39. 'Fridays' (1980-1982)
In 1980, while SNL's pioneering first cast and Lorne Michaels were exiting their station, "ABC wanted to literally clone SNL and we all resisted like crazy," Fridays cast member Melanie Chartoff told TV Party. Regardless, it was actually a pretty good knockoff, with a versatile ensemble cast, great guests (Devo, the Clash, Andy Kaufman, Billy Crystal), and tight satire that earned solid early ratings until Nightline bumped it later and later during the Iran hostage crisis. Pre-Seinfeld Michael Richards and Larry David stood out, especially Richards with his awkward physicality, which produced some of the shows biggest laughs. In a 1981 skit that boosted Kaufman's legacy more than the show's, he and Richards broke the fourth wall with a live on-air staged fight over Kaufman's refusal to play stoned. Show creator John Moffitt noted, "I think that night alone got us a pickup for the next year."