Zap2it picks the best year for new TV series since 2000 (Hint: Not this one)

best-year-new-shows-320.jpgThe 2010-11 season is still pretty young, but it's safe to say that it's not going down in TV history as the start of a new golden age.

So far no new series has established itself as a breakout hit or etched itself on the pop-culture landscape. Yes, there have been some popular successes ( "Hawaii Five-0," "Mike & Molly") and a few critical darlings ( "Boardwalk Empire," "Terriers"), but nothing so far has broken into the Holy-cow-did-you-see-that-last-night club.

The relative lack of buzz around this fall's crop of new shows got us thinking: Which season in the past decade or so has produced the best new TV? There have been two pretty amazing brilliant years, a handful of so-so seasons and a couple of real stinkers. Zap2it ranks the best seasons for new shows since 2000-01 in ascending order:

The strike year: 2007-08

The 2007-08 season started promisingly with a crop of new shows that included "Chuck," "The Big Bang Theory," "Pushing Daisies" and "Gossip Girl" -- not to mention "Mad Men," "Burn Notice" and "Damages," all of which debuted in the summer of '07. The writers strike, however, derailed nearly all that momentum. "Pushing Daisies" and several other promising series never recovered after the long strike and post-strike layoff, and the networks filled the early part of 2008 with junk like "American Gladiators," "The Moment of Truth" and "Crowned: The Mother of All Pageants." The saving grace of those few months: the premiere of "Breaking Bad" in January 2008.

There were also a fair number of duds that had nothing to do with the strike: This was the year of "Viva Laughlin," NBC's "Bionic Woman" remake, "Big Shots" and "The Return of Jezebel James."

Tough times: 2000-01 and 2002-03

The summer and fall of 2000 produced two shows that turned CBS around and paved the way for its current years-long run at the top of the Nielsens: "Survivor" and "CSI." "Gilmore Girls," "Ed" and "Dark Angel" also premiered that season -- but so did "Bette," "Yes, Dear," "The Michael Richards Show," "Titans" and "Temptation Island." Ouch.

The 2002-03 season, meanwhile, was a good one for cult favorites ("Firefly," "Everwood," "Boomtown") and Jerry Bruckheimer ("CSI: Miami," "Without a Trace"). "America's Next Top Model" debuted at the tail end of the season. It was also, however, a pretty atrocious year for comedy: "Bram & Alice," "My Big Fat Greek Life," "Good Morning, Miami" and a pointless "Family Affair" remake all debuted then; so did "Girls Club," "Hack" and "Married by America."

supernatural-s5-320.jpg Win some, lose some: 2005-06, 2006-07 and 2008-09

The middle of the decade produced a number of shows that are still on the air and a few more that burned bright for a little bit. The 2005-06 season brought us "How I Met Your Mother," "Supernatural," "Bones," "My Name Is Earl," "Prison Break," "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" and "Everybody Hates Chris" -- which would have put this year higher on the list had it not been dragged down by the likes of "Emily's Reasons Why Not" (one and done on ABC), "Surface" (the weakest of the three wannabe "Losts" that season), "Sex, Love and Secrets," "Head Cases" and "Inconceivable."

The story was similar the following year, with pluses like "Ugly Betty," "30 Rock," "Brothers & Sisters," "Jericho," "Heroes" (hey, that first season was fun), "Dexter" and "Friday Night Lights" offset by minuses like "Vanished," "'Til Death," "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip," "The Wedding Bells" and the debut season of MyNetworkTV. The net that rose from the ashes of the WB/UPN merger (and wasn't The CW) tried to convince the world that American versions of telenovelas were the next big thing. They weren't, and the net scrapped the idea within a year.

The first post-strike season, 2008-09 produced a few solidly built procedurals ("The Mentalist," "Castle" and "Lie to Me"), an intriguing sci-fi show ("Fringe") and a couple of lightly viewed but highly watchable comedies ("Better Off Ted" and "Parks and Recreation," which was shaky at first but grew into one of the best comedies around), as well as one of the best cable series of the decade ("Sons of Anarchy"). On the other side of the ledger, 2008-09 also brought us "My Own Worst Enemy," "Knight Rider," "Momma's Boys" and "Kath & Kim" -- and on networks not named NBC, "The Ex List" and "Gary Unmarried."

Good, not quite great: 2003-04 and 2009-10

2003-04 gave us the gift that was "Arrested Development," plus "The O.C.," "Deadwood," "NCIS," TV's current most popular comedy ("Two and a Half Men"), "Las Vegas" and a few short-lived but underrated shows like "Karen Sisco" and "Wonderfalls." Unfortunately, it also gave us reality dreck like "Forever Eden" and "The Swan," an ill-considered "Tarzan" redo, the very forgettable "Threat Matrix" and perhaps the most ridiculous sitcom of the past 10 years, "The Mullets."

Last season was also a pretty strong one. "Glee" and "Modern Family" alone would have made it a decent year, but we also got "The Good Wife," "Community," "The Vampire Diaries," "Parenthood," "Human Target," "Cougar Town" and "The Middle." It would rank even higher but for the debacle that was "The Jay Leno Show," as well as "The Forgotten," "The Beautiful Life," "Brothers" and "Past Life."

kiefer-sutherland5-24-320.jpg The next-best thing: 2001-02

Things started off with the premiere of "Six Feet Under" in the summer of 2001. Then along came "24," "Alias," "Scrubs," "Law & Order: Criminal Intent," "Smallville," "The Shield," "The Amazing Race," "The Bernie Mac Show" and, in the summer of '02, "Monk" and a little show called "American Idol." That's a pretty fantastic lineup -- were it not for "Emeril," "Fear Factor," "According to Jim," "Wolf Lake" and "Inside Schwartz," it might have been the best of the decade. Instead, that honor goes to ...

The best season of the decade: 2004-05

2004-05 will be remembered mostly as the season that ABC made itself relevant again, with "Lost," "Desperate Housewives," "Grey's Anatomy" and "Boston Legal" all debuting that season. That's a pretty amazing output from just one network, but the season's riches also include "The Office," "House," "Veronica Mars," "CSI: NY" the weekly-series debut of "Battlestar Galactica," and in the summers that bracketed it, "Entourage," "Rescue Me," "The Closer" and "Dancing With the Stars." (It also featured the return of "Family Guy" after three years away.) As with all seasons, there were failures ("Listen Up," "The Benefactor," "LAX," "Hawaii," "Clubhouse"), but no other season since 2000 has produced more good new TV than this one.

What are your thoughts? Weigh in on the best season for new TV in the poll below.


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Photo credits: ABC, Syfy, The CW, FOX