Firefly. Since this is the first season of a Joss Whedon show, it was awesome. He manages to quickly establish a somewhat foreign world (sci-fi western) and make it work. Unfortunately, Whedon manages to ruin characters the longer his shows go on. I never finished watching Buffy or Angel because things got so weird. (And I can go with weird. I invested time in to multiple seasons of those shows.) But then Willow got addicted to black magic and Cordelia slept with Angel's son from the future and I couldn't care anymore.
Where was I? Oh yeah. The characters on Firefly are clever and fun and, most importantly, witty. I appreciate the diverse group of men and women--especially since the women are given so much respect on the show. Inara is an empowered prostitute, Zoe is a tough second in command and loving wife, Kaylee is a happy-go-lucky mechanic, and River is pretty cool when she's not all crazy.
Dear Joss Whedon,
You write good roles for women. Thanks.
People who like to see strong female characters on screen, even if it's only the small screen
But I also appreciate that the men are respected as well. Each character is given flaws and redeeming qualities, but are never easily dismissed as a stereotype.
And along with that, it's incredibly refreshing to see a married couple onscreen that isn't constantly bickering or reduced to sitcom tropes. While there's an episode that deals with the potential conflicts in the relationship (when Wash decides to be second in command for a day), they come out better in the end, and remain faithful and supportive of each other.
Firefly's brief stay on the air. I'm glad there was a film to tie up loose ends, but I couldn't have asked for too much more, because the next stop could have been a Buffybot.
Freaks and Geeks. I've been hearing about this show forever, so I finally netflixed it, and loved it. This is one of the few high school shows that really touches on being an in-between in high school. I was definitely more of a Lindsay Weir in high school, bouncing around social groups, not really fitting most of them, but finding a solid group of friends to hang out with.
Just like Firefly, I felt like each character got their time to shine and explore their big issues in this season. No one was spared of doing stupid things, like dress in an uber-trendy jumpsuit or go out with some one even though they weren't really into it. But the awkwardness never made me uncomfortable (The Office-style) as much as sympathetic. Each lived through it and came out okay.
But Martin Starr's Bill Haverchuck captured my heart. After all, my freshman year of high school was spent watching VH1 countdowns and Iron Chef reruns. Let's just say I relate to his television habit. But any episode that featured his storyline was a favorite. He's so helplessly nerdy, yet is eternally optimistic. I feel like he'll turn out okay in life.
I'm kind of glad it only lasted one season, if only because I don't want to see how different the characters will be the next year. Each year of high school was drastically different for me, depending on who was in my classes or who graduated, so I'd rather just live through one season with these kids so I don't have to see them change too much.
The Vicar of Dibley. First airing in 1994, The Vicar of Dibley kept coming back for the next decade with short series and Christmas specials (IMDb tells me 24 episodes in all). It's one of those shows where a somewhat worldly professional goes to a crazy small town. In this case it's a female vicar Geraldine played by the hilarious Dawn French. I adore the mixture of pop culture and religious references throughout (I can relate). I never got sick of the perverted and tedious old men in the town, or the slightly stupid verger. In fact, the jokes at the end of each episode where Gerry tells her verger Alice a joke that Alice doesn't get are my favorite parts.
Although Alice does get this one...
Perhaps they brought the show back too many times over the years (later episodes have a lot of "When you first got to Dibley, I hated you" reminiscing), but it's worth watching every minute, if only for the last Christmas specials, which have my favorite melancholy cotton mill owner, Richard Armitage. Anyway, it's a funny little Britcom that I enjoyed immensely.
P.S. Did I mention how much I love the theme music? Here's the full version of the song:
You should know I'm a choir nerd by now.