Top 100 TV Shows Of All Time 81-90 (Or Nick C Has No Taste)

So I know I said I’d do these every Monday.  The thing is I’ve already seen tonights BURN NOTICE and ROYAL PAINS and thus I have nothing better to do than print some more of “The Top 100 Shows Of All Time.”  These are my opinions (and thus 100% accurate for me).  You can see numbers 91-100 HERE.

However I know what you’re thinking… “Just get to it already, damnit!”  So here we go:

90.  NYPD BLUE (1993-2005 ABC)

Steven Bochco.  David Milch.  The names are synonymous with “good tv,” and “weird tv.”  It’s likely this combination when aimed at a police drama following the fictional 15th Precinct of Manhattan was what really clicked with viewers.  The show lasted a good 12 years and was filled with an incredible ensemble cast.  It pushed the envelope of just what was allowed to air on primetime broadcast TV in the states.  Easily one of the greatest police dramas ever created.

89.  CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (2000-???? CBS)

I can hear it now.  CSI is better than <insert show name here>?!?!?  Yes.  It’s the modernization of QUINCY, M.E.  from Jerry Bruckheimer.  So it does everything in style.  Hated by District Attorneys everywhere (for convincing juries that some kind of DNA must have been found, etc.) the show has created an entire Franchise that continues to give CBS 3 hours of solidly rated programming.  Even if it is just QUINCY on steroids, it’s a fine bit of entertainment.

88.  CARNIVALE (2003-2005 HBO)

Another show cancelled way too early, CARNIVALE was a unique mixture of horror, fantasy & mystery.  A classic Good Vs Evil tale set during the depression and following a traveling carnivale.  Free will or destiny is a common theme the show used, and it was just plain weird. The production design behind the program was amazing (and I believe Emmy winning) and combined with a mesmerizing story and good cast… it’s a tough show to not like.  HBO did market it well, and the premiere was well received (at the time better than any previous HBO launch) but it just didn’t retain viewers.  If the budget had been much slimmer, I’m sure HBO would have kept it going for the intended 6 seasons.  Just think this would have been the final season if all had gone as planned!

87.  FUTURAMA (1999-2003 FOX 2010-???? Comedy Central)

THE SIMPSONS’ red-headed step child.  A poor imitation of THE SIMPSONS.  I’ve heard it all before but this show is just funny.  No, it’s not THE SIMPSONS but then again what show is?  The show was troubled with a lot of production issues and was just lucky to see the light of day.  It kept sticking around though and despite FOX not knowing quite how to treat it, it’s now back for 26 new episodes on Comedy Central.  The story of a pizza delivery guy frozen in time during a millennium party and thawed out 1,000 years later, FUTURAMA is just pure guilt free entertainment.  Bender though has to be one of the greatest comedic creations of the last 100 years.


It’s a great concept:  a comedy set in a bar.  Someone should have come up with it before.  Ok, in all seriousness this show may just move up the list in the next few years as it’s just damn funny.  It’s like SEINFELD and CHEERS mixed together and then taken to the extreme.  Irresponsible but funny.  It’s not good, clean, fun as their DVD set says (the good and clean are marked out) but it is FUN.  Which is what a comedy should be.

85.  FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS (2006-???? NBC)

One of the 2 best shows on NBC right now and it’s left to air on Friday evenings where it has been unable to gather an audience.  Critically acclaimed for good reason the show has easily one of the most realistic families to ever be portrayed on television.  Some claim the football loving town couldn’t possibly love football that much, but I say go to Odessa, Texas during the Fall and see how that team treats its Permian Panthers whom the show is based on (as was the book and film).  Great acting, great drama, and believable.

84.  CAVALCADE OF STARS (1950-1953 Dumont)

Yeah, I could have chosen THE HONEYMOONERS.  However this show with Jackie Gleason is where THE HONEYMOONERS was born, and before “The Classic 39,” the sketches involving the Kramdens were much darker (and in my opinion better due to this disturbing darkness).  A variety series of top notch caliber that Gleason would never be able to match despite his shows airing until 1970 on CBS.  Just how good this series was is unknown because most of the episodes were destroyed and lost when the Dumont Network shut down.

83.  MOONLIGHTING (1985-1989 ABC)

A TV Show made to compete with REMINGTON STEELE (and even produced by one of Steele’s producers) for ABC.  One of the first modern dramedies to actually work.  The show centered around David (Bruce Willis) and Maddie (Cybil Shepherd) two private detectives who frequently fought and had a now famous “will they or won’t they,” relationship.  The show famously struck bottom after the couple became a couple, but the real reason the show failed was poor writing.  The writers were lazy and had massive problems turning in scripts on time.  The show was known for breaking the “4th wall,” where the show calls attention to itself as a show.  This worked, but it was really just another sign of how lazy the writers were.  The production delays the show received were all caused by writing, and it lead to a bad 5th season and it had little to do with the couple becoming a couple.  However because it failed at that point it further reinforces the idea that “will they or won’t they,” doesn’t work if they actually do.

82.  SOUTH PARK (1997-???? Comedy Central)

Matt Stone and Trey Parker created SOUTH PARK in the early 90s, finally sold it and it debuted in 1997 where it was an instant hit and has been since.  An extremely rude and crude animated comedy that is constantly pushing the boundaries of decency all tied together to teach a lesson every episode?  Yeah.  It works too.  Sure, it only really hits a good episode out of the park about twice a season, but those episodes are generally damn funny.

81.  LEAVE IT TO BEAVER (1957-1963 CBS & ABC)

Who didn’t want Barbara Billingsley as their mom?  This classic show was best immortalized in my mind by the movie PLEASANTVILLE which was an obvious homage to the classic tv series.  This was good clean entertainment and the characters like Eddie Haskel are hard to forget.


19 responses to “Top 100 TV Shows Of All Time 81-90 (Or Nick C Has No Taste)

  1. “The show famously struck bottom after the couple became a couple, but the real reason the show failed was poor writing.”

    Thank you so much for pointing this out. I’m sick of this show being the template for “will they or won’t they” relationships because since Moonlighting couldn’t pull off the couple formally together, now every single show like Chuck, Bones, etc. thinks they can’t do it either.

  2. Carpe, yeah. It’s like they forgot those bozos were incapable of turning in scripts on time and were lazy enough to break the 4th wall. It’s not the couple becoming a couple that did the show in. It was the writers.

    Still it was entertaining.

  3. Im glad you included Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia in your top 100, that show never fails to make me laugh.

    CSI wouldnt have made my list though, i enjoyed maybe the first season of the show but after that the show became too repetitive for me and even when they tried to mix it up and make an episode different, it just came across as weird (see the episode where a load of people dress up as big fluffy animals) and i always thought the character interaction was awful.

  4. Nice List other than that though 😀

  5. Historygirl

    I’m enjoying the list so far and can’t wait to read the rest.

    Nice to see some recognition for Carnivale. That’s one show I’m sorry was cancelled. I just wish they would straighten out the rights issue or whatever is holding back a comic continuation like Buffy and the upcoming Pushing Daisies.

  6. Total disagreement this time. Friday Night Lights and Moonlighting are the only ones in there worthy of inclusion in a Top 100. And maybe Futurama.

    FNL and ML are worthy of being in a Top 20 actually, but everything else here is less significant that the ones you placed at 91-100.

    Don’t get me wrong, I like most of these shows a lot, but most are derivative of something that came before them. Something better.

    FNL and ML were/are originals.

    As for the ‘fall’ of Moonlighting in Season Five, wasn’t more to do with the fact that Glenn Gordon Caron had been ousted out? Without him they show floundered. Sure, the stars had their differences during Season Four but the writing was still top notch and – in fact – very dark. I love Season Four.

    Eager to see what comes next on this Top 100. You are using up great shows at an alarming rate 🙂

  7. Rikerdonegal, wow LEAVE IT TO BEAVER defined what a family sitcom would be for ages after it. CAVALCADE OF STARS defined Variety Shows and gave us THE HONEYMOONERS! NYPD BLUE not deserving of a top 100 list?!?!?

    Sorry, but there are legit reasons for all the above except for maybe ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA and CARNIVALE. There you get my tastes.

    MOONLIGHTING was too fragmented in quality to do much better. CSI is what it is, it’s not great but it’s deserving of a top 100 list with how it changed the crime procedural (to fantasy, but that’s another article).

  8. I can’t wait till we get through all your list. Are you gonna monetize your site Nick because it is DAMN enjoyable! You could probably make a lot hehe.

    Suggestion for your next or future post. Shows where they actually resolved the romance angst and it was still successful. Pam and Jim’s the only one I can think of but I”m not a huge TV buff. Maybe I’ll research.

  9. Hey Nick, this my first comment on your site, but I’ve always respected your candor over at TVBTN, and it’s nice to see you’ve got your own place.

    I’m liking the list so far, and I like that you provide reasoning behind your choices, it makes it more thought-provoking.

    My 2 big “agrees” on this segment would be FNL and Carnivale. Having watched and loved Carnivale, I was always sad it got the axe, but I understood because the premise was kind of hit-or miss depending on your preferences as a viewer. I never knew the plan was to go 6 seasons, but knowing that now I feel like somewhere the expectations were out of whack…either from a creative standpoint of how long to run it or from an HBO standpoint of how big a fanbase you were realistically gonna grow from material that was admittedly, as you put it, “plain weird”.

    FNL, in my opinion, is the best scripted drama airing on the major broadcast networks at present. It’s also apparently one of the most underappreciated from a viewer standpoint. I think there are fixable reasons for this that I won’t digress on now, but sum up in a quick, sad anecdote. I was watching Jeopardy the other day, the category was “TV Casts” and I believe the clue was “Kyle Chandler, Connie Britton, Zach Gilford”…crickets…nobody even rang in. I know Jeopardy contestants probably have different priorities than watching TV…but they should be watching THAT quality of TV.

    Thanks for the forum man, keep up the great work!

  10. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia may not be a ground-breaking show, but it is currently the funniest show on TV, imho 😛

  11. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is not the best comedy on TV, but it sure is funniest. No matter how sick you think they are, you just have to laugh. I dissagre with FNL (I’m from Europe so I hate that thing you call “football”, because it’s not football :D), and with Carnivale, that thing was just too damn wierd. Moonlighting had a couple of bad seasons near the end, but the first seasons were great.

  12. KN aka AppleJill

    I’m also curious about examples of successful resolution in an on-going series of UST/romantic angst of lead couples. Jim and Pam are kind of one, but since I haven’t really liked their characters for a while, it’s hard for me to admit they are a great example. But, Jim and Pam being together definitely didn’t damage the show. While I can see that Moonlighting’s fate can’t be blamed on the relationship, I find that I do like the “will-they-won’t-they” tension and don’t really want resolution. I’m think of the many Chuck fans dying for Chuck and Sarah to be together, but I think there are real obstacles to them being apart at the moment. If it goes on for 7 years, that’s another story. The X-Files didn’t handle the romantic relationship of the central characters well either, but I blame a lot that on dip in quality on the age of the series and convoluted mythology, Duchovny leaving the show and that stupid alien baby storyline.

    Always Sunny always makes me laugh, but I usually forget when it’s on and end up marathoning a whole season on DVD. I really like how the make the low budget work for the show.

    NickC, do you know the fate of the pilot from Always Sunny folks, Boldly Going Nowhere?

  13. Nick, are you including British show? Because Life on Mars, Spooks one of David Attenborough’s documentaries deserve to be included.
    Also if you ever watched the Australian shows Heart Brake High (did every thing Dawson’s did earlier and better) and Love My Way (The best family Drama I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen Once and Again).

  14. I’m not sure I’d say Futurama should be in the 80-90’s, I would have thought 70′ but South Park ! :o. I would have thought it would have been in the top 20’s, 30’s

  15. I totally agree with you about Friday Night Lights. It’s the most realistic family drama on television – especially how it portrays Tami and Eric’s marriage. And I live in Texas, so I can vouch for the realism of the football fanaticism. I’m not a football fan, but it seems like just about everyone else here is. It says something about the show’s quality that a non-football fan would love it anyway.

    Someone mentioned “Once and Again” in their comment. I would expect to see it somewhere on the list, since it was a terrific family drama, and perhaps one of the first to deal realistically (read: not the Brady Bunch) with blended families.

    Having CSI at #89 seems about right. I just hope the spin-offs don’t appear on your list, because the original is far superior!

    Sounds like maybe I need to do a Top 100 list of my own, and stop telling you what should be on yours. 🙂

  16. “Who didn’t want Barbara Billingsley as their mom?”

    Not me. I was more interested in her as a bed partner.

  17. Wow, Richard Steven Hack. Interesting.

    I know I’m late to say it, but I knew I’d love Futurama when Bender shits a brick.

  18. It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia is one of the most hillarious shows I have EVER watched. It’s inappropriate in every way possible, and meant to be! It takes completely taboo topics and tackles them like no one else. You have to leave your moral high horse behind when you watch it because the fact is it’s not supposed to be taken seriously! You’re supposed to know these characters are insane, morally corupt, and maybe not all there mentally. I don’ t know if I’ve ever laughed as hard as I have watching this show. In my opinion it should be closer to #1, but it’s not that well known…yet.

  19. “NickC, do you know the fate of the pilot from Always Sunny folks, Boldly Going Nowhere?”

    Yeah, I’d like to know this as well.