This site will work and look better in a browser that supports web standards, but it is accessible to any browser or Internet device.

Whedonesque - a community weblog about Joss Whedon
"Because it's WRONG."
11944 members | you are not logged in | 02 September 2014




Tweet







December 02 2009

The Ten Best Television Shows Of The Aughts. Firefly (of course) makes the list.

Wow. That's almost exactly the list I would have created. Spooky.
Pretty good list. Of those that mention them, I predict 46% of commenters will say 'Firefly' and/or 'Veronica Mars' should be higher, 72% will disagree about BSG season 4 (but of that 72%, 37% will concede that the ending wasn't perfect), 12% will find it refreshing that 'The Daily Show' gets a nod in a list like this and almost everyone will praise 'The Wire' (though approximately 1 person will claim it's overrated).

Don't let me down people, I could've had a lot of money riding on this if i'd bet on it.
Uh, what Saje said. I did find most of BSG season 4 clunky, though, and I don't just think The Wire is overrated - I have never understood the appeal of Arrested Development or 30 Rock, either. I haven't seen much of a couple of the shows.

I think, for me, I would put Firefly right up the top because even though it had only the 13 episodes, they are all of really excellent quality. The West Wing had at least one lacklustre season, and BSG and Veronica Mars have clunky episodes, but Firefly is pretty much perfect in my eyes.
I loved BSG S4 and the finale and I don't understand the hate :( Seriously the only time BSG ever faltered for me was in S3 where I think it lost some of its steam. S4 won me right back with the mutiny episodes (GAH just brilliant!) and I bawled my eyes out in the finale :(

I've never sat down and watched VM properly and have never even seen an episode of The Wire. Arrested Development was OK and 30 Rock is good for a laugh but I love The Office better than both.

And I think Firefly is a good show but to be honest I easily prefer BtVS, Ats and Dollhouse! I still think it deserved it's spot on the list.
I have a huge non-sexual crush on Jon Stewart! (TMI out of the way..) I haven't seen FNL or 30 rock. Arrested Development I came late to, but do adore. I'm actually surprised Firefly made the list. I agree completely, but there are other longer running shows that would fill that top ten slot for many. Kudos to our band of thieves sneaking in!
I love them both but I gotta say... 30 Rock > Arrested Development. No show has ever made me laugh as much as 30 Rock does.
I find The Daily Show mildly humourous, I think a lot of its humour its lost on me oddly enough. I'm in the UK and I find some of his jokes a bit painful, maybe its because I missed some of his Bush stuff, moving on: Arrested Development. Possibly my favourite sitcom type show ever. I'd rather watch The Bluths than most other things, however, if Modern Family keeps its steam up, that'll be snatching up that place.

Friday Night Lights is astounding. I've only seen one and a half seasons because I want to only see its high calibre stuff. I've occasionally come across people disliking certain events and I hear most of the cast have left now which is annoying. I'll probably catch-up when I'm bored.

30 Rock was utter brilliance for two seasons and I'm currently watching the third and its boring me to pieces. All the characters have worn thin. The actors are playing versions of themselves and honestly, I'd rather watch the actors than the characters and the hardly funny anymore situations they are in. Really sad because I was rooting for it for two whole years.

Veronica Mars and BSG is amazing television and I pretty much agree with everything they said about them two.

Only seen the first half of the first season of The Wire and it didn't grab me. I might check it out, but the "omg gritty realism" bugs me a bit. I like fantasy a bit more, so that's why I agree with Six Feet Under's place. Oh and The West Wing - I simply haven't seen it yet.
I'm pretty under-impressed with 30 Rock, but I can't quibble with anything else on that list.
What the hell are the 'Aughts'? Surely it should the the 'Naughts' if anything!

(and the Wire is overrrated ;)
Oh, and no Lost, House, Dexter, Sopranos, 24!!!
What the hell are the 'Aughts'? Surely it should the the 'Naughts' if anything!


aught 2 also ought (ôt)
n.
1. A cipher; zero.
2. Archaic Nothing.

aught2, ought [ɔːt]
n
a less common word for nought (zero)

Oh and The West Wing - I simply haven't seen it yet.


I hope that you understand how completely unacceptable that is :). I know it's heresy, but that is simply the best show of all time. I think it's a pretty great list, though having seen only the first half of season one, I also think The Wire is overrated. I'll give it some more time, though... The Shield, also brilliant.
Other than some small order changes, the one big swap I would have made would be The Sopranos for Six Feet Under.

And I'm with you, zeitgeist- the West Wing is probably my oldest favorite show, though I started watching BtVS shortly after. And of course, you just can't count anything past season 4, it's a totally different show post-Sorkin.

EDIT: And by different, I mean terrible. *sigh*

[ edited by GoldDust8912 on 2009-12-02 15:31 ]
It's a real testament to how awesome Firefly was that it didn't even get an entire season and it STILL makes so many "best TV" lists.
Another person who has only seen first half of the first season of The Wire. I've actually seen it twice, once watching my brother's DVD during a holiday from Uni and secondly when it was on Virgin On Demand. Both times I only stopped watching because I ran out of time and not because I wasn't enjoying what I saw. I certainly didn't get the universal love though. And the chess bit, which is often heralded, was painfully in your face.

The West Wing, Six Feet Under and, obviously, Firefly all deserve to be on this list. Personally, they would be my top 3, but that is more because I haven't seen any or much of the others. Hope to be getting Battlestar Galactica for Christmas, so that should be rectified.

Dexter definitely deserves a position and, if we were including UK stuff, I would also have Life on Mars and QI.
I find The Wire and The West Wing effortlessly and consistently brilliant. Gave up on BSG a couple of years ago after becoming disheartened after a brace of dreadful episodes like 'Scar' and 'Black Market'; I've recently been convinced to give it another go. And I adore Lost: the only thing that depends on its last season for me is whether it'll be my favourite TV show ever, on merely in my top three.
I haven't watched "The West Wing," yet either. I wonder if it would seem dated now?

I have, however, seen (and liked) all of the other shows. Which I think means I watch too much TV.
It doesn't seem dated at all, jcs. I can't praise WW enough. And yet for a show that lasted seven years, I sure have a tough time finding other people who have seen it (most of them just say, "I'm not interested in politics" and assume they wouldn't like it).
It's not your fault Jobo. No one can praise the West Wing enough.

And of course, you just can't count anything past season 4, it's a totally different show post-Sorkin.

EDIT: And by different, I mean terrible. *sigh*


Couldn't agree more. Except maybe with Zeitgeist's "that is simply the best show of all time." It helps when you haven't seen much of those post-Sorkin years (I didn't even make to the end of S5) but my mind always automatically excludes them when I think or talk about the West Wing.

Nice to see Veronica Mars, Firefly, Six Feet Under and Arrested Development are also included (and the hugely overrated The Sopranos isn't.)

And I like it, but I don't think Friday Night Lights is that good.

Maybe I should watch the Wire sometime. Though Zeitgeist lacks of enthusiasm backs up my strange feeling that I'm not going to like it.

Vandelay wrote:
Dexter definitely deserves a position and, if we were including UK stuff, I would also have Life on Mars and QI.


Definetly agree about Dexter and QI (always nice to see some praise for that one. It might be "just" a panel show, but its also very wonderful.) Love Life on Mars too, though it might not make it if were still limiting it to ten.
Yeah, for a long time I refused to watch anything past season four simply because I wasn't interested. Just as I don't read non-canon Buffy comics because I'm not interested in Buffy as interpreted by not-Joss, I didn't have an interest in seeing what happened with West Wing if Sorkin wasn't involved. Eventually I watched the first four episodes of season five, and... meh. I got to see the major cliffhanger resolved, but otherwise I didn't get much out of it. I might give it another go when my girlfriend (who is currently working her way through season three) gets to that point. We'll see.

As for the Wire... I have seen the first season and then a few episodes of season two. The first season was pretty good, and season two so far has been intriguing (moreso than the first few episodes of season one). But I have yet to see why it does, indeed, seem to be such a universally acclaimed show. I'm very curious to find out what that's all about, and I'm counting on the answer to reveal itself by the end of the series. Or else I'll be very disappointed.
Is Sorkin's departure on The West Wing similar in any way to Amy Sherman-Palladino's departure on Gilmore Girls? I suspect Sorkin might have been nicer about the whole thing, but both creatively and personally, are the two absences similar?

With FNL, I think it sometimes drags, but I think thematically its very strong. Most of its characters are quite true to the bone as well. They all have flaws, but it technically is a teen-drama (which isn't what I would call VM) so some obvious issues crop up: drug addiction, abuse, racism. It's all there.
While I watch it, I gotta say I've never quite found 30 Rock all that funny. I guess I find most of the characters annoying more than amusing. In just a few episodes, Community has made me laugh more than 30 Rock ever did. Whenever I try a critically acclaimed show, I feel let down more often than not. I don't know, maybe the expectations are too high or I just don't get it. On the other hand, I do like Arrested Development, so who knows.
I can't argue too much with this list although I would slot BSG up a bit higher and bring 30 Rock down a bit. The first couple seasons of 30 Rock were fantastic, but it has been a bit hit or miss since then.

I must speak in defense of the Wire though. To me it easily tops this list since each season is like reading a good book. If you have only watched half a season I can see why it would not seem like much. The best thing about the Wire is that it develops a universe over time (much like Buffy or, in its brief run, Firefly) and expects the viewer to remember that universe and everyone's place in it. I'm currently in the middle of season four and its easily the best season so far of my favorite show of the decade. The Wire isn't necessarily a pleasant show to watch since thematically its quite depressing, but you cannot ask for better made, more compelling TV.
I'm with 'The West Wing' = the best show ever crowd. It's the only show I've loved as completely and totally as anything Joss has done.

As for the post-S4 years: yes, the show slumped at little. It is very much noticeable, but the rich tapestry created by Sorkin does still pay dividends: it's in now way a bad show (how can it be, with that cast and win-all premise?), just less impressively written than before. The show does pick up again in S6/S7 with the election cycle (which was prophetic in many ways as it echoes large parts of the then-future Obama/McCain race) and it becomes almost, but not quite as great again as it was in the Sorkin years. But, as with everything, YMMV.

As for the show missing from this list the most: 'The Shield'. No doubt about it. That was one great bit of television and one of the best cable shows I've seen. I always wonder if it simply gets less acclaim because it didn't air on HBO, because I can't think of any other reason why it regularly doesn't get acknowledged on lists like these.
I find finding The Wire to be overrated to be overrated.

The Wire FTW.
I haven't watched "The West Wing," yet either. I wonder if it would seem dated now?

Agree with all the "West Wing" love. I don't think it would be dated at all; it's a fictional Presidency that doesn't take hits at any specific politicians. It does a few topical issues, but most of those issues are still very current. Lots of Clinton advisors also advised the series. You'd wish that any of our current politicians (either party) would show as much integrity as many of the characters on West Wing.

It did slump after Sorkin left, but it mostly recovered. In particular, one S5 episode "The Supremes" is a standout and compares well to any of the Sorkin seasons. S6 and S7 really do become a different show, when they focus on the next election.

By the way, Joss has been quoted as saying that he'd like to kill Aaron Sorkin and eat his brains. West Wing and BSG are the two shows I can remember Joss raving over.
I'll stand up for The Wire, too. Although it did take me quite a while to get into it (gritty realism is not my thing), eventually I realized that it was completely unlike anything else I'd seen. That world is so detailed and complete--it seems more like something I experienced than something I watched.

Also, OK, OK! Putting West Wing in the Netflix queue now. I saw a couple of episodes at one time & it didn't do anything for me, but considering what I just said about The Wire, guess I'd better give it another shot. :)
Yeah, the Wire does beat all. But Six Feet Under scores higher than Friday Night Lights in my book. FNL gets a little fake for what it tries to do whereas SFU feels more real though it's much more outrageous. Go figure :)
"By the way, Joss has been quoted as saying that he'd like to kill Aaron Sorkin and eat his brains."

Bahaha, that's the greatest zombie movie EVER.

Yeah, I don't think TWW would be too dated now, and most of the great aspects of the show have little or nothing to do with politics. It's just the metaphoric means by which the story is told, so it's maybe a little like sci-fi, hmm...

As for Sorkin's departure, I imagine Amy Sherman-Palladino did a lot more yelling (shrieking, perhaps?), but it was probably on similarly bad terms. As much as I love Aaron Sorkin, he does come off as a bit of a diva. For one thing, he wanted to write every episode. Every episode! Who does that?!? Craziness! Anyway, when you go from every episode to none, it obviously shakes things up a bit. I managed to get through the whole series, but by then it was a totally different beast.

I never really got much out of Six Feet Under. My best friend loves but, but all I can think is "Stop talking. Please stop talking," every time an episode comes on. I could watch The Sopranos every day until I die (or am inexplicably whacked), and I think it rivals The Wire on artistic integrity.

This is fun! We never get to talk about other shows here... :)
I would have to put Rome on the list as well. It's two seasons consistently offered some of the best television I have ever seen.

I would also put the new Dr. Who on the list as well, especially the Stephen Moffat episodes, but I guess it was technically on before the aughts if you count the old series. Plus nobody in America can really appreciate it after they chop it up with commercials. I know I can't.
OK, just to stay on topic, watch for Andy Umberger (D'Hoffryn, the creepy doctor in "I Fall to Pieces", Alliance ship captain in Firefly pilot ep) to appear in two different roles in The West Wing.
I'd knock one of the comedies off the list in order to include the glorious Deadwood (maybe at the top), but otherwise that's a pretty fine list.
Also, OK, OK! Putting West Wing in the Netflix queue now. I saw a couple of episodes at one time & it didn't do anything for me, but considering what I just said about The Wire, guess I'd better give it another shot. :)


Ok, then in return I'll give the Wire a shot. You convinced me when you positioned yourself as a fellow non-fan of gritty realism, good to know we can like it too.

Jayne's Hat wrote:
but I guess it was technically on before the aughts if you count the old series.


Plus it's a UK series, which the list does not allow. But speaking of Moffat episodes, how about also making a British list and how about also including Coupling?

Other UK favourites of mine (aside from the previously mentioned QI) are Black Books and Extras. Anyone else got any UK favs?
Very good list, with few quibbles, but I would take off 30 Rock (only because I have never seen it) and add In Treatment, which is scary good with acting so stellar it hurts.
While I watch it, I gotta say I've never quite found 30 Rock all that funny. I guess I find most of the characters annoying more than amusing. In just a few episodes, Community has made me laugh more than 30 Rock ever did. Whenever I try a critically acclaimed show, I feel let down more often than not. I don't know, maybe the expectations are too high or I just don't get it. On the other hand, I do like Arrested Development, so who knows.


Agree about 30 Rock and Community (the later is by far the funnier), though Arrested Development beats them both.

The critical acclaim thing is also interesting. It's critical acclaim was the thing that attracted me to a little show called Buffy, so that will forever put it in the clear for me. Though I'll never understand all the praise for the Sopranos. Time and time again I tried to give it an other shot and I made it all the way to season 4, but it still isn't very good, I think.(Though "Employee of the Month" was quite excellent).

About the West Wing after Sorkin's departure. I agree it obviously still had a lot going for it, the strongest cast on television for one thing, the richest story/character background of any show is another. But for my propably irational reasons it still it managed not only to frustate me (when characters began to act out of character, storylines were taken to non-sensical places) but also to bore me, which is incredible, considering my interest in the characters and their stories. Uhm. Anyway, what I wanted to say and propably have demonstrated already is I just irationally can't stand those later years, while they obviously have a lot going for them.
I find finding The Wire to be overrated to be overrated to be overrated!
What strikes me about a lot of cable (and BBC) shows and their critical praise, and this might just be my youngster 'MTV generation' talking but they are so slow. Six Feet Under, I appreciate but Goram it is slow. Even exciting genre shows like True Blood just don't know what to do with the extra 10 or 20 minutes that cable gives them compared to networks. I'm more than sure they a lot of critics love the, I suppose, the more realistic pacing of it but I'm watching TV and I want to be entertained. Movie guys know how to cut things down and keep the quality in 2 hours instead of 4, so why can't TV execs do it?

Mad Men is good, and I realise this is integral to the point of the show (which sometimes annoys me because its basically 60's fanservice), but what it accomplishes in 13 episodes is what a network show would do in 80 minutes and it might lose some integrity, but I wouldn't like the show anyless.

Phew... that came out of no-where. Must have needed to get it off my chest.
OK, it's about time I weigh in with my personal picks. My favourite shows of the aughts, in alphabetical order. Here's ten:

Angel (Somnambulist - Not Fade Away)
Arrested Development
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Doomed - Chosen)
The Daily Show (during the decade, naturally)
Deadwood
Firefly
Mad Men
The Office (UK)
The Office (US)
South Park (World Wide Recorder Concert - Pee)

Honourable mentions (ten more):

Battlestar Galactica (very disappointed by the mythology resolutions, somewhat undermines the show)
The Colbert Report
Coupling
Dexter
Dollhouse (eagerly awaiting the last nine)
Extras
Flight of the Conchords
House
30 Rock
Veronica Mars (love season one, like season two, season three: not a fan)

Potential candidate for best of the 10s if it continues to improve: Parks & Recreation.

Overrated:

Lost (while I did enjoy season five and have high hopes for the final year--seasons two through four were wildly inconsistent to me)
The Simpsons (while I disagree strongly when people talk about Buffy's glory days being over at the turn of the decade, this is certainly true for me for The Simpsons)

Not seen:

The Sopranos, The West Wing, The Wire, Six Feet Under, In Treatment, Breaking Bad, Friday Night Lights, The Shield, 24, Dr. Who, Farscape, etc. (Egad! Sorry!)

[ edited by WilliamTheB on 2009-12-03 01:50 ]
I just thought I'd mention, continuing the trend of me posting a lot because I'm doing nothing, that I just watched the first Sons of Anarchy episode and that surpassed all my expectations. It took me around five minutes to love these characters and their world. I never thought I would, but then again, I never saw a promo for it either.

Looking forward to catching up with that now!
I like this better The Ten Best Television Shows Of The 2000s.

2000s said two-thousands...s for the whole decade.
I find finding The Wire to be overrated to be overrated.

The Wire FTW.

The One True b!X


Assuming you're serious, b!X, as one can't always tell, I agree. And if you don't get The Wire, then I don't get you. :P

Also, any list of this sort fails if it does not include The Sopranos. Seems like with this, and The Wire, some people have such high expectations that they come in hoping to not like it.

Anyway, I never got the Six Feet Under love. All I saw when I watched the show was PRETENTIOUS, and weird just to be weird.

I tried watching The West Wing when it started, but I think now I may have been too young to appreciate it. It's my brother's favorite show ever, so I'm gonna give it another shot.

I really like 30 Rock, but not top ten like. Deadwood should've replaced that. And finding a place for The Shield would be nice too.

Friday Night Lights is an amazing show. I can't explain exactly why I love it so much. It's not exactly my type of show (teen drama), but it does what it does so ridiculously well. The episode tonight absolutely tore my heart out. The best depiction of a young adult reacting to a parent dying since The Body. Nothing will ever compare to The Body (ever), but man this was good.
I loved BSG S4 and the finale ........ and I bawled my eyes out in the finale :(
vampmogs | December 02, 11:25 CET


Thanks for that, so glad I'm not the only one who cried (a lot). BSG's final three eps make up the most awesome, fully realized, satisfying series finale ever, IMO.

It's hard to argue with The Wire as #1, but for serious competition for that position, BSG is definitely in the running. Glad to see it taking it's place among the usual suspects.
Joining in the defense of post-Sorkin The West Wing. It floundered a bit at first, but found it's feet again. And the final season, with the inspired additions of Jimmy Smits and Alan Alda, was just brilliant.
Joss and Sorkin seem to have in common that the writers they work with learn to channel their sensibilities, especially dialog-wise.

I haven't watched "The West Wing," yet either. I wonder if it would seem dated now?
jcs | December 02, 17:01 CET


I'd answer that with an unequivocal "no!" - TWW is timeless, it will probably hold up forever.
Jayme said:

What strikes me about a lot of cable (and BBC) shows and their critical praise, and this might just be my youngster 'MTV generation' talking but they are so slow. Six Feet Under, I appreciate but Goram it is slow. Even exciting genre shows like True Blood just don't know what to do with the extra 10 or 20 minutes that cable gives them compared to networks. I'm more than sure they a lot of critics love the, I suppose, the more realistic pacing of it but I'm watching TV and I want to be entertained. Movie guys know how to cut things down and keep the quality in 2 hours instead of 4, so why can't TV execs do it?


I would say the opposite to this. Particularly in the case of Lost and Heroes (although, I've only seen first seasons of both), network shows find themselves struggling to extend their plots out to the required 22-24 episodes. I much prefer an about 13 episode length season, with True Blood, Dexter and Dollhouse being perfect examples of it working well.

Having said that, I did think Mad Men would have made a great film, but struggled to fill its 13 episodes and ended up repeating itself a lot (again only seen the first season though.)

Also, I agree with Shey. The final season of The West Wing was fantastically good. I would never say a bad word about Sorkin though, especially considering I seem to be a lone voice in saying how fantastic Studio 60 was. It may have lost itself a little towards the end (mainly because it had to abruptly reach a conclusion,) but it is still one of my favourite short lived shows, right up there with Firefly. The pilot episode alone (scrap that, the first two minutes alone,) mean it deserves a mention in great programmes of the decade

[ edited by Vandelay on 2009-12-03 14:04 ]
Lost needs to meet the chopping board, and I'm a fairly big fan of the show. I want all the evidence that they were making it up as they go along for two and a half seasons to disappear. Pointless characters in season 1, Nikki and Paolo etc etc. I want them to do that for the 10th anniversary or something.

Anyway, I think an 18x40min season is perfect. I don't have any reason to really think this besides how tight Lost is now, but I'd love for some more episodes in more exciting 12 episode shows and less episodes in 22/24 episodes shows. Battlestar Galactica could have done with a few less episodes.
I would never say a bad word about Sorkin though, especially considering I seem to be a lone voice in saying how fantastic Studio 60 was.
Vandelay | December 03, 14:03 CET


You are not alone Vandelay. I loved S60, what little we got of it. The (two-parter, I think?) with John Goodman as the rural Nevada sheriff was better than the vast majority of anything that's ever had a long run.
And, Bradley Whitford - what's not to love? ;)

You need to log in to be able to post comments.
About membership.



joss speaks back home back home back home back home back home