Now that Rachel has produced a daughter, Felicity has shaken off a pesky witch spell, and Mulder and Scully have sorta really learned the truth about the alien conspiracy, it’s time to sit back, stroke our chins, and reflect on the frenetic, eclectic 2001-02 TV season.
After the Sept. 11 tragedy delayed the start of the campaign — made it seem entirely irrelevant, actually — the networks faced the awkward task of replacing news coverage with entertainment programming featuring bug-suited superheroes (”The Tick”) and contestants eating hissing cockroaches (”Fear Factor”). But a little escapist fare may have been just what the shrink ordered. Numbers for old faves ”Friends” and ”Everybody Loves Raymond” flowed instead of ebbed. A boffo Carol Burnett special begot a sappy slew of nostalgic reunions involving ”L.A. Law,” ”The Cosby Show,” ”Laverne & Shirley,” ”The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” and ”M*A*S*H” (the ”M*A*S*H” celebration aired on FOX, thereby entitling its original network, CBS, to a ”Herman’s Head” reunion). And in perhaps the greatest technological breakthrough since the remote, we were able to watch B-list celebs box each other.
In the big-picture ratings race, NBC ran away with the title, ABC lost more than 20 percent of its viewers (maybe they’re watching ”The Osbournes” on MTV?), and UPN boasted the highest percentage growth in the critical 18-to-49 demo. For a more in-depth look at what flopped and topped this year, read on.