A Look Back at Fall 2000

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
Gideon’s Crossing

The Trouble with Normal
Madigan Men

Yes, Dear
Welcome to New York
The Fugitive*
That’s Life*
The District

The Michael Richards Show

Boston Public*
Dark Angel*
Normal, Ohio
The Street
Freaky Links

Level 9

The WB
Gilmore Girls*
Grosse Point*

(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?

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8 Replies to “A Look Back at Fall 2000”

  1. Originally, Michael Richards wanted to get as far away from his Kramer persona as possible, and suggested starring in an hour-long drama as a Columbo-esque private eye.

    The executives handling the project said at first, “Well, can we have a funny office for him to operate from?” Then they began playing up the office more, stating that not every episode had to be about the character solving a case. Before anyone knew it, the show had been retooled as a half-hour office-based comedy without any clear premise beyond trying to exploit Seinfeld’s continuing popularity.

    That’s the sort of mess you get into trying to please the people who write internal memos.

  2. I only saw two of the shows that premiered that fall. One was “Ed,” which I think I watched once. I thought it was OK, but obviously did not like it enough to watch it again. The other show was “Bette,” which was absolutely awful. I did stick with it for awhile, although I am not sure why. I guess I was hoping it would improve. I eventually stopped watching it, as did everyone else, apparently.

  3. As someone who started watching television critically as a kid in the 1970s, I’d suggest the 1998-2001 seasons were the best years for television we’ve had so far in the US, though things aren’t Too bad right now (the worst period, from about 1978-82, even had some bright spots amid the piles of trash). Perhaps happily for me, I wasn’t old enough to see what was going on the continuing flush of the likes of THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES in the late ’60s, but the likes of the Smothers Brothers show cancelled by CBS because Tom Smothers annoyed them while making them barrels of money. Usually the most interesting things were going on in the fringes for most seasons, but it was notable in my Golden Age that even most of the 1999 season bubblegum might;ve shown like diamonds in the schedules of the 1977 or ’80 seasons.

  4. At least your family had a VCR when you were young. I consider myself a child of the 70s (born in the mid-60s), so if I missed a broadcast, I never got to see it unless I was lucky enough to catch a rerun of it later. One of my first purchases after college when I was finally on my own was a 4-head VCR. (My parents got their first a couple years before that.)

    I saw pieces of “Ed” maybe once or twice, but I was never a regular viewer. I did get to see an episode of “Yes, Dear” filmed during its last season on a trip to CA in Nov. 2005.

    There is a good story about how “CSI” got on the CBS schedule fall 2000 told in both Bill Carter’s 2004 book “Desperate Networks” and in a little less detail in Phil Rosenthal’s 2006 book “You’re Lucky You’re Funny”. CBS President Les Moonves had “Everybody Loves Raymond” creator Rosenthal looking at previews of programs CBS intended to premiere that fall, and the group looked at the preview of a show called “Homewood PI” where Tony Danza would be playing an investigator. Rosenthal said something like “Isn’t it enough with this guy already?” and reacted more positively a few minutes later with the preview of “CSI”, which had no place on the CBS schedule that fall. When the CBS schedule was announced a few days later, “Homewood PI” was out and “CSI” was in its place on the CBS schedule. Considering all the years of successful ratings CBS has gotten out of “CSI” and all its spinoffs, this was a great decision on CBS’ part.

    “Cursed” and its eventual form “The Weber Show” were disasters for NBC. “Desperate Networks” also told the story of how NBC’s “Supersized” Thursday night shows starting in Feb. 2001 came out of NBC’s desire not to run “The Weber Show” that month, instead stretching its other Thursday night shows, especially “Friends”, to 40 minutes all that sweeps month.

  5. The Fugitive remake ended on a major cliffhanger which was really annoying. I’ve got the 2000 primetime previews for ABC and NBC. ABC stopped airing Saturday Morning previews in 2000; 1999 was it’s last year.

    The catch phase for ABC that year was “Definitely ABC.” Drew Carey was big that year with both The Drew Carey show and Whose Line Is It Anyway. Charlie Sheen joined Spin City. ABC was milking Who Wants To Be A Millionaire by airing it four nights a week. ABC was also still airing The Wonderful World of Disney, which by that time was basically just Disney movies.

    Megan Mullally hosted the NBC Fall Preview. It aired movies on Saturday Nights until the start of the ill-fated XFL in 2001. Theatrical movies use to be commonplace on networks but with so many other sources of them they’ve disappeared from broadcast TV. NBC also aired movies on Sunday nights that year.

  6. Not to nitpick, but I think you mean that you were a child IN the 80’s; not a child OF the ’80’s.

  7. I watched Dark Angel for a while; I remember the ads really hyped the involvement of James Cameron as a producer. Also, I believe Jessica Alba was engaged to her costar Michael Weatherly for a time.

    I remember watching one episode of Hype!, of which I recall only two things:
    1. One of the cast members was Jennifer Elise Cox, who played Jan Brady in the Brady Bunch movies.
    2. Hype! was a sketch comedy show that spoofed current pop culture, and in 2000, the bigger thing in pop culture was, of course, Survivor. As such, the sketch I remember was a fake commercial for Survivor: The Home Game.

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