I’ve spent the last couple of hours combing through the network primetime schedule over the last 15 years or so (we all have hobbies, you know), and it was an interesting nostalgic exercise, seeing the names and time slots for hundreds of shows that no one ever speaks of anymore and that barely cling to the back recesses of our mind. (The original idea for this list, actually, was to discover what monstrous show replaced many of our favorite cancelled-too-soon shows, like “Prison Break” taking over “Arrested Development’s” spot, but I grew bored with the exercise when it didn’t turn up my fruit.) Anyway, much of the experience went like this: Oooh! I remember that show. Who was in it? (Does quick IMDB search). No way! I totally forgot that person was in that show I barely remember!
Thus, in order to duplicate that two-hour experience in a matter of seconds for you, I will give you the highlights.
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Class — I have only the vaguest recollection of “Class,” which I remember fondly, and which was cancelled after 19 episodes. However, the cast — mostly unknowns at that point — is downright fantastic by today’s standards: Lucy Punch, Jason Ritter, Andrea Anders, Lizzy Caplan, Jon Bernthal, and Jesse Tyler Ferguson, which is an insane collection of television actors who should all be on television all the time.
Love, Inc. — “Love, Inc.” lasted 22 episodes on the UPN, and it’s a show I only remember because it came on after “Everybody Hates Chris,” the underappreciated Chris Rock sitcom. I don’t know why I didn’t remember that a brunette Busy Phillips was the lead.
Faith and Hope — This show actually lasted for an unbelievable three seasons. I never watched it, but I was aware of it because it was during that period in Kelly Ripa’s life when she was on everything. I had no idea that Megan Fox was a series regular on the show.
Out of Practice — I remember the premise to this show more than I remember the actual show itself, which lasted a full season. It was about a family of doctors who treated the youngest son like a lesser person because he was merely a marriage counselor, though in situation comedy terms, that also meant he was the smart one. I tuned in out of loyalty to Henry Winkler, but discovered Christopher Gorham and Ty Burrell (the show also starred Paula Marshall and Jennifer Tilly).
Joan of Arcadia — I always think that I watched “Joan of Arcadia” a lot because I often confused it with “Wonderfalls,” which came from Bryan Fuller, who also gave us “Dead Like Me,” which starred Ellen Muth, who I used to confuse with Amber Tamblyn. What I have no recollection of, however, was Jason Ritter’s place in this series, which is odd considering that he’s the one in the wheelchair.
Less than Perfect — I have no idea why I can only barely remember “Less than Perfect,” which actually ran for four seasons, although it was dismally rated. It survived, however, because it aired during a dark time in ABC’s history (2002-2006). I thought that “Chuck” was the first time I’d ever seen Zachary Levi. Apparently not. I wish I could remember if it was any damn good, because Mitch Hurwitz worked on this show for a time. It does strike me as unjust, however, that Andy Dick managed to stay employed for so long.
8 Simple Rules — I liked “8 Simple Rules,” quite a bit, although most of my memory of the show revolves around the death of John Ritter and the heartbreaking episode they filmed when the show returned. I vaguely remember a generic-looking blonde daughter, though she is conflated in my mind with Ami Dolenz from Tony Danza’s She’s Out of Control. Turns out, she was actually “Big Bang Theory’s” Kaley Cuoco. In other words, a generic-looking blonde.
The Education of Max Bickford — I remember this show because it reminded me of Richard Dreyfus’ movie, Mr. Holland’s Opus. I do not remember, however, that it also starred Katee Sackhoff.
Grounded for Life — I liked “Grounded for Life” quite a bit, because I grew up during a certain time, and those around my age all have a nostalgic and present affection for Donal Logue (who used to do awesome segments on MTV). I do not remember, however, that Brett Harrison was a series regular at one point, presumably the boyfriend of the daughter?
Titus — I remember this show as being obnoxious, mostly because I found Christopher Titus to be obnoxious. I don’t remember it lasting for three seasons, and I really don’t remember that Elizabeth Berkley became a series regular during its final season.
Tucker — I think I confuse this show with a Dabney Coleman show that came on around the same time. It’s amazing how Katey Sagal has managed to stay employed in television for most of her career. This show only made it four episodes, but I also find it interesting that — in addition to Sagal — it also featured Alison Lohman and Seth Green (not pictured), who played “Seth Green.”
Ally McBeal — I loved this show, which coincided with my time in law school. I remember Jon Bon Jovi. I remember Robert Downey, Jr. I have zero recollection of James Marsden.
Boston Public — I watched most of this series, too, because it also came from David E. Kelley (who went to the same law school I attended), and while I remember liking it well enough, I don’t remember Rashida Jones, although at the time I would’ve had no idea who she was.
Conrad Bloom — I remember NBC promoting the hell out of this show, and it may have been one of the many, many sitcoms on Thursday night that fell by the wayside during the “Cheers,” “Seinfeld,” and “Friends” years. I don’t remember Lauren Graham from this, though neither do I remember her from her arc on “Caroline in the City,” which was another of those Thursday night shows.
Two Guys a Girl and a Pizza Place — Finally, I was obsessed with “Two Guys and a Girl,” (which is where the affection for Ryan Reynolds began). I’m fairly certain I saw every single episode, and yet, I don’t remember that Jennifer Westfeldt — Jon Hamm’s girlfriend — was the love interest and a series regular in season one.