The 10 best shows in FOX network history
Looking back on the genius of 'The Simpsons,' 'Arrested Development' & more
5. "Firefly" (2002)
As I said in my blog post on FOX's 25th anniversary, you have to give the network credit for trying concepts that most of the other networks would have laughed at during pilot season. Which isn't to say that FOX has always handled these new ideas well once they got on the air. Case in point: Joss Whedon's mash-up of planet-hopping science fiction and familiar Western iconography, starring Nathan Fillion as captain of a ship of bandits living on the outskirts of a new interplanetary civilization. On the one hand, FOX actually ordered this show, which many Whedon fans consider their favorite of his work (even above "Buffy" and "Angel"), but which combined one genre (sci-fi) that's always been a tough sell on network TV with another (Westerns) that had been all but dead on television since the mid-'60s. On the other hand, FOX was clearly terrified of the show once Whedon started making it; they shelved the pilot episode that introduced this strange world and all of its characters, forcing viewers to jump in with a second episode that was less expositional and less compelling overall. I doubt "Firefly" had a chance anyway, but that move took away what microscopic chance it might have had. Still, we got 14 terrific episodes (which I reviewed a couple of summers ago), and they in turn inspired enough fan fervor that Whedon got to make a follow-up movie, "Serenity." Not the long lifespan the browncoats might have hoped for, but so much fun while it lasted.