`The Wire' among shows AFI says are TV's best

December 17, 2003

The American Film Institute's choice of TV's Top 10 was divided evenly between cable and network programs, while six of the honorees were programs or telefilms that premiered in 2003. The list included Emmy winners and popular favorites, as Fox, HBO and CBS all received multiple mentions.

The awards, announced on Sunday, were determined after two days of jury deliberation in Los Angeles and were presented in alphabetical order rather than establishing a hierarchy of top programs.

While Fox's new comedy Arrested Development continues to suffer through anemic ratings, AFI gave the network another reason to stick with the quirky family saga, which the jury says "instills new hope for growth and maturity in today's stunted comedy environment." The network's veteran drama 24 also made the list.

CBS was also saluted for a mixture of old and new. Even after eight seasons, Everybody Loves Raymond proved fresh enough for the AFI, while new drama Joan of Arcadia picked up a nod as "proof of divine intervention."

Two controversial cable dramas, FX's Nip/Tuck and ESPN's Playmakers, were lauded by the AFI, as were two highly regarded cable telefilms, HBO's Angels in America and Showtimes' Soldier's Girl.

HBO earned a second spot on the list with The Wire, the series filmed in Baltimore which the jury says "portrays mundane police work, with tragic grandeur."

Alias earned ABC's only mention and was praised for its acting ensemble. The jury notes that the spy drama "races through mind-bending plot twists and drops viewers in a maze of identity and motive."

The AFI also recognized "Moments of Significance," the cultural signpost events of the year. That list included Bravo's Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, the proliferation of reality television and the death of Fred Rogers.

The jury included academics, journalists and filmmakers.


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