TV: All-Time Greatest, Nos. 75-51
75. Beverly Hills, 90210
Wholesome Minnesota twins Brandon (Jason Priestley) and Brenda (Shannen Doherty) moved to the tony zip and tackled issues like sex, divorce, suicide, poverty, and Color Me Badd. Even the replacement cast and receding hairlines of season 10 couldn't tarnish the brilliance that was 1991's summer season.
73. Six Feet Under
72. Battlestar Galactica
71. Beavis and Butt-head
70. Will & Grace
Take it away, Joe Biden! ''I think Will & Grace probably did more to educate the American public [on gay issues] than almost anything anybody's ever done so far.''
69. Star Trek: The Next Generation
An unusually quiet, uncommonly literate suburban-family drama, starring fine actors Sada Thompson and James Broderick (Mike Nichols exec-produced, a rare TV credit for him). This modestly rated series made Kristy McNichol and Meredith Baxter Birney famous.
67. The Prisoner
This head-trip suspense thriller was one of television's great experiments. Star and co-creator Patrick McGoohan played a Brit ex-secret agent trapped in ''the Village,'' a quaint hamlet with sinister rulers. Every week, he tried to escape; many weeks, a giant balloon trapped him, preventing him from fleeing (yes, this was TV in the swinging '60s).
66. Chappelle's Show
65. Doctor Who
64. Modern Family
Featuring six adults, six kids, and a thousand ways to a punchline, Modern is that rare family comedy that is both well-rounded and slightly edgy. (See: three consecutive Outstanding Comedy Emmys.) Its brisk jokes are meticulously crafted, and its depiction of a mature gay relationship is the most resonant that we've seen on a TV comedy since, well, ever.
63. Absolutely Fabulous
Sweetie, darling, there's very little that's politically correct or socially redeeming about this brilliantly boozy Brit import concerning middle-aged besties Edina, a PR agent, and Patsy, a fashion editor. Where else could you hear a line like ''I don't do holidays. Everybody's a nobody in a bikini''?
62. Homicide: Life on the Street
Based on reporting from David Simon — who also created The Wire — this ferociously downbeat yet exhilarating cop show made a star of Andre Braugher as terse Frank Pembleton and included a superb supporting cast ranging from Melissa Leo to Daniel Baldwin.
Look up ''cliff-hanger'' in the dictionary, and Dallas — particularly the mystery of who shot lovable scoundrel J.R. — should be listed. The tale of greed and the oil-obsessed Ewing family was potent enough to run for 14 seasons, and then spawn a successful reboot on TNT, picking up 20 years later in the summer of 2012.
59. Freaks and Geeks
A short-lived dramedy about high school underdogs — played by future stars like Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jason Segel, and Linda Cardellini — that masterfully mined heartbreak and humor in the cranniest of nooks.
58. Sex and the City
57. The Shield
56. 30 Rock
Mining her experience at Saturday Night Live, Tina Fey played the prickly, winningly uncool, sandwich-loving head writer of a sketch-comedy show who thrived on managing the egos of her wacko stars and her maddeningly superior boss (Alec Baldwin at his most sublime).
A show about yuppie baby boomers struggling with marriages, careers, and friendships could have been annoying. But in the hands of Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick, along with excellent actors, it was funny, inventive, and sometimes devastating (R.I.P. Gary).
54. NYPD Blue
53. American Idol
The long-running series has produced stars like Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, set the template for musical-competition shows in the U.S., and turned a cranky, brush-haired Brit named Simon Cowell into an unlikely icon.
Built on an ingenious conceit, the series parodied daytime soaps with a mixture of absurdist humor (Chuck and his mind-reading ventriloquist's dummy, Bob), social commentary (Billy Crystal as Jodie, one of TV's first gay characters), and truly poignant family drama.