5. Saturday Night Live
As much as this show has had its ups and downs, and whole seasons when I haven't watched a single episode, it must be admitted that it has been a perpetual laugh-maker, humour-former, culture-feeder, and televesion mainstay for several generations. I loved the Farley/Hartman years and have a plethora of skits from this show forever ingrained in my psyche. This show was the single greatest bond of my high school friendships and has been the fodder for many, many laughs.
Even though I'm sure a lot of the political edginess wore off by the time I watched it, this show still made some of the most poignant statements about life and war that I've ever seen on television and it managed to be heartwarming and funny as well. Very funny actually. I must have laughed out loud between ever commercial break. Even if I teared up at some of them too. What an amazing show.
3. NYPD Blue
Yeah, I saw more rear ends than I would have liked to, but this show got a bit of a bad rap for all the publicity that was made of its edginess. After the first couple seasons this show really settled into its own and I got quite attached to its characters. I thought it depicted reality in a very touching and truthful way. Interestingly enough, the show lasted long enough to be an essential part of my life when I still lived under my parent's roof, watching with my brother, and then under my own roof, watching the last two seasons with my wife. Sipowicz is possibly the greatest character ever on television.
For all that might be said about this show's legacy (turning the trivial into the important and the important into the trivial), it was supposed to be a comedy, not a worldview former! And as a comedy it hit the mark like no show ever has. Unlike the Simpsons, it bowed out before it got repetitive and boring. It was always, always, always, very, very, very funny.
I don't know where to start with this show. The best and smartest writing, acting, and story-lines I've seen on any screen. It was funny. It was intelligent. It was timely. It was gripping. It was moving. It was a fine peice of work. It is sorely missed. I don't know why its viewership slipped. I hardly watch TV any more since this went off the air.