Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Television: The Wonder Year

Hey! Guess what’s finally out on DVD today! Birds of Prey: The Complete Series! I’ve been waiting for this since the fall of 2002, a.k.a. the Golden Age of Television. And oh, was it a golden age. Unconvinced? Here are five good reasons why fall of '02 was the best time to be a television fan.

1) Three Whedon Shows Were On the Air
Seems crazy now that we’re all patiently waiting for Dollhouse to premier this fall so we can welcome Joss Whedon back into our homes an hour a week, but once upon a time we were able to get a Whedon fix three whole times a week. In the fall of 2002, Buffy was in its uneven-but-ultimately-awesome sixth season, Angel was in its rock-solid, unparalleled, and brilliant fourth season, and Firefly’s light had not yet been snuffed out by the bloodthirsty Foxmonster. Which brings us to…

2) Our Collective Programming Innocence Was Not Yet Fully Shattered
Fall of 2002 represented the last period in my life when I wasn’t overly cautious with and bitter towards the netlet-in-denial and its habit of savagely killing shows. Sure, Fox had prematurely cancelled one of my fave shows, Dark Angel, the spring before, but I hadn’t yet felt the sting of losing Firefly and Wonderfalls (which Wonderfell in spring of 2003) in one year. Speaking of prematurely cancelled one-season wonders…

3) Birds of Prey Kicked Ass
I think I was the only one who watched and enjoyed this show. It was cheesy, fine, but it had some real moments of brilliance and loads of potential. And the final fight is a kickass, Xena-worthy Sapphic throwdown that finally explained why so many of my lesbian friends were fans of the comic series – way more text than sub.

3) Spymommy Reigned Supreme
Alias was in its phenomenal second season, the last one that featured Bradley Cooper as a regular, the last one before Sydney and Vaughn went all weird (and Sydney went missing for a few years), and before Francie went bye-bye because she didn't like coffee ice cream. Alias season two was a brilliant Wagnerian melodrama centered around the dysfunctional antics of the whole Spyfamily, and I still say it's one of the best television seasons ever.

4) Charmed Didn’t Suck
Charmed was in its fifth season, a.k.a. the second to last season before those last two seasons which are so unspeakably bad I pretend they don’t exist. While season 5 relied too heavily on Wacky Transformations and Fairy Tale Creatures of the Week, it was still a solid season, probably the best after Doherty left.

5) Some Gone-But-Not-Forgotten Shows Were Not Gone Either
In 2002, you could still turn your television to the following awesome-but-since-cancelled shows: Dawson’s Creek, Boston Public, Everwood, Gilmore Girls, Futurama, Malcolm in the Middle, Friends, Less Than Perfect, Just Shoot Me, Bernie Mac, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, What I Like About You, and Grounded For Life. At least most live on in DVD form – and the release of BoP gives me hope that some of the beloved stragglers (Boston Public!) will come out soon, too.

So yeah. 2002 rocked. (Lots of go-go-girl-power opportunities to see girls kick ass fighting monsters/aliens/criminals/supervillains, too. Alias, Angel, Buffy, Birds of Prey, Charmed, Firefly…and if you go back to spring you could include Dark Angel and Roswell.)

Of course there have been amazing shows before and since, but the fall of 2002 was such a bounty of awesometude that I can only hope one day television will again have so many great things going on all at once.

Anyway, aside from running out and buying Birds of Prey: The Complete Series on DVD, here are two things you should do right now:

1) Run over to Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog and watch the first act of the newest Whedon masterpiece.

2) Run over to iTunes and download “About A Girl”, the first single off The Academy Is…’s upcoming album. It’s very bouncy and awesome, going in the slicker vein the band started with in Santi, but with a kind of retro kick.

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