Here's a short list of the shows that we have, at one time or another, declared the best show on television: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The X-Files, Samurai Jack, Junkyard Wars. Boomtown, Homicide, The Simpsons, The Sopranos, Sportscenter, Law & Order, Space Ghost Coast to Coast, Futurama, Alias, Boomtown, She Spies, C-16, Firefly, Now & Again, The Tick, Survivor, Malcolm in the Middle, Sportscenter, Law & Order, Everybody Loves Raymond, Cupid, The Sopranos, Harsh Realm, and Frasier.
Okay, so it wasn't always "best show." Sometimes it was "most beautiful" or "most consistently funny" or "most daring and inventive." In the case of Harsh Realm it was "the best show to air in The X-Files' old Friday night time slot since that series departed for Sunday nights." Our point is that we're no strangers to the process of heaping praise on television show.
But frankly, some people take it too far, and I'm talking about you, the fans. There's a difference between liking a show and basing your life around its teachings. And even that pales in comparison to the real fans.
This was a very difficult category to vote on, and it ended up in a tie between, in one corner, fans of The Office and in the other, fans of Buffy, Angel, and Firefly.
It's not an even match. There are millions of fans of Joss Whedon's shows, whereas The Office is a comparatively obscure show on BBC America. Well, it's probably also on the regular BBC. Let's deal with the fans of The Office first.
A couple of months ago, one of us (okay, it was Monty) said he didn't like The Office. Objections were raised regarding the camerawork, the volume of the dialogue, and the quality of the jokes. In all, 121 words were devoted to this writer's dislike of the show, and they were followed by "But you know, I'm in the minority here. Lots of other people like these shows. They're probably right, too."
Pretty incendiary, huh? It's not even as though he said it was a bad show; he just said he didn't like it, and gave his reasons.
Well. The TeeVee offices were deluged with angry e-mails, all of which went on the same theme: Monty is apparently a grade-A moron for not "getting" the show. It's supposed to look like a documentary, you know. That's why the camera's all shaky and out of focus. Now, as it happens, we knew that. We don't suppose it matters that on shows like The Amazing Race, the cameramen are able to keep their subjects in the center of the frame while they (the cameramen) are running backwards at full speed. What matters is that the many, many people that fired off outraged screeds were all of the same opinion: If someone doesn't like The Office, it's because they're too dumb to get it. It couldn't possibly be because they got the jokes but didn't find them funny.
Of course, we are too big to point out that many of the e-mails accusing us of anti-intellectualism were, in fact, riddled with misspellings and crude grammar.
Okay, with the personal vendetta out of the way, let's move from the small (but very, very vocal) fandom to the enormous (and even more vocal) fandoms.
Apparently, whenever Joss Whedon puts his name on a show, that ensures that the craziest, most obsessive fans will sign on. When Buffy went off the air, people leapt from their roofs, clutching pictures of Sarah Michelle Gellar and cursing Marti Noxon's name. When Firefly got cancelled, e-mail campaigns were instantly created to save it. We can testify to that last one, because as a television website, we get buried in letters every time someone starts a Save-My-Show drive. And this may sound harsh, but we happen to think most shows should get cancelled. It's a shame when a Futurama or a Firefly goes down, but that's the price you pay for watching television. Surely you knew in advance that it was a lowest-common-denominator medium. If a brilliant show somehow slips through, it's not guaranteed to last, and all the petitions and tantrums in the world aren't going to change that.
Now, Buffy. Buffy, Buffy, Buffy. Or, more specifically, your fans. They're crazy. Completely nuts. We say this with love, but God! Shut up already!
We were going to go into details here. We were going to talk about the fan fiction and the web sites and the way the fandom has splintered into a million little factions who are more interested in fighting with each other than in the show. We were going to quote some of the e-mails we get sometimes. But on second thought, we're going to skip it. If you're on the Internet (and since you're reading this, we have to assume you are), you've seen them. And if you don't know why they're annoying, I can't help you.
That leaves Angel. And to be honest with you, Angel fans kind of got thrown into the same pot as the other Whedon shows. We don't really have anything against hardcore Angel fans. They've done nothing to me.
We do think it's odd that of the three Joss Whedon shows that were on last year, so many people are big fans of Angel. On the other hand, it's the only one that survived to the 2003 season, so perhaps they know something we don't.
Additional contributions to this article by: Monty Ashley.