Another reminder: This isn’t my Favorite shows of all time, these are the TOP 100 Shows based on popularity, importance to TV, importance to pop culture, and lastly quality. So now that I have that out of the way here we go again….
50. BEAVIS & BUTT-HEAD (1993-1997 MTV)
MTV was moving into the “Reality for Teens TV Network,” and less and less videos were playing. Somehow Mike Judge was able to convince them to use small 3 minute segments of his animated creation to introduce heavy metal videos late at night. After that a sensation was born. That idea never really saw light. Instead we got a show where during the shows the boys would make fun of videos generally heavy metal in nature. The boys have no redeeming qualities at all. Somehow they became a huge pop culture phenom that lead to a big hit movie. The show made such an impact that people still repeat “Fire! Fire!,” in their likeness. “Dude, you said <insert some double entendre here>,” and other phrases. How popular was it? 12 years later Mike Judge is starting to write a new movie which he claims will be live action this time.
49. MR. BEAN (1990-1995 ITV)
Richard Curtis and Rowan Atkinson were fresh off the success of Black Adder when the two came up with the idea of Mr. Bean a character based on a character from Atkinson’s college days. Mr. Bean is as described by Atkinson: A child in a grown man’s body. The show was an amazing success with one episode being viewed by almost 19 million people (consider at the time the UK had only 55 million residents) and made massive moves into the British pop culture. Personally the episode where he puts the reclining chair on top of his mini and drives from on top is a classic example of physical comedy. Mr. Bean would be spun off into an animated show and 2 movies. The movies never captured the magic of the series which stands by itself in quality many, many, many times separated from the movies.
Example Exhibit D: This is physical comedy at its best.
48. IN LIVING COLOR (1990-1994 FOX)
Due to the underground success of IM GONNA GET YOU SUCKA Keenen Ivory Wayans was able to sell a sketch comedy show to fledgling network FOX and create for them an actual hit. While the entire Wayans family starred in it (or at least it seemed so even DJ-SW1 was really a Wayan) it also had Jim Carrey, David Alan Grier, Tommy Davidson, Kim Coles, and Kelly Cofield. Sketch comedy that pushed the boundaries of even what FOX would allow. Censorship and pulled episodes would lead Keenen to split for the 5th season (and thus lead to his whole family making an exit) and the show died a quick death. It’s probably most noted for it’s success as an alternative SUPER BOWL program. The show created a half-time show for people to watch and leave the SUPER BOWL for, and over 20 Million viewers did just that. Sadly, even the DVDs are censored or edited. Still it was a huge pop culture phenom that launched the movie career of Carrey and the Wayans.
47. NEWSRADIO (1995-1999 NBC)
This is a show where tragedy truly struck. When Phil Hartman died, the show died with it. Even though John Lovitz tried his best to fill in for his old friend the show was just never the same. However before the unfortunate murder of Hartman the show was one of the best comedies on the air. The show was based on a News Radio station out of NYC, and the story followed the arrival of Dave, their new News Director. Dave was Dave Foley as NEWSRADIO was a vehicle for the KIDS IN THE HALL star. However it was Hartman who would steal the show. Andy Dick was another big part of the show (you know before he put so much blow up his nose that he was crazy). For four great seasons this show was amazing, underwatched, and underappreciated until the death of Hartman. Then people realized just how great it was, and too late.
46. BEVERLY HILLS 90210 (1990-2000 FOX)
A show that followed twins Brenda and Brandon as they move from some hickville small town somewhere in like Minnesota to Beverly Hills, CA. This fish out of water show would end up being a FOX staple, and after a not-so gutsy move to air a Summer Season when the show was just starting to catch on (and thus provide potential male viewers with hot girls in bikinis), the show was a bonafide hit. It would poorly deal with things like suicide, losing virginity, date rape, etc. over the years. The characters would become more shallow and callous as the seasons would just keep going. New more shallow characters were added. The show would end up having spinoffs. It even has one airing now just entitled 90210. I believe that the early seasons, especially the first were quality TV for what it provided. The problem was that the show hooked its base audience early on, but is sadly remembered for the crap it aired later on. So the new version was based more on the crap than the original stuff that got people to tune in. The show only makes the list due to the impact it had on TV & pop culture. The quality is really not there.
45. ST. ELSEWHERE (1982-1988 NBC)
Based in an urban hospital devoted to teaching, ST. ELSEWHERE would be the show that was a launching site for Denzel Washington and technically ER. My favorite aspect of this show is that it was all in the head of an autistic child as we learned in the infamous Series Finale. That kid had a heck of an imagination. One of the best medical dramas ever and an ensemble cast that would make HOUSE jealous. Intense but funny at times, this show understood drama and just how to pick at the right strings.
44. THE OFFICE (2001-2003 BBC-Two)
Stephen Merchant and Ricky Gervais created a hilarious show about modern day to day duties in the Wernham Hogg Paper Company. A brilliant show that has lead to multiple remakes through out the world, including the lesser quality American version. If you like the American version, I insist you give this series a look on DVD. It’s greatly superior in just about every way. Stephen Merchant is a genius. Ricky Gervais is a genius. The show is a mockumentary (faux documentary) and one done right (like SPINAL TAP). I should also throw out there that Martin Freeman is another genius who regularly steals scenes. David Brent (Gervais’ character) is one of the greatest comedic creations of the last 100 years. It makes this show a real must see program.
43. THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JOHNNY CARSON (1962-1992 NBC)
For 30 years Carson ruled late night. Even though now Craig Ferguson has claimed the title of King of Late Night TV it was originally Johnny. He dominated in a manner that only Jay Leno could have dreamed about. He defined what Late Night Talk Shows would become and would emulate. Trying to pick a spot for this show was difficult. It easily could be top 10. I just decided (and likely wrongly) that Late Night wasn’t as important (you know like ABC).
42. OPRAH (1986-???? Syndicated)
Is daytime more important than Late Night? I don’t know, but I went this direction because I love Oprah, and I wouldn’t ever want to upset her. She did to day-time what Johnny did for Late Night. Plus she introduces people to a lot of neat things and ideas. She does things for kids. She is just a good humanitarian and she brought that aspect to day-time TV. The impact the show has had has lead to a magazine and a cable network.
41. GILMORE GIRLS (2000-2006 The WB)
Wait! Didn’t it air on another network after The WB shut down? Yeah. 1 season on The CW. Why isn’t it listed? Because it doesn’t deserve to be. A mother/daughter show. A show with snappy non-stop dialogue. Single mom, teen daughter and it really avoided the angst BS of the 90s with shows like MY SO CALLED LIFE. This show was less wallowing in self pity and more about open relationships with one’s parent and the joy that brought them. The mother/daughter combo here is incredibly strong. It was a wholesome family show that stretched boundaries that those shows generally never did as gracefully. It had Edward Hermann as the patriarch of the family. It was just good, but as a guy I never watched it that much. However when I did, I didn’t want to rip my eyes or ears out. I was generally just as entertained as the person who forced me to watch it (not that I’d ever tell them that).
51-60 can be found HERE
61-70 can be found HERE
71-80 can be found HERE
81-90 can be found HERE
91-100 can be found HERE