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Best of the Decade: TV

Ah TV. The babysitter. The idiot box. You get what we mean. While TV went through a massive overhaul in the oughts (that whole DTV switchover … remember that mess?) its basic function remained the same … quality entertainment delivered right to your home.

For the most part, television in the oughts got better.

Sitcoms got edgier, animated families got crasser and dramas actually got dramatic. This was a great decade for television.

So whittling the list of television shows down to a manageable level was quite the task, but we did it. OK, all of the shows that should have been included probably aren’t on there, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t good.

Here’s the list of the best of television, with the best of the decade and the rest in no particular order.

Best of the Decade

Lost (ABC 2004-present): Possibly one of the best shows ever made, ABC’s ‘Lost’ is a world of its own. Not only is the show in some alternative reality, numerous Web sites, online shows and blogs have been created by ‘Lost’ staffers (including Lost University) to enhance the ‘Lost’ experience. ‘Lost’ will return for its final season on Tuesday, Feb. 2.

The Rest

♦ Dead Like Me (Showtime 2003-05): Grim reapers are real, at least in this show where a mopey young woman, George (played by Ellen Muth), dies after being hit by some space debris (a toilet seat from the Mir Space Station) and unwittingly joins a team of edgy reapers lead by Rube, played by Mandy Patinkin. Lasting only 2 seasons on Showtime (and replaced by the horrible ‘Fat Actress’ — see The Hub’s Worst of the Oughts list) , ‘Dead Like Me’ still has a good following. In 2009, most of the cast reunited for the movie, ‘Dead Like Me: Life After Death.’ The show and the movie are must rentals.

♦ Southland (NBC, now TNT 2009-present): This gritty midseason replacement was renewed for the 2009 season after airing just 8 episodes, but do you see in on TV right now? No, because after they started filming the second season, NBC canceled the show in favor of keeping Jay Leno. Thankfully, ‘Southland’ (which follows cops in Los Angeles as they deal with the cream of the crop and the scum of the earth) was immediately picked up by TNT. Hopefully they’ll air it in the 9 p.m. Central timeslot against The Jay Leno Show, and hopefully it will kick Leno’s butt because Leno sucks (see The Hub’s Worst of the Oughts list).

♦ American Idol (Fox 2002-present): Say what you will about ‘American Idol’ but it’s good TV. Sure, sometimes the American Idol doesn’t quite work out in the music biz (cough cough Taylor Hicks), but the contest leading up to the finale is always interesting and the show does deserve some credit for the musicians that have worked out (Kelly Clarkson, Jordin Sparks, Chris Daughtry, Kellie Pickler, Carrie Underwood, Clay Aiken, etc.) American Idol will return Jan. 12.

♦ Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO 2000-present): Larry David (the character) is a lovable jerk. He’s mean spirited, narcissistic, self-centered bastard, but on HBO’s ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm,’ you just can’t stop watching Larry David playing himself and meandering from one unpleasant situation to the next. The last season, David (the co-creator of ‘Seinfeld’ in real life) brought the cast of the ‘90s sitcom together for a reunion show in order to get his TV wife (Cheryl Hines) back. The season was an epic triumph, with David and the ‘Seinfeld’ cast on their top form. It was also an interesting look at how they write, rehearse, and film a sitcom. Most ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ seasons are available on DVD, and worth watching every awkward moment.

♦ The Office/30 Rock (NBC 2005- and 2006-present): Why mention both of these shows at the same time? Thursday nights wouldn’t be the same without both of them. Sure you can watch Tina Fey’s hilarious hijinks or Steve Carell’s side-splittingly over-the-top performances by themselves, but even on, you ultimately will end up watching the two together. Like peanut butter and chocolate they are.

♦ King of the Hill (Fox 1997-2009): The animated Hill family was one of the best things on TV. Thought they always brought in decent number (when you knew when the show was going to be on) Fox ultimately took the show for granted, frequently changing the schedule, pre-empting it for baseball games, airing episodes (including the series finale) with little notice, and so on. But the show’s strength was in it’s writing. The family comedy was almost reborn with ‘King of the Hill’ because it returned to the roots of the genre — realistic characters. A major feat for an animated show. ‘King of the Hill’ currently airs in syndication.

♦ Arrested Development (Fox 2003-06): On the other hand of the family comedy is this completely unrealistic gem. ‘Arrested Development’ focused on the lives of probably the most dysfunctional family ever create — The Bluths. And while this family was mean, dangerously strange, and completely unbelievable, there was something charming and refreshing about this show. An ‘Arrested Development’ movie is currently in development for release in 2011, according to

♦ Futurama (Fox, Comedy Central 1999-2003, 2010-???): ‘The Simpsons’ would be on this list, but after 20 years on the air, the oughts weren’t as favorable to the show as the ‘90s were. But ‘Simpsons’ creator Matt Groening’s ‘Futurama’ is well deserving of this spot. In this futuristic show, 1999 pizza delivery guy Phillip J. Fry (voiced by Billy West) is mistakenly cryogenically frozen for 1,000 years and wakes up in 2099 where he befriends a one-eyed humanoid, a smart-talking robot, his great, great, great nephew (who is significantly older) and more misfits. One of the best Sci-Fi shows of all time, but it after being canceled in 2003, the show was brought back to life after strong DVD sales. Creators followed with four ‘Futurama’ movies released between 2007-09, and are currently working on new episodes for Comedy Central, to air in 2010.

Source: OSH 24 Seven

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