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The 2000s in Review: TV

31 Dec, 2009 By: John Latchem

"Battlestar Galactica"

The 2000s proved to be a new golden age of television, not because the shows produced will be considered all-time classics. History has yet to be the judge in that regard. But the technological revolution in filmmaking has led to a general rise in quality and ambition of television productions. DVD allowed shows to free themselves from the shackles of weekly episodic formulas to tell grander stories on a larger scale. Viewers willing to keep up were treated to what basically amounted to 10- to 20-hour movies, like the epic miniseries of old.

DVD itself became the new syndication for older shows, giving audiences the convenience of watching what they wanted, when they wanted for as long as they wanted. In fact, TV DVD helped boost a stagnant home entertainment industry long enough to introduce the next-generation format, Blu-ray Disc. And though Internet viewing and other forms of electronic delivery have emerged as packaged media’s biggest challenge in attracting viewers, there’s still nothing quite like owning a show on disc.

Here are some of my favorite shows that began in the 2000s:

Battlestar Galactica (Universal) — Epic science-fiction at its best, examining human nature through the prism of the age-old conflict between parents and children, that plays like an 80-hour miniseries.

House (Universal) — This smart medical drama inspired by Sherlock Holmes led to a wave of procedurals headlined by acerbic mystery-solving loners.

The Big Bang Theory (Warner) — The geeks shall inherit the Earth in this witty upheaval of popular culture.

Lost (Disney) — In its complicated story arcs about airplane crash survivors stranded on a mysterious island, “Lost” took serialized television to a new level, answering the questions it raises with even more answers.

Firefly (Fox) — Joss Whedon’s space Western was too much for any network to handle, but endures thanks to an enthusiastic fan base willing to embrace a quirky sci-fi adventure about a rogue crew banding together against a hostile universe.

24 (Fox) — An action-thrill ride that changed the rules with a tightly plotted real-time storyline played out over a whole season that takes place in a single day, and an attitude that challenged the politically correct ethics of the time.

Deadwood (HBO) — Not just a compelling Western, "Deadwood" is a microcosm for the story of civilization, told over the course of three seasons of 12 episodes each. It’s all-too-abrupt end cries out for proper closure.

Band of Brothers (HBO) — Among the greatest mini-series ever produced, Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks follow Saving Private Ryan into Europe during World War II, examining the tight-nit bond of soldiers in war.

30 Rock (Universal) — Industry satire might not appeal to everyone, but is especially hilarious to those in on the joke.

True Blood (HBO) — HBO’s adaptation of Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse novels puts a new spin on the vampire mythos, and fits in perfectly as the true spiritual successor to the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” legacy.

Family Guy (Fox) — Yes, technically the series is a product of the previous decade, having started in 1999. But in its cancellation and rebirth, the animated comedy became the poster child of the DVD era, proving there is indeed life beyond TV ratings.


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