From Two Zeros to a Ten: The First Decade

By Rev/Views

Well, a few more days and we'll be in 2010 (pronounced twentyten, all futuristic like); apart from wondering where the cool stuff like hoverboards, flying cars and replicants are it's been a pretty interesting decade. Especially in the world of the small screen, the hardware side has evolved to the point where I'm about five years out of date - oh yes, I have a second hand CRT and DVD Player and that's what I watch my television on. Not because I'm stubborn or retro, but because every time I look at television prices I go "You want how much?" And that's after the discount I get for working in the industry (or near it, I'm not exactly sure where I stand with regards to television, but I am involved in making sure people can watch it.)

I digress, it's enough to say that while I've failed in keeping up with the latest viewing technology I have kept up with the evolving and growing industry which is the small screen. A format where we invest in the characters and stories which are told, where we come back week after week in order to see what's next, where we go back and watch what's happened a second or even third time. Yes, there's a lot to get from television, a lot to experience. The heights, the depths, the action, the lulls - the good times and the bad; human experience turned up to the maximum and then distilled.

This past decade has brought us quality television beyond compare; there's no doubt that it has been the best decade we've experienced since it's birth. A large portion of the most critically acclaimed shows come from this side of the millennium, that's not bad for ten years and it bodes well for the future.

Of course, while the quality edge of television has extended and accelerated, so has the lowest common denominator. I'm not going to go into a huge rant about voting television (aka "reality" TV), it's just as effective as pissing in the wind, you just get your pants wet and end up having to change. But I will say this, I'm more concerned about what's going to come along after reality TV, because the only way I can see it being replaced now is by something even cheaper to produce and more degrading to the human condition. I'm not predicting Running Man style shows, at least not in this part of the globe, but I'm sure that Reality TV is not the bottom of the barrel, we're not there yet.

That's as negative as I'm going to get about this decade's television, because while the lowest form of television will continue to expand and accelerate it will be matched by the best television has to offer as well - maybe even exceeded, we'll have to see. That part remains in the hands of the viewers, it's really up to us to train ourselves and our fellows to expect more from the experience of watching television. It's a shared culture and it should have us thinking, talking, writing, arguing and pondering the state of the human existence.

First of all, I was looking to see if anyone had drafted together a timeline of major television shows listed in the order of their premiere air dates - I might not have been Googling hard enough mind you. Still here's a manual version of the significant moments in television over the past ten years.


Malcolm in the Middle opens up the decade for myself, first arriving on Fox in January - it continues until 2006. The Corner has it's mini-series run in April. Big Brother premieres in July on both sides of the Atlantic. The Weakest Link makes it's first appearance in August. CSI and Curb Your Enthusiasm first appear in October and November brings on of my personal guilty pleasure shows - Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law.


Drama giant Six Feet Under arrived in June and changes the face of drama forever, Fear Factor makes it's first appearance that month as well. Samurai Jack slices it's way onto the screen in August, while September brings us the premieres for Alias, Enterprise and Law & Order: Criminal Intent. Scrubs, Smallville and 24 are born in October. 24 in particular is a huge show and captures the American public, it was exactly the right time for it to arrive considering the events of the month before. Justice League arrives in November and finally Harry Hill's TV Burp pilots in December.


The Shield premieres on March 12th and like Six Feet Under before it the show heralds a change in cutting edge television drama. May brings the debut of BBC's shock-jock show Spooks (which still remains crap as far as I'm concerned and always will). June 2nd gifts the world with The Wire and nothing is the same again - also arriving is The Dead Zone . Monk investigates his first case in July. While September brings Firefly, CSI: Miami (the sunglasses, the horror!) and Without a Trace. Finally November brings the launch of the redesigned Top Gear.


January takes a look at the world and says "Enough with the lies!" Bringing not only Mythbusters to the screens but also Penn & Teller: Bullshit! February heralds the reboot of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and fast becomes the definitive cartoon vision. State of Play premieres in May. Dead Like Me in June. Nip/Tuck in July. Then in an explosion of TV September brings the premieres of Carnivale, QI, NCIS , Little Britain and much, much more. October, November and December bring us Tru Calling, Arrested Development and Battlestar Galactica's mini series respectively. While Tru Calling never really reaches the heights it promises the other two shows become landmarks in their genres.


The Apprentice first shuffles on American screens in January, accompanied by the strange bedfellow of Shameless. March gives us the arrival of decadence married to reality in the guise of Pimp My Ride, but it also redeems itself with Deadwood's harsh cry of "I've arrived cocksuckers!" Stargate: Atlantis, Rescue Me, The 4400 and Entourage all arrive in July. September muscles up and drops The X-Factor on us along with Green Wing, Joey, Veronica Mars and of course the sci-fi giant Lost. October objects with Boston Legal and November revitalises the procedural genre with House.


Medium, Numb3rs and Battlestar Galactica start their runs in Jan. The UK version of The Apprentice arrives on BBC in Feb. While March gives us a so-so US version of The Office - it's second season would see the show finding it's stride and becoming comic genius. More importantly in March Doctor Who returned to our screens with Eccleston as the ninth Doctor, he has a short run which turned out to be a blessing. Also arriving in March was Grey's Anatomy. American Dad came in May, Weeds in June and Prison Break's amazing first season kicked off in August - unfortunately only the first season of this show remains quality. September's glut of shows included Supernatural, Bones, How I Met Your Mother, My Name is Earl and Criminal Minds (a show which lost it's lustre when Mandy Patinkin left two years later). Finally in the UK Deal or No Deal is a surprise hit, bringing Noel Edmunds back from the void and onto the screens.


Life on Mars opens up the year, proving that the BBC is still capable of holding it's own in the field of drama. Inspector Morse's spin-off Lewis also arrives in Jan. Whereas Feb brings The IT Crowd and March has The Unit and Big Love. Psych first appears in July. September bulges with new shows - the most notable of which are; Shark, Jericho, Ugly Betty, Men in Trees, Studio 60 and of course Heroes. October is just as generous; with Dexter, Friday Night Lights, Torchwood (bleah) and 30 Rock.


The superior Doctor Who spin-off Sarah Jane Adventures premieres in Jan, Feb gives us The Sarah Silverman Program and Primeval. June brings a show I correctly predicted would be huge - Burn Notice and the end of The Sopranos. July premieres Greek, Damages and most significantly Mad Men. September gives us The Big Bang Theory, Chuck, Reaper and Life.


The year of the writer's strike starts well with Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles, In Treatment and Breaking Bad making their first appearances in Jan. Ashes to Ashes and Being Human turn up in Feb. March brings us the end of The Wire along with the mini-series John Adams. Generation Kill rolls across the screens in July. Then in September we're treated to Sons of Anarchy, True Blood, Fringe and The Mentalist. October premieres Argumental (a personal fav) and Charlie Brooker's riff on reality television - Dead Set. Finally November brings the amazing last episode of The Shield - and I'm never the same again.


Finally 2009 gives us Lie to Me (Jan), Dollhouse in Feb, Kings in March - which sadly failed to reach it's audience and was cancelled, April brought Parks & Recreation, May premiered Glee, July - Warehouse 13. The September glut included Community, Vampire Diaries, NCIS: Los Angeles, Modern Family, Cougar Town, Flash Forward, Hank and The Middle.

Which brings us up to date - we're now sat awaiting the final episode of Tennant's Doctor Who run, which will herald in the new decade and beyond that there are shows like The Pacific, Treme and Game of Thrones to bolster up the strongest runners which are still standing. I personally will be latching onto shows like Sons of Anarchy, Breaking Bad and three I just mentioned. But I'm also confidently predicting that the next decade will be even better than the one we've just had. Short of major societal issues gutting into the television industry's ability to deliver quality goods I'm confident we're sitting on the edge of a golden age for television. Sadly it's an age which will probably have to surf along a tidal wave of crap - but that's the television "bell" curve for you.

I for one will be looking forward to the next decade of television with anticipation...

(Have I missed any major shows from the past ten years?)


1 comment so far.

  1. Benji-kun 29 December 2009 at 14:36
    Alas you've not mentioned it, and if you haven't started watching it yet then shame on you!

    We're currently on to season 2 of the brilliant Castle.

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