Special Report

The Best TV Show Released the Year You Were Born

Source: Courtesy of National Broadcasting Company

1989: Seinfeld
> IMDb rating: 8.8/10
> IMDb user votes: 288,434
> Series run: 1989-1998
> Cast: Jerry Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Michael Richards, Jason Alexander

Refusing to exhibit the slightest semblance of sentimentality, this immortal sitcom upended TV norms and societal ones alike. Follow comedian Jerry Seinfeld and his three closest friends as they navigate the New York City single life. Through their misadventures, an entire pop culture iconography was born.

Source: Courtesy of American Broadcasting Company

1990: Twin Peaks
> IMDb rating: 8.8/10
> IMDb user votes: 188,253
> Series run: 1990-1991
> Cast: Kyle MacLachlan, Michael Ontkean, Mädchen, Dana Ashbrook

Auteur David Lynch put his surrealist stamp on the soap opera format and briefly grabbed the zeitgeist with this idiosyncratic drama. Infusing various sub-genres with a dreamlike tonality, it centers on the vicious murder of mysterious teen Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee). A recent third season picks things up 25 years after the events of the original series.

Source: Courtesy of Syndicated

1991: Darkwing Duck
> IMDb rating: 7.6/10
> IMDb user votes: 15,806
> Series run: 1991-1992
> Cast: Jim Cummings, Terence McGovern, Christine Cavanaugh, Katie Leigh

This short-lived animated series made up part of The Disney Afternoon programming block before moving to Saturday mornings on ABC. It chronicles the adventures of its title character, a regular duck who moonlights as a superhero. A reboot is reportedly in the works at Disney+.

Source: Courtesy of Fox Network

1992: Batman: The Animated Series
> IMDb rating: 9.0/10
> IMDb user votes: 95,723
> Series run: 1992-1995
> Cast: Kevin Conroy, Loren Lester, Efrem Zimbalist Jr., Bob Hastings

This boldly stylistic series eventually sparked a full-blown DC Animated Universe across multiple mediums. Dispensing with a noirish tone and complex themes, it depicts the Dark Knight’s crime-fighting adventures. Critics and fans alike consider it to be one of the greatest animated shows ever created.

Source: Courtesy of Fox Network

1993: The X-Files
> IMDb rating: 8.6/10
> IMDb user votes: 213,078
> Series run: 1993-2018
> Cast: David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Mitch Pileggi, William B. Davis

The truth is out there, and FBI Agents Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) are going to find it in this blockbuster sci-fi series. Featuring both standalone episodes and a serialized arc, it grappled with aliens and other strange phenomena. Spin-offs, film adaptations, comic books, video games, and a TV reboot would follow.

Source: Courtesy of National Broadcasting Company

1994: Friends
> IMDb rating: 8.8/10
> IMDb user votes: 924,474
> Series run: 1994-2004
> Cast: Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc

This insanely popular sitcom takes place in Manhattan and follows the exploits of six close friends. Top-notch writing and expert casting kept the quality bar impressively high over the course of 10 seasons. In 2020, HBO Max reportedly paid over $400 million for streaming rights.

Source: Courtesy of National Broadcasting Company

1995: NewsRadio
> IMDb rating: 7.9/10
> IMDb user votes: 14,904
> Series run: 1995-1999
> Cast: Dave Foley, Stephen Root, Andy Diсk, Maura Tierney

This clever workplace sitcom takes viewers behind the scenes at WNYX NewsRadio, New York’s No. 2 news radio station. Comedy legend Phil Hartman tragically died during a production hiatus between the fourth and fifth season, making the character of Bill McNeal his final regular role.

Source: Courtesy of Cartoon Network

1996: Dragon Ball Z
> IMDb rating: 8.7/10
> IMDb user votes: 116,101
> Series run: 1996-2003
> Cast: Doc Harris, Christopher Sabat, Scott McNeil, Sean Schemmel

This Japanese anime series adapts a popular manga and picks up where a 1980s predecessor left off. Now an adult, hero Son Goku and his cohorts must defend Earth from alien invaders. It helped spawn an ongoing franchise, which consists of movies, shows, video games, and more.

Source: Courtesy of Comedy Central

1997: South Park
> IMDb rating: 8.7/10
> IMDb user votes: 351,209
> Series run: 1997-present
> Cast: Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Isaac Hayes, Mona Marshall

Welcome to South Park, Colorado, home to four foul-mouthed grade kids and an endless supply of absurd events. Still going strong after 24 seasons, the show continues to provide a much-needed dose of uncompromising satire. A recent (and lucrative) deal with Paramount+ called for more episodes and 14 direct-to-streaming movies.

Source: Courtesy of American Broadcasting Company

1998: Whose Line Is It Anyway?
> IMDb rating: 8.5/10
> IMDb user votes: 42,062
> Series run: 1998-2007
> Cast: Drew Carey, Colin Mochrie, Ryan Stiles, Laura Hall

This improvisational comedy smash adapted a British show of the same name and initially ran for eight seasons. Working in tandem with the audience, host Drew Carey throws out prompts for a panel of performers to enact. The show has since been revived by CW and is now in the midst of an 18th overall season.

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