TV Top 10s
TV Eye's Top 10 on the Telly
Here, dear readers, for your consideration, perusal, or lambasting, are my choices for Top 10 TV in 2001:
10 Shows I Can't Believe Are Still on the Air:
1. Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (ABC): At least it's being cut back to fewer nights per week. Ditto with NBC's The Weakest Link.
2. Yes, Dear (CBS): Milquetoast, anyone?
3. Dharma and Greg (ABC): Are they still married? Does anyone care?
4. The Larry King Show (CNN): Maybe in his day -- so very, very long ago -- he was a respectable interviewer.
5. Spin City (ABC): Let's face it, with the departure of Michael J. Fox and other original cast members, Spin City is just not the same.
6. Off Centre (WB): If getting crabs and trying to figure out who gave it to you is your idea of high humor, tune in.
7. The Ellen Show (CBS): The show isn't bad, it's just blah.
8. The Drew Carey Show (ABC): And this show is on because ...?
9. ER (NBC): Like Spin City, its time has past.
10. Family Law (CBS): The cure for insomnia.
The Worst Thing I Never Expected to See on Television:
Two jetliners flying into the World Trade Center, causing its collapse in real time, in real life.
Top 10 Shows on Television:
10. Life 360 (PBS): If you haven't discovered this marvelous series, you're missing out on one of the most thoughtful offerings on television. Every week, host Michel Martin leads viewers on an hourlong meditation on a theme: Bridges, voices, milestones, and junk are some past subjects. By the end of the hour, the topic has been unpacked and examined 360 degrees, returning viewers where they started, but not quite the same.
9. Scrubs (NBC): There are no gratuitous bedpan jokes in this half-hour comedy. The antics can be laugh-out-loud funny, yet the show handles serious moments with care, as in the episode when the show's interns had to deal with losing their first patient. A close second to this show is Undeclared on Fox.
8. The Bernie Mac Show (Fox): While some viewers are put off by Mac's language ("I'm gonna break that kid's head open till the white meat shows"), I don't find him any more threatening than Malcolm in the Middle's mom, Lois (Jane Kaczmarek). Mac's struggle to understand parenting and children is honestly sweet, yet sharply funny. Bernie Mac may bark, but he doesn't bite. A close second would be Malcolm in the Middle, also on Fox.
7. The Gilmore Girls (WB): The most underappreciated series on television next to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Just when the series threatens to be too precious, the show reins itself in with smart dialogue and heartfelt performances, particularly from Lauren Graham as Lorelai Gilmore.
6. Alias (ABC): I know I said it before, but I'll say it again: Jennifer Garner rocks! This hour of escapism takes ass-kicking women to a new level. Not only is Garner's Sydney Bristow rough and tumble, she's vulnerable and smart, too. And where does she get those fabulous outfits?
5. Angel (WB) & Buffy the Vampire Slayer (UPN): Yes, I'm cheating, lumping these two shows together. Angel continues to evolve from a dark drama, to one with occasional lightness and surprise (the birth of Angel's son, for example). Buffy the Vampire Slayer had a mind-blowing year: Buffy was resurrected, Giles returned to England, Willow went bad, Spike and Buffy got it on, and who can forget "Once More, With Feeling," the musical episode which could have sucked, but didn't. Both of these Joss Whedon series, while playing up ironic humor on the surface, tackle the big issues of life -- forgiveness, redemption, sacrifice, love, power -- with enormous skill
4. Six Feet Under (HBO): You may have forgotten about this quirky little HBO drama (not to worry -- it returns for a second season in March, and HBO is currently re-running the first season on Wednesdays). Once it got over being clever, Six Feet Under settled into a tidy little drama that explored death literally and figuratively. The most compelling story line last season was David Fisher's (the wonderful Michael C. Hall) struggle with his homosexuality and difficulty facing his worst enemy -- himself.
3. The Sopranos (HBO): Yes, I had my issues with this mob drama's past season. Then you see an episode like "Pine Barrens" or "Amour Fou" and you remember how brilliant this show can be.
2. The West Wing (NBC): Week after week, this show deftly reminds us what patriotism is. Aaron Sorkin may have gone off with that post-9/11 episode, but he did a better job of addressing the issue than the talking heads on network or cable television.
And Finally, My Pick for Show of the Year --
1. 24 (Fox): As CIA agent Jack Bauer, Kiefer Sutherland rules in this taut hour of television. Besides the gimmick of each episode representing one hour in a 24-hour period (hence, the title), the show manages to blend the heart-racing speed of a thriller with the quick-changing landscape of a multileveled video game. Friends could turn out to be foes, and foes could end up being allies. If previews are any indication, Jack may find himself making tough choices between saving his daughter or saving the future president of the United States.