In the fractured world of modern television, it's hard to imagine network comedy hits like Cheers, The Cosby Show, The Golden Girls, and Seinfeld coming down the pike. Only Modern Family offers anything near the mix of critical acclaim and popular appeal those shows once enjoyed. The history of the aforementioned classics becomes all the more incredible when you consider that they were on the same network, were all on the air in 1990, and were overseen by one man.
At the age of 32, Brandon Tartikoff became the executive in charge of NBC's programming, making him the youngest executive in network history. His mission: restore an ailing NBC brand that was in danger of losing tent pole pieces of their line-up, like Johnny Carson and Saturday Night Live.
Tartikoff, along with his protegé and eventual successor Warren Littlefield, not only rescued NBC, but did so with a slate of programming that relied on a smart audience. It's hard to to find a quality comedy on the air today that doesn't owe something to the programs Tartikoff greenlit during his tenure. The period of success that he kicked-off will likely be remembered as the last great era of network television.