at a hack politician as the series wound down was probably the last straw for me.

    Dirk Benedict who originally played StarBuck didn’t care to much for the remake was raked over the coals for what he thought was a PC move in casting a female Starbuck. I think Richard Hatch who originally played Apollo didn’t like the remake at first either. Any inside story why he changed his mind?

  17. This is seriously your argument to Jack: “you might have liked the remake, but millions of ’70s BSG fans were *so* outraged hearing that 20 year old characters would undergo minor tweaks that they decided beforehand it really stunk and so they would never watch a single episode.”

    Or, you know, some of it could be because it was on the Sci Fi Channel.

    Paragraph A sounds like a serious case of fanboy projection that millions of people shared your concerns. But disabuse me of that notion! Why is Paragraph B, network/cable in a splintered media environment, a “pointless” distraction?

  18. From what I’d heard, Hatch had invested a lot of time and energy into building up a new Galactica series, then suddenly this guy sweeps in and brushes that aside with his own charmed version. So it took a little while before he warmed up to Moore.

  19. That nuGalactica bought a lot of attention to the Sci Fi Channel and ran for four seasons (although I’m told the producers had to get down on their knees for the fourth) and featured some fine performances is beyond dispute even though Moore had shot his wad after the first regular ep.

    You’d have to get something badly wrong though, not to last four seasons on the Sci Fi Channel (Flush Gordon and Painkillmenow Jane come to mind).

    I’d argue that you could film the original Galactica’s scripts and still get the same ratings if not better than the new show.

    Is the new show more popular than the old one?

    I’d make the case it isn’t and that the studio made more money out of the old one than the new, and that’s why they’re talking to creator Larson now, because they know they limited their audience with the remake.

    This makes interesting reading:

    http://felgercarb.blogspot.com/2008/06/is-new-battlestar-galactica-popular.html

  20. Will, so you decide to misquote me? That is how you’re going to try to persuade me and the vast majority into thinking you’re right?

    66 Million People watched BSG TOS. 4M was the high for the remake. It couldn’t even get 10%. Fractured audiences? That doesn’t stop BURN NOTICE from getting 10% of the original BSG audience numbers. It doesn’t stop NCIS from getting 30%.

    The average viewing audience of BSG was 41M viewers. The average viewing audience of the remake was 2.6M viewers. Again it couldn’t pull 10%.

    Did the remake get BAD press? YES. The female Starbuck caused a big uproar. Boomer being a female and a Cylon? Please. To imply they were minor tweaks show you never watched the show. Starbuck is by name only that character. Same with Apollo and all the other characters.

    The characters weren’t similar at all. It wasn’t “minor,” the tweaks to the show were a major overhaul. When fans heard it was a major overhaul there was a huge backlash.

    Why is Universal pursuing a movie based on TOS rather than just buy off Larson? Because the TOS is where the money and fans are at.

  21. I thought it was implied by the context of the quote that it was my rough paraphrase of your thoughts, however, internet etiquette differs by site and if anyone was confused I therefore apologize for misleading anyone.

    I’m glad to see the numbers, it certainly helps put BSG’s lifetime performance on cable in context. But I’m interested in the immediate launch, and your claim to Jack that millions of people rejected new BSG before ever seeing an episode.

    You’re giving the audience knowledge of events after the fact to support why they never tuned in: no one knew how different Moore’s Starbuck or Boomer would be before the series aired.

    You have to have at least watched a little bit of the series to know that, and the 4 million peak figure supports my point: that either enormous (millions!) of people hated new BSG *solely* on prerelease information like casting and *never* even tuned in to watch an hour or two of the miniseries; OR there just wasn’t a comparable fanbase left after 20 years to produce stratospheric ratings.

    Your point would sort of make sense if BSG got 10-15 million +, and then fell off a cliff as the built in 70s fans figured out what was up. But the opening miniseries, the introduction to the world of Moore’s portrayal, never got such disproportionate figures. I think the series lost steam as time went on, and the ratings reflect that. But they don’t suggest a large fanbase saw and then rejected it.

  22. Will said: “No one knew how different Moore’s Starbuck or Boomer would be before the series aired.”

    Actually the online fan community knew about the changes when the mini’s script was leaked on the internet.

    After that there was of course press on the changes before the mini aired.

  23. Certainly those who paid attention to the development of the miniseries would have had a pretty good idea through things like the script, but an online fan community is usually a much smaller subet then the scale we’re supposed to be reaching: some tens of millions who enjoyed the original but were disenfranchised….so to speak, after hearing of Moore’s changes. I just don’t see the numbers adding up in that case. You are right though that “no one” is an overly broad term, perhaps “relatively few” would have worked better. And even among those who disliked what they heard, wouldn’t there have been simple curiosity to tune in before rejecting it?

  24. On the original Battlestar Galactica,i loved it as kid.To me it was Star Wars on tv.But,in my opinion the Remake was so much better,characters were better developed,stories were planned out to a deeper level and of course the special effects sell simple minds like me!Plus they got to finish their story where the original did not.

  25. I can’t argue too much with this list (I’m sure the arguments will escalate as you get up toward the top 20!). I watched 7/10 o f these shows regularly. I never saw the Shield, Wise Guy or Survivor, but certainly know about them and agree with the reasons for including on the list. Since The Odd Couple was one of the best shows of the 70’s, one could argue it belongs higher up on the list, but I’ll reserve judgement until I see the other shows you come up with. I think it was on the same night as Mary Tyler Moore and the original Bob Newhart show, that was some line-up.

  26. Pingback: Top 100 TV Shows Of All Time 81-90 (Or Nick C Has No Taste) « The Nick C Blog

  27. I have issue with two of the shows here. First, I think Arrested Development deserves to be much higher than 97. Sure, it wasn’t a ratings hit, but in terms of quality, surely it is better than many of the other comedies that will appear on your list.

    Secondly, I am disappointed that you have already declared that the new BSG won’t appear anywhere on your list. I can’t speak for the original, because I never saw any episodes of it, but the new BSG is one of my all-time favorite shows, and I like to think I have good taste. I know good writing/acting when I see it, and BSG has it. Maybe you should give it another chance! 🙂

  28. Emily, and just what great significant thing has ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT done for TV? Did it change comedies in any way? No? So it’s only on the list for making people laugh.

    There were significantly better comedies at making people laugh that helped define their particular niche. I’ve watched BSG in name only, and the mini-series and 1st season were interesting. Then it “jumped the shark,” with everyone being a cylon, etc.

    The remake is a lesson of how not to make a TV show. SCI-FI canceled it far in advance because they realized that without a set conclusion it was only going to get worse.

    I’m sure it entertained millions of people. Something like 2M people watched the latter episodes every time. So that means some people liked it.

    Everyone likes to think they have good taste. I took this list on based on what I learned in school, what I’ve learned working in the industry, and based on my own tastes. This isn’t my favorite list. This is my top shows of all time list.

    The new BSG may have made the list if it wasn’t called BSG and the story wasn’t forced into another (better told) story as a remake.

  29. Nick,
    Point taken that there’s a difference between “Top 100” and “Favorite 100” tv shows. I’ve always been one to latch on to the “little shows that could” that were ratings-challenged (aka Arrested Development and Friday Night Lights), so my opinions are sometimes clouded by my love for those shows (at the expense of ignoring their ratings or influence). I look forward to reading your assessments of how various shows were culturally significant or important to the world of television!

  30. Emily, it’s a fine line to walk. It wasn’t easy coming up with the list. Right now in the latter half you see more of my tastes and shows that haven’t yet made a big impact, with some others thrown in. Obviously LEAVE IT TO BEAVER, THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW, and THE CAVALCADE OF STARS were shows that had significant impacts on TV.

  31. Since the remake of BSG is so different from the original, it makes no sense to even compare the two. And there isn’t anybody getting 60 million viewers these days, so who cares?

    “Soap” – yup, that was one of the great comedies of all time. And I usually hate comedies.

    “Kolchak” – yup, the best horror TV show ever.

  32. While not getting the critical drooling that BSG remake got, the Kolchak remake from a few years ago seemed to suffer the same problems. In that they changed so much it’s a wonder they bothered to call it Kolchak. Fortunately, it was put out of its misery after a few episodes.