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November 21, 2014

What shows had the best seasons of the past 20 years?

by Bob Sassone, posted Aug 29th 2008 3:04PM
Scully and MulderAugust has been a slow month for these "Best XXXX of All-Time" and "Worst XXXX Sitcoms of the Decade" lists, but here's an interesting one: the 20 best seasons of the last 20 years.

It's an interesting subject for a list because TV fans can often agree on what shows are generally good or bad, and we can generally agree that even the best shows have bad seasons if they run long enough. But if you think about the shows that you've watched over the past 20 years (and watched all of the seasons, not just episodes here and there), what seasons stand out to you? Off the top of my head, before I even read the article, I thought of either season 2 or season 3 of The West Wing (the list writer picks season 2) and I would obviously pick a season of The X-Files or The Simpsons, though it would be hard to pick one season (he picks season 4 of the former and season 4 of the latter). Also on the list: season 2 of Buffy and season 1 of Deadwood. The first seasons of Friday Night Lights and Firefly? Really?

The list is for the past 20 years, but it leans heavily towards shows of the mid-90s and the 2000s. How about season 2 or 3 of NewsRadio? Or how about shows like Lost, The Sopranos, Mad Men, 30 Rock, Friends, or Seinfeld? They explain their methodology but it seems a little lame to me.

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Michael Stanbridge

Season 2 of Buffy was great, but Season 3 was flawless.

September 04 2008 at 4:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jason

We all have our own opinions on what is considered the "best" in television, true--just read the comments.

What really gets me is that you wrote off one of the most insightful, hilarious, brilliantly written blogs (where media critiques are concerned), promoting others to do the same.

You cited their methodology as lame, also stating (in your initial post) that one person was responsible for the list, which tells me that you didn't thoroughly read their methodology to begin with, as it was written by a handful of people.

So you're aware, Pajiba has an intended audience. It's not you. Of course their list is biased, but it is also well written, by people with a true passion for television.

You simply linked up to their article, as if they are some run-of-the-mill TV blog, gave your opinion, wrote them off as hacks, and cashed in on another post for TV Squad.

Frankly, I think your methodology is lame.

September 01 2008 at 3:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Marcus Gorman

The first season of FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS was one of the most incredible arcs of television in the last ten years, IMO.

August 31 2008 at 8:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Simon Wakefield

While the list is pretty good I do have to say I agree with other posters here that with only half seasons for some of the shows (Firefly and Freaks & Geeks) its tough to seriously take them as serious contenders despite their brilliance as they never got to follow through (I wouldnt include Lost season 1 personally due to this as well as the first half of s1 was perfectly scripted brilliance, the second half was largely entertaining but simply not tight enough and started the trend that carried on later of what was largely filler, especially in the flashbacks)

I would include in these seasons place a couple of the following

S1 of Alias (s2 has Phase 1 which is pivotal and maybe makes it stand out more but I think s1 is generally just tighter)
S2 of Dexter (S1 was good but I think moving further away from the source material gave them more freedom)
Gilmore Girls (Not sure which season, although certainly not 6 or 7.)
Scrubs (Ive watched the repeats on UK tv so much that ive lost track of which seasons which - they just run the whole show through from start to finish and when the runs complete start from the pilot again - but think its 4 or 4 that stood out)
Sports Night
Everwood (What on paper was another lame family drama in the mold of 7th Heaven rose above it. All 4 seasons were great but if I had to choose would probally go for s2)

August 30 2008 at 11:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Simon Wakefield's comment
Dorv

Sports Night S1. Hell yes.

August 31 2008 at 2:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
milo

where is Dream On? Season 2 was funny as hell.

August 30 2008 at 11:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jake

The first season of the OC is the best season of any tv show in the history of television. You will be hooked after the first four episodes. No joke.

August 30 2008 at 10:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tess Capra

It's also made clear that series such as *Lost* and *The Sopranos* weren't felt to have a single standout season -- ymmv, but it's not like they were simply dismissed out of hand.

I disagree with including shows that lasted only one season, and it leans heavily toward sci-fi, but it's an interesting concept.

Season 3 of *The X-Files,* though. "Clyde Bruckman" trumps "Small Potatoes."

August 30 2008 at 6:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Stacey

I don't know how you can say that the methodology is "lame" when you make several mentions of the list being complied and written by one person rather than a staff of 10+ qualified critics, as was actually the case. Clearly, you didn't even bother to comprehend the methodology.

August 30 2008 at 11:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
loren

Season 4 of The Wire. Competition over.

August 30 2008 at 10:41 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tim

Torn between seasons 3 & 5 of STAR TREK THE NEXT GENERATION.

Season 3 - Booby Trap, Yesterday's Enterprise, Captain's Holiday & the last spoiler-free season finale cliffhanger ever - Best of Both Worlds

Season 5 - Darmok, Conundrum, Cause and Effect, The First Duty, The Next Phase, Inner Light

Season 3 is when STNG found its legs and the characters really started coming into their own, but in Season 5 there was a creative growth that was simply fantastic and the series hits its highest point of the seven year run.

I go with Season 5.

August 30 2008 at 1:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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