Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The 100 Greatest TV Shows of All Time IMHO

In the October 6 issue of Rolling Stone the magazine published its list of the 100 Greatest TV Shows of All Time. The list was assembled by polling various actors, critics, writers, and producers. I have to admit that I have some serious problems with the list. First, it excludes several shows that one would expect on a list of the greatest shows of all time. Where is The Andy Griffith Show? Where is The Prisoner? Where is Playhouse 90? Given the many shows that were excluded, I feel lucky that they included The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Twilight Zone at all. Second, the list contains too many recent shows. To me, with but a very few exceptions, for a show to be included on a list of the greatest shows of all time, it must have stood the test of time. It's far too early to say that about a show that just made its debut in 2011. Third, the list skews far too American.  There are only a very few British shows on the list, even though many concede that British television is better than American television, even here in the United States.

Given my frustration with Rolling Stone's list, I decided to create my own.  As anyone who knows me would expect, my list skews more towards older shows than younger ones. In fact, the decade with the most shows is the Sixties, followed by the Fifties and Seventies. I did include some more recent shows, but not many at all (there are only four shows from the Naughts and none from the Teens). I also included a good many British shows. As to how to I went about choosing the shows for the list, I took in account various factors. Among these was the staying power of a show. If a show has constantly been rerun for the past fifty years, I think that does say something about its over all quality. Another factor I took into account in choosing these shows is how well regarded a particular show is. While there are a few exceptions on this list, there are many shows on this list that were critically acclaimed upon their initial runs and are still highly regarded.  Finally, I took into account the over all importance of a show to the history of television. There is a reason that shows like Studio One, Your Show of Shows, and The Phil Silvers Show are still remembered. They broke new ground and changed television forever.

Now I will confess I have included some shows that simply number among my favourites. I am sure some of the shows on this list would not make anyone else's "Greatest" list. That having been said, I also included a few shows that do not number among my favourites (if you know me you can probably guess which ones they are). There are a few shows I would like to have made the list, but did not.

Anyway, I am listing the shows in alphabetical order, as in many cases trying to put them in order would be like a parent choosing a favourite child for me. I have included the years of their original run and who broadcast them. For those who are interested in such things, CBS has the most shows on the list, followed by NBC. Of the British broadcasters, BBC One has the most. As mentioned above, of the various decades the Sixties has by far the most shows on the list. Discounting the Forties (when television was in its infancy) and the Teens (which is far too recent for a "Greatest" list), the decade with the least shows is the Naughts. As to the oldest show on the list, that would be The Ed Sullivan Show (it beat Studio One by a few months). The youngest is Mad Men at nine years old.

By the way, if any other bloggers out there want to compile their own list of the 100 Greatest TV Shows of all time, I think it would be interesting to compile our lists. I think such a list would be more defniitive than the one published by Rolling Stone!

1. The Addams Family (ABC 1964-1966)
2. Alfred Hitchcock Presents/The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (CBS 1955-1960 NBC 1960-1962, CBS 1962-1964, NBC 1964-1965)
3. All Creatures Great and Small (BBC One 1978-1990)
4. All in the Family (CBS 1971-1979)
5.  American Family (PBS 2002-2004)
6.  The Andy Griffith Show (CBS 1960-1968)
7. Are You Being Served? (BBC One, 1972-1985)
8. The Avengers (ITV, 1961-1969)
9. Batman (ABC 1966-1968)
10. Beany and Cecil (ABC,  1962--reran until 1969)
11. The Beverly Hillbillies (CBS, 1962-1971)
12.  Bewitched (ABC, 1964-1972)
13. Blackadder (BBC One, 1983-1989)
14. The Bob Newhart Show  (CBS, 1972-1978)
15. Bonanza (NBC 1959-1973)
16. Buffy the Vampire Slayer  (The  WB, 1997-2001, UPN 2001-2003)
17.  The Carol Burnett Show (CBS, 1967-1968)
18. Cheers (NBC, 1982-1993)
19.  Columbo (NBC, 1971-1991, ABC, 1991-2003)
20.  Coronation Street (ITV, 1960-present)
21.  Crime Story (NBC 1986-1988)
22. Dad's Army (BBC One, 1968-1977)
23. Dallas (CBS, 1978-1991)
24. Danger Man/Secret Agent (ITV, 1960-1962, 1964-1968)
25. Dark Shadows (ABC, 1966-1971)
26. Deadwood (HBO, 2004-2006)
27. The Dean Martin Show (NBC, 1965-1974)
28. The Defenders (CBS, 1961-1965)
29. The Dick Van Dyke Show (CBS, 1961-1966)
30. Doctor Who (BBC TV, 1963-1989, BBC TV became BBC One in 1964, BBC One 2005-present)
31. F Troop (ABC, 1965-1967)
32. Farscape (Nine Network, 1999-2003)
33. Father Knows Best (CBS, 1954-1960)
34.  Father Ted (Channel 4, 1995-1998)
35.  Fawlty Towers (BBC Two, 1975-1979)
36. The Fugitive (ABC, 1963-1967)
37. Get Smart (NBC 1965-1969, CBS 1969-1970)
38. The Golden Girls (NBC, 1985-1992)
39. Gunsmoke (CBS, 1955-1975)
40. Have Gun--Will Travel (CBS, 1957-1963)
41. He & She (CBS, 1967-1968)
42. Hill Street Blues (NBC, 1981-1987)
43. The Honeymooners (CBS, 1955-1956; also aired as a recurring skit on The Jackie Gleason Show for years)
44.  I Dream of Jeannie (NBC, 1965-1970)
45. I Love Lucy (CBS, 1951-1957)
46. Inspector Morse (ITV, 1987-2000)
47. The Jack Benny Program  (CBS, 1950-1964, NBC 1964-1965)
48. The Jeffersons (CBS, 1975-1985)
49. Keeping Up Appearances (BBC One, 1990-1995)
50. Last of the Summer Wine (BBC One, 1973-2010)
51. Law & Order (NBC, 1990-2010)
52. Leave It to Beaver (CBS, 1957-1958, ABC, 1957-1963)
53. Letter to Loretta/The Loretta Young Show (NBC, 1953-1961)
54. Lou Grant (CBS, 1977-1982)
55.  M*A*S*H (CBS, 1972-1983)
56. Mad Men (AMC, 2007-2015)
57. Make Room for Daddy/The Danny Thomas Show (ABC, 1953-1957, CBS 1957-1964)
58. The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (NBC, 1964-1968)
59. The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis/Dobie Gillis (CBS, 1959-1963)
60. The Mary Tyler Moore Show (CBS, 1970-1977)
61. Maverick (ABC, 1957-1962)
62. Monty Python's Flying Circus (BBC One, 1969-1974)
63. The Monkees (NBC 1966-1968)
64. The Muppet Show (ITV, 1976-1981)
65. Northern Exposure (CBS, 1990-1995)
66. The Odd Couple (ABC, 1970-1975)
67. Only Fools and Horses (BBC One, 1981-2003)
68. Perry Mason (CBS, 1957-1966)
69. Peter Gunn (ABC, 1958-1961)
70. The Phil Silvers Show (1955-1959)
71. Playhouse 90 (CBS, 1956-1960)
72. The Prisoner (ITV, 1967-1968)
73.  Profit (Fox, 1996)
74. Ready Steady Go! (ITV, 1963-1966)
75. Red Dwarf (BBC Two, 1988-1993, 1997-1999, Dave 2009-present)
76.  The Rockford Files (NBC, 1974-1980)
77. Rocky and His Friends/The Bullwinkle Show (as Rocky and His Friends on ABC, 1959-1960, as The Bullwinkle Show on NBC, 1961-1964)
78. Route 66 (CBS, 1960-1964)
79. The Saint (ITV, 1962-1969)
80. St. Elsewhere (NBC, 1982-1988)
81. Sanford and Son (NBS, 1972-1977)
82. Saturday Night Live (NBC, 1975-present)
83. The Simpsons (Fox, 1989-present)
84. Six Feet Under (HBO, 2001-2004)
85. The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour (CBS, 1967-1969)
86. Star Trek (NBC, 1966-1969)
87. Steptoe and Son (BBC TV, 1962-1974, BBC TV became BBC One in 1964)
88. Studio One (CBS, 1948-1958)
89. Taxi (ABC, 1978-1983, NBC 1983-1983)
90. Thriller (NBC, 1960-1962)
91. Toast of the Town/The Ed Sullivan Show  (CBS, 1948-1971)
92. The Tonight Show (NBC, 1954-present)
93. The Twilight Zone (CBS, 1959-1964)
94. The Untouchables (ABC 1959-1963)
95. Upstairs Downstairs (ITV, 1971-1975)
96. The U.S. Steel Hour (ABC, 1953-1955, CBS, 1955-1963)
97. The Waltons (CBS, 1972-1981)
98. The Wild Wild West (CBS, 1965-1969)
99. The X-Files (Fox, 1993-2002)
100. Your Show of Shows (NBC, 1950-1954)


J.M. Harrison said...

I much prefer your list, but I would have included THE GEORGE BURNS and GRACIE ALLEN SHOW. Both had such a classic sense of comic timing, and no one was funnier that Gracie. Jack Benny said she had the best timing of anyone. And their supporting cast--although they seemed to be constantly changing Harry Mortons--was superb.

Hal Horn said...

I might do one of my own, though I think I will be largely agreeing with yours if I do. :) Kudos for including F TROOP, BILKO, MAVERICK and RED DWARF just to name a few. (I think Chris Barrie's other series, THE BRITTAS EMPIRE, is very underrated.) I would probably try to find spots for WKRP IN CINCINNATI and BARNEY MILLER, but it's hard to displace anything that made this list to do that.

J.M. Harrison said...

Oh, shame on me for neglecting BARNEY MILLER. May I be lashed 1,000 times with the proverbial wet noodle. Hal, if you do your list, I'd like to see it.

Terence Towles Canote said...

Thanks for the comments, J.M. and Hal! I am kicking myself for not including Burns and Allen, WKRP, and Barney Miller. They are three of my favourite shows and I don't know how I forgot about them. But then I also forgot about Dragnet and Naked City, another two of my favourite shows. I'll probably revise the list somewhere down the road.

Caftan Woman said...

Perry Mason! Perry is my #2 behind Gunsmoke. I think I could number a top five or six, but when I get around to my list I will follow your alphabetical listing. Of course, maybe I'll just let your list stand and ... oh, heck - you've inspired me and I happen to have a pen handy.

J.M. Harrison said...

Hey, this is still the bestest list I've seen.