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 Central. 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 possible war in Iraq. While not quite as shocking as it was initially, it still generates enough surprises to warrant a double take.
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 drastically different, it still provides some of the most consistent humor on television.
8. “Scrubs,” NBC. The sophomore comedy surpasses its sitcom competition 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’Brian,” NBC. Speaking of Conan, his own late night show rose above the competition, 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, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog is the funniest character created for late night … for me to poop on.
6. “Andy Richter Controls the Universe,” FOX. Highly underrated, “Andy” offers a unique type of comedy every week. Through countless sight gags caused by Andy Richter’s inner monologue, the show differs from the numerous other redundant office comedies. The former Conan O’Brian sidekick’s show is lacking a stable audience and sadly, seems to be heading for cancellation.
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) performance during Tony and Carmela’s breakup, showed why she will be walking away with all the awards this season.
4. “The Simpsons,” FOX. While not in its prime anymore, “The Simpsons” 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 overall.
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.
2. “24,” FOX. Amazing concept that enables an intense thrill ride every week. The annoying and stupid trials and tribulations of Kim Bauer (Elisha Cuthbert) manage to keep “24” from the top slot. Kiefer Sutherland’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 performance of Lena Olin as Irena Derevko, Sydney’s (Jennifer Garner) mother.