The 80 Greatest Moments in TV History


From Johnny Carson’s farewell to 'Soul Train,' Tim Goodman looks at the best of television’s past for THR’s 80th anniversary issue.

11. ABC’s Wide World of Sports and “the agony of defeat” His name was Vinko Bogataj, and watching him wipe out on a ski jump during the opening credits of this show was riveting every time you saw it – and you saw it a lot.     


12. Elvis Costello’s first appearance on Saturday Night Live He got banned (temporarily) by Lorne Michaels for playing “Radio Radio” despite being asked not to. Costello started a song, stopped, then crashed into the raucous anthem about wanting “to bite the hand that feeds me.”

13. Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction The gore of CSI and such is just fine, but a nipple is apparently a step too far.  

14. Charles and Diana’s royal wedding It was a Disney moment for romantics and turned people in this country into Anglophiles.

15. Princess Diana’s funeral Not a Disney ending.

16. Tomorrow With Tom Snyder Here’s a man who could really interview, and he was fearless about putting on edgy punk and rock acts. His standoff interview and battle of wills with Johnny Rotten stands out. Most were settled over a smoke.

17. The Gulf War Gas masks. Scud missiles. CNN’s Bernard Shaw reporting live from under a desk at the Al-Rasheed Hotel in Baghdad. War in real time was riveting and sad.

18. The Shield finale Top 20, no doubt. It all went to hell, and Vic Mackey gets a desk job. Then he walks away — to where?

19. Conan O’Brien gets NBC’d The network was scorned for the late-night screw-up then made him more popular by leaving him on the air to gain sympathy and skewer NBC.

20. “Do you believe in miracles?” Nobody needs to tell you what Al Michaels meant by that. And maybe the definition of a great TV moment resides right there as the upstart kids from the USA beat the pros from Russia.

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