On the occasion of my wanting to dispel the notion – being perpetuated in the wake of Jay Leno’s move to prime time – that good TV drama won’t succeed in earlier time slots.

the-defenders5. “The Defenders,” CBS, 1961 to 1965. For most of its run, this classic drama aired Saturday nights at 8:30. Original drama on Saturday nights? Those were the days.

4. “The X-Files,” Fox, 1993 to 2006. Never aired at 10 p.m. How could it? It was a Fox show.

3. “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” CBS, 2000 to present. The venerable crime drama – TV’s top-rated show this season – has been a fixture on Thursday nights at 9 since 2001, when it vacated its original Friday-nights-at-9 slot.

2. “The West Wing,” NBC, 1999 to 2006. The most literate commercial series on this list. It aired Wednesday nights at 9 until its final season, when it moved to Sunday nights at 8.

1. “Masterpiece Theatre,” PBS, 1971 to present. Thirty-eight (!) seasons in the same time slot: Sunday nights at 9.

 

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