Kolchak The Night Stalker -> David Chase's first TV Gig -> The Sopranos* -> The resurgence of TV drama in the late 90's -> The resurgence of auteur TV: David Milch (Deadwood), Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing), Marc Cherry (Desperate Housewives), Ronald Moore (Carnivale, Battlestar Galactica).
Kolchak The Night Stalker -> The X-Files -> CSI -> CSI knockoffs -> A full half of CBS's broadcast schedule -> CSI knockoffs on other networks.
* Am I the only person subconsciously turned on by HBO's marked lack of Soprano's hype? The show comes back in 2 weeks and they are just letting us get worked up on our own. Nice. Speaking for my fam, the family is celebrating my birthday on March 12 (official birthdate March 7- mark your calenders) with a pot of sauce, some pasta, a cassada (sic) cake... you know... the cake that's one big cannoli, and the first Sopranos in 2.5 years.
The excitment builds...