25. 'The Tracey Ullman Show' (1987-1990)
Though history will remember it best as the launchpad for The Simpsons, The Tracey Ullman Show was a multiple-Emmy-winning character showcase. "Tracey is damn near unique," producer James L. Brooks told the L.A. Times. "On the show, we kept comparing her to Peter Sellers until we just got sick of it." The show's patient, plot-driven portraits of American home and work life underscored its creator's talent for accents and eye for subtle character quirks. Often 10 minutes in duration, the theatrical scenes rushed nothing. Though there were a handful of recurring characters (Francesca McDowell, a bright, struggling adolescent raised by "my dad…and my William), the Ullman Show never resorted in to the sorts of punchy, repetitive hallmarks of most sketch programs. For these reasons, the sketches required careful listening but rewarded repeat viewings.