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'Sopranos,' '24' Top TV Critics' Poll, 01.06.03 ...


For all the it's-not-as-good-anymore talk about "The Sopranos" in the early part of its fourth season, the show redeemed itself in the eyes of TV critics with its powerhouse final episodes.

The show has reclaimed the top spot in the semiannual critics' poll taken by Electronic Media magazine. Because of its 16-month absence from HBO, it wasn't eligible for the past two polls taken by the trade publication.

FOX's "24," which held the top spot in the previous two polls, dropped one spot to second. HBO's comedy "Curb Your Enthusiasm" was third among critics, jumping up from No. 19 in the spring/summer 2002 poll.

The magazine asked 41 TV critics from across the country to rate the 20 best and 10 worst shows on television. Original episodes must have aired in the summer or fall of 2002. A No. 1 ranking in the best-show category received 10 points, while a worst-show No. 1 vote received five points.

The best-shows list is a mix of big hits -- "CSI," "Friends" and "Everybody Loves Raymond" are in the Nielsen top top 10 as well as the critics' -- and lesser-watched series like "Gilmore Girls," "Alias" and the cancelled "Robbery Homicide Division."

Although "The Osbournes" made the top 20 list, critics showed a disdain for several other reality shows. E!'s "Anna Nicole Show" was rated the worst of all, with "The Bachelor" and "Fear Factor" also in the bottom 10.

Five new series made the top 20, but overall critics say the quality of TV has suffered this season. Sixty-one percent of those surveyed say this season's prime-time lineup is worse than last season's.

Following are the best and worst lists compiled by Electronic Media. Numbers in parentheses in the best list reflect each show's position in the spring/summer 2002 poll.

THE BEST

1. "The Sopranos," HBO (not eligible)
2. "24," FOX (1)
3. "Curb Your Enthusiasm," HBO (19)
4. "Boomtown," NBC (new)
5. "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," CBS (7)
6. "The West Wing," NBC (3)
7. "Everybody Loves Raymond," CBS (11)
8. "Six Feet Under," HBO (2)
9. "Gilmore Girls," The WB (8)
10. "Friends," NBC (6)
10. (tie) "The Simpsons," FOX (15)
12. "The Wire," HBO (new)
13. "The Osbournes," MTV (new)
14. "Scrubs," NBC (10)
15. "Alias," ABC (12)
16. "The Bernie Mac Show," FOX (5)
16. (tie) "American Dreams," NBC (new)
18. "Andy Richter Controls the Universe," FOX (not ranked)
18. (tie) "Robbery Homicide Division," CBS (new)
20. "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," UPN (20)
20. (tie) "The Daily Show," Comedy Central

THE WORST

1. "The Anna Nicole Show," E!
2. "Bram and Alice," CBS
3. "girls club," FOX
4. "The Bachelor," ABC
5. "Good Morning Miami," NBC
6. "In-Laws," NBC
7. "Hidden Hills," NBC
8. "Fear Factor," NBC
9. "Dinotopia," ABC
10. "The Grubbs," FOX
Credit: Zap2it


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