Maybe there's a rule about every five years on television being another great leap forward. Whatever it is, this week marks major milestone anniversaries for some of the most important television shows of the past 20 years. Friends, E.R., The West Wing, Lost, Desperate Housewives, Veronica Mars, Freaks and Geeks. These aren't just great and fondly remembered TV shows. These are shows that, in their own ways, marked various turning points for TV.
- E.R. turned the network drama into a cinematically directed, prestige event, and in its own way it helped pave the way for the cable drama revolution of the subsequent decade.
- Lost was the next great step forward for network dramas, particularly when it came to serialization and having multiple seasons lead up to one (disappointing, or not) payoff.
- Freaks and Geeks wasn't appreciated for it at the time, but it was a major step forward in taking teen characters seriously, which led to ...
- Veronica Mars, in tandem with Buffy in demanding respect for the netlets. Pushed the boundaries of how dark we'd allow high-school series to get.
The list goes on. And ON. The fall premiere classes of 1994, 1999, and 2004 are unusually stacked full of resonant network shows, and given the spectacular failure rate of network fall premieres, that's really saying something.
1994: Celebrating Their Emerald Anniversary
- My So-Called Life premiered August 25th
- Party of Five premiered September 12th
- Chicago Hope premiered September 18th
- E.R. premiered September 19th
- Friends premiered September 22nd