It was facetiously billed as the "show about nothing," but the editors of TV Guide rank the NBC smash comedy hit "Seinfeld" as the greatest television show of all time.
The 1990s show starring comedian Jerry Seinfeld as a New York comedian hanging out with three of his pals -- Elaine, George and Kramer -- topped TV Guide's list of the 50 most entertaining or influential television series in American pop culture.
The list, appearing in next week's issue, will get the countdown treatment in an ABC special on May 13, "TV Guide's 50 Best Shows of All Time," part of the magazine's celebration of its golden anniversary.
The 50 entries, chosen and ranked by TV Guide editors, consist of regularly scheduled series spanning more than a half century of television, going as far back as NBC's pioneering live comedy/variety program, "Your Show of Shows."
That show, which debuted in 1950 starring Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca, was ranked No. 30.
TV movies, miniseries and specials were not eligible.
Prime time accounts for most of the shows, though a few daytime programs made the list -- NBC's "Today" (No. 17) and the syndicated talk shows "Donahue" (No. 29) and "The Oprah Winfrey Show" (No. 49).
On the late-night front, the CBS "Late Show with David Letterman" got the highest ranking, at No. 7, beating out even NBC's "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" (No. 12). Letterman's arch rival -- and Carson's successor -- Jay Leno, failed to make the cut. ABC's "Nightline" ranked 23rd.
NBC dominated the list with 17 shows, which, besides "Seinfeld," ranged from "Saturday Night Live" at No. 10 to the Judd Hirsch sitcom "Taxi," which also aired on ABC, at No. 48.
CBS made the list with 16 shows, led by "I Love Lucy" at No. 2, and boasted five other programs in the top 10, including "The Honeymooners" (No. 3), "All in the Family" (No. 4), "60 Minutes" (No. 6) and "The Andy Griffith Show" (No. 9).
A total of eight ABC shows made the list, led by the late-1980s, early '90s drama "thirtysomething," while Fox had two entries -- animated sitcom satire "The Simpsons" at No. 8 and sci-fi thriller "The X-Files" at No. 37.
The only other cartoon series to make the list was ABC's "Rocky and His Friends" at No. 47.
Cable television was represented by just two shows -- mob drama "The Sopranos" at No. 5 and Garry Shandling's "The Larry Sanders Show" at No. 38, both on HBO.
Public TV also had two series on the list -- the landmark children's program "Sesame Street" (No. 27) and the pioneering 1973 "reality" series "An American Family" (No. 32). But modern-day reality hit "Survivor" was snubbed, as were all game shows. Not even "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" made the list.
The fledgling networks the WB and UPN had to settle for one shared entry, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," which has aired on both outlets.
The following is the complete list:
1. Seinfeld (NBC)
2. I Love Lucy (CBS)
3. The Honeymooners (CBS)
4. All in the Family (CBS)
5. The Sopranos (HBO)
6. 60 Minutes (CBS)
7. Late Show with David Letterman (CBS)
8. The Simpsons (Fox)
9. The Andy Griffith Show (CBS)
10. Saturday Night Live (NBC)
11. The Mary Tyler Moore Show (CBS)
12. The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (NBC)
13. The Dick Van Dyke Show (CBS)
14. Hill Street Blues (NBC)
15. The Ed Sullivan Show (CBS)
16. The Carol Burnett Show (CBS)
17. Today (NBC)
18. Cheers (NBC)
19. thirtysomething (ABC)
20. St. Elsewhere (NBC)
21. Friends (NBC)
22. ER (NBC
23. Nightline (ABC)
24. Law & Order (NBC)
25. M+A+S+H (CBS)
26. The Twilight Zone (CBS)
27. Sesame Street (PBS)
28. The Cosby Show (NBC)
29. Donahue (syndicated)
30. Your Show of Shows (NBC)
31. The Defenders (CBS)
32. An American Family (PBS)
33. Playhouse 90 (CBS)
34. Frasier (NBC)
35. Roseanne (ABC)
36. The Fugitive (ABC)
37. The X-Files (Fox)
38. The Larry Sanders Show (HBO)
39. The Rockford Files (NBC)
40. Gunsmoke (CBS)
41. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (WB/UPN)
42. Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In (NBC)
43. Bonanza (NBC)
44. The Bob Newhart Show (CBS)
45. Twin Peaks (ABC)
46. Star Trek: The Next Generation (syndicated)
47. Rocky and His Friends (ABC)
48. Taxi (ABC/NBC)
49. The Oprah Winfrey Show (syndicated)
50. Bewitched (ABC)
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NBC is a division of General Electric Co., ABC is part of The Walt Disney Co., CBS and UPN are owned by Viacom Inc., the WB is a unit of AOL Time Warner Inc. and the Fox network belongs to News Corp. Ltd.
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