Television has "That '70s Show" and that '60s show ("American Dreams"), but at the moment, it lacks any 20s shows (unless you count "North Shore," which I don't). With last spring's cancellation of "Angel" after five years and "Wonderfalls" after four episodes, the demographic that advertisers claim to court heavily is hardly represented at all on the dial.
Technically, Angel (David Boreanaz) was a couple centuries removed from being in his 20s (and that's not even counting the 100 years he spent in a hell dimension), but it was easy to forget that. We were told that the hero vampire felt tortured by the memories of his killing sprees, but I've often suspected he was tortured over being stuck between childhood and adulthood -- smart enough to know life stinks but not mature enough to get over it.
Top 10 TV
1. "Angel," canceled; syndicated 4 p.m. weekdays on TNT
2. "The Office," series ended; spin-off starts in January on NBC
3. "Gilmore Girls," 7 p.m. Tuesdays on WB
4. "Law & Order," 9 p.m. Wednesdays on NBC
5. "Arrested Development," 7:30 p.m. Sundays on Fox
6. "The Simpsons," 7 p.m. Sundays on Fox
7. "24," 8 p.m. Mondays on Fox; new season starts 7 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 9
8. "Veronica Mars," 8 p.m. Tuesdays on UPN
9. "Lost," 7 p.m. Wednesdays on ABC
10. "Dennis Miller," 8 p.m. weekdays on CNBC
The Angel gang's swan song was marked by a series of dark moments -- R.I.P. Cordelia, Fred, Wesley and Lindsey -- topped off by a bleak ending -- good luck with that monster invasion, Spike, Gunn and Angel; see you in the movies someday.
But coming out of this topsy-turvy TV year where we bid farewell to classics and welcomed new hits, the future looks bright. Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick will resurrect the 20-something drama next fall with "1/4life," and the fact that it's on ABC isn't the license to fret that it used to be.
Known as the Already Been Canceled network among TV geeks, ABC did an about-face this fall and supported its new shows, notably the not-so-deserted-island drama "Lost." Along with Fox's day-in-the-life thriller "24" and UPN's detective show "Veronica Mars," it's a big reason why watercoolers haven't seen this much action since the heyday of "The X-Files."
As Veronica (Kristen Bell) stepped in, "Law & Order" icon Lenny Briscoe (Jerry Orbach) stepped out. Even in its 15th season, "L&O" is still television's most timely drama, ripping stories from headlines almost before you have a chance to read them. It currently boasts one of its finest casts, including Orbach's replacement, Chicago swinger Joe Fontana (Dennis Farina). Hopefully, Annie Parisse will fare as well when she takes over for the underappreciated Elisabeth Rohm next month.
Even more than crime-solving shows, family drama/teen soap hybrids dominated the dial in 2004, most of them falling in the good-to-mediocre range ("Summerland," "Jack & Bobby," "The O.C.," "life as we know it," "Joan of Arcadia"). The standout continues to be "Gilmore Girls," because it's the only show where the adult story lines are as good as the teen story lines. In May, Luke (Scott Patterson) and Lorelai (Lauren Graham) finally got together, and rather than being the "End of show!" scenario creator Amy Sherman-Palladino used to joke about, it has reminded us that, yes, happy couples can be interesting to watch, too.
The only show with a wit quick enough to rival "Gilmore's" is "Arrested Development," which slyly dodges the FCC with liberal use of bleep-outs and blur-outs, often enhancing the comedy in the process. It's easy to see why the show is a desired destination for A-, B- and C-list guest stars. In the first season, Heather Graham played an ethics teacher obsessed with Saddam Hussein and Carl Weathers spoofed himself as a corrupt acting teacher. "Arrested" makes a perfect 1-2 punch following "The Simpsons."
On cable, it's been a joy to watch Dennis Miller gradually mold his CNBC show into a news/entertainment mix superior to even his old HBO show. In its first year, it has been an equally good source for political opinions and finding out who the hot comedians are. Miller gives relaxed yet informative interviews, whether he's chatting up a film legend or sports star.
"The Office" aired its two-hour finale in October on BBC America, and it went out with a touching display of heart. After boss-from-hell David Brent (Ricky Gervais) became pathetic-ex-boss David Brent, it was nice to see him finally find someone who liked his humor; after all, sticking it to The Man is only fun for so long. The saga of Tim (Martin Freeman) and Dawn (Lucy Davis) was also handled beautifully, proving that while the "Office" writers had a wicked wit, they weren't wicked.
The show will be missed, but there's a bright side: NBC's American spin-off, with Gervais as a producer, starts next month.
JOHN HANSEN, staff writer, can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5863.
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