A brief disclaimer: The inclusion of a program in this list is not an endorsement of all its content (any more than watching a baseball game betrays a tacit approval of “stealing” [of bases or other items]).
1. The X-Files: From the inversion of the traditional gender stereotypes (Mulder being the intuitive one, Scully the scientist) to the fact that it made “alien-human hybrids” a normal topic of conversation in the breakrooms of the mid-nineties, this show, despite it lasting a couple seasons too long, was awesome. Gotta love the Smoking Man.
2. Seinfeld: From “master of my domain” to “yada yada yada,” from “sponge-worthy” to “not that there’s anything wrong with that,” any show that can inspire so many catch-phrases deserves its rightful place in pop culture lore.
3. Space Ghost Coast to Coast: The concept is just brilliant: take old Hannah Barbera cartoon footage and edit it to make it into a talk show on which contemporary celebrities are interviewed. I loved the one where Space Ghost asks Michael Stipe of REM, “Hey Michael, is that you in the corner?” “Yes,” Stipe replies, “that’s me in the corner.” If you don’t get it, just move on.
4. Friends: The chink in the armor was Courtney Cox (she’s way better playing a witch than a nice girl), but the cast as a whole was superb. Chandler became a bit annoying once he fell in love with Monica, and Ross got a bit too goofy for my taste, but it was a great show nonetheless. My favorite line of the series was when Ross, who had moved and now needed to ride the train to work, remarked that he’d “been given the gift of time” to read while commuting. “That’s funny, because last Christmas I was given the gift of space,” Chandler replied. “We should, like, put them together and make a continuum.”
5. Freaks and Geeks: That little Jewish kid’s a riot. I just wish Ellen Page had been old enough to play Lindsey.
6. ER: OK, I get it that Dr. Ross left his day job as a pediatrician to star in movies like Ocean's Eleven and O Brother Where Art Thou?, but he could at least have shown up for Dr. Green's funeral for crying out loud. In all seriousness, this show kept my interest until about five or six years ago. Great cast(s), good character development.
7. Mystery Science Theater 3000: I’m still kicking myself for not coming up with this idea first. Under the right circumstances, the running commentary I provide on horrible films is top-notch. It’s just one of the services I offer.
That's all, folks. Cut me some slack for not listing ten, I was overseas serving the Lord during most of the decade while you all were sitting on the couch watching TV....