Volume 96, Issue 68
Thursday, January 30, 2003

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Networks battle for Must See TV

Mark Polishuk
Gazette Staff

Gazette file photo
FRIENDS - OLD AND NEW. The NBC hit sitcom is one of the few shows that has survived the cancellation axe year after year, and haircut after haircut.

Over the years, NBC has considered its Thursday lineup to be "Must See TV," thanks to shows like The Cosby Show, Cheers, Seinfeld and Friends. But those were just single shows; what network has the strongest night from top to bottom? Here are the best five nightly schedules:

5) FOX Tuesday: That '70s Show, Grounded for Life, 24

Two good sitcoms topped off by the always unpredictable 24. Great action, drama and unintentional comedy. Dennis Hopper trying to speak with a Serbian accent will never be topped.

4) NBC Wednesday: Ed, West Wing, Law & Order

Two years ago, this would've been #1. Ed has always been a decent third wheel, but the other two have lost a step. West Wing is now merely one of the best shows going, instead of the undisputed champ. After 13 years, Law & Order is finally starting to lose it. Blame it all on having to split good scripts amongst the L&O spinoffs, and the terrible acting of Elisabeth Rohm (she makes Pam Anderson look like Meryl Streep).

3) NBC Thursday: Friends, Scrubs, Will & Grace, Good Morning Miami, ER

How the mighty have fallen. NBC's two cornerstones, Friends and ER, are running on fumes, though at least Friends is still pretty good. Will & Grace looked like it would be NBC's next major hit, but it has really fallen off in the past couple of years. Scrubs has taken over as the next big thing, and it's nice to see NBC pushing a genuinely funny and innovative show. We can ignore Miami, the TV equivalent of scurvy.

2) CBS Thursday: Survivor/Star Search, CSI, Without a Trace

CBS's quality beats NBC's quantity. CSI has become a flagship for CBS, and Trace is a quality new show about an FBI missing persons squad. It should be noted that the number 2 ranking only applies when Survivor is in season, since nobody is impressed by a two-bit talent show. Survivor is still the best reality show, though the last series was kind of dull. I'd like to point out that I picked Brian, the ex-porn star/used car salesman, to win all the way back in September. He should've been on Star Search, along with his many talents.

1) FOX Sunday: Futurama, The Simpsons, King of the Hill, Malcolm in the Middle, Andy Richter Controls the Universe

Good comedies are hard to find, which is why is it is amazing that FOX has so many on Sunday. You've got a bona fide classic, two other very good animated shows and the funniest new show that nobody watches in Andy Richter. I think Malcolm is horribly overrated, but most folks enjoy it, so I'll submit to peer pressure. To quote Homer, "What's more important than popularity?"


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