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Jeff Simon’s five favorite shows from the entire history of television

These are in no particular order, except No. 1.

“The Tonight Show” (from Steve Allen through Johnny Carson); Steve Allen’s early ’60’s “Westinghouse Talk Show”; “Late Night with David Letterman” on NBC; “The Dick Cavett Show” on ABC; the first two seasons of “Saturday Night Live.” Except for Ernie Kovacs and Sid Caesar, the only comedy I ever cared about on television was on late night – even though some of the best columns I think I ever wrote were about “All in the Family.”

“The Sopranos” and “The West Wing.” It was an American cultural miracle that “The West Wing” and “The Sopranos” were on TV at the same time.

“Hill Street Blues.” Everything great about television now begins here three decades ago with its origins in Grant Tinker’s total reconception of just who the American TV audience is, and might be.

“Harry O.” A completely irrational choice of my own that is inexplicable to anyone else except in a 300-page autobiographical memoir.

It has always seemed to me that the show’s private eye, Harry Orwell, may well be the only certifiable grownup on prime time TV who always found the world funny.

David Janssen was then – and always will be – television’s most delightful melancholic.

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