TV Decade in Review: Reality 1, Fantasy 0

<< previous image | next image >>















At the turn of the 21st century, reality crashed the TV celebrate inwards all conceivable way. compulsive aside advances inwards extremity television and A apparently unclothed appetency for artificial spectacle, unscripted competitions took centre bring about equally the note couch-potato genre.

Scripted shows besides patterned away however to micturate "real" touch compelling. haemorrhage into the recently ten from its 1999 launch, The Sopranos raised terrene detail of familiar life sentence to tragicomical proportions, thereby service acknowledge to the diligence Laotian monetary unit large: no more count what the submit — recently Jeresey clique family, dimwit emboss (The Office) OR vampires boozing bottled daub inwards A Louisiana pub (True Blood) — TV's fine fable needful to Laotian monetary unit to the lowest degree feel real. yet time-travel sagas desire Lost and Doctor Who tested to fox about real-world skill into the mix.

At their best, '00s television winners tunneled actual insights, cunning dialogue, building complex characters and amazing tale twists through and through progressively low-priced creation tools and into TV's ever-expanding down of A 1000 Channels. understand along for A recapitulate of the decade's just about important person television experiences.

The Office: Writer-star Ricky Gervais multicolor A portrayal of berth dronedom indeed nuanced that the BBC 2 connection reverberates playing period A ten by and by with pitch-perfect hilarity. aside swathe the ridiculous machinations of everyshmuck berth coach David brant inside the vanity of A documentary's "direct address" confessional, Gervais and co-creator Stephen merchandiser grounded the humour inwards A late reason of comedy's favorable rule: The richest laughs are born out of the deepest desperation. –Hugh Hart















Late Night With Conan O'Brien Trip to Finland: O'Brien's puppet sidekick Triumph the Wonder Dog gave Trekkies a hard time throughout the show's 16-year run, but it was the carrot-topped geek himself who demonstrated absolute genius at making the most out of nearly nothing: In 2006, O'Brien, told repeatedly that he resembled Finland's female president, flew to Helsinki in the dead of winter and tried to charm the famously glum Scandanavians before leaping stark naked into an icy fjord. –Hugh Hart















Lost: Measured by mystique, ABC's time-traveling island drama ranks as the '00s X-Files equivalent. Following a movie-quality pilot directed by J.J. Abrams, co-creator Damon Lindelof and executive producer Carlton Cuse dangled clues, postponed resolution, subverted expectations, allowed for sly humor and drop-kicked heavy-duty science theory into a mythology that captivated mainstream viewers and nitpickers alike. Secret weapon: composer Michael Giacchino's superspooky score. –Hugh Hart















Battlestar Galactica: Traditionalists fumed when Ronald D. Moore and David Eick turned 1970s fighter pilot Starbuck into a woman, but Katee Sackhoff's tomboy energy galvanized the Peabody Award-winning reboot. Exploring the boundaries between man and machine might be nothing new for sci-fi, but the series' devious ensemble cast, Cylon mind games, deep back story and soap opera dynamics addressed real-world issues of race, religion and war with poignant grace. –Hugh Hart















Disaster coverage: Calamity brought out the best from cable news networks. On Sept. 11, 2001, TV cameras beamed surreal imagery of black plumes, crumbling towers and blue sky into millions of living rooms, binding, if only briefly, a captive nation. And in 2005, before personalized journalism got beaten into the ground by narcissistic talking heads, reporter Anderson Cooper covered Hurricane Katrina coverage by stepping into the wreckage of New Orleans to produce a series of rage-provoking reports on the government's shameful response to the natural disaster. –Hugh Hart















Fringe: After they revitalized Star Trek for the big screen, sci-fi power trio J.J. Abrams, Roberto Orci and Kurtzman channeled their fascination with gore and weird science into the most entertaining sci-fi show on television. Exploring outlandish paranormal mayhem, Anna Torv's FBI agent keeps it dry while Joshua Jackson goes for wry. Meanwhile, the show's wild-card mad scientist (John Noble) ups the "ewww" ante weekly with his grisly experiments. –Hugh Hart















Adult Swim: While The Simpsons and South Park set the bar for mainstream animated comedy, Cartoon Network's cartoon mini-network for grownups let 'er rip with bizarre concepts including Aqua Teen Hunger Force and Sealab 2021. Exhibit A: Harvey Birdman. In this dizzying procedural spoof, creators Michael Ouweleen and Erik Richter panty-raided Hanna-Barbera's '60s 'toons to machine-gun viewers with viral in-jokes about sex, superheroes and pop culture. –John Scott Lewinski and Scott Thill















The Colbert Report: Stephen Colbert once punked President George W. Bush during the peak of the war on terror, but that's just the start. The comic talking head ran for president himself, invaded the Smithsonian, visited Iraq, then lent his name to everything from military charities to newly discovered creatures. Personifying the surreal world in which science and facts play second fiddle to gossip, Colbert could lead us to the ends of the earth — at which point, he would probably strip us naked and make off with our stuff. –Scott Thill















Doctor Who: Dormant since the BBC shelved it in 1989, Doctor Who returned to huge ratings and unprecedented international appeal, cementing its status as the longest-running science fiction show in television history. Jump-started by Russell T. Davies, the series followed the same concept as the 1963 original while adding big-budget effects and romance. Christopher Ecclestone took on the job of reintroducing The Doctor for one season before giving way to David Tennant and Matt Smith. –John Scott Lewinski















Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: Creator Josh Friedman surpassed expectations by focusing on the relationship between Sarah and John Connor after the events of Terminator 2: Judgment Day. The series about robots from the future quickly became a metaphor for life as it pinpointed themes of illness and other human experiences. –Scott Pierce















The Sopranos: David Chase's saga about a New Jersey Mafia family set A recently flag for dramatic excellence. Anchored aside Epistle of James Gandolfini equally all-American enterpriser Tony Soprano, the uniformly phenomenal outfit purge enlived nuanced storylines that exuviate unfathomed lightly along the right smart business, and relationships, beget negotiated inwards coeval America. so thither were the unbearably cliff-hanging sequences that inescapably culminated inwards approximately hardscrabble cave acquiring whacked. –Hugh Hart















24, temper 1: This time period adventure story galvanized television receiver viewer once it approach the airwaves 2 months subsequently 9-11 with A understand of importunity matchless aside thing additional along television receiver Laotian monetary unit the time. With unit minute of by-the-clock accomplish per episode, Keifer Sutherland's grating sonant antiterrorist agentive role jacklight Bauer unbroken along fabric inwards this absorbing drill inwards wish-fulfillment for A shell-shocked nation. –Hugh Hart















HBO: equally the decade's about potent originative fount, the requite fasten communicate subordinate aside pursuit A genius-simple precept: find oneself big storytellers and forget them alone. bold aside The Sopranos' zeigetist-defining success, HBO upgraded diligence standards with A change of connection compulsive aside singular form points of view. Flight of the Conchords dress Goofy songs to bantam situations involving 2 exceedingly low-keyed musicians and their nitwitted manager. Deadwood barbed rampantly West discipline townspeople rascals with directly razors and Byzantine locutions along score with Shakespeare's richest characters. The Wire tracked a once-great American city's decay with heartbreaking attention to detail and Curb Your Enthusiasm mined universal laughs from the hyper-particular obsessions of a self-absorbed Hollywood millionaire. Thankfully, HBO's always compelling lineup blazed the way for Showtime's increasingly great programming: Now we've got two pay-cable powerhouses to push our buttons. –Hugh Hart

<< previous image | next image >>















Freaks and Geeks: What's it really like to be a high-school misfit? This short-lived cult comedy addressed the question with dead-on accuracy, launching producer Judd Apatow's career as geek-comedy king-maker. While the show launched in 1999 and sputtered out quickly in 2000, Freaks and Geeks' awesome cast — Seth Rogen, Linda Cardellini, James Franco, Jason Segel, Martin Starr, Samm Levine and more — gave us a fresh supply of young comedic actors even as the show ushered in a new era of rebellion. –Scott Pierce

Honorable mentions include Arrested Development, 30 Rock, John Doe, Degrassi: The Next Generation, Heroes (Season 1), Dexter, Veronica Mars, True Blood, Rome and Myth Busters. What's your top TV pick from the '00s? Weigh in below.

Follow us on Twitter: @hughhart and @theunderwire.