The 2000-2001 television season started 15 years ago today–on Monday, October 2nd, 2000–and included flops like Freedom, Freaky Links, Tucker, Madigan Men, The Street, and Titans. How many do you remember?
The TV Season That Changed Television for Me
Most people, I think, can point to a specific TV season as the season that really changed how they thought about television. Maybe it was the first year they were allowed to stay up and watch prime time grown-up shows. Maybe it was the first year they read TV Guide‘s annual Fall Preview issue and got serious about scheduling their viewing. Maybe it was the first season that included a TV show they fell in love with–or become fanatically obsessed with.
The 2000-2001 TV season was that season for me, which means this particular anniversary is really weird because it makes me feel old. How can it possibly be 15 years since Fall 2000? I don’t like thinking about it. I don’t want to accept that Fall 2000 was 15 years ago. That means in five years Fall 2000 will be two decades old. It’s unsettling when you realize that you can talk about things that happened decades ago yet were still in your life time.
(For those of you reading this and thinking it strange that I’m calling Fall 2000 my personal television game changer, recall that I’m a child of the 1980s, so I’m quite a bit younger than many visitors to Television Obscurities.)
It’s also mind-boggling to think that many people born after Fall 2000 may not know what a VCR is. I can remember frantically calling a family member from a bulky, primitive cell phone desperate to have an episode of UPN’s Freedom recorded. I loved our VCR. VCRs were all we had! There were no DVRs, no On Demand, no Hulu, no Netflix… If I wasn’t home to watch that episode of Freedom and couldn’t get it on videotape, I wasn’t going to see it. Fortunately, it did get recorded. I still have the tape.
I’m looking at my copy of the 2000 TV Guide Fall Preview issue as I write this. I can remember reading it cover-to-cover prior to the start of the 2000-2001 season. What were the shows I was intrigued by? Well, there was Freedom, of course, and Level 9 (although I didn’t see every episode of that series until a few years ago). And Dark Angel. I loved Dark Angel. I think I planned on watching Freaky Links as well but I don’t believe I did. I was a fan of Gilmore Girls from the beginning. I watched Grosse Point sporadically. I saw at least one episode of Madigan Men.
I know I didn’t watch The Michael Richards Show 15 years ago but I did see a few episodes back in 2007 thanks to AOL’s long-defunct In2TV video service. They were terrible. That’s also how I watched the first 14 episodes of the CBS reboot of The Fugitive. Either the show was pulled off the site or In2TV folded before I could finish out the season.
A Late Start for 30 New Shows
The start of the 2000-2001 season was pushed back by the Sydney Olympics, baseball playoffs, and presidential debates. Election coverage in November would further disrupt the new season. Not a single show that premiered in Fall 2000 is still on the air today but one came close. CSI was cancelled at the end of last season but CBS was kind enough to give fans a special two-hour series finale this past Sunday.
Fall 2000 saw the Big Six networks roll out a total of 30 new shows, some of which didn’t premiere until November. Here’s a list, with “TV Guide Fall Preview Favorites” marked with an asterisk. How many do you remember?
The Geena Davis Show
The Trouble with Normal
Welcome to New York
The Michael Richards Show
(Fall 2000 also saw the premiere of four first-run syndicated action-adventure series: Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda, Sheena, The Immortal, and Queen of Swords.)
Fall 2000 Successes
There were only a handful of long-running shows to come out of Fall 2000. There was CSI, of course, which ran for 15 seasons. Other successes included Girlfriends (UPN, 8 seasons); Gilmore Girls (The WB, 7 seasons); Yes, Dear (CBS, 6 seasons); Boston Public (FOX, 4 seasons); The District (CBS, 4 seasons), and Ed (NBC, 4 seasons).
The District holds the distinction, I believe, of being the last successful network TV show to premiere on Saturday.
Fall 2000 Failures
Only a handful of Fall 2000 entries were true one season wonders: The Fugitive (CBS), Gideon’s Crossing (ABC), and The Geena Davis Show (ABC).
The biggest Fall 2000 flop was FOX’s The Street, which ran for just six episodes Freedom (UPN) and Normal, Ohio (FOX) both ran for seven episodes. The Michael Richards Show (NBC) ran for eight episodes. Madigan Men (ABC) and Level 9 (UPN) ran for nine episodes.
A few Fall 2000 shows returned for a second season before being cancelled: Dark Angel (FOX), Nikki (The WB), and That’s Life (ABC).
Hit the comments with your memories of Fall 2000. What are/were your favorite not-so-new obscurities from 15 years ago?