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HERC Names The 10 Best Shows Of 2000!!

Hey, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab.

I have partied much too hard. I am tripping over my own fingers as I try to type this. Bleary eyes, computer screen so far away, can't keep my face up off the keyboard. All this formatting is worth it, though. Here comes HERCULES THE STRONG with his look back at the small screen in the year 2000, the year that the best of TV actually surpassed the best that movies could muster. Oooooooooops...

Now is the winter of our discontent, as we endure this wasteland between November and February sweeps. New episodes of our favorite series are hard to come by, and “Temptation Island,” “The Mole,” “Pop Stars” and “Survivor II” are not yet here to console us.

The good news is we are afforded time to pause, reflect, and name the best of Y2K TV.


1. Buffy the Vampire Slayer

2. The West Wing

3. The Gilmore Girls

4. Survivor

5. Big Brother

6. ER

7. Saturday Night Live

8. Angel

9. Norm

10. Roswell


Long the funniest show on TV, “Buffy” grows more fearless in its storytelling with each succeeding season. It gets the edge over “West Wing” this year for two reasons: 1) The show has recently manifested a wonderful and bizarre obsession with continuity, demonstrating that its creators are taking pains to mess with us; and 2) It has vampires!

BEST OF 2000:

* “New Moon Rising” (May 2). Oz returns, and everyone learns that Willow and Tara are more than friends (including Willow and Tara).

* “Restless” (May 23). The Scoobs battle the first slayer and their own fears in a hilarious and foreshadow-packed dream episode.

* “Buffy vs. Dracula” (Sept. 26). Many are seduced by the world’s most famous vampire, and Xander announces an end to his butt-monkey career.

* “The Replacement” (Oct. 10). Xander meets his not-so-evil twin, and shares his passion for squished coinage.

* “No Place Like Home.” (Oct. 24) The mystery of Dawn is solved, and we meet Glory, my favorite Buffy villain who isn’t Spike or Dru.

* “Family.” (Nov. 7) The mystery of Tara is revealed, and, touchingly, she learns that her support in Sunnydale is by no means limited to Willow.

* “Fool For Love” (Nov. 24). Buffy finds a stake in her own abdomen, and asks Spike to detail the circumstances of two prior slayer deaths.


If Josiah Bartlet won the Democratic nomination instead of Al Gore last summer, you can be damn sure nobody would’ve been scrutinizing pregnant chads in November. Were Bartlet a real guy, I would not only vote for him, my Republican hinder would volunteer for his campaign. He’s a leading economic theorist, he reads Latin, and he knows stuff about Mars. He is everything we crave in a leader: articulate as Jefferson, tough as Roosevelt, and funny as the guy who wrote “An American President.” I don’t believe I have gotten through ONE of “West Wing’s” 32 episodes without erupting into some kind of violent guffaw. This show is major great.

BEST OF 2000:

“In the Shadow of Two Gunmen” (Oct. 4). The two-part second season premiere dealt with the minutes and hours following the attempt on the president’s life (to say nothing of the team’s origins). It remains the best episode of the series, and an absolute high watermark for the medium of television. Check out the consuming urgency in Alison Janney’s eyes as C.J. professionally inquires if the president is dead. Observe the stammer that serves Richard Schiff as Toby first notices Josh’s dire condition. Behold the panic in Tim Matheson’s face as secret service agents all but abduct vice president John Hoynes. Shudder at John Spencer’s resolve as Leo advises the Iranians not to choose this moment to fuck with the United States. Marvel at the president’s wit as doctors search his flesh for exit wounds: “[My secret service] guy’s got about seven broken bones in his right hand if someone wants to give him an aspirin or something.”


It makes you laugh, and it makes you cry, but when it makes you laugh, you laugh hard enough to vent milk through your nostrils. Telling the tale of a 32-year-old single mom (named Lorelei Gilmore) whose 16-year-old daughter (nicknamed Rory) is both her namesake and best friend, the best new show of the year benefits incalculably from the efforts of at least two fabulously talented young women. Lanky, beguiling Lauren Graham, the show’s lead, has in my view succeeded Lisa Kudrow as the funniest woman on the networks. Amy Sherman-Palladino, the show’s creator and head writer, knows where the important big laughs are hidden, and how to arrange their excavation. Colossal talents and a great match.

BEST OF 2000:

“Forgiveness and Stuff” (Dec. 21) This show’s hilarious pilot was gem-like, and the show has grown more compelling with each successive episode. The recent Christmas installment saw Lorelei and Rory get over a rare tiff when Lorelei’s father met a brush with death. Both Lorelei and Rory became sick with regret over being estranged from the old man for so long. Also featured was this post-crisis dialogue about the beloved Christmas apple tarts denied (and lusted after by) Lorelei:

LORELEI: How were the apple tarts?

RORY: She didn't make them this year.

LORELEI: That’s strange. Are you lying?

RORY: Through my teeth.

LORELEI: Good girl.


“Road Rules.” “Blind Date.” “Jackass.” I’ve loved reality shows since premiere of “The Real World” nearly a decade ago, but this piece of televised madness had me organizing my weeks around Wednesday nights all summer. Gretchen Cordy made for a cheerable hero, Colleen Haskell a winsome ingenue, Kelly Wigglesworth a superb antihero, and Susan Hawk and Richard Hatch fascinating (if weak-minded) villains. I’m certain I’ll be drooling over “Survivor II” like a mental patient just to see if CBS got lucky the first time.

BEST OF 2000:

The finale (Aug. 24). I yelped like a half-wit when Kelly won the first immunity by remembering Sonja's last name, and fuck me if I didn't yelp again when Rudy pulled his hand off the idol. And god help me, my stomach plummeted floorward as Jeff Probst held up the seventh and final scrap of – what? bark? cloth? – declaring Richard Hatch’s ultimate victory. I dunno.


Critics have disparaged this show relentlessly, but I was loath to miss even a single daily chapter. I was not alone; the show won huge summertime ratings and proved a far stronger partner for “Survivor” than reruns of even CBS’s highest-rated sitcoms. I typically watched each adventure of Josh, Brit, Jordan, Curtis, Karen, Jamie, Eddie, Mega, Cassandra and the evil moron George two or three times nightly, and set two VCRs to tape it any evening I had to leave the house. Even without the enormous amounts of sex many overseas versions of “Big Brother” have enjoyed, the American edition was plenty engrossing with its nonstop parade of revelation and passive-aggressive duplicity. The next “Brother” will be bigger. And a “Big Brother II” may not suffice; we may need a Big Brother channel.

BEST OF 2000:

George loses his tiny mind (Sept. 16). The first live Saturday show saw George, whose wife organized a self-satisfied campaign against Brittany weeks before, become the recipient of twice as many eviction votes as anyone else. As he learns the verdict, guilt-ridden Chicken Man seem to suffer a nervous breakdown, cackling hysterically and repeating the phrase “It’s okay!” It clearly wasn’t. America voted George out of the house four days later, depriving him of all “Big Brother” prize money.

6. ER.

Lockhart’s demotion. Carter’s substance abuse. Benton’s firing. Chen’s pregnancy. Weaver’s love life. Greene’s brain tumor. “ER” is always packed solid; if you don’t like the current subplot, the next one is never more than a minute away. And NBC recently announced the letterboxing is here to stay!

BEST OF 2000:

“All in the Family” (Feb. 17). Y2K contained likely the best “ER” episode ever aired. Corday, Benton, and Romano find themselves suddenly struggling to save the lives of John Carter and Lucy Knight, victims of a knife-wielding madman. It demonstrated how much we’d come to care about John, Lucy and their would-be saviors. I’ve yet to meet anyone who’s gotten though this episode dry-eyed.


Hiring Tina Fey as head writer is probably the smartest thing SNL has done since trading Jim Breuer for Jimmy Fallon and letting Robert Smigel make the dirty cartoons. On the upswing for about a year and a half now, SNL caught fire this season as it parodied the Bush-Gore debates, and grew even stronger (with sketches like “The Presidential Couple”) as election results grew hazier. Perhaps the best thing about the Bush win is that America may now continue to revel in the glory that is Will Farrell, who knows better than the late Billy Barty the power of a good squint.

BEST OF 2000:

Christopher Walken (April 8). Walken - whose miniscule appearance with Tom Hanks on the SNL 25th anniversary show was a major highlight of that enterprise (he even sort of reprised it for this episode: “I miss the chance to sing and dance and do crazy make-em-ups!”) – is a welcome addition to any proceeding, but SNL always finds his reptilian presence an especially exploitable asset. He was perfectly cast as an amiably weird-ass census hold-out, but it was obviously the engineering behind the scenes that made the skit sing. The same could be said for the latest installment of “The Continental,” especially the hilarious shot of the Hubble-like telescope planted in the creepy would-be lothario’s living room. Another memorable highlight was the Blue Oyster Cult skit. Ferrell has cultivated in his midriff one of the funniest props on television, but it was the plaintive instructions coming out of Walken’s mouth that punctuated the proceedings so adroitly: “I have a fever – and the only prescription that can cure me is more cowbell!!


The first season, mired as it was in an ill-advised plan to emphasize stand-alone episodes, seemed anemic in the shadow of its sister show and lead-in. This second season, which has embraced a muscular continuity involving established “Buffy” villains (to say nothing of the evil Los Angeles law firm Wolfram & Hart), has tricked fans with short memories into hailing “Angel” as superior to “Buffy.” While I wouldn’t go that far, the show HAS finally established itself as worthy of its Mutant Enemy production logo. And Cordy’s new haircut looks great.

BEST OF 2000:

“Reunion” (Dec. 19). “Angel” ended the year with its best episode to date, depicting Spike’s demented ex-girlfriend Dru teaming with freshly-reminted vampire Darla to combine a shopping rampage with a homicidal one. The episode’s ending, which saw Angel refuse to stop both blood-crazed vampirettes from turning on the lawyers who brought them to L.A. (to say nothing of Angel’s decision to fire Cordelia, Wesley and Gunn) caused many a jaw to plummet floorward. No one who saw “Reunion” is going to want to miss the first “Angel” of 2001.

9. NORM.

The six funniest guys over 50 are Woody Allen, Albert Brooks, John Cleese, David Letterman, Steve Martin and Bill Murray. I’m not yet certain who the six funniest people under the age of 50 are, but I AM sure one of them is Norm Macdonald. Norm is one funny bastard. The utter failure of the motion pictures “Dirty Work” (1998) and “Screwed” (2000) appears to have finally focused Macdonald’s attention on his TV show, and it has grown this season into the funniest sitcom on television. Trouble is, ABC has consigned “Norm” to its crap-heavy Friday line-up, alongside the mediocre “Two Guys and a Girl” and (until recently) the completely awful “Madigan Men” and “The Trouble With Normal.” If it doesn’t garner a better timeslot in a hurry, “Norm” may discover its best season will also be its last.

BEST OF 2000:

A recent episode featuring Norm trying to seduce Laurie’s confirmed lesbian pal (played by Courtney Thorne-Smith) illustrated perfectly how Macdonald can make the most vain, mean, selfish and cowardly character immensely likeable. I think this might also be the one in which we learned Weiner Dog had been painstakingly trained to deliver condoms at critical moments.


By ramping up its plotting, humor and sci-fi elements, “Roswell” has emerged as the year’s most improved show. They have also added a great deal more weight to the show’s central romance by establishing that Max and Liz are more than just starcrossed: in an alternate timeline, their love has already led to aliens conquering Earth! Praise to screenwriter Ron D. Moore, vet of both “Deep Space Nine” and “Star Trek: First Contact,” whose efforts may be responsible for shoring up this season’s storytelling. Praise also to series creator Jason Katims, whose own scripts always seem to precipitate first-rate episodes. Praise thirdly to Majandra Delfino, a hugely talented actress who knows her way around a punch line, and can be relied upon to bring amusingly earthly perspective to the cosmic goings-on.

BEST OF 2000:

“A Roswell Christmas Carol” (Dec. 18). Don’t let the stupid title fool you; this one, scripted by Katims, was brilliant. As alien teen Max Evans looks on, a father is killed pushing his small daughter out of the way of a speeding auto. Because of the huge crowd that gathers, Max is prevented from using his healing powers to resurrect the man. Wracked with guilt, he finds himself haunted by the dead man’s omniscient ghost, and ends up risking his life (to say nothing of the future of the planet) to make amends. Plus, there’s loads of funny stuff surrounding Max’s alien sister Isabel and her status as the local “Christmas Nazi.”


A new millennium does not constitute a reason to defy me!

I am – Hercules!

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