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
1999: Celebrating Their Crystal Anniversary
- Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? premiered on August 16th
- Judging Amy premiered on September 19th
- Law & Order: Special Victims Unit premiered on September 20th
- The West Wing premiered on September 22nd
- Freaks and Geeks premiered on September 25th
- Making the Band started filming in 1999
- Popular premiered on September 29th
- Angel premiered on October 5th
2004: Celebrating Their Tin Anniversary
- Lost premiered on September 22nd
- Veronica Mars premiered on September 22nd
- Laguna Beach premiered on September 28th
- Desperate Housewives premiered on October 3rd
As you can see, we've already gotten a head start on some of these posts. Keep checking back here as we update with more and more posts as we remember the milestone TV happening this week.
Other Anniversary Week posts:
- Surprise, B#*^%: Emma Roberts Was First Great in a Nickelodeon Show
- Happy 20th Anniversary, Puck's Eviction Arc on 'The Real World'
We'd also be remiss if we didn't tip our cap to the bang-up job our friends at Vulture have done with remembering strictly the 1994-95 TV season and making a case for it as the greatest we've ever seen.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.