6. 'Late Night With David Letterman'
With all due respect to Cheers, the 1980s' best comedy was this wonderfully ornery talk show starring a guy with goofy teeth. Riding the same anarchic wave that brought us Saturday Night Live, Late Night skewered the polished professionalism of late-night chat shows, replacing it with a smart-ass, what-me-worry? energy that felt thrown together, except it was too consistently hilarious to be accidental. Anybody working in comedy today acknowledges the debt owed to David Letterman, but this show's cultural imprint can be felt other ways: Years after Dave left NBC, a lot of us still accidentally call his CBS program Late Night out of habit.—TIM GRIERSON