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Top 10 TV shows of the decade

POSTED BY STUART LEVINE

Since the decade is about to end in a mere few days, I figured this was a good time to document my favorite shows of the 2000’s.

As you can see, I skew more toward drama than comedy, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t have a good laugh in the 2000’s. Shows that often had me on the floor include “Arrested Development,” “30 Rock” and “Everybody Loves Raymond,” just to name a few. With only 10 slots, however, they barely missed the cut.

Anyway, enjoy my list and let me know what you think. What did I miss? What do you agree wth? 

10. Mad Men
Matt Weiner’s sometimes slow but always engrossing take on the politically incorrect 1960s workplace also acts as a history lesson, but minus the chalkboard and musty textbooks. Has there ever been a character as tortured as Jon Hamm’s Don Draper, who hid his troubled past as long as he could until wife January Jones finally learned the truth. Kudos to all the cast, but especially Elisabeth Moss, a woman wanting to move up in the working world and not waiting for a man’s approval to do it.

Curb 9. Curb Your Enthusiasm
Only the mind of Larry David could concoct such zany episodes, with the disparate stories all somehow reconnecting 30 minutes later. This last season especially, where he gathered the “Seinfeld” team in a pseudo-reunion, makes one realize how fortunate viewers are to have Larry continually find something that aggravates him. His brilliance is in separating “real” Larry vs. “Curb” Larry,
and making audiences believe they‘re both the same person.

8. The Daily Show With Jon Stewart 
Ever since Jon Stewart took over Comedy Central’s nightly “news” show, there’s no way to watch the events of the day and not think about how Stewart and his remarkable team of writers and “reporters” will offer their unique spin. Sure, it leans to the political left — and you’ll enjoy it more if you do too — but that’s only because Stewart and his team find it nearly impossible to pass on such comic giants as George Bush and Sarah Palin.

Lost 7. Lost
The shipwrecked island thing has been done before, but nothing like this. Smoke monsters. Ben. The Others. Flash forwards. Hurley never losing weight. Exec producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse have created a pseudo-reality where nothing is ever as it seems and manipulations, treachery and backstabbing between friends is as common as a morning shower. And don’t dare miss an episode — what you missed in season 2 could have major implications in a plot development four years later. Can’t wait to see how it all wraps up in starting in February.

6. The Sopranos
For all the mafia rough-housing of the fellas on “The Sopranos,” my favorite moments always involved Carmela — the show’s tour de force, Edie Falco. While some were afraid of Tony’s venom, and rightly so, it was Carmela who held the power in the Soprano family. One particular scene stays with me, where she and Tony have a balls-to-the-wall argument and she tells him their marriage is over. There were lots of great characters who hung out in front of Satriale’s pork store — particularly Christofuh, Paulie and Silvio — but it was the Carmela and Dr. Melfi who told the boys when to play nice, or not.

5. The West Wing
I’m still not sure Martin Sheen wasn’t actually the president. Aaron Sorkin’s presentation of the political process was done in such an entertaining style, that it almost made you made wish you had a career in Washington, D.C. Meticulously offering the inner workings of the White House and how those in the Administration sacrificed much of themselves for the benefit of the American people, “The West Wing” was all about public service, and how there are still some politicians who actually care.

4. The Shield
Whether Vic Mackey was a good cop or not all depends on your point of view. He did whatever it took to take criminals off the street, and if that meant killing one of his own or pocketing a few hundred grand along the way, so be it. The series that put FX on the map was superlative in its grittiness in depicting the mean streets of L.A. Michael Chiklis won an Emmy for his work on the first year of the show, and with the addition of such stellar work from little-known actors such as Jay Karnes and Walton Goggins, “The Shield” has set the bar for future cop shows awfully high.

Fnl 3. Friday Night Lights
Sometimes television gems come along when you least expect them. NBC might have fumbled the marketing opportunities when “Friday Night Lights” first came on the air a few years bck, but the few fans who watched realized they were witnessing greatness. And they still are. Thanks to DirecTV and the fans at NBC who keep the show on the air , audiences have come to love everything about the citizens of Dillon, Texas — its students, coaches, administrators and, most of all, the families that make is home. How Kyle Chandler has not won an Emmy, much not even nominated, is a primetime disgrace.

2. Deadwood
The term genius shouldn’t be thrown around loosely, especially when it comes to television. Yet, David Milch’s vision of those ebullient gold rushers settling into camp in the Black Hills of South Dakota, circa 1890, was mesmerizing at every turn. While Milch’s dialogue was Shakespearean in its verse, the actors who delivered it captured the spirit of the words brilliantly. Kim Dickens, W. Earl Brown, Timothy Olyphant, Paula Malcomson and, especially, Ian McShane as Al Swearengen brought so much life to their characters, it was as if viewers were allowed to go back in time and see how this country was shaped … one whiskey shot at a time.

1. The Wire
Simply put, there has never been, nor will there ever be, a series as good as David Simon’s “The Wire.” The way Simon and his fellow creatives were able to capture the ills of a metropolitan city on the decline — Baltimore, in this case — through its drug pushers, police, mayoral office, school system and newspaper was to watch Picasso and Michelangelo paint. Impossible to pick a high point from five seasons, many will offer the tragic destiny of the corner boys in season four, yet how does not one single out Bunk, Avon, Prop Joe and, of course, Omar. When asking folks about “The Wire,” the response was often, “Yeah, I’ve never watched, but I hear it’s great. I need to get that on DVD.” Yes, you do. Now.

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