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10 TV series worth watching from 2003 to 2012

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2003: “Peep Show”

“Peep Show” stands out as the quirky British sitcom that embraced a novel approach by affixing cameras to actors’ heads, creating a distinctive point-of-view framing style. Additionally, it serves as a notable milestone in the career of future Oscar-winner Olivia Colman, who found unexpected success in this unconventional series. Above all, “Peep Show” is cherished for its eccentric yet tragically relatable cast of characters, featuring Mark Corrigan with his awkward “I just called to say I like you” moments, Jeremy Usborne, an outspoken critic of capitalism, and the unforgettable Super Hans, known for both his iconic quotes and his affinity for copious amounts of hard drugs.

2004: “Lost”

The year 2004 marked a turning point for US network television, witnessing the emergence of progressive shows such as “Battlestar Galactica,” “Desperate Housewives,” and “House,” each redefining the storytelling landscape on the small screen. Among these, “Lost” had an unparalleled impact. ABC’s remarkably ambitious pilot episode became a cultural phenomenon, setting the stage for “Lost’s” early seasons, which quickly transformed it into essential blockbuster viewing. While not flawless, the show faced setbacks due to a lack of long-term planning and an ill-timed writers’ strike. However, it was the divisive and ambiguous finale that left the most lingering dissatisfaction among viewers.

2005: “Doctor Who”

After more than three decades onscreen, “Doctor Who” experienced the unfortunate fate of being canceled by the BBC in 1989. Subsequent attempts at revival, including a TV movie starring Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor, failed to ignite the anticipated comeback. In true Time Lord fashion, “Doctor Who” gracefully sidestepped demise, regenerating into something more substantial and captivating in 2005. Under the visionary reinvention by Russell T Davies, the franchise was transformed for a modern audience. Since then, “Doctor Who” has consistently excelled, proudly representing British sci-fi through the diverse portrayals of Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, Matt Smith, Peter Capaldi, and Jodie Whittaker.

2006: “Friday Night Lights”

Despite following in the footsteps of H.G. Bissinger’s original 1990 book and its 2004 movie adaptation, “Friday Night Lights” did not achieve blockbuster ratings for the majority of its five-season run from 2006 to 2011. However, buoyed by positive reviews and a passionate, if not extensive, audience, “Friday Night Lights” defied the odds and secured its place in the annals of sports drama. The show’s enduring legacy, 17 years later, serves as a testament to its adept storytelling. Notably, “Friday Night Lights” demonstrated remarkable crossover appeal, catering not only to football enthusiasts but also to those who might consider a gridiron as a type of cooking grill.

2007: “Mad Men”

While some years from the past two decades witnessed multiple TV shows vying for the top spot, 2007 unequivocally belonged to “Mad Men.” Starring Jon Hamm in a career-defining role as advertising director Don Draper, the series spanned seven seasons from 2007 to 2015, propelling Hamm to stardom alongside notable co-stars such as Elisabeth Moss and Christina Hendricks. Characterized by intelligent writing and effortless style, “Mad Men” injected a refreshing 1960s flair into 2000s TV. Despite reveling in its period setting, the series fearlessly confronted the uncomfortable aspects of the era, creating a captivatingly rich narrative that juxtaposed bright, colorful nostalgia with moral gloom.

2008: “Breaking Bad”

When “Breaking Bad” premiered in 2008, few could have foreseen that the seven-episode AMC crime drama, featuring the dad from “Malcolm in the Middle,” would ascend to the pinnacle of TV’s so-called Golden Age. By the time “Breaking Bad” concluded in 2013, it had evolved into a genuine cultural landmark, exceeding all hyperbole. Bryan Cranston’s performance as Walter White undoubtedly drove the show’s immense popularity, yet the narrative’s success also hinged on stellar performances from Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman, Anna Gunn as Skyler White, Dean Norris as Hank Schrader, and a host of other talented actors.

2009: “Community”

The anticipation for the Community movie endures, yet over six seasons spanning from 2009 to 2015, Greendale Community College became a haven for viewers to affectionately call “home.” Conceived by Dan Harmon, co-creator of Rick & Morty, and inspired by his own community college experience, “Community” entered the competitive landscape of US sitcoms in 2009, debuting alongside the somewhat similar “Parks & Recreation” and competing against established giants like “The Office.” Despite facing robust competition, “Community” distinguished itself through its overwhelming heart, underdog spirit, and a cast that one couldn’t help but want to take home, allowing it to flourish in a bustling television arena.

2010: “The Walking Dead”

While “The Walking Dead” courted controversy with the cliffhanger finale of season 6 and the subsequent deaths of Abraham and Glenn, coupled with declining ratings following the exit of Andrew Lincoln as lead protagonist Rick Grimes, it remained a cable behemoth and a global obsession throughout the early-mid 2000s. Virtually untouchable among critics and audiences, the series adeptly adapted and often improved upon Robert Kirkman’s comic series. The delicate balance between human drama and unflinching undead gore proved to be a winning formula. Despite a revolving door of cast members, each perpetually one stray chomp away from death, “The Walking Dead” compelled audiences to fully invest in the survival of Rick Grimes.

2011: “Game of Thrones”

A Drogon-sized elephant dominates the room whenever the legacy of “Game of Thrones” is under discussion. HBO’s fantasy juggernaut experienced a stumble in its penultimate season, collapsed into a nonsensical heap in season 8, and then controversially chewed its way through the floorboards in a maligned season finale. Nevertheless, between 2011 and 2015, “Game of Thrones” was a visual feast. It brought unprecedented levels of production and scale to television, effectively capturing the intricacies of George R.R. Martin’s world in a manner surpassing what a movie could achieve. Featuring what often felt like every available British actor at the time, the vast majority of the cast members from “Game of Thrones” have since ascended to global stardom, including Kit Harington, Emilia Clarke, and Sophie Turner.

2012: “Veep”

Somewhere between dating Jerry and succeeding Fury, Julia Louis-Dreyfus found time to ascend to the position of Vice President of the United States. Spanning an impressive seven seasons on HBO from 2012 to 2019, “Veep” served as a quasi-adaptation of the British political comedy “The Thick of It.” While many UK comedy imports tend to lose their humorous essence over the Atlantic, “Veep” not only retained but surpassed the standards set by its esteemed predecessor. In a manner reminiscent of “The Office” before it, “Veep” resisted the urge for a direct adaptation, skillfully adapting “The Thick of It’s” brand of political satire to suit a US audience.

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