Top 100 TV Shows Of All Time 51-60 (Or Nick C Has No Taste)

So without wasting too much space lets get to it:

60.  GENERAL HOSPITAL (1963-???? ABC)

The longest running show on daytime TV.  The show that was watched by 35 million Americans one day in the early 80s.  The show that had Elizabeth Taylor guest star.  The show that lead to Dynasty.  Yeah, that show.  The infamous 35 million viewer day was the “Luke and Laura” wedding.  What made that wedding so absurd except in soap opera land is that Laura was once raped by Luke.  Crazy you say?  What about a villain whose plan is to put the whole world back into an ice age while holding the earth for ransom?  Straight out of a Bond film you say?  Nope.  Soap opera.  GH as it’s called.  For something like a decade it was the most watched daytime soap year after year.  While it never would regain that crown it would remain the 2nd to 3rd most watched soap for the vast majority of the time.  Meanwhile no soap has ever matched the hold it had in the early 80s when it seemed to be watched by just about everyone.

59.  THE KIDS IN THE HALL (1988-1994 CBC)

Dave Foley, Kevin McDonald, Bruce McColloch, Scott Thompson, and Mark McKinney made up the comedy troupe:  The Kids In The Hall.  Formed in the mid-80s the group would end up with their own television program in Canada in 1988.  What was interesting was that the show almost never came to be because Mark and Bruce had been stolen by Lorne Michaels to write on SNL.  However Lorne got to see the troupe perform and decided their own show would be a money maker.  So in 1988 it premiered on the CBC and later was sold to HBO and then again later CBS.

It was more in line with MONTY PYTHON than SNL as it was an all male troupe and thus members would have to dress in drag whenever the skits called for a female character.  Also of note is that Norm Hiscock (I wonder how his dad snuck that by his wife, lets name him Norman!)  was a member of the group as a writer.  Of course Norm would go on to help shape another Top 100 show:  KING OF THE HILL.

The show was murdered for American audiences generally having some skits cut entirely.  However what did air would make it’s way into pop culture fame.  How many people have seen someone using their thumb and forefinger to crush someone’s head?  However for me my favorite characters were Foley’s Axe Murderer, who while covered in blood would politely ask people for favors with a large bloody axe near him, and McCulloch’s Gavin an incredibly annoying kid who would just keep rambling “I could eat a Bible,” “Can I do that?”  “So how much does a job like this pay?”

The good news:  A new show is coming from the troupe this year.

58.  SIX FEET UNDER (2001-2005 HBO)

Alan Ball, the writer of AMERICAN BEAUTY, brought to HBO a powerful show.  A show that likely should have been rated higher by me if it was just about quality.  The show was amazing, it dealt with mortality and what lies beneath inside everyone on the show.  The story was about a son who had to come back to his hometown and help run a funeral home after his father’s unexpected death.  It would end with ironically the death of the son and how everyone deals with that unexpected death.  Amazing show.  I could keep writing about it all day, but I’ll spare you all.

57.  WILL & GRACE (1998-2006 NBC)

The most successful TV Series of all time with the primary characters being gay and openly gay.  While considered progressive, it actually really wasn’t all that progressive.  It took a basic sit-com format and just threw in “the main guy in this relationship is gay!”  So in many cases it wasn’t the huge risk that many claimed NBC was making.  It was still in its most true form a modern day remake of THE ODD COUPLE.  However that show didn’t have Jack and Karen which is why this is rated higher, plus it definitely was somewhat of a risk.

56.  THE PRACTICE (1997-2004 ABC)

While David E Kelley provided humor in ALLY McBEAL, he provided rather serious stories on the alphabet network in the form of the TV Series THE PRACTICE.  Two time winner of Best Drama Series Emmy awards.  The show revolved around the law firm of Robert Donnell & Associates.  Later many of the Associates would become partners and the name of the firm would change.  However it was a show that dealt with the cases in front of every one of the members of the firm.

I had a few problems with the show like how an ADA (Assistant District Attorney) would remain so close to the firm after always losing to them, but it was definitely entertaining and pushed legal dramas for awhile.  ABC would step in and force the firing of the lead and many other main characters.  So the final season the firm lost 3 lawyers (including the founder) and replaced the 3 with Alan Shore (James Spader) an extremely unethical lawyer who was fired from his previous firm for embezzlement.  Shore would end up bringing in top high dollar clients but his ways would upset the firm.  When they fired him and gave him a $15K settlement (after he brought in something like $10M) he hired Denny Crane (William Shatner) to sue the firm.  So the final episodes of the show were a kickstart for the spinoff BOSTON LEGAL which would star Shatner and Spader.  Of course Denny Crane is one of the greatest characters ever created for TV, so those episodes were the highlight of the 8th and worst season.

55.  SEX & THE CITY (1998-2004 HBO)

I admit:  I don’t get it.  I thought the lead character was a horrible person and thus impossible for me to relate to.  I thought all the main women were generally unlikable bitches.  However I know women who adore the show and the women, and as long as they don’t act like them I’m fine with it.  For anyone who thought the show wasn’t a massive success the recent movie proved them all wrong.  I do applaud HBO for not forcing the series to keep going though.  So this show gets props for going out before it wasn’t wanted anymore. PS:  Don’t attack me for not liking the women of the show.  I’m not a misogynistic pig or anything else you can think of, I just didn’t like those women.  I understand they had sides that remind you of you or your girlfriend.  I’m not saying they are 100% bad, but the parts that I didn’t like were just too strong for my tastes.

54.  MIAMI VICE (1984-1989 NBC)

Before Michael Mann would become one of Hollywood’s biggest known directors of feature films he created a little show called MIAMI VICE which would shake up the buddy cop TV landscape.  A show about 2 undercover police officers the show is one of the most influential of all time.  Extremely stylish and extremely tied to the New Wave movement of the 80s.  Famous for PEOPLE magazine once stating that it was the first “new looking” tv program since the invention of color tv!

53.  XENA:  WARRIOR PRINCESS (syndicated 1995-2001)

A spin-off of a show that barely missed the list:  HERCULES THE LEGENDARY JOURNEYS is a show created by Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert.  At the time the boys from Michigan were most famous for their EVIL DEAD movies, but they made a decision to try out syndicated first run TV thinking it would be more profitable for them than the normal broadcast route.  They were right.  HERCULES was a financial success and it provided the backbone to the entire New Zealand film industry (without HERCULES and XENA there wouldn’t have been a LORD OF THE RINGS).  Xena was a character on HERCULES that was devoted a 3 episode story arc.  In the process Rob Taper became enamored with the actress Lucy Lawless and would demand that she get a spin off (he was so enamored they’d end up getting hitched and last I checked were still happily married).  The show would be the first modern movement of a powerful female lead role and the success of the show would spark the producers of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER to start that TV Series.

The series would also co-star Ted Raimi, who was able to create a character both loved and hated by the masses:  Joxer.  In addition Bruce Campbell, the chin himself, would co-star in many episodes of the series reprising a role he created for HERCULES that was originally going to get the spinoff treatment.  However many factors lead to the idea of XENA being the spin-off instead.  One of the rare cases where a spin-off was better than the original.

52.  DAWSON’S CREEK (1998-2003 The WB)

Kevin Williamson was on a roll.  He had a super mega hit in SCREAM and then he landed DAWSON’S CREEK on The WB.  At the time The WB was struggling, but it would have life breathed into it by BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER and DAWSON’S CREEK.  The show revolved around the story of Dawson who like lived by a creek.  A TV Show where kids spoke in ways that no kids I remember ever spoke.  In fact I’d bet that the education system in that town had to be vastly superior to the rest of the States.  Pure kid’s soap.  Based on believable characters.  The series started with “the new girl,” who was “the bad girl,” forced to live with her grandmother and how Dawson & his friends dealt with this new 4th to their group.  Right now The CW is praying that Williamson still has the magic for VAMPIRE DIARIES.  Good luck with that.

51.  THE PRISONER (1967-1968 ITV)

The people behind DANGER MAN would come up with an idea of a spy trapped in a prison that is actually a small society.  A society with people who have had their memory erased.  One of the most surreal TV shows ever created this SCI-FI masterpiece helped make sure that there was a demand for such programs as LOST and X-FILES.  The series is only 17 episodes long and I suggest people rent it if they haven’t seen it.  It’s a gripping tale and has crazy scary white balloons that can’t really be described.  In the 60s the British were pushing TV far better than us Americans and THE PRISONER is one of their true gems.  Look past the SCI-FI and surreal aspects and what you have is one of the best psychological thrillers of all time.


31 responses to “Top 100 TV Shows Of All Time 51-60 (Or Nick C Has No Taste)

  1. Oh boy. I’ve been going along with the list pretty much saying, “Okay, can’t really argue against that – may not “love it as much,” but can’t complain about it. But NOW, Nick C., as it’s getting closer to crunch time, you’re starting to prove the parenthical addition to the list title (Or Nick C. has no taste). Dawson’s Creek and Xena among the top 55 shows of all time??

    I’m not being a Susan and saying, “they sucked,” but Top 55 material?? I’m beginning to fear that instead of seeing shows like “All in the Family” in your top 10, I may be seeing “Saved by the Bell,” (or even worse, “Saved by the Bell: The College Years!”) 😉

  2. make that PARENTHETICAL. Typo – my bad.

  3. Actually, the longest runnging show on daytime tv is Guiding Light, which started airing on tv in the ’50s. Its ratings started dropping in the ’70s, though, so it’s not as known as GH.

  4. Lots here that I feel are awful or derivative, but – hey – that’s just me 🙂

    The Prisoner is a gem, however, and definitely belongs much higher than #51. How can there be 50 shows that are more cutting edge? More daring? More entertaining? More rewatchable? More influential? Cooler? Cleverer? With better theme music?

    I doubt it… 🙂

  5. Rick … Nick said he was making this Top100 based on importance in TV history, not on “best”, since that is subjective. With the rise of direct-to-syndication cable/smaller networks over the last 10-15 years as a viable alternatives to the Big 3(4), I think that it makes sense to have some of the ground-breakers represented. They may not be “great” TV from the production, writing, or acting standpoints, but they made a lasting impact on the industry. Their limitations are why they are in the bottom half of the top 100

  6. NDBob – Thanks for bringing that to my attention. If that is the case, then I MUST lobby for “Bozo’s Circus,” which appeared on WGN Channel 9 (Chicago) for MANY years as one of the top 50 shows. It was groundbreaking in many ways for “children’s television.” Clowns who did skits that entertained the children but which actually contained alot of inuendo that only their parents would understand. The “Magic Arrows,” The GRAND PRIZE GAME,” etc.

    As far as “importance,” BOZO has got to be up there somewhere. Chicago children’s TV during the early days of TV was groundbreaking and set the standard for that type of programming for the rest of the country- and BOZO was the centerpiece of it all.

    So here’s my vote for BOZO’s CIRCUS to be in the TOP 50 !!!

  7. Rick Holy, are you questioning the impact of XENA and HERCULES? Without them there wouldn’t be TV programmed for Non-Network TV. Without Xena there would be no Buffy. The impact of Xena was huge, and it may have been shafted by my at number 53. Cable was massively influenced by the success of syndicated shows and there was none bigger than XENA that was an original IP. Because obviously STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION was bigger.

    DAWSON’S CREEK is imho the top “teen soap,” ever made. The quality of writing that went into it was unheard of at the time. Its success is the sole reason that Dawn Ostroff gets to act like an idiot.

    Katie, GUIDING LIGHT is not in my opinion the longest running daytime drama. Sure it started as a radio program and was made into a 15 minute soap packaged with others. GENERAL HOSPITAL however is most definitely the longest running serial produced in Hollywood, and started as a 30 minute program. It’s semantics, and technically you’re correct. I just personally don’t consider it to qualify.

  8. These picks all make sense to me. And I’m with you on Sex and the City. I am not a fan of the show and don’t find any of the women likable.

    I’ve gotten tired over the years of people automatically writing off shows like Dawson’s Creek and Buffy the Vampire Slayer because they were on the WB. That being said, most of the shows the CW has put on the air in recent years have been pretty awful, but for awhile they were on a role. Another significant “teen-oriented” show is Veronica Mars, and I also think that Everwood was a great show that gave a realistic view of teen/parent relationships. As long as you don’t put One Tree Hill anywhere on this list, I’ll be satisfied with your WB choices. 🙂

  9. Rick — Bozo might have a chance, but I suspect it was too regional — while it influenced the was Childrens’ TV was made, it was not widely seen outside the Chicagoland area (I grew up in Jersey and have never seen it). From a kids programming perspective, I’d have to go with Sesame Street or Mr. Rodgers ahead of Bozo just from the perspective of how much more widely seen they were.

  10. I grew up in Louisiana, but loved watching the Bozo Show every morning on WGN. I dreamed of being the at-home player for the Grand Prize Game, but back then the prize was a new bicycle instead of a trip for your family to Disney World, or whatever it is now.

    Anyway, I would also consider Mr. Rogers or Sesame Street more appropriate for this list. Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood was such a great show, and so much simpler and less noisy (not to mention less annoying) than today’s kids’ shows. The fish tank, the television in the picture frame, the land of make believe… Good times!

  11. Regarding your comments concerning The Practice I beg to differ with you concerning the 8th and final season. As a long time viewer of the show I had called it quits at the end of the 7th season; it was a dreadful season. Then tuned in for the 8th season to see what the changes would bring and found it to be my favorite season of the entire series. The addition of Alan Shore and James Spader’s acting talent brought just enough humor to make The Practice a great show once again.

  12. Hey Nick,

    Just recently found your blog, and I enjoy it greatly. The Top 100 countdown has been a pleasure to read as well (I really appreciate the added rationals you include as to why you place the shows at the rankings you gave them).

    But Will & Grace? At #57?? Really? 97, maybe. But the show (especially in it’s later years) was not funny at all, and suffered from way too many guest stars.

    But that’s why this list is subjective. Can’t wait to see how the Top 50 plays out!

    Keep up the great work!

  13. P@, It was the most popular show with a major openly gay character and show that dealt primarily with gay subject matter. So if it hadn’t gone to the dumps it may have actually been rated higher. You have to give the show props even if it did follow a cookie cutter theme.

  14. Nick,

    Now that you’ve gotten the top half out of the way and we have an idea of how you are making your selections, you should open up a thread for people to speculate on what your top 10 will be.

  15. ‘Hercules the Legendary Journeys’ was created by Rob Tapert. Sam Raimi was just a co-producer. I know since he’s gotten mainstream recognition with Spider-Man, he seems to be getting named first now.

    I never heard of Tapert ‘demanding’ Lawless get a spin off show.

    The Xena character was just so popular and well received that instead of the third episode that originally ended with her dying, they rewrote it and not too long after made a spin off.

  16. Nick C. Please help me out here – what exactly do you mean by this statement:

    “Rick Holy, are you questioning the impact of XENA and HERCULES? Without them there wouldn’t be TV programmed for Network TV.”

    I don’t understand what you’re saying or the point you’re trying to make as expressed in the second sentence – ” without Zena and Hercules there wouldn’t be TV programmed for Network TV.” I’m not sure what you’re trying to say.

    And note – I was making my comments based on my (mis)understanding that your list was a Top 100 BEST T.V. programs – not, as NDBob brought to my attention, based on importance in TV history (impact, etc.). My comment was that I didn’t think that of ALL the TV shows in televsions history, I didn’t think Xena was worthy of Top 100 billing in terms of the criterium of “BEST,” not “IMPORTANCE.” So to answer your question – No, I’m not questioning it’s impact.

    But, back to my original plea for clarification, what do you mean by “without them (Xena and Hercules), there wouldn’t be TV programmed for network TV.”

    Maybe I’m missing something – or maybe it’s just that my mind isn’t exactly in tune with you because I’m alternating between writing a funeral homily and a Sunday Mass homily while occasionally taking a break and checking on your Blog. 😉

    Thanks! And PEACE! (and you DO know that my “Saved By the Bell” references are only in jest)! – so if it actually shows up I think I’ll probably keel over! 🙂 🙂

    One more thing – what about “The Incredible Hulk” with Bill Bixby. Could that be considered for it’s impact on other “superhero-type” shows which followed – as well as the movies, etc. That show handled a comic book character in a mature and thoughtful way that enabled adults to get something from it while their kids were watching it just to see the Hulk smashing things.

  17. Rick, in a hurry due to work, I forgot the Non- in front of that, meaning Cable stations wouldn’t have tried to produce their own product.

  18. Angela, perhaps Rob just gives me the romanticized version since you know he immediately fell for her and married her. As for putting Sam’s name first, that is just me. I usually always refer to them as Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert, and nothing should be taken from it besides that’s how I refer to them. I could have written “The Detroit Film Mafia,” but no one would have had a clue except Sam, Rob, Bruce, Josh, Ted, etc.

    So my apologies for implying that Sam was somehow more important. Because he isn’t. He’s a no talented hack after all 😉

  19. Nick C. – O.K. NOW I understand! It just didn’t make sense b/4. thanks!!

    But what about my lobbying for the Incredible Hulk?? Probably no chance, huh?? But REALLY, it did treat a comic book superhero seriously. That was ground-breaking. If there was something that preceded it that did the same thing, I certainly don’t remember what it would be.

  20. and an email from a friend reminds me that Christian Willams technically created HERCULES and should be given some credit for XENA, as well as RJ Stewart and John Schulian who along with Tapert technically created the series. Sam just produced the darn thing. Like I said a no talented hack! 😉

  21. Nick, if you gonna use the excuse that without Xena, Buffy might have never been made, you can’t put Dawson’s Creek and not put Party of Five.
    The first 2 or 3 seasons of P05 with teenage Bailey and Julia are very similar to Dawson’s and without it and Beverly (which I’m sure is on the list), Dawson would not have been made.

  22. TomSD, Party Of Five would likely make the list if it was top 100 shows of the last 20 years…. in this case it did not. Oops that’s a spoiler.

  23. I thought all the main women were generally unlikable bitches. – Indeed 😀

  24. Oh, I didn’t accuse you of such, I am just increasingly getting annoyed how much Sam Raimi seemingly gets all the credit for an essentially a Rob Tapert and John Schulian creation.

    I wonder if Tapert ever gets annoyed with it. I even read one article and a few blogs that referred to Lucy Lawless as Sam Raimi’s wife.

  25. I doubt Rob cares. He gets to play in Hollywood with a college buddy and is married to a heck of a lady. I think Rob is happy being where he is and all that just makes him smile.

  26. “The Prisoner” – Memory erased? Who had their memory erased? I don’t remember that at all. Certainly Number 6 hadn’t, since they wanted info from him. But I don’t remember any of the other prisoners being mind wiped – although some of them could have been. It seemed to me that most of them

    Ah, wait, I see. A Google search turns up a REMAKE in which that is part of the premise. But in the original Village, I don’t believe it was ever stated that nobody remembered their past. The problem for Number 6 in the original was that he couldn’t know who were prisoners and who were spies.

  27. RSH, pretty sure that was implied if not out right stated. Been a few years since I last watched them, but I’m pretty sure about that.

  28. You didn’t say whats good about Sex and the City show

  29. ABCFanatic, isn’t it obvious? POP CULTURE, and overall popularity. I didn’t think that show needed an explanation…

  30. Your facts are lacking, NickC. Guilding Light is much older than General Hospital, and As The World Turns is, too. By several years. And it started out on TV, and was a 1/2 hour by the time that GH premiered.

  31. DB, you’re right, I forgot entirely about ATWT. However it’s not shot in Hollywood, so I’m right on that respect (about GH being the oldest Hollywood recorded soap). ATWT was I believe also a Proctor & Gamble soap wasn’t it? Making it the last real soap.