10.) THE AVENGERS – I’m specifically talking about the Emma Peel years – Diana Rigg in a catsuit. The Tara King years were also okay-like The Three Stooges with Shemp instead of Curly. Classy, far out, Steed and Emma drinking champagne upon the completion of a case.
9.) COLUMBO – The greatest detective in TV history. An avenging ghost with no family ever shown and an arsenal of mental tricks at his disposal. The villains were always the super wealthy, the 1%. A show with a tremendous amount of sub-text and meaning.
8.) SEINFELD – “No hugging, no learning” separates this from every other sitcom which came before in the 70’s and 80’s. Pure humor without the moralizing and sentiment which doomed shows like MASH and ALL IN THE FAMILY. The greatest foursome and the situations everyone can relate to. Perhaps the most influential sitcom of all time.
7.) THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES – The crazed surrealism of 60’s sitcoms perhaps reached its peak with this show. Its incredible insane characters even more memorable because the audience cared about them.
6.) SCTV – SCTV was everything Saturday Night Live was and isn’t – unpredictable, clever, original, continually introducing fresh new comedic ideas. Under the framework of an imaginary TV network, SCTV created great new characters and wonderful celebrity impressions and put the two together in wacky situations.
5.) GET A LIFE – Although it only ran for a season and a half, this show showcasing Chris Elliott’s manboy edginess was the most original sitcom I’ve ever seen. Elliott’s style honed on Late Night with David Letterman (see below) is about clueless confrontation and exaggerated absurdity. It worked on this show. Hard to think of times I’ve laughed more than the “Cousin Donald” episode.
4.) LATE NIGHT WITH DAVID LETTERMAN – Letterman totally changed the relationship between the talk show host and the guest. By making it adversarial, he made the whole show performance art. By introducing, Chris Elliott and a whole host of bizarre repeated gags and self-aware mockery he created something completely new and gave those of us who hate celebrity culture a new hero to cheer for. The CBS show is a watered down version of this but still funny in places.
3.) BREAKING BAD – Walter White is possibly the single greatest character in TV history. Certainly the most complex. Is Breaking Bad the greatest show of all time as many have said? I’m not willing to go that far yet. There are still eight more episodes left as of this writing. If there are as powerful, as intense, as brilliant as what has gone before then yes. I’ve written about Breaking Bad more than any other TV series. If you are interested google my blogname and BB and read.
2.) THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW – We all want to live in Mayberry and it’s a great construct. Never have life lessons and humor flowed together so mellifluously. Don Knotts as Barney Fife is the single greatest sitcom character of all time not to mention all the others – Floyd the barber, Goober, Ernest T Bass. My favorite sitcom.
1.) THE NIGHT STALKER – An odd choice for greatest show of all time I know but the greatest mix of what makes a good TV show for me – elements of horror, humor, drama, and the great Darren McGavin in a role he was born to play. Good writing is the key to good TV shows and it was never better than here. Wrote more here http://rgdinmalaysia.blogspot.com/2011/12/ranking-kolchak-night-stalker-episodes.html