The 2000s have come and gone. A new decade is about to begin and lists of the best movies, music, television, paint colors, boy band, furniture, light fixtures, etc. are pouring in. As we close out 2009 and the 2000s, I thought about my own list. But my list of television shows aren’t necessarily “the best,” but the shows that defined my decade. The shows that meant something to me the last ten years, shows that left their mark in my mind and in some cases my heart as well.
24. POWER RANGERS WILD FORCE
February 9, 2002 – November 16, 2002, FOX/ABC
I was a huge Power Rangers fan as a kid… but for some reason, only for two seasons. I then became a somewhat casual viewer, catching the show maybe twice a year and always thinking to myself, “This show is still on?” It wasn’t until 2002 when I happened to catch “The Master’s Last Stand” episode, which coincidentally was the final episode to air on Fox, that I fully realized, the show had been on the air the last nine years. And the episode wasn’t like any Power Rangers I remembered, it was dark, dramatic, it had the villain taunting the Red Ranger and bragging about murdering his parents. What? While the episode definitely wasn’t representative of the season and Wild Force is a favorite punching bag in the PR fandom, this is the season I credit with bringing me back in the PR fold. And save for one season, haven’t missed an episode since.
23. MAYBE IT’S ME
October 4, 2001 – May 3, 2002, The WB
The WB was probably known more for Dawson’s Creek and Buffy than anything else. Which is probably why I rarely watched The WB back then, until Maybe It’s Me came around. A fun, witty and often satirical family comedy with subtle humor predating the American Office by a few years. Led by the fresh Reagan Dale Neis and the always hilarious Fred Willard and Julia Sweeney, it was the best comedy from the WB and a shame it didn’t survive past a season. Plus it definitely opened me up to the possibility that yes, the WB (and UPN) might actually have good TV.
22. VERONICA MARS
September 22, 2004 – May 22, 2007, UPN/The CW
I barely watched anything on UPN before Veronica Mars. In fact, I could not name one show on the air before Veronica Mars… wait. Maybe that show with Matthew Fox about aliens. It was a comedy. And Star Trek. But Veronica Mars was the first legit drama that appealed past UPN’s target demo, a smart, witty and very likeable mystery/noir/high school drama all in one, with Kristen Bell and Enrico Colantoni leading a great cast.
Amazon’s Veronica Mars Store
July 5, 1999 – August 7, 2008, NBC/DirectTV’s The 101
I grew up watching Days of our Lives on my grandparents’ laps. Once I got past the age where no one had to cover my eyes while watching an episode, following daytime television became a habit. Then came along Passions. A new soap opera that turned the genre on its heads. Supernatural, crazy, hilarious, dramatic, and fun… you couldn’t find that combination anywhere else on daytime TV (well, maybe the Maurys and Jenny Joneses). But Passions in its early years was fresh and entertaining, a break from the afternoon melodrama. The series had plenty of potential, but for whatever reason was never fully realized. After maybe the 4th or 5th year, the series lost its charm and plunged deeper and deeper in a “throw anything and everything to the wall and see what sticks” attitude, as well as sink itself deeper into its own heaping pile of nonsensical garbage. It became a shell of its once enjoyable self, so much so that NBC couldn’t stand by the low ratings it held on to since it premiered and dumped it off in an ill-advised deal with DirecTV that saw the show go off to die with the majority of the brave fans that stuck with the show miss how the series wrapped up (or didn’t). Arguably, the biggest and brightest spot of the series was Juliet Mills and the late Josh Ryan Evans, two of the only three actors from the series recognized with Emmy nominations and deservedly so. They brought heart and magic to the show as 300 year old witch Tabitha and her living doll Timmy, when most of the time the rest of the characters had zero. Their scenes alone were worth sitting through an episode, if only.
20. LIFE ON MARS/ASHES TO ASHES
Life on Mars UK: January 9, 2006 – April 10, 2007, BBC One
Ashes to Ashes: February 7, 2008 – Present BBC One
Life on Mars US: October 9, 2008 – April 1, 2009 ABC
The original Life on Mars introduced me to a new world… British television. I realized that there actually was some good TV from the UK aside from Keeping Up Appearances and the original Office. An intriguing and mysterious series that mixed a little sci-fi with gritty crime drama and lots of wit, Life on Mars delivered a thrill ride. Its follow up Ashes to Ashes threw in a little more fun and a little more sex appeal, while the respectable American adaptation made the series its own.
Life on Mars Complete Series
19. CREATURE COMFORTS
October 1, 2003 – Present, ITV
US: June 4 – June 18, 2007, CBS
I’ve always been a fan of Wallace & Gromit and of Aardman in general, so when I discovered Creature Comforts, I knew it was going to be a fun treat. Whether it be “The Great British Public” or plain ol’ Americans, Aardman took the darndest things they said and turned them into hilarious taking animals. Smart, witty, and fun for all ages.
Amazon’s Creature Comforts Store
September 22, 2004 – Present, ABC
A breathtaking pilot started it all; a pop culture phenomenon, a wave of high concept series from the broadcast nets, and the unwritten rules of knowing where your story is heading and giving the viewer answers, answers, answers. Lost changed the game, and while it’s had its ups and downs, there is no denying the influence and success it has had on television.
Amazon’s Lost Store
17. IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA
August 4, 2005 – Present, FX
FX had already broken down the walls in terms of cable dramas. Now it was time for them to give comedy a shot. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia wasn’t their first attempt, but it was always the one that was the least gross and the least “shock and awe” which is probably why it has lasted five seasons and is only growing more each year. A group of rude, inappropriate, clueless losers… when you can make these kinds of characters rootable and sometimes loveable, you’ve got to be doing something right. Original and consistently funny.
Amazon’s It’s Always Sunny Store
March 15, 2009 – July 25, 2009, NBC
It may be the biggest bomb in years, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. Kings was an epic series that had all the makings of water cooler hit. Touching on everything from politics, religion, romance, family, celebrity, friendship… all in the setting of a modern-day monarchy, Kings was an engrossing, beautifully made, and exceptionally performed drama that fell victim to a network that didn’t know what to do with the gem it had, being on a network that people avoid like swine flu, and being too smart for its own good. An incredible crime that it didn’t last more than 13 episodes, but it was a perfect example that swinging for the fences can produce excellent television.
Kings: The Complete Series
15. KYLE XY
June 26, 2006 – March 16, 2009, ABC Family
A charming lead, a great cast, and a very intriguing premise, Kyle XY started off being television’s best (and really only) mix of sci-fi and family drama. Unlike other sci-fi shows on television at the time, Kyle XY managed to reveal things about the central mystery (Who is Kyle XY?) even in just its first 13 episode season, but still have twists up their sleeve and still keep everyone guessing. Add to that the equally engrossing family dynamics of Kyle being adopted by the Tragers and taken under the wing of the family matriarch, Nicole. As a psychologist, she was always there for Kyle, not just as a doctor, but as a mother. With family drama and the angst that comes with teens in high school, Kyle XY managed to seamlessly weave both aspects with the intriguing sci-fi plotline week after week. The series was thrilling, emotional, romantic, funny… networks, and ABC Family, would be hard pressed to find a series quite like Kyle XY in the future.
14. PUSHING DAISIES
October 3, 2007 – June 13, 2009, ABC
How can you take a television show about death and turn it into a fun, whimsical ride that puts a smile on your face? How ever they did it, Pushing Daisies did it and did it outstandingly. A perfect cast brought this colorful, fun premise to life, a man is given the power to bring people back from the dead (though with consequences). Add some romance, quick wit, and you’ve got the most unique crime procedural on television. And oh yeah, the random musical interludes? Heavenly.
Amazon’s Pushing Daisies Store
September 30, 2001 – May 22, 2006, ABC
Alias reenergized the television spy genre. Blasting out the gate with a phenomenal pilot episode, Alias became a big cult hit and critical fave, landing star Jennifer Garner as well as co-star Victor Garber consecutive Emmy nominations. While the show lost its creative footing in its last two seasons as well as being shuffled around ABC’s schedule, the show maintained an intriguing mix of spy capers, family and romantic drama, and an overarching sci-fi storyline that separated itself from other hours of the time.
Amazon’s Alias Store
12. THE OFFICE
UK: July 9, 2001 – December 27, 2003, BBC Two
US: March 24, 2005 – Present, NBC
Both the original Office and the defying the odds American adaptation took a simple, everyday workplace and its humdrum worker bees and made us laugh out loud. Though the American Office has had 4x more opportunity to grow outside the office itself than its British predecessor, it still gives everyday people a hilarious version of what could very well be their own office life.
Amazon’s The Office US and The Office UK Store
September 13, 2005 – Present, The WB/The CW
It started out as a simple premise; Two estranged brothers “encounter unusual ghosts and local creatures straight out of American folk lore and urban legends during a road trip from San Francisco back home to Los Angeles.” And it turned into one of television’s most engrossing mythologies and commentaries on religion. And it is on The WB/The CW! A show that only needs two leads in Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles, Supernatural takes on mini-horror/supernatural movies each week as a crime procedural would and mixes in sincere family drama with a mythology that literally gives new faces to heaven and hell.
Amazon’s Supernatural Store
February 5, 2005 – Present, ABS-CBN
When my family finally called Comcast to officially get connected to The Filipino Channel, one of the very first shows that beamed to our American home from the Philippines was Wowowee, a noontime variety/game show that was quickly becoming one of the most popular shows at home and abroad. I hated it. I thought it was incredibly annoying and sort of obnoxious, dancers that looked like they belonged at a strip club, loud and over the top, I wondered What in the world is this? But I quickly learned what the show was all about. Six days a week, I saw Filipinos being helped. Whether it be through a variety of parlor games and Name That Tune or just by forgetting their troubles for a few hours a day by having fun. Wowowee has gone through some unbelievable challenges during its run, but it is still the most watched daytime show in the country and continues to enjoy overwhelming popularity from Filipinos who are away from their homeland. So much so that even kids can sing “Boom Tarat Tarat” or do the Hep Hep Hooray. Wowowee continues to be a program that gives voice to the poor while doing what it can to help, as well as gives overseas Filipinos a show to enjoy and keep them close to home.
November 11, 2006 – December 29, 2006, OCN
8. LOVERS IN PARIS
June 12 – August 15, 2004, SBS
Tagalized korean dramas are hugely popular in the Philippines. And in 2007, ABS-CBN aired the very first Tagalized Koreanovela on The Filipino Channel, Lovers in Paris. It was my first Korean television show and I had no idea what to expect, but I found myself enjoying this fun, romantic drama. It made me a fan of lead actress Kim Jung Eun and I credit the series with introducing me to Korean drama. After the series wrapped up on TFC, I noticed another Korean drama, Someday was airing on Comcast’s International Channel (which became AZN Television before Comcast shut it down). I watched it, with English subtitles, and was amazed. Though I didn’t know Someday was unique in that it was produced for a Korean cable movie channel similar to an HBO or more so an FX and it had a film quality look to it. Despite a familiar melodrama (common in Korea or the Philippines), it’s look and feel sold me and officially sucked me into the Korean wave. Since then, I’ve begun watching more and more Korean television and even started listening to Korean pop music, opening my eyes to a whole other culture I never would’ve explored otherwise.
Someday – The Complete Series and Lovers in Paris – The Complete Series
7. AMERICAN DREAMS
September 29, 2002 – March 30, 2005, NBC
Everyone complains there is nothing on broadcast TV the whole family can watch together. It’s all sex, drugs, and violence. But when an excellent family drama does come along, no one watches. That’s what happened to American Dreams. TV Land officially proclaimed it a “Future Classic” and it should be, a drama set in the 1960s telling the story of a family in Philadelphia and everything they and the country went through in the pivotal decade of American history. Touching, dramatic, and relevant; just an amazing series that criminally grew unnoticed. One episode you must watch: “Tidings of Comfort and Joy,” an incredible hour of television that was presented without commercial interruption in its final season.
American Dreams – Season One (Extended Music Edition)
6. POWER RANGERS RPM
March 7 –December 26, 2009, ABC
Power Rangers is just a kids show. It’s sole purpose of existence is to sell toys. At least, that’s how Disney treated the franchise since it acquired it in 2002. But its most recent (and possibly last) season, RPM showed that with enough care and effort, the Power Rangers could evolve into something far bigger and definitely better. RPM broke the Power Rangers mold. It took a darker, more mature tone. It is evident there was an effort to appeal to a broader audience. It looked like none of its predecessors. And the most groundbreaking, you actually heard the word “die” and mentions of religion and a higher being when such things were more than taboo for the franchise. RPMwas not just the franchise’s best season overall, it provided a glimpse at what the franchise could be. And that is cause for some great hope
if when the it returns in the future.
Power Rangers RPM Volumes 1 and 2
5. MARIA FLORDELUNA
February 12 – June 22, 2007, ABS-CBN
Filipino soap operas usually follow the same formula. There’s a destined couple. It’s “us against the world.” They fight for their love. They separate (through a variety of circumstances). They reunite. They marry. And you can bet 4 out of 5 times, a Filipino soap opera’s finale involves a wedding. But Maria Flordeluna on ABS-CBN was different. The series itself was an underdog, the network not caring much to promote it and treating it like the proverbial stepchild. And despite the shoddy treatment, viewers in the Philippines and around the world discovered and grew to love the story about a brave young girl who would sacrifice everything to keep her family together. Two years later, Maria Flordeluna still holds the record as the most watched television program in the Philippines in nationwide ratings history and no other Philippine drama has matched the powerful, emotional, and beautiful series finale. A show filled with sincerity, with a mix of action, comedy, romance, and drama, Maria Flordeluna stands as my favorite Philippine drama of all time.
4. FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS
October 3, 2006 – Present, NBC/DirecTV’s The 101
A drama series about a small town football team. What’s so special about that? It turns out, plenty. Friday Night Lights came out of nowhere in a crowded 2006 Fall season and quickly became a fan and critical favorite. While the majority of America doesn’t seem to care for an authentic, down to earth drama, those that have discovered the series can point to that authenticity and sincerity, it’s realism not seen on any other hour of drama on TV today. A cast led by the criminally snubbed Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton bring the stories of this small Texas town to vivid life. It is a heartwarming, inspirational, exciting; an intelligent family drama, comedy, sports drama, soap opera, and high school drama all rolled into one.
Amazon’s Friday Night Lights Store
3. BATTLESTAR GALACTICA
October 18, 2004 – March 24, 2009, SciFi
I was never a fan of science-fiction, of space cases and aliens. But one Saturday night on NBC, Battlestar Galactica grabbed me and hooked me into a genre I had long brushed off. I discovered a nuanced political drama, a war story, a soap (space) opera, an action/thriller. I became engrossed in an exceptionally written and produced and an outstandingly performed series that turned my opinion of the science-fiction genre upside down. No other drama this decade has provided as many hours of excellent television as Battlestar Galactica has. It put sci-fi (and SciFi now SyFy) on the map, and like myself, welcomed a whole new audience into the world of the unknown.
Amazon’s Battlestar Galactica Store
2. THE AMAZING RACE
September 5, 2001 – Present, CBS
A race around the world for $1 million. Another simple premise, yet so much more. This breathtaking reality/competition program is considered the elite program in the genre, justified by its dominant seven consecutive Emmy wins. It is the only program to ever win in the category of Outstanding Reality/Competition program. And no wonder. Teams of two literally race around the world, meeting new people, traveling to incredible destinations, and experiencing first hand cultures that they would have never dreamed of. The Amazing Race is an adventurous thrill ride each week that mixes travelogue with intense competition, human drama and cultural awareness. A series that makes you want to travel the world yourself. It has only grown in popularity in the US and worldwide, spawning regional versions and multimedia projects. It is a show that provides more edge of your seat television than even the best scripted dramas. A show that provide more laughs than the best comedies. And a show that brings hotter competition than many a sports telecast. The Amazing Race is simply, breathtaking television.
The Amazing Race Complete Seasons 1 and 7
1. KEEPING UP APPEARANCES
October 29, 1990 – December 25, 1995, BBC
While British audiences enjoyed this comedy in the 90s, I only discovered this series in its reruns on PBS stations. Thank you PBS! My British answer to I Love Lucy, this is the series that opened my eyes to British television. Patricia Routledge is an absolutely effortless talent, and her chemistry with Clive Swift drive this hilarious comedy about the snobby but loveable social climbing Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced bouquet). Physical and subtle comedy, reminiscent of Lucille Ball herself, with that British touch. Episodes that are as funny the 10th time around as it was the first time. Thank goodness for public television, otherwise I’d have missed out on what has become my 2nd favorite television series of all time.
Amazon’s Keeping Up Appearances Store