January 10, 2003
THE BEST AND WORST OF FALL 2002 TV
Television's bottom of the barrel
Courtesy of FOX and Comedy Central
Hello, Jack Bauer speaking. What? Bomb? Wrong number.
Top shows of the season.
'Alas,' '24' lead the pack
The overwhelming majority of TV is
bad. Here is some commentary on
what went wrong this year:
Biggest nosedive from last sea-
son to current season: "Will &
Grace" Just when you thought NBC's
comedy dream team was becoming a
well-oiled machine, Leo (Harry Con-
nick Jr.) had to join the cast. Grace's
(Debra Messing) marriage to Con-
nick's dull, bumbling doctor has turned
the show's usually hilarious, clever
writing into a series of awkward love
triangle moments. Will (Eric McCor-
mack) is left with little to do but sulk
around his now Grace-less apartment.
While still a ratings giant, the show is
hanging on the talents of Jack (Sean
Hayes) and Karen (Megan Mullally),
arguably the strongest supporting play-
ers on a network comedy series.
Best reason to watch "Friends":
"Survivor: Thailand" The latest
installment of "Survivor" is evidence
that Mark Burnett's ratings-winning
formula is wearing thin. Never before
has the eventual winner, in this case
Brian, been this obvious from the start.
You just knew that Chuay Guan was
going to triumph over the younger,
hipper Sook Jai. Despite Burnett's
promises of dramatic twists, we are
instead fed with recycled garbage from
previous seasons (how many times can
they do an obstacle course?). With any
luck, "Survivor" will not outwit, out-
last and outplay after the Amazon,
where it is headed next.
Once unique in its unusually
advanced vocabulary and controversial
topics for a teenage drama, the WB's
"Dawson's Creek" has recently
become just another trashy prime time
soap opera. Following in the tradition
of "Beverly Hills 90210," the newer
show's storyline has plummeted since
the gang made their move from high
school to college (conveniently every-
one ended up in Boston) last fall. After
a freshman year where Dawson's dad
died in a car crash - leading Dawson
to finally lose his virginity to Jen -
Jack joined a frat, Joey got involved
with her teacher and Pacey managed to
become a wonderful chef, it seemed
the show could not get any worse or
more far fetched.
This season opened with Dawson
and Joey finally consummating their
longwinded romance of "I love you, I
love you not," only to have them break
it off with harsh words at the end of the
two-hour season opener. Fans were
most certainly angered by the brutal
annihilation of these "soulmates."
Meanwhile, Joey's roommate, Audrey,
now suffers from rich girl alcoholic
syndrome while Pacey easily makes
his way to the top of a successful com-
pany without a college degree (is there
anything this guy can't do?) Jack is
rarely given main character status
while Jen's mullet-like hair is enough
to keep even devout fans from watch-
ing. This season's only saving grace
comes by way of Oliver Hudson as
Joey's new love interest, Eddie. How-
ever, it will take much more than a
cute face to save this dying drama.
What is wrong with FOX? It
has the best show on network TV right
now ("24"), arguably the greatest
show of the last 15 years ("The Simp-
sons") and not much else - although
a case could be made for "King of the
Hill," "Andy Richter Controls the Uni-
verse" or "Boston Public."
So why cancel Joss Whedon's "Fire-
fly," it's best hope for the future?
What's wrong with you, FOX?
FOX has currently maintained one
show from Fall 2002 of any note:
"Fastlane." A show about guns and
cars from the director of "Charlie's
Meanwhile, a creative show like
"Firefly," a science-fiction story
accessible to all TV viewers, was
placed on Fridays, destined to die of
The Onion recently had an article in
which a network executive claimed he
was looking for "edgy" shows -
those that would challenge and shake
up viewers. Instead, he approved a
show that was "Friends," but in Los
Angeles. That is exactly what FOX
has done, with even less success. One
of its top new shows is "Joe Million-
aire," a send-up of "The Bachelor" -
also to be seen in "The Bachelorette"
and the recently concluded second
season of "The Bachelor" - in which
a number of women compete for the
heart (money) of a man who, as it
turns out, is not a millionaire at all.
The audience is in on the "Candid
Camera"-style joke. Ha ha.
In a January episode of "Fastlane,"
the show will feature a storyline
involving a cop (Tiffany Amber-
Thiessen, "Saved by the Bell") seduc-
ing a lesbian criminal (Jaime Pressly,
"Tomcats") in a hot tub.
What is worse, a network which dis-
cretely tries to promote itself as legiti-
mate while pushing the envelope with
"World's Deadliest Animals" or a net-
work which triumphantly promotes its
illegitimacy (as the promos for "Mil-
lioniare" show, only FOX could do
something like this). In the past few
years, FOX has been guilty of both
kinds of bastardization. Look it where
it has taken them.
- Compiled by the Daily TV staff
By Adam Rottenberg
Daily Arts Writer
Despite the vast wasteland on TV,
we've managed to identify 10 shows
that deserve acclaim. None of them
involve a "bachelor."
10. "South Park," Comedy Cen-
tral. Those foul-mouth fourth-graders
continue to create havoc in the quiet
mountain town of South Park every
week. The crudely animated cartoon
holds no reservations in its attacks on
current events and popular culture with
targets like "Harry Potter" and the pos-
sible war in Iraq. While not quite as
shocking as it was initially, it still gen-
erates enough surprises to warrant a
Aouble take R
9. "Friends," NBC. The renaissance
experienced by "Friends" is astounding
and it is an integral part of NBC's "Must
See TV" Now in its penultimate season,
the characters have grown up and Ross
and Rachel's relationship has been put in
a tailspin with the addition of baby
Emma. While not revolutionary or dras-
tically different, it still provides some of
the most consistent humor on television.
8. "Scrubs," NBC. The sophomore
comedy surpasses its sitcom competi-
tion in terms of laughter and interesting
characters. Dr. Cox (John C. McGinley)
has taken his place as one of the most
humorous and original characters on TV
with his sarcastic wit and long, funny
tirades. "Scrubs" is the real reason to
watch "Must see TV"
7. "Late Night with Conan O'Bri-
an," NBC. Speaking of Conan, his own
late night show rose above the competi-
tion, stealing the title of king of late
night comedy. Though he is without his
sidekick (see number 6), the former
comedy writer elicits laughter with his
irreverent humor and bits. Besides, Tri-
umph the Insult Comic Dog is the funni-
est character created for late night ... for
me to poop on.
6. "Andy Richter Controls the Uni-
verse," FOX. Highly underrated,
"Andy" offers a unique type of comedy
every week. Through.countless sight-i
gags caused by Andy Richter's inner
monologue, the show differs from the
numerous other redundant office come-
dies. The former Conan O'Brian side-
kick's show is lacking a stable audience
and sadly, seems to be heading for can-
5. "The Sopranos," HBO. The
fourth season of David Chase's critically
acclaimed drama received many gripes
from critics and fans, but it still remains
one of TV's best. The show redeemed
itself with an outstanding final episode
that, with Edie Falco's (Carmella) per-
formance during Tony and Carmela's
breakup, showed why she will be walk-
ing away with all the awards this season.
4. "The Simpsons," FOX. While
not in its prime anymore, "The Simp-
sons" still stands as one of the funniest
shows on TV. Each year more and
more A-list stars volunteer to guest
star, and the writers continually find
new material to satire, making the
longest running prime-time cartoon
one of the most entertaining shows
3. "Curb Your Enthusiasm,"
HBO. Larry David's post-"Seinfeld"
sitcom hit its stride in its third season,
claiming the position of the funniest
show on TV. Predictable? Yes, but
that's part of the charm.
1- 2 i24," FOX. Amazing ooncept-
that enables an intense thrill ride
every week. The annoying and stupid
trials and tribulations of Kim iBauer
(Elisha Cuthbert) manage to keep
"24" from the top slot. Kiefer Suther-
land's Jack, and Dennis Haysbert's
President Palmer are the two best
characters on television.
1. "Alias," ABC. No other drama on
television manages to capture the
excitement and drama of "Alias." This
season has provided even more twists
and turns with the outstanding perform-
ance of Lena Olin as Irena Derevko,
Sydney's (Jennifer Garner) mother.
Courtesy of CBS
Brian, the (yawn) winner of 'Survivor.'
find out how:
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