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It's 10 p.m., does NBC know where its next hit is?

You can do it, NBC.

I know you can. It won't be easy, of course. Good TV - the product of sweat, brains, luck, talent, scheduling, promotion and (even) guts - never is. I speak of the revival of 10 p.m.

We come today not to bury "The Jay Leno Show," which has already been buried, but to exhume a once-great time period. Tuning in at 10 on NBC was once a deeply ingrained and rewarding cultural habit.

After the Olympics, NBC begins the long, hard slog of restoring the time period. All it takes is a hit or two, and, for proof of that, here are a few from decades past:



ON AIR 1965-68

THE DEAL NBC's first major 10 p.m. series hit featured TV's first African-American lead in a drama, Bill Cosby - who one day would set records in another time period.


THE SHOW "The Dean Martin Show"

ON AIR 1965-74

THE DEAL NBC's first bona fide Thursday 10 p.m. habit - a variety show with a famous theme song ("Everybody Loves Somebody") and a cast of regulars, including Nipsey Russell, Rodney Dangerfield, Dom Deluise and . . . the Golddiggers.


THE SHOW "Hill Street Blues"

ON AIR 1981-87

THE DEAL Among the greatest cop shows ever, a lodestone for singular TV writing and producing talents, from Steven Bochco to David Milch.


THE SHOW "St. Elsewhere"

ON AIR 1982-88

THE DEAL Do you recall Denzel Washington had a starring role in this medical show? (And it all happened inside a snow globe!)


THE SHOW "Miami Vice"

ON AIR 1984-89

THE DEALT-shirts under Armanis, a driving, eclectic soundtrack, and its tropical neon-color palette made this cop drama one of the most sonically, visually and stylistically influential shows ever.



ON AIR1986-94

THE DEAL An ensemble drama that drained countless water-coolers on Friday mornings. What was the Venus butterfly, anyway?


THE SHOW "Law & Order"

ON AIR 1990-

THE DEALTV's longest-running drama got its start Thursdays at 10 back in 1990, and will be called upon to rescue 10 p.m. on Wednesdays, starting March 3.


THE SHOW "Homicide: Life on the Street"

ON AIR 1993-99

THE DEAL The masterful precursor to "The Wire" and "The Shield."



ON AIR 1994-2009

THE DEAL Launchpad of careers (George Clooney and Julianna Margulies, to name just two), this was TV's finest hospital-based drama ever.

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