Yes, I’m one of the crazy people tackling Best of the Decade lists. In addition to my annual year end lists, I’ll be sharing my favorite Albums, Books, Movies, and TV Series of the past decade. First up, my favorite ten television shows that aired between 2000-2009…
Muruch’s Best of the Decade: Television
As you’ll see below, Joss Whedon dominates this list. There were several shows that almost edged out Firefly – most notably The Sopranos, but that’s not a show I could ever watch again. But in the end, there was just something about the short-lived sci-fi series starring Nathan Fillion, Adam Baldwin, and Summer Glau that captured my little tv-addicted heart. Though it has a devoted fanbase and even got its own movie, it sadly never received the attention that Whedon’s other shows did.
9. Absolutely Fabulous
AbFab remains one of the funniest, most bizarre shows I’ve ever seen. What was so great about the show is that the two overindulgent main characters Eddy and Patsy (played by Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley) were unabashedly vapid and unlikable, but you loved watching and laughing at them anyway. The show originally aired on BBC in the late 1990s and early aughts, but was rebroadcast on Comedy Central here in the U.S.
8. Once & Again
If you don’t remember Once & Again, it was a poignant little ABC drama by the creators of Thirtysomething and My So-Called Life. The show initially centered on the romance between a single mother played by Sela Ward and a single father played by Billy Campbell, and the struggles they faced from their respective kids and ex-spouses. But as the series progressed, it was the shy, awkward, teenage character Grace (played by Julia Whelan) who drew me in most. It also introduced a then unknown Evan Rachel Wood as Grace’s little sister Jesse. The show only lasted three seasons, but it was one of the best scripted dramas that has ever aired.
7. Arrested Development
I think Arrested Development was to the U.S. what AbFab was to the U.K. The hilarious Fox sitcom centered on The Bluths, a rich, despicable, and totally lovable family. The show itself was bizarrely clever and outrageous, but it was the perfect casting of actors Jason Batemen, Will Arnett, David Cross, and a then unknown Michael Cera that made the show so brilliant. I’m tempted to quote some of my favorite lines, but I don’t know that they would be as funny if you haven’t seen the show. My favorite moment was Will Arnett’s Gob “Final Countdown” entrance to his magic show. Or his duet with his puppet Franklin. Oh and when Tobias (David Cross) joined Blue Man Group. And…well, you get the point. It was all very weird and very funny.
6. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
I remember everyone I knew made fun of me for watching Buffy The Vampire Slayer during its cheesy first season. I was one of the few people who actually liked the Kristy Swanson movie that spawned the show, and there was just something about the tv characters Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar), Xander, and especially Allison Hannigan as Willow that made me keep watching. Then the game-changing, darker finale of that season suddenly made people take notice. By the time beloved vamps Spike and Dru joined the show in the second season, the show was no longer considered a joke. Seven seasons later, the show had a huge cult following, a spinoff, and there was talk of another movie. Creator Joss Whedon created completely relatable high school characters though he placed them in a nightmarish world. Though I watched from beginning to end, I lost interest in the final two seasons as the Buffy character lost her strength and humor, and far too many new characters were added. And I don’t know that I would love the show as much a decade later, but at the time, at the age that I was, I thought it was brilliant and I loved it even during its weakest moments.
When my least favorite character on Buffy got his own spinoff, I didn’t think I’d bother to watch it and certainly didn’t expect to end up liking it better than its predecessor. Angel was often a much darker program, but it also had its share of humor – especially in the puppet-centric episode Smile Time. Though it featured many of the characters and actors first created for Buffy, it really came into its own during the final season. Actors Alexis Denisof and Amy Acker were particularly riveting as their characters drastically evolved over the years. Denisof’s Wesley went from an annoying, by-the-book geek to a haunted loner in various shades of gray. And Acker not only portrayed the many moods and quirks of resident geek girl Fred, she tackled the entirely different character of Illyria in the final season. Also entertaining in that final season was the banter between Angel and new cast member James Marsters as Spike. And Angel‘s final episode was possibly the best series finale ever.
4. The Office
Yes, I’m cheating and combining the British and the American versions of The Office. When NBC’s remake first aired, I thought it was huge mistake since they’d obviously failed to capture the painfully realistic mood of the BBC original. But by the second season, the U.S. version stopped trying to mimic the Ricky Gervais vehicle that spawned it and instead found its strength in its new side characters played by actors Creed Bratton, Angela Kinsey, Mindy Kaling, Brian Baumgartner, and Phyllis Smith. The BBC version had bite, the NBC version has heart. And both versions of the show are so hilarious that I can no longer distinguish which I like more. I’m still waiting for a Cousin Mose spinoff…
3. Friday Night Lights
I think I’ve written enough about Friday Night Lights (especially in my first post about it two years ago) for you to know how much and why I love the show. Every episode of the series has been so brilliantly written, acted, and directed that it’s been like watching a feature film every week.
2. Freaks & Geeks
I pretty much listed everything I loved about Freaks & Geeks in my 2008 review of the new DVD set, from which here is a brief quote: “Set in 1980 Michigan, the show centered on aspiring freak Lindsey Weir (Linda Cardellini) and her little geek brother Sam (John Francis Daley) as they traversed the nightmarish landscape of high school, the precarious loyalty of friends in their respective cliques, the anguish of unrequited love, the transitory nature of relationships, the mortifying affection of their parents, and the sheer humiliation of the teen years.“
Was there any doubt? After My So-Called Life, Lost is probably my favorite TV show of all time. The final season begins on February 5, 2010, and I’m both excited and very sad. No other series has so wonderfully trusted, engaged, and challenged the intelligence and imagination of its audience in the way Lost has with every episode. I remember vividly when I first watched the pilot, which was the summer before it first aired on ABC (aw, the innocent days of Bittorrent). I, like so many others, was hooked from the very first second. The first two seasons were excellent, but I think the last two seasons have been the strongest for the show thanks to addition of characters like Desmond, Ben, Daniel, and Richard, the increased focus on Locke, and the deliciously convoluted mysteries woven throughout each season. I’ve also appreciated how enthusiastic the actors seem about their characters in interviews, and how the writers have so intensely utilized the internet to stir up interest in the show. There has never been a show like Lost, and I fear there never will be again.