I haven't really set out to do many long-term projects on this blog, seeing as how such ambitious long-term projects have often threatened to consume my colleague Drew's life. 
 
However, December 31 marks the end of what most of us are considering a decade and that means lists for The Best of the Aughts. My buddies over at The Onion have seemingly done 500 or 1000 lists already. 
 
In lieu of doing a straight-forward Top 10 or even Top 20 for The Aughts, I've decided to do a Top 31, my own personal Best of the Decade Advent Calendar, using the month of December to count down the decade's best. Doing one post/essay per day, starting on Dec. 1, I'm going to work my way through to No. 1 on New Year's Eve. 
 
If you know me, you already know what my No. 1 is going to be. It's the same No. 1 that most of my most trusted colleagues will also have chosen. There's a reason for that. That show is the best show of this decade or, very possibly, any decade. 
 
So even if the top spot isn't a surprise, I hope there will be one or two oddities and curios along the way. Maybe.
 
[More after the break...]
 
Here are some of the parameters I've set for myself. If, after two or three weeks, your favorite show hasn't turned up yet and you're wondering why not, feel free to check back here to see if it's been disqualified for one of these reasons:
 
Defining the Decade: I don't want to get into arguments regarding when the '00s did or didn't begin. A decade is any contained period of 10 years and in this case, the decade began on Jan. 1, 2000 and ended on Dec. 31, 2009. Period. Or, put a different way, my definition for The Aughts is that the first three numbers in the year are "2-0-0." Period. We're not arguing about whether or not the decade truly ends on Dec. 31, 2010. If you want to believe it does, bully for you. This ain't that list.
 
Defining Which Shows Aired in the Decade. This list judges the episodes from a given show that aired in the designated time frame. If a show premiered in 1997, but ran through 2004, inclusion in this list and placement within this list is defined by the episodes that aired after Jan. 1, 2000. An example of a show punished here might be "Friends." I really liked "Friends" and it premiered in 1994. But more than 100 episodes of "Friends" aired in The Aughts. They just weren't the kinds of episodes that merited inclusion for me. Thus, no "Friends." 
 
No Foreigners Allowed. Sorry. I'm with Lou Dobbs on this one, at least for the purposes of this list. Once I started allowing in the British "Office" and "Prime Suspect" and "Coupling" and several dozen other mostly British shows that I love, the list becomes too complicated. And then people start saying, "Dude, where's 'Epitafios'?" Or "Where's 'Slings & Arrows'?" And I go, "Geez. I forgot." And it all gets messy. So this is a list of the Top 31 programs made for American television. That's also part of how I'm justifying leaving "Extras" off of the list. It was a co-production. The real answer? If forgot about "Extras" and then couldn't figure out what to remove. Sorry.
 
No Movies or Miniseries Allowed. Sorry. If I'm including movies and miniseries, "Angels in America" and "Band of Brothers" are both Top 5. But I'm not. Shows here have to have been intended for series runs. I run into hypocrisy, though, because one or two of the shows that make this list actually aired fewer installments than "Band of Brothers." Ooops. I don't make the rules. I just follow them. [Disclaimer: I actually make the rules.]
 
I Don't Watch Everything. Sorry. I watch a tremendous amount of TV, but I don't watch everything. I do not, for example, watch "The Shield" or "Breaking Bad." I will eventually catch up on "Breaking Bad," perhaps even in time for its third season premiere. But it isn't making the list based on the three episodes I watched before I fell semi-permanently behind. Ditto with "The Shield." I understand that people love those shows and think them excellent, but I'm not going to include a show on this list just because Sepinwall tells me it's awesome. For the record, I had time to do a last-minute power-drive through one series that I figured might deserve to be on the list and the series I chose was "Battlestar Galactica."
 
I Don't Like Everything. Sorry. No matter how much TV I watch and no matter how much TV you watch, we're not going to like all of the same things. So if you really enjoyed "Sex and the City" or "Carnivale" or "Boston Legal," we'll just agree to disagree on those shows. That's just how these things go.
 
Not Everything I Like Can Make a "Best Of" List. Sorry. A lot of shows I really like, shows I watched regularly, didn't make the list. In fact, several shows I kinda love didn't make the list, for one reason or another. In some cases it was because I was planning on acknowledging those shows within the entry for other, similar shows. In some cases, it was because the shows were early in their runs as the decade ended and thus hadn't *quite* assembled the body of episodes to justify their inclusion. Yes, shows with close-ended runs early in the decade received slight favoritism over young shows from the end of the decade. So "Sons of Anarchy" will get its due respect in my Best of 2009 list, but not in my Best of the Aughts list. It may not be fair, but that's the only way I could wrap my mind around this project.
 
OK. Enough explanations...
 
Feel free to debate me. I'm gonna try to justify my opinions and it still probably won't help...
 
Stay tuned for No. 31... Posting soon...