Video: Best of the Decade: Video

Nightline (ABC, 1980- ). From the hostage crisis in Iran (which inspired ABC to start a late-night news program in November 1979) to teary Tammy Faye Bakker, all the decade's major stories were illuminated by Ted Koppel's probing questions. When a crisis is brewing, and even when one isn't, the most indispensable news broadcast on television.

Hill Street Blues (NBC, 1981-87). Though it grew stale and self-important, Steven Bochco's gritty, rambunctious, richly textured look at a big-city police precinct set new standards for TV drama in the '80s.

Late Night with David Letterman (NBC, 1982- ). While waiting for Johnny Carson...