Great dramas, comedies, concert specials and more illustrate the pay cable channel's sweep
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"Comic Relief" (1986-2006)
Given the presence of Robin Williams as one of the three co-hosts (with Billy Crystal and Whoopi Goldberg), this is at least stretching my rule about not including multiple shows from the same people, if not outright breaking it. But "Comic Relief" — a series of live telethons that raised money to combat homelessness (and, in later years, victims of other problems like Hurricane Katrina) — was much bigger than its three emcees. It was HBO's social conscience teaming up with its gift for luring high-end talent, putting as many funny and famous people on screen as possible to try to ease the suffering of the less fortunate. In many ways, it's the quintessential pre-"Oz" HBO show.