We’re still a couple of weeks away from the Emmy Awards show, but I thought this might be a good time to look at the history of the Emmys and the programs honored in years past.
Looking over the series of yesteryear, it’s interesting to note how television has changed. For the first couple of decades, tradition reigned. Winners included a western (Gunsmoke), a spy drama (Mission: Impossible), and family-based melodramas (The Waltons; Upstairs, Downstairs). As we entered the 80s, television began to change, take more chances. Hill Street Blues was a more gritty, realistic police drama, one that wowed critics and audiences alike – and the winner of Best Drama three years running. The 90s brought us a mix of quirky (Northern Exposure; Picket Fences), ground-breaking (NYPD Blue), and traditional (ER; Law & Order). And the next decade gave us series that followed a serial-like format, making us tune in every week because we just couldn’t afford to miss an episode and thereby miss an important plotline development.
To get a look at the series that once had everyone talking, check out the list below of titles and winning years.
Gunsmoke  (1958) -- James Arness, Amanda Blake, Milburn Stone, Dennis Weaver
Mission: Impossible  (1967, 1968) – Peter Graves, Greg Morris, Peter Lupus, Barbara Bain, Martin Landau
The Waltons  (1973) – Richard Thomas, Michael Learned, Ralph Waite
Upstairs, Downstairs  (1974, 1975, 1977) – Jean Marsh, Gordon Jackson, Simon Williams, David Langton
The Rockford Files  (1978) – James Garner, Noah Beery, Jr.
Hill Street Blues  (1982, 1983, 1984) – Daniel J. Travanti, Veronica Hamel, Michael Warren, Betty Thomas
Northern Exposure  (1992) – Rob Morrow, Janine Turner, Barry Corbin, John Cullum, John Corbett
Picket Fences  (1994) – Tom Skerritt, Kathy Baker, Lauren Holly, Fyvush Finkel, Ray Walston
NYPD Blue  (1995) – Dennis Franz, Jimmy Smits, James McDaniel
ER  (1996) – George Clooney, Anthony Edwards, Julianna Margulies, Noah Wyle, Eriq La Salle
Law & Order  (1997) – Sam Waterston, S. Epatha Merkerson, Jerry Orbach
The Practice  (1998, 1999) – Dylan McDermott, Lara Flynn Boyle, Kelli Williams, Steve Harris
The West Wing  (2000, 2001, 2002, 2003) – Martin Sheen, John Spencer, Allison Janney, Rob Lowe
The Sopranos  (2004, 2007) – James Gandolfini, Edie Falco
Lost (2005) – Matthew Fox, Josh Holloway, Emilie de Ravin, Jorge Garcia
24  (2006) – Kiefer Sutherland, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Carlos Bernard
Flickr: CC  : NASA Television 2009 Philo T. Farnsworth Primetime Emmy Award 
Photo by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center