The 50 Greatest Television Dramas: 1950-2000 [US]

The 50 Greatest Television Dramas: 1950-2000 [US]

The 50 Greatest Television Dramas: 1950-2000

Criteria: Series must have aired at least 1 full season and not received a “TV-M” content rating. This list only contains shows originating in the U.S. and Canada that originally aired in the United States. Shows that are predominantly comedies but included drama would not be considered as a drama. Reality television does not qualify. Daytime dramas would be considered within a different category. At least 1/3 of the series must have originally aired prior to 2000 to be considered a 1950-2000 series.

1. Hill Street Blues (1981-1987)

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The first and best of its kind. When the 1970s ended and television was looking to define the new decade with a show that would defy viewer expectations, NBC turned to Steven Bochco. The gritty, documentary style “shaky camera” that follows the characters around from scene to scene put us in the driver’s seat for the first time.

The opening alone is worthy of praise, as one of the greatest television theme songs (by Mike Post) of all time. During the first episode, one of our main cast members is shot and nearly dies, showing the reality of violence the police would have to face. Michael Conrad, who died from cancer during the show’s run, would end each morning’s roll call with “Let’s be careful out there.”

Hill Street Blues won 3 Golden Globes, had 98 Emmy nominations and 26 Emmy wins (3 more than ER).

2. ER (1994-2009)

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It’s hard to believe now that George Clooney was part of a TV series, rather than just headlining movies, but he was a part of an ensemble cast that has included Anthony Edwards, Noah Wile, Sherry Stringfield, Eriq La Salle, Gloria Reuben, Angela Bassett, Scott Grimes and even John Stamos through the years.

NBC had the gold standard of medical dramas with St. Elsewhere and actually one-upped itself with ER. The series is based on the experience of Jurassic Park creator Michael Crichton’s time working in an emergency room, which allowed the show to bring realism and actual case studies to the series in a way that other shows of that time simply couldn’t. While the relationships were an element, the actual hospital drama was the most crucial and viable theme of the series, making it strong and garnering 23 Emmy wins with 124 nominations. Episodes focused on HIV, cancer, death and violence while putting the viewer right at the center of it all and giving us an approach that allowed us to ask ourselves what we would do in that situation, rather than dictate that the cast was always making the right decisions.

3. Law & Order (1990-2010)

Law & Order Cast

Dick Wolf is one of the most creative minds when it comes to television drama. His idea for a show about the criminal justice system and the intricacies that make up the most dastardly details of a crime, from beginning to end, were the basis for this long running series. The show was cutting edge in that it stayed on top of the headlines of the day, often doing a show that had current implications in the media that very week.

Each episode would have a crime, detectives to investigate, an arrest and then the prosecutors. NBC had a certified hit for 2 decades with Chris Noth, Paul Sorvino, Jerry Orbach, Angie Harmon, Dianne Wiest, Anthony Anderson, Sam Waterston and others. Law & Order had 50 Emmy nominations over 20 years and 6 wins.

4. The Twilight Zone (1959-1964)

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To declare a television series as groundbreaking seems cliche’, but when a show has the dynamic and timeless writing of “The Twilight Zone,” it’s anything but cliche’. Each episode was a different story, never following a pattern from week to week, never having continuous storylines or building characters into the series. Oftentimes the script would call for a single character, or two characters in a dialogue, with a situation that is bizarre to their normal lives and no conceivable way of escape. The endings were seldom happy, but the adventure to get to the end was breathtaking. Ron Serling would break the fourth-wall and introduce us to the story, which would be performed like a play within a single scene in many instances.

That means that the show had to rely heavily on superb writing, acting and storytelling, which it did. The Twilight Zone won 3 Emmy awards, an Online Film and Television Association Hall of Fame Award, 3 Hugo Awards and a Golden Globe. It’s potentially the best written series on all of network television and one of CBS’s best dramas of any time, or any dimension. The stars varied from Carol Burnett to Art Carney to William Shatner to countless others.

5. Columbo (1968-78, 1989-2003)

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Detective dramas are a dime-a-dozen. With most, we’ve figured out the killer long before the detective has and without near the number of clues. But Columbo was different, a working man’s cop with a completely different approach to whodunit. Columbo would slowly piece together the puzzle, often frustrating the killer with the constant barrage of questions and “pardon me” interruptions. He was apologetic for his intrusions, methodical in his deliberation, but brilliant in his decisive declaration of who’s guilty and why.

Peter Falk’s character wasn’t gritty, like most of the characters and their dramas on our list. He didn’t engage in office romances or go against the grain of societal morality, rather it was just storytelling with a great character with sloppy hair, a trench coat and a cigarette hanging loosely from his lip that you expected to fall out at any time. Unusual to have a likable characters so well for so long in any era of television, but particularly in the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s. Peter Falk won an Emmy for Lead Actor in a Drama Series for his work as Columbo in 1976.

6. Dallas (1978-1991)

The best way to introduce our culture to the age of excess and greed was through a nighttime soap with a family who had it all and still wanted more. The Ewings were crafted brilliantly at CBS into a love/hate relationship with the audience and America couldn’t get enough of good ol’ J.R. (Larry Hagman). Jock and Miss Ellie’s family tree had two other sons, in Bobby (Patrick Duffy) and Gary (played by David Ackroyd and Ted Shackelford), but the three provided more than a decade of theft, kidnappings, deaths, spin-offs, explosions, affairs and the infamous cliffhanger that caused a national uproar, “Who shot J.R.?”

7. St. Elsewhere (1982-1988)

In the days of gritty network police dramas, NBC wanted to add the “Hill Street Blues in a hospital” into the mix. There was all the fast moving action that they needed with St. Elsewhere, along with all the relationship drama and what seemed like a never ending cast of characters over the course of 6 years. Mark Harmon, Ed Flanders, Cynthia Sikes, Denzel Washington, Howie Mandel, Ed Begley, Jr., William Daniels, David Birney, G.w. Bailey, Normal Lloyd, Christina Pickles and Barbara Whinnery, just to name a few. The humor was dark, just like on Hill Street Blues, often interrupted with tragedy.

8. Star Trek: The Original Series (1966-1969)

In an era that saw war, protests and racial injustice, Gene Roddenberry’s original series set the mark for what a sci-fi space series could be and what it was capable of doing. The franchise lived far beyond the simple roots of the short television run, but without the achievements in those early days, the later ones wouldn’t have been possible. The limited budget didn’t keep the series from making history, either. Interracial kissing, impactful lessons on peace, the big ideas that led to exploration, mobile phones, laptop computers and every electronic device we take for granted today.

The writing was better than it’s given credit for, the acting was good and the only thing lacking was budget, which was made up for within the franchise in years to come. Here we are, 50 years after the first episode aired, seeing the series become more popular every year.

9. NYPD Blue (1993-2005)

Dennis Franz made the latter years of Hill Street Blues worthy of watching and earned a starring role (along with David Caruso, Jimmy Smits and Rick Schroder) at ABC’s gritty cop drama. The show would be the first of its kind to break barriers with traditional network taboos, like showing male posteriors on air and using language usually reserved for cable. The feel of the show was similar to Hill Street, with the shaky camera work, but with a darker tone, an almost washed out look, at times. The violence, the raw feel and the broken characters were trademarks of Steven Bochco and David Milch, but this one had the feel of a cable drama done on network, a pivotal moment for television.

10. Little House on the Prairie (1974-1983)

A show based on the books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, this series based on the 1870s was one of the most emotionally driven family dramas on all of television. To this day, there is still not a better Christmas episode of a regular series than “Christmas At Plum Creek.”

Michael Landon and Karen Grassle were superb as the parents to Laura, Mary  & Carrie (Melissa Gilbert, Melissa Sue Anderson and Lindsay & Sidney Greenbush). We usually saw the world through the eyes of Laura, whose rival was the horribly annoying Nellie Oleson (Alison Arngrim) and her mother, Harriet (Scottie MacGregor). The show won 4 Emmy awards in its run and 2 People’s Choice Awards, as well as the Online Film & Television Association Hall of Fame.

11. Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-1994)

Keeping the traditional Star Trek that Roddenberry imagined in place was crucial for the success of TNG. Using the USS Enterprise, being in the same universe – just 100 years in the future – keeping the same alien races, yet adding to each of these is what led to the series being the most tremendous success of the franchise’s television run. It also gave us some of our favorite characters, in Jean-Luc Picard, Geordi la Forge, Data, Worf and Deanna Troi, as well as memorable villains.

Having Patrick Stewart, Michael Dorn, Brent Spiner, Wil Wheaton, Denise Crosby and LaVar Burton on a series together now seems like a dream come true. At the time, this was a syndication gamble that led to success. There were fears that a sci-fi series wouldn’t draw fans, but did it ever.

12. The Wonder Years (1988-1993)

The nostalgic tale of growing up in the late 1960s and early 1970s from the vantage point of Kevin Arnold (Fred Savage). The music, the on-again/off-again relationship with Winnie Cooper (Danica McKellar), his friendship with nerdy Paul Pfeiffer (Josh Saviano) and his family struggles.

This show was sometimes funny, sometimes sad, always emotional, setting a stage for the turbulent 1960s along with the protests and turmoil that we lived through. It was well written, fun, had great acting and was often frustrating.

13. Perry Mason (1957-1966)

Raymond Burr’s iconic character was 9 seasons of creative courtroom drama against the constant loser, Hamilton Burger (William Talman). The defense specialist was often as much of a detective as he was an attorney, solving the case in the courtroom and at the crime scene. Mason’s most dramatic ability was to be able to push the questioning in a direction that would lead the witness to confess to the crime while on the witness stand in an emotional meltdown before the court.

14. L.A. Law (1986-1994)

Taking a different approach to law drama, Steven Bochco created a series about a Los Angeles law firm starring Corbin Bernsen, Jill Eikenberry, Alan Rachins. Larry Drake, Susan Dey, Jimmy Smits, Harry Hamlin and Blair Underwood, among others. The ever-revolving cast had many constants in its 8 seasons, but saw changes, twists and surprises, which was the trademark opening of the beginning of most episodes – a surprise twist that plays out throughout the episode. The show won 5 Golden Globes and 15 Emmys with 89 Emmy nominations.

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15. Dragnet (1951-1959, 1967-1970)

To transition from television to movie is nearly impossible. To make a successful transition from radio to television was just as difficult. In the early days of television, many shows made the attempt, but most came across as campy, or goofy, or simply lacked the depth needed to be seen as well as heard.

Dragnet was a no nonsense police drama with mass appeal. Sgt. Joe Friday (Jack Webb) added a partner, Bill Gannon (Harry Morgan) and the rest is history. The show tackled tough issues, as in early psychedelic drug use among teens, gangs violence and racism. While other shows became campy during the mid-sixties, Dragnet held its ground.

16. The X-Files (1993-2002)

FOX’s willingness to take its time with pacing and storytelling allowed David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson’s characters of Mulder and Scully to lay the groundwork for character development, build-up and fear. Chris Carter was the show creator and had pre-“Breaking Bad” writer Vince Gilligan on board as they made episodic drama more of a single story broken into parts. Keep in mind that the FOX network was still a fledgling toddler at the time and a show of this strength with this dedicated an audience helped build the network for the next decade.

17. The Rockford Files (1974-1980)

Stephen J. Cannell created some of the greatest television of the 1980s. Add James Garner into the equation and you’ve got recipe for greatness. Though it was 6 seasons long, the additional made for TV movies and syndication keeps the show on to this very day.

Nominated for 17 Emmy Awards and winning 5, the show was also nominated for 4 Golden Globes and 4 Writers Guild Awards. Rockford’s dad, Rocky (Noah Beery, Jr.) and sometimes pal, Detective Becker (Joe Santos) were usually big assets as Rockford would struggle to solve cases as a private investigator and struggle even harder to get paid after he did. You’d see a lot of influence in Magnum P.I. and The A-Team from this series.

18. The Fugitive (1963-1967)

A series that focused on a continuing storyline with weekly clues, changes and encounters leading Dr. Richard Kimble (David Janssen), who was wrongly accused of the murder of his wife, escape to find the real killer while escaping the police. William Conrad offered the powerfully dramatic voice of narrator for all 120 episodes.

The show was nominated for 6 Emmys and won an Emmy for Best Dramatic Series of 1966 at ABC. The finale (a 2-part episode called “The Judgement) was viewed by 72% of the TV audience in 1967. The final scene between Kimble and Gerard is one of the greatest scenes in television history and the lead-up is one of the most nail biting.

19. The Untouchables (1959-1963)

In an era of law and order and a fear of communism, a drama about organized crime and corruption in Chicago and the elite team of law men were one of the biggest draws on television. The 1930s FBI drama was full of action, but also won Robert Stack an Emmy for Best Actor in a Dramatic Series in 1960 as Elliot Ness.

CBS had rejected the Desilu series and ABC quickly picked it up. Several dramas tried to recreate the success of the action-drama that The Untouchables was able to create so successfully, including Hawaii Five-O, S.W.A.T., The F.B.I. and others.

20. The Waltons (1971-1981)

Winner of 2 Golden Globes, 13 Emmys and 37 Emmy nominations, The Waltons stands alone as a slow paced family drama about a Virginia family from the mountains, as they scrape to survive the trials of the Great Depression and World War II. The series made Richard Thomas an instant star as John-Boy Walton.

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21. The Streets of San Francisco (1972-1977)

There’s always been the veteran cop/rookie cop scenario that we’ve seen over the years. Hardcastle & McCormick did it, T.J. Hooker did it, but Karl Malden and Michael Douglas did it best as plainclothes homicide detectives in a rough and rugged drama that introduced the old dynamic of 60s cop shows to a new generation of viewers.

The show was nominated for 16 Emmys, 4 Golden Globes and won an American Cinema Editors Award. It was Michael Douglas’s first starring role and Karl Malden’s biggest.

22. The Mod Squad (1968-1973)

Before The Suicide Squad, there was The Mod Squad. Three young people, all with criminal issues that are going to land them in jail, can avoid going if they infiltrate criminals in the counter culture by going undercover and exposing the criminals. The series worked to be an offbeat, diverse and revolutionary show that would be different than the conservative police dramas we were used to seeing. Michael Cole, Clarence Williams III, Peggy Lipton and Tige Andrews starred.

The show had a sense of fashion, music and style. It won 5 Golden Globes and had 7 Emmy nominations.

23. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003)

The movie/comic book/television series was an all encompassing story about a teenaged beauty searching for her place in life and attempting to fit in with the ‘it’ crowd. Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) was perfect for the part and adding Alyson Hannigan as her quirky pal and Joss Whedon as the show’s top boss, the only thing lacking was a strong network.

The WB and UPN were struggling, but the show managed to maintain an audience for seven seasons and brought us stars like Nicholas Brendon, David Boreanaz, Charisma Carpenter, James Marsters, Juliet Landau, Eliza Dushku, Seth Green, Emma Caulfield, Michelle Trachtenberg and Amber Benson. Simply a fun translation of a comic book storyline into a teenage drama.

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24. Dynasty (1981-1989)

For 217 episodes, the Carringtons and the Colbys held their high-dollar oil rich family feud on television. For some, Dynasty seemed to be too similar to Dallas, but the originality of the series outweighed the comparisons and Linda Evans and Joan Collins created one of the most dramatic ongoing fights in of the 1980s.

The series won 5 Golden Globes, 24 Emmy nominations and 1 Emmy win for Best Costume Design for a Series in 1984. Fitting, seeing as how the trend in shoulder pads in sweaters falls squarely on the shoulders of this series.

25. Marcus Welby, M.D. (1969-1976)

An old fashioned approach to modern medicine in the 1970s, Robert Young and James Brolin play Doctors Welby and Kiley were in practice for 170 episodes, winning 4 Golden Globes, 4 Emmy wins and 17 nominations. Of course, Robert Young was best known for his role on Father Knows Best, but this series energized his career in the 1970s because of his calm bedside manner. The generation gap and approach to medicine between Welby and Kiley was the subject of the series.

26. Dark Shadows (1966-1971)

A fantasy drama with scary implications, Dark Shadows was a primetime soap about a rich family in Maine. The show’s creator, Dan Curtis, based the series on a dream he had in 1965. The vampire drama came on ABC late afternoons (outside of the daytime soap range) which targeted young adults and teens coming home from school. As a result of its time slot, it qualified for a Primetime Emmy nomination. While Barnabas Collins (Jonathan Frid) was the star character of the series, the vampire didn’t appear until almost a full year into its run.

27. Barnaby Jones (1973-1980)

Retired old school detective Jones (Buddy Ebsen) comes out of retirement to solve his son’s murder. He does so, but decides to keep working with the help of his daughter-in-law, Betty (Lee Meriwether) and – for most of his run – cousin Jedidiah (Mark Shera).

Seeing Ebsen on television in a powerful role like this was unusual, right at the end of the very popular series, The Beverly Hillbillies. The show was somewhat of a spinoff from Cannon, but was actually on longer and was more successful. Barnaby Jones was nominated for 2 Emmys and 2 Golden Globes.

28. Mannix (1967-1975)

Mannix was considered a violent program for its time, a detective series where the lead character (played by Mike Connors) worked for an agency, then started his own private practice. The show involved the lead character even being shot 17 times. The show was a huge hit for CBS, winning an Emmy and 4 Golden Globes.

29. Kojak (1973-1978)

This crime drama about a cop with a bad attitude was one of the grittiest of its time. It was limited by being a network series, as Telly Savalas often had to call people ‘dum dums’ when you know that’s not what he wanted to say. The grit of the show was powerful and the characters were rough.

They tackled serious criminal activity for the time, including drugs, rape, murder and bombings. Savalas was perfect for the part and one of the first main characters that was unlikeable in a title role. The series won 3 Golden Globes and 2 Emmys. His signature lines entered pop culture almost immediately, like “Who loves ya’, baby?”

30. Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955-1962)

Short stories designed to shock and sometimes scare the audience, the master of suspense introduces us to macabre individual tales of mystery. Similar to The Twilight Zone, there wasn’t a continuity in the episodes, as each one was a stand-alone story. Some were better than others, some bordered on comedy, but most were good drama, for a long running series such as this. Winning a Golden Globe and 2 Emmys, the half-hour series was followed up with an hour long continuation, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour from 1962-1965.

31. Room 222 (1969-1974)

Pat Dixon (Lloyd Haynes), a black teacher at Walt Whitman High School, has the job of  breaking racial barriers. While the show was funny, the dramatic plot and “hard hitting” topics for that time allows this show to fall under drama. The series was nominated for 7 Golden Globes.

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32. Miami Vice (1984-1989)

NBC capitalized on great music, hip clothing, fast cars, the popularity of cop shows and a great location. Miami Vice followed Crockett and Tubbs (Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas) as they fought the influx of drugs into the United States. Edward James Olmos played their no-nonsense, no-expression Detective Castillo and the stories were generally good, with bold colors and powerful original music by Jan Hammer to make them better.

Tons of guest stars, from Willie Nelson to Bruce Willis to Julia Roberts made their way into the scene. Michael Mann’s series was a stronghold of Friday night drama on NBC for most of its run. It won 4 Emmys and was nominated for a total of 20, as well as winning 2 Golden Globes.

33. Emergency! (1972-1979)

This series was so well done and powerful. A fire crew with the capability of doing EMS work, shot with the realism of a documentary crew, as the dialogue would come across as more of an episode of COPS than a scripted show, at times. Then, the mixture of comedy and the annoying politics of the upper brass in charge of keeping the team covered in red tape and paper work, giving the audience the ability to relate to the blue collar workers involved. A highly underrated series.

34. Knots Landing (1979-1993)

Probably one of the strongest spinoffs in television history, Knots Landing was the story of the other Ewing brother from Dallas, Gary (Ted Shackelford), and Valene (Joan Van Ark) after they moved to California. The popular primetime soap won a Golden Globe and an Emmy. Although the Ewings were a big part of the series, there were 5 families involved in this drama, including the lovable Fairgates, the troubled Averys, the newly married Wards and Sid Fairgate’s awful sister, Abby Cunningham.

35. 77 Sunset Strip (1958-1964)

Another crime drama on the list, this one from the late 1950s. Most of these shows really represent their era of television well and so does this one. The womanizing, wisecracking private detectives Stu Bailey (Efrem Zimbalist Jr.) and Jeff Spencer (Roger Smith) would probably not translate well into modern culture, but for their time, they were very much considered cool.

It had some element of comedy, thanks to co-star Edd Byrnes character, Kookie. The series was nominated for 2 Emmys.

36. Falcon Crest (1981-1990)

A primetime soap that nearly dethroned Miami Vice from its Friday Night kingdom, Falcon Crest picked up steam as it grew. Jane Wyman and Lorenzo Lamas were part of an ever-growing cast of the Gioberti family, a Southern California vineyard and winery family, struggling for power and money. The series won an Emmy and a Golden Globe and avoided much of the campy behavior of other night time soaps and following Dallas on CBS gave them a 1-2 punch, keeping the shows in the top 20 Nielson Ratings for several years.

37. Homicide: Life on the Streets (1993-1999)

David Simon added to TV cop drama with the realest of the real in day-to-day police work. He avoided the dramatic relationship drift-offs that many shows had, while often getting into the procedures and politics of the job. It was so popular, it attracted guests like Robin Williams and Paul Giamatti to join as temporary regulars. It was one of the last quality network police dramas of the era, but it ended that run on a high note.

38. In the Heat of the Night (1988-1995)

It’s more than fitting that Carroll O’Connor would be in a top rated comedy and a top rated drama, both having to do with similar subject matter of racial equality. Howard E. Rollins, Jr. played the part of Detective Virgil Tibbs for a majority of the show’s run and was a fitting counterpart to O’Connor’s Chief Bill Gillespie. The prior movie was powerful and moving, the series lived up to expectations and did justice to the ideals set forth in the movie, allowing the series to win an Emmy and receive 3 Emmy nominations, as well as 7 Golden Globe nominations.

39. Murder, She Wrote (1984-1996)

A mystery/drama series that was an acquired taste for many. Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury) is a super sleuth mystery novelist and crime solver. The series won 6 Golden Globes and 2 Emmys. In later episodes, Jessica would only narrate the series.

40. Quantum Leap (1989-1993)

Dr. Sam Beckett (Scott Bakula) “leaps” from body to body in different time periods within his own lifetime, accompanied by his holographic partner, Al (Dean Stockwell). A unique take on time travel with allowing Beckett to be someone different every week and correct the course of history, hoping to finally leap back home. The series won 2 Golden Globes and 6 Emmy Awards.

41. Police Woman (1974-1978)

The first of its kind, a police series with a female lead. And it was a good one! Angie Dickinson plays Sgt. Pepper Anderson in a pretty tough drama as an undercover cop for the Criminal Conspiracy Unit of the LAPD. This series presented a strong female lead that lead to shows like Charlie’s Angels a couple of years later and Cagney & Lacey. The series won a Golden Globe.

42. McCloud (1970-1977)

Sam McCloud (Dennis Weaver), a New Mexico town Marshal, goes to New York to track down a criminal. After falling for a local reporter, he finds himself reassigned to the NYPD. The bureau chief is not pleased with the cowboy cop working for him, but McCloud always ends up involved in major homicides and drug busts. McCloud was nominated for 6 Emmys.

43. thirtysomething (1987-1991)

The story of married couples reaching life in their thirties, living the struggles of adulthood in the state of Philadelphia. Cracks in marriage, job issues and the surreal changes for the yuppies as they had to make life decisions. It was sort of whiny and a little too emotionally charged at times, but it was a good representation of the times. It won 2 Golden Globes and 13 Emmys Awards.

44. Babylon 5 (1993-1998)

Some series simply outlast their usefulness. This one set a storyline in place of 5 years and stuck to it. The series focused on a space station during a time 250 years in the future, where Earth was a diplomatic trade partner with the rest of the universe and intergalactic relations were most important. The writing was deep and the stories required you to follow closely. The feel of the show was that of a book, rather than a television show, but with special effects that were cutting edge for its time. Bruce Boxleitner, Jerry Doyle and Claudia Christian were part of a fairly large cast of space-age characters.

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45. Matlock (1986-1995)

An expensive attorney who finds the real killer, if you can afford to hire him, Ben Matlock (Andy Griffith) and his associates are like an attorney-version of Columbo, to a point. There’s humor, mystery and lots of questions in this whodunit crime drama.

46. Adam-12 (1968-1975)

A new style of police drama for a time when police dramas were worn out. The series had a documentary style to its approach, with enough comedy to keep it from being too dramatic for its time. The importance of what was covered in an episode varied from the very unimportant and boring to the critically tragic.

47. Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman (1976-1977)

Not really falling under the category of drama, or comedy, or any other description, it best fits under a drama, in my opinion. The soap opera that faced every possible issue head on in a matter of 325 episodes. Greg Mullavey and Louise Lasser star in this twisted tale of murder, adultery and a nervous breakdown. The series won 2 Emmy awards.

48. Touched by an Angel (1994-2003)

Long running series based on faith and hope, emotionally powerful and well told. Two angels dispatched from Heaven, one a rookie and one a seasoned pro, goes case to case each week to help in certain situations with people who are struggling. Nominated for 12 Emmys and 3 Golden Globes, the series won 5 BFI Awards and 7 Image Awards.

49. Twin Peaks (1990-1991)

This David Lynch mix of drama, romance and horror was unlike any other network drama before or since, perhaps for good reason. The gamble didn’t exactly pay off with strong ratings, mainly because people weren’t certain what they were watching. It was odd, with a plot that consisted of an investigation into the the death of a homecoming queen named Laura Palmer, although the show strayed. The strange narrative, however, did make it so intriguing that it falls into the category of one of the best dramas.

50. Northern Exposure (1990-1995)

Another in a series of CBS dramas with doses of comedy. The new doctor sets up practice in Alaska, amidst an eclectic mix of odd balls. Rob Morrow and Janine Turner are front and center of this cast. The series won 2 Golden Globes and 7 Emmy Awards. The first 3 seasons of the series are worth watching.

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