TV's Top Ten Moments Of 2002

Many of the bad things that TV gave us in 2002 have already been forgotten. Who can remember the blessedly short-lived sitcom "Imagine That," which came and went on NBC last January? Who even knew we dodged a bullet when NBC passed on a Chevy Chase sitcom for its fall schedule?

Good things that the year brought us? "Now with Bill Moyers," a PBS newsmagazine. Fox's comedy "Andy Richter Controls the Universe." Joshua Malina, formerly of "SportsNight," has now joined NBC's "The West Wing."

But those are the small fries. Let's take a look at the Big 10 major developments of the year in television (in no particular order):

  1. Conclusive Proof That P.T. Barnum Was Right: There are at least 4 million suckers who tune in every week when MTV's "The Osbournes" passes off its tawdry tedium as something other than a #(*$& embarrassment.
  2. Public TV's Greatest Hit: Last March, Maryland Public Television decided to shrink the role of "Wall $treet Week" host Louis Rukeyser on the show he started 32 years ago. He cried foul, got fired, then moved to CNBC, while Rukeyser's post at "Wall $treet Week" was filled by - oh, who knows?
  3. Ticked-off Ted: ABC made a run at CBS' David Letterman to star in a talk show that would have bumped Ted Koppel and his 22-year-old "Nightline." When Letterman said no, ABC had to smooth things with Koppel, backpedaling from a prior statement that "Nightline" had become "irrelevant."
  4. Best Season Finish: The final hour of Fox's "24" in May, with the shocking death of agent Jack Bauer's wife (Leslie Hope) at the hands of his turncoat associate Nina Myers (Sarah Clarke) - who this season is the key to a thrilling new crisis for Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) to solve in another 24 frantic hours.
  5. Least Honored Milestone: The 75th anniversary of television, first demonstrated by engineer Philo Farnsworth on Sept. 7, 1927 - a date TV has mostly overlooked ever since.
  6. Best Moment of 2002 Emmycast: A fleeting mention of Farnsworth's achievement, and a glimpse of his 94-year-old widow, Pem, in the audience.
  7. Second Best Moment of 2002 Emmycast: Michael Chiklis' upset win as best dramatic actor after his FX network series, "The Shield," blew viewers' minds with the roly-poly star of "The Commish" streamlined into a ruthless, corrupt cop.
  8. "Amateur Hour" for a New Millennium: No, it's not "Connie Chung Tonight." It's "American Idol," whose summer run on Fox made its champ, Kelly Clarkson, an instant star - while stoking the fantasies of everyone who ever belted out a song in the privacy of the shower.
  9. Fox News Channel's, er, Great Job: Anchor Shepard Smith inadvertently blurted out on live TV a graphic term for physical affection, instead of saying what he meant, "block party." But it didn't spoil the party. The ratings triumph of his sassy network left rivals CNN and MSNBC with nothing to celebrate.
  10. Head of the Class: Mobster Ralphie Cifaretto (played by Joe Pantoliano), who was decapitated by Tony, his boss, last month on HBO's "The Sopranos." Making the scene all the worse: Before Ralphie lost his head, his toupee slid off his head.