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.