Six Nineties TV Shows That Should Re-Run Forever

They were good then, and they're still good now. How did they do that?

Some shows instantly suck, while others remain great forever. That’s just how television works. Here are six shows from the nineties that haven’t lost a thing. They will still make you laugh, and they will also make you feel feelings whether you want to or not.

1. Jonathan Creek (1997-2000, aka ‘The Caroline Quentin Years’)

Jonathan Creek had it all: magic, a windmill, mystery, murder, duffle coats, and you could watch it with your parents, pretty safe in the knowledge that there wasn’t a softcore porn scene coming around the corner. Maybe you weren’t quite old enough to understand exactly what was going on between Jonathan Creek (Alan Davies) and Maddie Magellan (Caroline Quentin), but it made you feel warm and you knew it was good. Whatever it was.

Watching it now, it’s apparent that the Jonathan/Maddie relationship was one of the most accurate portrayals of awkward friends trying to get it on that has ever appeared on television. ‘He’s only mean to you because he likes you’ has never been truer, and it cut both ways. Maddie’s scathing quips at Jonathan are the stuff of legend. You’ll notice that after these quips, Jonathan is usually shot from the waist up*, presumably to crop out his massive pants tent.

They were the ultimate team, so there was nothing more devastating than when Maddie ‘went to America’ to further her career, or some tosh. Caroline Quentin left the show, and a Maddie Magellan shaped hole in my heart. Would I call her a traitor to her face if given the opportunity? Sure, if I could get the words out through the sobbing.

* I made that up, just so I could use the phrase “massive pants tent”.

2. Northern Exposure (1990-1995)

This was the ultimate fish-out-of-water show. Hardened New Yorker Dr Joel Fleishman (Rob Morrow) is sent to Cicely, Alaska, to fulfill the requirements of his college scholarship. Joel meets town local Maggie O’Connell (Janine Turner), and they have a will they/won’t they relationship to rival Maddie Magellan and Jonathan Creek. And like Maddie and Jonathan, Maggie and Joel definitely did, and it was as hot as Alaska is cold. Fleishman is basically Scully to O’Connell’s Mulder, but instead of the supernatural, they are locking horns over the nature of rural life. And also the effectiveness of traditional medicine. (And maybe the supernatural, a little bit.)

Fact: The Northern Exposure theme is my ringtone, as it is the greatest theme of all time.

Disappointing fact: Janine Turner is a blonde, conservative Republican now, who campaigned for Sarah Palin in 2008. :(

3. Roseanne (1988-1997)

The laugh. Remember the laugh? At the end of the opening credits. It was like a siren: GOOD TIMES AND LIFE LESSONS AHEAD. Roseanne was full of life lessons. Until Roseanne aired, was anyone even aware that maybe their parents’ lives didn’t entirely revolve around them? I certainly didn’t know that.

Roseanne and Dan were the TV couple that fought over stuff that real-life couples fought over, like money and the kids’ grades. It was so… familiar. However, unlike the tediousness of real life arguments about money and kids, Roseanne was fiercely witty and often downright touching.

I highly recommend a re-watch of all of the Halloween episodes; they are absolute standouts. Darlene’s The Birds costume is flawless.

I highly recommend re-watching of all of the Halloween episodes; they are absolute standouts. Darlene’s ‘The Birds’ costume is flawless.

4. The Royle Family (1998-2000)

Sometimes, The Royle Family wasn’t even about anything. It had the most mundane dialogue of all time, but that’s what made it so brilliant. It was real, funny and, on occasion, irritatingly touching (a bit like a UK Roseanne).

This show still works now because the main elements in it still exist — it’s still as real as it was 15 years ago. Essentially what I’m saying is, people still live in Manchester. The only thing that might change now is the amount of on-screen smoking. There was a lot of it. Denise (Caroline Ahern) and Barbara (Sue Johnston) appeared to be in some kind of smoke-off during the entire run of the show.

Young son Antony (Ralf Little) was the glue that held the Royles together. Without him, there would have been no cups of tea, the phone would have remained unanswered, and we’d have never found out who was at the door. Poor Antony.

5. Father Ted (1995-1998)

Three priests live together on an island, with their tea-obsessed housekeeper. Overseen by a bishop, they were exiled to the island for past misbehaviours. Sorry, what?

Yes. That was the storyline of Father Ted. And it was brilliant. Dermot Morgan, aka Father Ted, died of a heart attack the day after filming ended on season 3. He was 45 years old.

6. Freaks and Geeks (1999-2000)

Okay, technically, Freaks and Geeks maybe shouldn’t have made the list, seeing as it only has one of its years in the ’90s, but whatever. Don’t email me.

How excellent is Freaks and Geeks? It’s so great watching it now, and seeing that nearly all of these deserving actors have got great careers. Did you know that James Franco from Freaks and Geeks is now starring in real life as The James Franco? How’d he get that?

Back then, Freaks and Geeks made you feel better about being weird. Now, it makes you feel awesome about how different you were. Then it (rightly) makes you feel super dumb about getting so sentimental.

Angela is a comedy producer, promoter and writer based in Melbourne. She doesn’t remember what life was like before April 4th 2013, aka Netflix subscription day. Tweet her at @angemaryclaire  or check out her other stuff at