In its freshman year, this HBO series about a stress-plagued Mafioso (James Gandolfini) with two kinds of “family problems” clearly established itself as TV’s finest drama.
The West Wing
Creator Aaron Sorkin’s up-close view of the workaday White House is the best of the new network shows. The NBC drama is so crisp and intelligent, we’re almost sorry it’s fiction.
Once and Again
Single parents Sela Ward and Billy Campbell find that love is lovelier—and a lot more complicated—the second time around. Call this ABC series a romance, but it has a brain to go with its heart.
Now and Again
What, another Again show among the year’s best new entries? This CBS genre-bender is a love story, a sci-fi trip, a secret-agent adventure and a total kick.
The veteran ABC cop series showed great resiliency after the departure of solid Jimmy Smits. Watching Rick Schroder grill suspects, it’s hard to believe he was once the Silver Spoons kid.
Deep in My Heart
Anne Bancroft and Gloria Reuben brought honest emotion to this exceptional CBS movie about a mother-daughter reunion.
The Daily Show
Craig Kilborn split for CBS, Jon Stewart replaced him as host, and the Comedy Central late-nighter only got funnier.
A Lesson Before Dying
Don Cheadle was superb as a teacher befriending a condemned man in HBO’s moving version of Ernest J. Gaines’s novel.
Freaks and Geeks
This truthful NBC show stood out from the high school crowd. Maybe it will get popular with a move to Monday in January.
Low ratings aside, this FOX series about a foul-mouthed movie producer was bleepin’ funny.