20. Laverne & Shirley (ABC)
”Da belles of bottle-cappin’,” Laverne De Fazio (Penny Marshall) and Shirley Feeney (Cindy Williams) always did it their way (yes, their way) — and in this, their sixth season, that was packing up and moving to California. Earthquake! It wasn’t enough to return them to the top of the ratings chart, where they’d been for the 1977-78 and 1978-79 seasons, but it did tie them with Monday Night Football for No. 20, so they make our cut.
Seasons on DVD: 1?4
19. Diff'rent Strokes (NBC) — (tied)
This was the highest the show — about two kids from Harlem (Gary Coleman’s Arnold and Todd Bridges’ Willis) whose dying housekeeper mother arranged for them to be raised by her wealthy employer, the loving Mr. Drummond (Conrad Bain) — ever got in the ratings. Could it be because of two very special two-parters: Arnold and Willis get taken hostage by bank robbers, and a drunk driver puts Mr. Drummond in the hospital on his 50th birthday and the resulting amnesia threatens his business and his custody of Arnold, Willis, and Kimberly (Dana Plato).
Seasons on DVD: 1 and 2
19. Trapper John, M.D. (CBS) — (tied)
The medical drama brought M*A*S*H‘s Trapper John, now played by Pernell Roberts, into the present and made him chief of surgery at a San Francisco hospital. There, a hunky young doctor named Gonzo (Gregory Harrison) reminded him of his irreverent youth. During this, its second of seven seasons, Gonzo had somehow ended up charged with sexual misconduct, looting, and accidentally hitting a homeless deaf girl.
Seasons on DVD: None
19. Fantasy Island (ABC) — (tied)
As the story goes, executive producer Leonard Goldberg was in a long, boring development meeting with ABC execs when he realized that he’d rather be on an island with Charlie’s Angels. He wondered how many other people harbored such fantasies. Apparently a lot, because in this, the show’s fourth season, everyone from Adam West to Sonny Bono made the trip to see the mysterious Mr. Roarke (Ricardo Montalban) and his sweet Tattoo (Hervé Villechaize).
Seasons on DVD: 1
16. Too Close for Comfort (ABC) — (tied)
No one does uptight like Ted Knight. He stars as Henry Rush, conservative illustrator of the Cosmic Cow comic strip and father of two attractive young women, Sara (Lydia Cornell) and Jackie (Deborah Van Valkenburgh), who move into the downstairs apartment in his and his wife’s San Francisco townhouse when the previous tenant, a transvestite, dies. Sara’s friend Monroe Ficus (J.M. J. Bullock) steals more than one episode, including the gem from this, its first season, when he admits he’s a virgin.
Seasons on DVD: 1 and 2
16. Happy Days (ABC) — (tied)
Some will say the show figuratively jumped the shark in the fifth season when Fonzie literally jumped a shark. But Ron Howard and Donny Most had left the show for this, its eighth season, so Richie and Malph graduated college, joined the army, and got stationed in Greenland. Fonzie (Henry Winkler) became the auto mechanics teacher at Jefferson High, where Marion’s nephew, Roger Phillips (Ted McGinley) got a job teaching English and coaching basketball.
Seasons on DVD: 1 – 4
14. Magnum, P.I. (CBS)
Hawaii Five-0 went off the air in April 1980, Magnum, P.I. premiered in December. In exchange for securing the Hawaiian estate of a wealthy unseen writer, Magnum (Tom Selleck) and his mustache got to live on Oahu’s north shore for free, drive the writer’s Ferrari, trade barbs with his manservant Higgins (John Hillerman), and take on cases that occasionally utilized his skills as a former Naval Intelligence officer and his penchant for short shorts.
Seasons on DVD: All 8
13. Archie Bunker's Place (CBS)
In the premiere of this, its second season, Archie (Carroll O’Connor) and Stephanie (Danielle Brisebois), the child the Bunkers had adopted when the show was still called All in the Family, mourned the death of Edith (Jean Stapleton), who’d died of a sudden stroke. All in the Family had become a controversial hit when it premiered in 1971 and topped the ratings chart for five years. Even when Archie Bunker’s Place closed its doors in 1983, the show was arranging more than 18 million viewers. Today, its influence is still felt: Archie was the inspiration for South Park‘s Eric Cartman.
Seasons on DVD: 1
12. Real People (NBC)
From Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In producer George Schlatter came this audience participation show that sounds like the precursor to Jay Leno’s Jaywalking and Headlines and the original Daily Show. Hosts would solicit opinions from an in-studio audience and show viewer-submitted photos of newspaper typos and odd signs. They’d also go into the field to profile ”real people” with interesting hobbies or skills. In this, its third season, hosts included Byron Allen, Sarah Purcell, John Barbour, and Skip Stephenson. Fred Willard, who’d been a host when the show first premiered in 1979, returned in 1981. A Christmas Story‘s Peter Billingsley joined the show in 1982 to report on kids’ interest stories.
Seasons on DVD: none
11. One Day at a Time (CBS)
Mackenzie Phillips’ drug problem earned her character, Julie, a move to Houston for season 6 with her new husband. Mom Ann Romano (Bonnie Franklin) and sister Barbara (Valerie Bertinelli) were left in Indianapolis, where ad copywriter Ann started both a business and a relationship with a single dad, Nick Handris (Ron Rifkin). In the season 7 premiere, Ann grieved for Nick, who’d died in a drunk-driving accident. Laughter through tears is our favorite emotion, right?
Seasons on DVD: 1
10. Little House on the Prairie (NBC)
The only NBC show to make the Top 10! Because Little House features two of our top TV icons — No. 94 Melissa Gilbert and No. 24 Michael Landon — we won’t give the Peacock too hard of a time. Some might remember this, its seventh season, for Laura and Almanzo tying the knot or Mary’s husband Adam regaining his eyesight. But for others, it comes down to one word: Sylvia. That’s the young girl who was raped, and could have had her happy ending (a marriage to Albert), even though she got pregnant if she hadn’t died. Watch the episode in 30 seconds.
Seasons on DVD: All nine
9. Three's Company (ABC) — (tied)
No one did physical comedy better than John Ritter, and the season 5 episodes in which Jack pretends he’s an accomplished skier to impress a woman and works as a human mannequin in a store window prove it. Of course, fans also remember this season as the one in which Chrissy went bye-bye (to care for her ill mother in Fresno) because of Suzanne Somers’ contract dispute, and her cousin Cindy (Jenilee Harrison) moved into the apartment.
Seasons on DVD: All eight
9. House Calls (CBS) — (tied)
San Francisco was clearly a popular setting at this time. This hospital comedy, then in its second season, starred Lynn Redgrave as administrator Ann Anderson and Wayne Rogers as Dr. Charley Michaels, the surgeon who liked to push her buttons. They were romantically involved — until Redgrave’s contract dispute caused her to be abruptly written out of the show during season 3. Ann returned to England, and there was no fourth season.
Seasons on DVD: None
7. Alice (CBS)
Season 5 lacked Flo (Polly Holiday), who’d left Mel’s Diner to run her own place in Texas called Flo’s Yellow Rose. The upside: The waitress opening on Alice was filled by Diane Ladd, who played Flo in the 1974 film Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, and joined the show as Belle. Also, season 5 was when Alice (Linda Lavin) impersonated Robert Goulet alongside guest star Robert Goulet.
Seasons on DVD: Zero, but there’s one compilation disc
6. The Jeffersons (CBS)
The All in the Family spinoff was in its seventh season, and Sherman Hemsley still hadn’t gotten an Emmy nomination for his portrayal of George Jefferson, the black Archie Bunker who finally got a piece of the pie. Hemsley would only earn one nomination, in 1984, during the show’s 11-season run. Isabel Sanford, who played George’s wife Louise, scored seven Emmy nominations (she won once), and Marla Gibbs, who stole scenes as their maid Florence, earned five nods (but zero wins).
Seasons on DVD: 1-6
5. The Love Boat (ABC)
In its fourth season, Capt. Stubing’s ship continued to pick up steam and peaked in the ratings. We’d go on but you’re better off reading Dan Snierson’s thoroughly entertaining Love Boat oral history with cast and crew. You hear from everyone — from Gavin MacLeod (No. 88 on our TV icons list) to eight-time guest star Charo, who admits, ”’Cuchi-cuchi’ showed me the way to the bank. That bulls— make me rich.”
Seasons on DVD: 1 and 2
4. M*A*S*H (CBS)
In all the praise this Korean War dramedy receives, it’s easy to forget that Alan Alda (No. 30 on our list of TV icons) had four seasons in which he nabbed Emmy nominations for acting, writing, and directing, and another five seasons — including this one, its ninth — when he scored Emmy nods for acting and directing. This season also featured guest star Patrick Swayze, who played a soldier who learns he has leukemia in the episode ”Blood Brothers.” Swayze had launched his career playing the leather-clad leader of a roller-disco gang in the 1979 feature Skatetown, U.S.A. and wanted a weightier role.
Seasons on DVD: All 11
3. 60 Minutes (CBS)
First telecast in 1968, the show hit No. 1 in the ratings for the first time the previous season with reports like Dan Rather’s from inside Afghanistan after the Soviet invasion. CBS then plucked Rather to replace Walter Cronkite as anchor of the CBS Evening News, a role Rather held from March 9, 1981 to March 9, 2005.
Seasons on DVD: Certain segments available
2. The Dukes of Hazzard (CBS)
The good ol’ boys hit their ratings high in this, their third season. The next year, they dropped to No. 6. In the fall of ’82, Bo (John Schneider) and Luke (Tom Wopat) hit the NASCAR circuit while Coy and Vance took the wheel of the General Lee. The show fell to No. 29, proving that even though the General was said to have received half of the show’s fan mail, viewers did actually care who drove it.
Seasons on DVD: All seven
1. Dallas (CBS)
Dallas’ fourth season began with TV’s ultimate cliffhanger, ”Who shot J.R.?” According to The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, nearly 80 percent of all people watching TV on the evening of Nov. 21, 1980 were tuned into Dallas to find out the answer: It was Kristin (Mary Crosby), the woman carrying his child who he’d planned to frame for prostitution because she wouldn’t leave town. J.R. would eventually be named #11 on EW’s list of the all-time greatest villains; Larry Hagman would be No. 50 on our list of TV’s 50 greatest icons.
Seasons on DVD: All 14