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.

61. Monty Python skits Pick one. It’s impossible.

62. Dick Van Dyke tripping over the ottoman Classic and timeless.

63. Teletubbies They freaked out adults. They engaged the youngest demo in TV.


64. Tie: Adriana killed on The Sopranos/Stringer Bell killed on The Wire Not entirely unexpected but chilling proof that great writing and loyalty to story trumps the safety of fan favorites.

65. The death of Col. Henry Blake on M*A*S*H Now that was completely unexpected. And ditto on keeping the story real.

66. Sinead O’Connor rips up a picture of the Pope on Saturday Night Live She brought the crazy on that one.

67. Tie: Any acceptance speech from Tom Hanks/Sally Field loving your love/Roberto Benigni going batshit/Jack Palance doing one-armed push-ups/Adrien Brody kissing Halle Berry like nobody’s business/Cuba Gooding Jr. Viewers care about awards shows even when they say otherwise — and it’s not just for validating their picks. These are moments they remember.

68. Tie: Pee-wee Herman talking to crazy objects on his kids show/Pee Wee Herman spoofing his obscenity charges on the MTV Video Music Awards The polar opposites of a career.

69. Obama inauguration Our nation’s first black president. Politics aside, it was inauguration as integration, and we all felt good about ourselves. The cameras pouring over the multi-ethnic crowds — capturing their tears, happiness and, yes, hope — bore that out.

70. The Simpsons opening credits No, it’s not a cop-out to say “pretty much all of them.” But if pressed, how about the bleak one from Banksy?

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