“The Office” (NBC) — Probably the comedy of the decade, considering both popularity and critical acclaim. Who could have imagined it would still be so good in its sixth season, when the groundbreaking British version only ran for 12 episodes?
“South Park” (Comedy Central) — It’s gotten better with age. The sharpest satire on television.
Popular, but ...
“According to Jim” (ABC) — Never that popular, but somehow popular enough to run for eight seasons. While other comedies looked to make progress, “Jim” stayed true to the formula: Predictable plots and easy jokes with punchlines you could see coming from decades away. The current “Modern Family” represents a huge step up for ABC.
“Freaks & Geeks” (NBC) — It enjoyed the majority of its 18-episode run in 2000, so it’ll qualify. The jumping point for so many stars (James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jason Segel) “Freaks & Geeks” was an honest, bittersweet coming-of-age series. Think of “The Wonder Years,” but even better. One of the best TV shows. Ever.
“Gilmore Girls” (WB/CW) — In an age when certain channels (MTV) try to set feminism back as far as possible, this witty show featured a single mother raising a smart daughter — both had plenty of interests outside of the men in their lives. And the dialogue was to die for.
“Pushing Daisies” (ABC) — Another case of gone too soon, “Pushing Daisies” featured plenty of wit, heart and supernatural tomfoolery. But the networks have no patience for these hard-to-define shows.
“Desperate Housewives” (ABC) — The time was right for a soapy, quirky primetime show. And ABC jumped right in with a stellar cast.
“Glee” (Fox) — Not just a dramedy, but a musical! “Glee” is one of the most original shows in recent years.
“Monk” (USA) — It’s like “The Mentalist” on CBS, except much more interesting, nuanced, and of course, funny.