TV Shows of My Life

Another Friday, another list! This one is is inspired by the “Favorite Album for Each Year I’ve Been Alive” list.

Essentially, it’s a list of best TV show debuts for every year I’ve been alive.

When researching — Wikipedia, naturally — I determined that the absolute nadir of American television was the 1980s, which is no surprise to anybody who lived through it. On the other hand, there is no doubt that we entered a golden age in 1999, which lasted until the great HBO shows all ended.

Also, there tends to be a pattern where one year has a bunch of fantastic debuts, followed by a couple of down years. Which is why a lot of the greatest shows ever aren’t on this list: they had the misfortune to debut the same year as an even better show (too bad, West Wing! tough luck, Veronica Mars!). The opposite held true: especially in the 1980s, I had to do some stretching to find anything halfway decent.

TV Shows Of My Life

  • 1962 – The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (NBC)
  • 1963 – Doctor Who (BBC)
  • 1964 – The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (NBC)
  • 1965 – Get Smart! (NBC)
  • 1966 – Batman (ABC)
  • 1967 – The Prisoner (ITV)
  • 1968 – The Bugs Bunny / Road Runner Hour (CBS)
  • 1969 – Monty Python’s Flying Circus (BBC One)
  • 1970 – Monday Night Football (ABC)
  • 1971 – All in the Family (CBS)
  • 1972 – M*A*S*H (CBS)
  • 1973 – Schoolhouse Rock! (ABC)
  • 1974 – The Rockford Files (NBC)
  • 1975 – Saturday Night Live (NBC)
  • 1976 – Second City Television (Global)
  • 1977 – Roots (ABC)
  • 1978 – Taxi (ABC)
  • 1979 – SportsCenter (ESPN)
  • 1980 – Cosmos (PBS)
  • 1981 – Hill Street Blues (NBC)
  • 1982 – Late Night With David Letterman (NBC)
  • 1983 – The Cutting Edge (MTV)
  • 1984 – Jeopardy! w/ Alex Trebek (Syndication)
  • 1985 – Moonlighting (ABC)
  • 1986 – Pee-Wee’s Playhouse (CBS)
  • 1987 – Star Trek: The Next Generation (Syndication)
  • 1988 – Mystery Science Theater 3000 (KTMA)
  • 1989 – The Simpsons (FOX)
  • 1990 – Twin Peaks (ABC)
  • 1991 – Ren & Stimpy (Nick)
  • 1992 – The Larry Sanders Show (HBO)
  • 1993 – Frasier (NBC)
  • 1994 – My So-Called Life (ABC)
  • 1995 – Mr. Show (HBO)
  • 1996 – The Daily Show (Comedy Central)
  • 1997 – Buffy The Vampire Slayer (WB)
  • 1998 – Sports Night (ABC)
  • 1999 – The Sopranos (HBO)
  • 2000 – Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO)
  • 2001 – The Office (BBC Two)
  • 2002 – The Wire (HBO)
  • 2003 – Arrested Development (FOX)
  • 2004 – Deadwood (HBO)
  • 2005 – Battlestar Galactica (Sci-Fi)
  • 2006 – 30 Rock (NBC)
  • 2007 – Mad Men (AMC)
  • 2008 – The Middle Man (ABC Family)

Naturally, a lot of rationalization went on here, but you should probably consider that I’m thinking of these shows at their peaks, especially if they started fast and went swiftly downhill (I’m looking at you, Ren & Stimpy!), took a while to find their stride (The Daily Show prior to Jon Stewart), or I didn’t actually watch an episode until four decades after its debut (Doctor Who).

And one major cheat: dating Battlestar Galactica from the Sci-Fi series start date instead of the miniseries start date.

And obviously, this list reflects my love of science fiction, comedy (situation and sketch) and sports. Yours would probably be different. I’d love to see it.

5 Responses to “TV Shows of My Life”

  1. Mike Cane says:

    Nice list! But 2002? Sorry. That belongs to Firefly!

  2. Age says:

    Ah. Sports Night is the greatest show of all-time. Thank you.

  3. Anonymous says:

    As much as I love Batman, for 1966 that simply has to go to Star Trek. No questions asked.

  4. Jim says:

    Mike,

    Firefly was great — and much better on DVD, but I always felt that it was only leading up to what it could have become. On the other hand, The Wire is on the short list of greatest TV shows of all time.

    Anonymous — if that’s even your real name — I struggled a lot with the Batman vs. Star Trek question. But first off, when Batman hit in Jan of 1966, it was huge, so there’s that.

    Secondly, I thought that the Trek franchise was well-represented by the much superior “ST:NG”.

  5. Mike Cane says:

    One other thing:

    >>>I determined that the absolute nadir of American television was the 1980s

    Hm. There was Miami Vice and The Equalizer. The Greatest American Hero. Well, I’d watch all 3 again.

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