The American Film Institute-composed of movie historians, scholars, and filmmakers-named last month what they consider to be the 10 best TV shows of the year. In no particular order, they are Joan of Arcadia (about a girl who talks with God), Everybody Loves Raymond (the generally positive traditional sitcom), Arrested Development (the quirky nontraditional sitcom), Alias (about a female CIA agent), 24 (about a day in the life of an anti-terrorism agent), Nip/Tuck (about plastic surgery), Playmakers (a soap opera about professional football players). Rounding out the list are three pay-television series: The Wire (about drug cops), Angels in America (a tear-jerker about gays and AIDS), and A Soldier's Girl (about a soldier who falls in love with a "transgendered" girl, or rather, man).
Most of these score high not only with the critics but with the public, which has turned them into some of TV's most-watched shows, suggesting that viewers with scores of choices may be demanding higher-quality fare. But are these shows really that good? In the coming weeks, WORLD will be reviewing many of them on this page, along with some others that should have made the list.