Top 100 TV Shows Of All Time 11-15 (Or Nick C Has No Taste)

The final 5 before the top 10…

15.  STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION (1987-1997 Syndication)

By 1987 STAR TREK was a huge hit.  NBC looked foolish for cancelling the original series, and CBS was beginning to look possibly foolish for making the sequel to the TV series into a movie series instead.  There were people thinking they should have done both.  So someone at CBS said, “that ain’t a bad idea.”  Roddenberry was then allowed to create a new show and he set this one 70 years into the future.  So a new crew, and a new Enterprise.  Roddenberry didn’t want to be tied to CBS so he was able to convince them to distribute it in syndication.  He didn’t want a Network President making stupid decisions like they had 20 years before.

At the time nothing was syndicated in a first run basis besides game shows.  The show started slowly and many great writers from the original series left due to fights with Roddenberry.  However despite the slow start the first episode ever was the first TV show nominated for a Hugo award in 15 years.  It was nominated for 6 Emmy Awards, and won 4.  The first season would introduce Q, The Borg (through foreshadowing), and the Feringi amongst other things that would continue on through the series and the two spin offs.

startrekEarly criticism of the Wesley Crusher character came quickly with Season 1 as well.  The writing at the time wasn’t the best it could be, and they used Crusher (who was I believe like 14 at the time) as someone who would just come up and solve what was an insolvable problem.  This Deux Ex Machina plot device was a major criticism.  It would also end up as the start for a lot of Wesley Crusher hate.

*NOTE* Wil Wheaton was a kid at the time.  It’s not his fault the writing sucked at times, or that they made his character into a nerd.  It’s a shame that he got familiarized for that role.  Because as child actors go, he was actually pretty damn good.  I hear he still gets some heat over this.  Leave the man alone.  How would you like to be reminded of the crap you were doing at 15?  Yeah, that’s what I thought.  *End of Note*

Roddenberry’s health would begin deteriorating and his involvement in further seasons was limited.  This was also around the time where the quality picked up. For 7 seasons this show was on the air and provided generally top notch sci-fi programming.  While not a “trekie,” or even a huge fan of the series, when I found myself in situations where it was on and my tv was on and found it while flipping… I usually found myself watching it.

The impact of this series was immense.  At its peak it was watched by over 11.5 million people (which would have made it a top 40 show) despite being on syndication and running in different time slots everywhere.  It was so huge that certain network affiliates were dropping their normal programming to air ST:TNG.  Most of these stations were FOX stations, however some CBS, NBC, and ABC stations would end up doing this.  This would lead to new contracts with affiliates.  Basically, thanks to ST:TNG there won’t be NBC stations not playing LENO this fall.

The success of the program would launch the UPN network.  A new spinoff called ST: VOYAGER was going to be the show to help kickstart an entire new network.  TV shows like BABYLON 5 and HERCULES: THE LEGENDARY JOURNEYS would also enter the world of syndication with amazing success.  Without ST:TNG David Hasselhoff would be poor.

The show sparked the syndicated first run programming that would lead to cable network picking up the shows for themselves rather than syndication and then lead to original programming for cable networks.

14.  THE DUKES OF HAZZARD (1979-1985 CBS)

By the 78-79 season CBS had slipped to 2nd, and was getting trashed by ABC.  ABC had the top 5 shows on TV, and 7 of the top 10.  CBS had tried and failed to get the rights to adapt SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT for TV, but the idea of a show based more on a car speeding around avoiding cops wasn’t lost.  They ended up making a deal with Gy Waldron who had successfully stolen the story of stock car racer and ex-moonshine runner Jerry Rushing to make the movie MOONRUNNERS.    Rushing and Waldron were good friends at the time and Waldron continued to get stories from Rushing about his days driving Traveler (named after General Lee’s horse Traveller).  Waldron would pitch CBS and thus THE DUKES OF HAZZARD were born.

Waldron based the character of Bo Duke on Rushing, and Uncle Jesse on Rushing’s Uncle.  The car is obviously based on Traveler.  The basic idea of the show is that Bo & Luke Duke are cousins who run shine for their Uncle Jesse.  The show was narrated by Waylon Jennings and gave a very interesting take on red-necks.  These “good ole boys,” weren’t racist or dumb.  Instead they were wily, crafty, and could drive like nobodies business.

The pilot is vastly different than the TV Series.  The TV series would make jokes out of the sheriff and Boss Hogg, however in the pilot they’re far from the inept idiots that they would later be portrayed as.  CBS not sure what exactly to do with it (thus it being a mid-season show) decided to air it on Fridays with THE INCREDIBLE HULK which had been a surprise success for them. The show was an instant success.

Dukes-of-Hazzard-Photograph-C10101887

The Cast of THE DUKES OF HAZZARD leaning/sitting on the star of the show.

It immediately debuted in the top 20 at number 20, and in its second full season would break the top 10 at number 9.  The show was then used to save the program DALLAS.  That combination would make CBS again number 1, and own Friday nights, making Friday nights a huge night for watching television.  That combination may end up being the most successful Friday nights ever on TV especially since people are scared of Friday today.

The show is also infamous for the replacement Dukes.  After the 4th season, the stars walked off the set in dispute of script quality, their salary, and merchandising percentages.  CBS responded with Coy and Vance Duke, basically look-a-likes.  This would cause the show to crash, and the stars were brought back.  This time with some say over scripts.  The final two seasons were just weird.  There was even an alien spaceship episode with little aliens.  Yes, the stars approved these scripts or were possibly behind them.  Lesson:  Don’t let Tom Wopat or John Schneider near creative control of a series.

Still the impact of the show was huge.  A bad, bad, bad movie adaption was even able to make $115M or so at the box office.  It also has lived on in snydication practically non-stop since it went off the air, first through normal means, then by different cable networks.  The impact on pop culture and the impact on TV were huge by the show.  Yes, the quality of episodes aren’t BUFFY worthy, I know.  It had a much larger impact on culture & TV than BUFFY however.

13.  DALLAS (1978-1991 CBS)

The primetime soap that captured American TV sets and held them hostage.  I myself am totally stunned by the success of the show.  However, there is no denying the impact this show had on TV.  DESPERATE HOUSWIVES and other primetime soaps all owe their existance to the massive success of DALLAS.  How successful was it?

Well by 1977 CBS had fallen to 2nd place, something they weren’t exactly happy with.  ABC had literally crushed them.  So in the Spring of 78 they came out with DALLAS as a mini-series.  It proved successful so in 78 they threw it on Saturday nights.  It failed to get viewers, so they moved it to Sunday night.  It too failed to get viewers.  In a last effort to save the show, it was moved to Fridays behind THE INCREDIBLE HULK, and their new hit THE DUKES OF HAZZARD.  All of a sudden they had a hit.  When you remove the Saturday, and Sunday numbers, DALLAS in its first season was the 12th most watched show that season.

dallasBy season 2, CBS again owned TV and they owned Friday Nights.  They also perfected the Cliff Hanger.  This plot device is used to end a season on a startling moment.  Something that won’t be resolved until the next season.  This is used to create hype for the next season.  Season 2 ended with JR Ewing being shot.  This would probably be the most successful Cliff Hanger ever.  Season 3 was not only the most watched show on TV, it averaged 30.5 million viewers an episode!  CBS owned Friday nights at this point with the number 1 and number 2 programs all season being DALLAS and THE DUKES OF HAZZARD.

DALLAS would finish seasons 3 times in 1st place, twice in 2nd place, 7 times in the top 10, and 9 times in the top 12.  The remaining 4 seasons just proved the show was on the air way past its prime.  However past its prime meant 2 top 30 seasons, with the final two seasons dropping like a rock.    Still, it will be remembered for the WHO SHOT JR? episode that was watched by some 90 million viewers.

12.  SUPERNATURAL (2005-2006, 2006-2010 The WB, CW)

SUPERNATURAL better than BUFFY?  SUPERNATURAL better than all the other shows listed?  Hell, yeah.  This show had a plan.  It also had Kim Manners.  The same Kim Manners that helped make THE X-FILES the classic show that it is.  Unlike THE X-FILES, SUPERNATURAL has a plan in place and has from the begining.  This makes the seasonal arcs and the series arcs work.  Science fiction and supernatural programming needs a firm and solid backbone.  It needs a foundation that it can stand on.  THE X-FILES and BUFFY both lacked that foundation in the end.  They relied entirely on character dynamics to survive.  The characters were loved so the shows continued to be loved.  SUPERNATURAL on the otherhand has never lost its footing.  It was heading to a showdown with Satan himself since the beginning.

Like the other shows mentioned SUPERNATURAL also has some extremely deep characters.  The character interaction between the brothers Sam and Dean are some of the best not just on TV but ever on TV.  The writing of the show is also top notch with writers like Ben Edlund on board.  The show just has it all going for it.  Great characters, great writing, great atmosphere, and great pacing.

metallicar

The 3 stars of SUPERNATURAL

This is a show that will become a cult phenom after it stops airing, hands down.  It will just catch fire.  It’s a shame that The CW treats it so poorly.  The show has never matched the success it had on The WB, but The WB treated it like a hit, and the CW treats SUPERNATURAL like a show they wish would really just go away.

11.  THE FRESH PRINCE OF BEL AIR (1990-1996 NBC)

Will Smith’s career as a super star on screen started here.  Of course he was most notable at the time of being part of the Rap Duo of DJ JAZZY JEFF & THE FRESH PRINCE. Will Smith was an idiot.  You have to understand where he was in his life at this time.  He’d created an extremely popular image as a clean rapper in the days of Ice T, NWA, etc.  Yet he allowed friends and others to spend his money, and he forgot to pay his taxes.  He was something like $3M in debt and was desperate.  So when he was offered a gig for a sitcom to be based on him he took it.  He also cleaned up, hired new people to watch him and his money and created a Super Star.

The idea of the show was simple:  kid from Philly who has troubles is sent to live with his Aunt who happens to live in a mansion in Bel Air.  His cousins are uber pampered brats, and his Uncle Phil is a Judge.  The show was based entirely on the fish out of water concept that the street wise kid will be out of his league with the rich pampered brats.  It worked, and it worked well.

the_fresh_prince_of_bel_air_lgThe show was the last truly successful show on major network TV with an all black cast that wasn’t seen as being aimed at just the African American population.  This is sad, but that is an article for another time.  The show has imho the greatest finale of all times.  The show ends with the mansion being sold….

to George Jefferson.

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25 responses to “Top 100 TV Shows Of All Time 11-15 (Or Nick C Has No Taste)

  1. Of all the Treks, I have the least time for TNG and Enterprise.

    While TNG did recapture the lightning in the bottle, I thought the first two seasons weren’t very good script wise and towards the end Patrick Stewart and Brent Spiner had become parodies of themselves in the way they chewed their dialogue and looked generally bored with proceedings while scripts purely consisted of characters spouting technobabble.

    Whenever the Borg were in it, it seemed to liven up considerably but without TNG, there’d be no DS9.

  2. Awesome Supernatural 12 spot Nick C.We sit around on Thursdays and watch this show and have from the beginning.Sam and Dean!Dean’s one liners!Satan and demons!The CW does hate this show and any like it but they can replace it in 2011 with Gilmore Girls :the Golden Years …

  3. I started watching “Supernatural” during the first season – and only because it had “they guy who played (one of) Lana Lang’s/Kristen Kreuk’s boyfriends during one of the seasons of Smallville.” (So being a diehard Smallville fan, I thought I owed it to Jensen Ackles to watch his new show). I have to admit that I really enjoyed the show, but for some reason – and don’t know what that was – but stopped watching it – and then just never picked up on it again.

    I also seem to remember that they played cool 70’s/80’s music, at least they did in those early episodes I watched when that cool muscle car would go tearing down the road – another plus.

    Anyway, the closer we get to #1, the more shows on the list that are “surprising” me for various reasons. Dukes of Hazzard, for example – could ONLY (at least in my humble opinion) be on the list for some kind of impact – and not for quality of the show itself – because even as a kid/teenager I thought the show was just for Billybobs.

  4. Rick Holy, the stunt work on DUKES OF HAZZARD would put the show in a top 50 all by itself. The pilot is also one of the best pilots ever made. Throw in the pop culture and the fact that it saved DALLAS… it also proved Friday nights could be the most watched night of TV.

    SUPERNATURAL, season 1 was the same for me. I started watching, really enjoyed it. Then stopped. Out of boredom one night I watched a 3rd season episode. I was like “why did I stop watching?” Then I went back and watched the previous seasons and was like “My God, this show is damn good.” It improves season to season and it’s obviously building up to the big climax of next season.

    It really helps when you have a 5 season arc planned out in advance.

  5. Wow, that is exactly what happened to me. I stopped watching Supernatural during season 1, and then caught an episode of season 3, and saw the episodes I missed in reruns o.O

    I didn’t even wait for season 4 to air here, I just downloaded the episodes the day after their aired in the US.

  6. What prompted The Dukes of Hazzard to use Waylon Jennings for a voice over? Granted, I believe he did the title song, but for some reason the entire narration worked, as did his “Well I don’t know about you, but I think those boys just got a bit more trouble than they bargained for…” thing he did at each commercial break. Then again, I was a kid when I watched this show, so maybe it would seem stupid if I saw it now.

    I have never seen Supernatural, nor did I even read the review here in case it spoils something. I’ve got it on the list for TV-on-DVD and I’ll be picking up all the seasons available sometime this summer.

    And, Nick, interesting that you mentioned Babylon 5. I have no idea how that show did ratings wise, and I’ve only seen the first three seasons, but it seems to be a solid sci-fi show. In fact I’d rate it on par with Farscape. I doubt either of those will make your list, but its neat to see what kind of shows became possible with the success of Star Trek.

  7. Funny, I’m a Supernatural virgin who is starting Season 1 tonight on DVD. Has 1 and 2 on DVD and 3 on Blu-ray…should finish within the month.

  8. Wow. Supernatural at #12 for all time top shows? Sure, it’s an entertaining show, but what cultural impact, or even importance to the television landscape, has it had? Those have been important factors in your compilation of this list from the beginning.

    The Dukes of Hazzard is an atrocious show, but it certainly had an impact on the ratings (interesting info you provided about that, by the way) and pop culture.

    Can’t wait to find out what’s in your top 10! I have five good guesses, but am drawing blanks on the other five spots.

  9. Frank, I believe Jennings was involved with the movie the show was based on and a friend of Jerry Rushing.

    Emily, sometimes you have to go out on a limb. SUPERNATURAL was me doing that. I’m sure in 10 years it will be looked at strongly for many different things. If it was on FOX it would be huge right now. It was just the next evolutionary step for sci-fi/horror TV.

    THE DUKES OF HAZZARD’s biggest impact I didn’t really cover which was: stunts. The show brought movie budgets to TV for stunt work, and before it there was never anything quite like it. The stunt work of the show was top notch. When the movie adaptation was announced all the industries top stunt men were fighting to get in on the movie. It had a massive impact on TV that a lot of people ignore because it wasn’t high caliber TV. Although the early seasons weren’t bad. The pilot is still one of the best pilots ever, and it is a shame CBS made them change aspects of the show from the pilot.

  10. Hooray! Sam, Dean and Metallicar. Awesome.

  11. Josh Emerson

    I watched the first two seasons of Supernatural and liked them a lot, but ended up not watching the past two. I got behind a few episodes and never picked it back up. I plan to though. I have Season 3 on DVD waiting to be watched, and I’m sure I’ll watch S4 after that.

  12. Josh, I hear that a lot. I never hear “I used to watch it but hated it.” I hear generally how they really liked the show but for some reason or another they were now forced to play catch up on DVD.

    Which brings me to another article for another time: Did DVD help kill TV?

  13. I think almost all shows should have a solid plan going into it. A lot of times dynamics change because of the way certain actors bring the characters to life (or don’t) and the chemistry between some can lead a show into a different direction, almost taking a life of its own. But there should always be some strong ideas there for the different scenarios. So many shows just seem to lack thought.

    But if Supernatural has a plan for five seasons, but the guys are signed on for 6 (without Kripke), I have to wonder if the show will a.) be able to stick to their original plan (what if one or both of the brothers were to die in the ultimate showdown)? or b.) have to sacrifice the previous seasons build-up for an open-door final? I agree that the CW treats the show terribly (as they do with anything that’s not one of Dawn’s pet projects) but I still think the network will push for another season. Especially when the new shows don’t do as well as planned (which I really think will happen).

  14. Annie, if the new shows don’t do as well as planned… there will be no CW to renew the show.

  15. Can’t say I wouldn’t love to see that happen. It’d probably be better for this show to go the planned five years than to risk being strung out too long. But if there’s still a story to tell, maybe another network would pick it up.

    No matter, I’m having a personal party the day this network goes under or Dawn Ostroff is fired.

  16. The further up this list goes, the more sure it’ll be full of shows Ipersonally could care less about. Always liked Dukes of Hazzard. It was a live action cartoon come to life for me. Spawned a few copy cat shows back in the day too.

  17. Where’s WKRP in Cincinnati..one of the most flat out funniest shows of all time. It had a GREAT cast as well.

  18. Good choice on the Dukes of Hazzard!

    The show is still REALLY popular today and it indeed had a HUGE impact on TV. In Tennessee every summer they have a Dukes’ Festival that brings in thousands of fans each year. It includes a stunt show and cast reunions and memoribila shows. It was a great show that the whole family could enjoy…much like Chuck is today!

  19. Jrock, WKRP while funny with strong casting, was never much of a hit. It only ran 4 seasons, 3 of which were hardly watched. It broke the top 30 in one season, when CBS felt pressure from radio (DJs loved the show), when the show was moved behind M*A*S*H. Despite that lead in, the show only was able to break the top 25, at 22 for that season.

    It did do better in syndication than other shows produced by Mary Tyler Moore’s MTM brand. However, that isn’t saying much, as only her own show and BOB NEWHART were considered successful. However, that success was also due to the fact that it was sold very cheap at the time for a syndicated show.

    I personally liked the first episodes of the show, but once CBS changed it (after they suspended the show for a bit), I thought it came back extremely weak in comparison.

  20. You have some good points Nick. I was a fan of WKRP after it’s initial CBS run. Became a fan during it’s successful syndication run the same can be said for me for shows like The Jeffersons and Sanford and Son.

    Although I feel the show was still pretty strong through most of it’s 4 seasons, but the first season was the best…the Turkeys falling from the sky episode, ect.

    After all these years it still holds up well to me. Although the DVD release and it’s current syndication run is really butchered because they couldn’t use the original rock music songs they used during the first run. And that takes away a big part of the show’s original charm.

  21. Ah, Dallas! One person made that show – Larry Hagman. Without him, or more precisely his character J.R. Ewing, it would have been nothing.

    Of course, all the babes helped. Except the one that played the teenager – I never could stand her and I believe no one else in the known universe ever did either.

    Linda Gray was the hottie, Victoria Principal was OK but was too straight. But then you had every OTHER hot babe on TV at the time, up to and including the “trash queen” herself, Morgan Fairchild!

    Dallas: Morgan Fairchild As Jenna Wade

    Look at this list:

    Susan Howard
    Priscilla Presley
    Sheree J. Wilson
    Lesley-Anne Down
    Tina Louise (Ginger from Gilligan’s Island!)
    Mary Crosby (Bing’s incredibly hot daughter!)
    Joan Van Ark
    Joanna Cassidy
    Morgan Brittany (the “other Morgan”)
    Audrey Landers (on Burn Notice in season one)
    Susan Flannery
    Lois Chiles
    Jenilee Harrison
    Deborah Shelton
    Barbara Carrera
    Leigh Taylor-Young
    Gayle Hunnicutt
    Susan Lucci
    Barbara Eden (I Dream of Jeannie!)

    Not too many shows have had a list of babes like that.

  22. RSH, are those all women Hagman bagged or is that a list of women that were on the show? 😉

  23. Most of them he bagged, some he didn’t. I can’t remember in detail which are which. I vaguely think Presley wasn’t one of his. Brittany, Crosby, Chiles, Flannery, Carrera, Louise, I know they all were bagged.

  24. RSH, you know I meant in real life 😉

  25. Wasn’t Hagman married the whole time?

    Not that being married means anything in Hollywod…LOL