Top 100 TV Shows Of All Time 6-10 (Or Nick C Has No Taste)

The start of the top 10 Shows of All Time…

10.  The ALL IN THE FAMILY SPIN OFFS (Varies but all on CBS)

I know, I know.  What a cop out.  I’m going to list a whole bunch of shows in one slot.  Sneaky, and very unexpected wasn’t it?  The thing is each one of the big 4 spinoffs (ALL IN THE FAMILY totaled I believe 6 or more) were themselves extremely solid TV, and those 4 all could have made the Top 100 by themselves, but then we wouldn’t have  ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT and a few others on the list, and that would have had me tarred and feathered.

MAUDE:  Edith’s sister.  She had a maid named Florida Evans.

GOOD TIMES:  Maude’s maid and her family and their life in the projects.

THE JEFFERSONS:  Archie’s neighbor.  Had a maid named Florence.

CHECKING IN:  Florence’s show.

Plus ARCHIE BUNKER’S PLACE, GLORIA, & 704 HAUSER.  I’m probably not remembering a whole lot.  When I learned about spin offs in school ALL IN THE FAMILY was a huge deal and you can see why from the list above.

That’s a lot of spin offs.  In the 1974-1975 season, ALL IN THE FAMILY was rated number 1.  THE JEFFERSONS was rated number 4.  GOOD TIMES was rated number 7.  MAUDE was rated number 9.  CBS even had 9 shows in the top 11 that season.  Talk about success.

I could write a whole lot about each one of those shows, but in this case I’m just going to suggest you google or wiki them.  They 3 main spinoffs:  THE JEFFERSONS, GOOD TIMES, and MAUDE were great shows in their own right and like I said would easily make the Top 100 list if I gave them separate slots.

9.  FIREFLY (2002 FOX)

Perhaps the greatest show to ever be canceled early due to idiot network executives.  Why does this show make it so high on the list?  How am I not a Joss Whedon fan when I do something like this?  Simple:


It may just be the best 42 minutes of TV … ever.  It’s definitely in the top 10.  It was also written by Tim Minear and not Joss Whedon, and it followed my 2nd favorite episode of the series:  JAYNESTOWN and that too wasn’t written by Joss Whedon but Ben Edlund (you may notice Edlund is an important part of FIREFLY, SUPERNATURAL, and THE TICK all shows that made the list, and he wrote my favorite ANGEL episode, which also made this list).

So many things about this show were just too cool for TV.  The sci-fi aspects that I’ve heard many an idiot point to BSGINO (that is Battle Star Galactica In Name Only for you not aware) as being the start of such FX (no sound in space, etc) and I have to tell them that FIREFLY did it first, and BSGINO actually used the same FX company, and that was likely the real reason.  The other aspect I loved was the space as a true frontier angle.  Sure we were terraforming, but civilizations were without a lot of technology on those planets.  So horses, etc. as primary forms of travel.  That actually makes a lot of sense.  So it appeared some science was being applied to the fiction.

Of course many will point to COWBOY BEBOP for inspiration… but this show for the few episodes we got did it right.  It also became a massive DVD success afterwards, had a film made, etc.  One of the best examples of ensemble TV in the last decade done right.  Great casting, and some amazing writing.  The pilot was decent and should have aired first (it aired last a brilliant move by Fox).  The show was very hit and miss.  I’d say half the episodes were bad filler.  However the episodes that hit were stunning.  The top 3 episodes in my opinion were OUT OF GAS, JAYNESTOWN, and OBJECTS IN SPACE (the final episode, written and directed by Whedon). The 3 episodes are easily some of the best sci-fi ever and like I said OUT OF GAS is truly great no matter the genre.   Those episodes helped push this show up and up the list.

I personally feel this show is a huge reason DOLLHOUSE is still on the air.  Fox doesn’t want another mistake like they made before.  When you watch the episodes I mentioned it’s hard to not give the guys at Mutant Enemy another chance, and hopefully one that won’t reak of the bad mojo that DOLLHOUSE started with.

8.  THE COSBY SHOW (1984-1992 NBC)

I remember reading a piece by TV GUIDE not to long ago that made an outrageous claim:  This show revived sitcoms.  I didn’t realize sitcoms were dead!  Anyone who looks at the history of popular sitcoms will realize that the 1982-1983 season was the winding down of some long toothed sitcoms.  7 sitcoms made the top 20 in 82-83, while only 3 made the top 20 in 83-84.  So there was a lack of new sitcoms at the time, but the genre was no where near the shape it is in now.

Bill Cosby was an extremely popular stand up comedian.  He also had a few sitcoms fail in the 70s.  However his stand up was extremely popular at the time.  So he was approached to do a sitcom.  His idea was to have the family be blue collar, and he was talked out of it.  So the Huxtables were created, an upper middle class African American family living in NYC.

The show was an instant success jumping to number 3 right off the bat.  Then for 5 straight years it was number 1.  That is a feat that only the comedy ALL IN THE FAMILY can claim.  So it wasn’t bad company to be keeping with.  The show would spawn a spin off in a very successful A DIFFERENT WORLD.

7.  THE WIRE (2002-2008 HBO)

David Simon whose book was used to make HOMICIDE: LIFE ON THE STREETS created THE WIRE also based on the same book and other incidents he came accross as a police reporter.  The 5 seasons of THE WIRE were brilliant, each a story arc focusing on a different part of Baltimore:  drugs, port, politics, schools, and the newspaper.  Did I mention it was brilliant?

The power of the message behind the show is … nearly overwhelming.  This show is actually about something far more than cops and bad guys.  It’s about the things that make us what we are, and how the job we have and those that we work with force us down a path more than any other part of society.  Thus our jobs are institutions.  This show entertained and was deep.  It made you think.

David Simon had a message, and I believe many people who watch this show will take something different from it, but something deeper than you normally take from TV.  I’m not going to preach to you, but I will suggest:  WATCH IT.  Just realize this is deeper TV than you’re used to.

6. M*A*S*H (1972-1983 CBS)

Before it became Alan Alda’s soap box, M*A*S*H was one of the best TV shows on the air.  It was also the most successful movie to TV adaptation of all time (sorry BUFFY fans).  The movie was of course adapted from the book.  The show would have 2 spin offs:  TRAPPER JOHN, M.D. and AfterMash.  Another spinoff about Radar created by Bill Bixby would never make it past a pilot.

The final episode is the most watched regular TV program of all time.  The huge success of the show would have many other movies made into horrible TV versions.  Comedy in a medical arena would be copied (most recently by SCRUBS) again and again.


15 responses to “Top 100 TV Shows Of All Time 6-10 (Or Nick C Has No Taste)

  1. Nick C when I tried to watch this show, i just couldn’t get into it. But I am a Whedon fan, and I do want to try again. In your opinion, in my retry should I watch the episode that should have been the pilot first, or watch S1 eps as it aired?

  2. imkeh, buy / rent the dvd and watch the episodes by the correct order.

  3. Ah Firefly.

    I sometimes think of the short Buffy Season 1 and how it grew and developed in S2 & S3 and then compare it to Firefly and wonder if it too would have evolved similarly if it had had the opportunity for a second and third Season after it’s short S1. What could have been. If only.

    I must confess that I am curious as to what other episodes of Firefly you liked and which ones are considered ” bad filler”. The written-in-one-weekend-to-appease-the-fox-executives episode TRAIN JOB would be a bad one I am sure, and I could probably guess a couple of the others, but it would be interesting to get the breakdown (if you wouldn’t mind).

    As a fan, then I would have liked to have seen it come in higher, but I do have to concede that THE COSBY SHOW, THE WIRE and MASH are all excellent company and any protests that I could make would be half-hearted at best.

    Now that I have seen almost all of the list, then it becomes easy to see some great shows (imo of course) that almost certainly don’t have a chance of appearing (for example China Beach is one show that I would have loved to have seen appear somewhere).

    I don’t know what your plans are after the final list of five are released, but I for one would quite like to see some sort of wrap-up/summary. Maybe with some of your thoughts about the list as a whole? I hope that you might at least consider the possibility, if you have not already done so.

  4. Nick C,Firefly was awesome! Even i missed it when it was actually on.A friend let me borrow the dvd’s afterwards and i couldn’t believe i missed that show.It was great enough in it’s half season run to spawn and really good movie.I sat back to watch if the move made money enough for them to do something else with Firefly/Serenity but i guess it never got in the green.I think it was on Friday nights?Why did Fox let this go?Universal grabbed it up to do the movie but,,,oh well,i guess Universal tried.Had a great cast!It now has (The Browncoats)on the convention circuit so i’ll guess it’s fanbase will last forever like The Trekkies and The Star Wars fans.Anyone that hasn’t watched this show really should give it a chance!I now own the dvds and the movie!

  5. I agree with Nick on the best eps of Firefly – a show that bares some comparison with Blake’s 7 too (Whedon spent time in the UK so he could have seen it).

  6. Brilliant – although sneaky – move by combining all of the All in the Family spin offs. I guess my prognostication some time back that All in The Family would be a solid #1 choice might come to pass – if not, at least it will be close.

    Can’t argue with MASH or Cosby – although if you were comparing “spin offs,” to my recollection, the Cosby spin-offs all kind of sucked. Oops – sorry. That was a “Susan” term. I guess I should say I thought they were “lacking in quality.” (I thought there was more than one Cosby spin-off, but maybe I’m just considering in addition to “A Different World” the horrible show that Malcolm Jamal Warner was in as a Cosby spinoff when he probably wasn’t actually playing a more grown up Cleo but some totally different character – I can’t remember – I just recall that he had dreads and not the typical “clean-cut” Cosby Cleo hair cut).

    And as for Firefly, I guess at some point I’m going to have to watch it to see what all the praise is all about. But here’s a question. If I find I’m “getting into it,” am I going to be P.O.’d by the ending of the second season (after which it got the axe). Will I watch two seasons only to have the “end” be a “non-ending?”

    Soooo. what could be left in the Top 5? I’m sure (based on your past selections) they won’t all be obvious choices like All in the Family. So, four others. Hmm. I still think that although it was only dedicated to Sports, “Wide World of Sports,” had a HUGE impact on TV overall with the birth of all the sports networks (national, regional, local, etc.). I also wonder if “Monday Night Football” could make the list, bringing sports into primetime like it did. And who could forget the bantering between Howard Cosell and “Dandy Don” Meredith, etc – and the appearance of John Lennon and then Howard Cosell announcing Lennon’s death on the air.

    Anyway, I know you could say that sports programming is a small nitch, but many of the other shows that have been picked so far could be called “nitch type” programs.

    And I’m still lobbying for at least ONE children’s program. I know my beloved BOZO won’t make it, but as others countered when I suggested BOZO, Sesame Street or Mr. Rogers would certainly be worthy. Just think of all the kids they impacted. And if Fred Rogers wasn’t dead, they’d still be making more new shows (instead of just airing repeats).

    Oh, well. I’ll be waiting to see the “other four.” (As I already know that All in the Family will be one of the final five). While I’m thinking of it – did Cheers make the list yet? That could be top 5 worthy, especially if you include the casts’ druken shenanigans (sp??) on The Tonight Show (at least I think it was on The Tonight Show) after the series reached it’s end.

  7. I actually like your decision to list the All in the Family spin-offs. All of those shows were well before my time, and I did not realize they were all connected in some way. But that feat certainly does seem Top 100 worthy.

    Interesting choice in Firefly. I would have imagined that on a “Top show gone before its time” list, or even if on this list then not higher than Buffy. Though you could have listed “The selected works of Joss Whedon” as a Top 100 show and it would have been fine by me!

    Nice to see the Cosby Show in the Top 10. That was a great family show, highly entertaining.

  8. Rick Holy, actually you’ll be more upset than that, Firefly got canned after less than ONE season. But there is the movie Whedon made, Serenity, that is a pretty good watch. Best to watch it after the series.

  9. Well simply by virtue of not being chosen already, the top five will probably have The Simpsons, The Sopranos, Seinfeld seem obvious, at least to me, and maybe Lost? I don’t know, Nick C is very unpredictable.

  10. Oh I’m extremely unpredictable….

    and sneaky.

  11. I have to say I’m glad that Dollhouse gets a second season, the first episoders were bad but the last 6/5 were amazingly good in my eyes. Though Im surprised The Wire didn’t make the top 5, wonder what was better.

  12. I actually started watching FIREFLY this summer (along with TRUE BLOOD), and I’ve only gotten about half way through the series, but I have enjoyed what I’ve seen of it.

    I do agree that the reason why DOLLHOUSE is still around is due to the fact that stupid executives cancelled FIREFLY. But I also think the latter half of DOLLHOUSE was pretty good. Do you agree? Also, Tim Minear is a writer for the show as well. 😛

  13. I tend to agree that the later episodes of Dollhouse were better than the first half, BUT with caveats that they screwed up several of the last half episodes as well, messing with the characterization of DeWitt and Topher. And screwing with your characters is a kiss of death that writers seem to be addicted to. But the last episode was pretty good, due to Alan Tudyk.

    Firefly was excellent, mostly because of the clever dialog and the excellent cast. Everybody, even Jayne, is engaging and believable, although I never got into Inara as much as the others, despite being hot. The top two, of course, are Nathan Fillion as Mal and Summer Glau as River, with Adam Baldwin as Jayne being top notch as well.

    The overall story arc being the secret of River Tam was developed slowly and was just starting to get serious when the show was canceled. The scenes where River guns down three bad guys without looking at them really clued you in to the fact that she wasn’t just a traumatized 17-year-old. The reality wasn’t revealed until the Serenity movie, however.

  14. The Firefly movie we all want to see:

  15. Pretty solid choices. I’m not a fan of Cosby, but totally feel it belongs up this high for what it accomplished.

    Also not a fan of Firefly, in fact I despise it for being self-conscious self-important rubbish. But, hey, some people certainly like it…