A popular and cool teen soap about attractive, very self-aware young people in a Boston suburb (though it was filmed in North Carolina). Full of the clever pop-culture references that are a trademark of creator Kevin Williamson ('Scream'), who based it in part on his own experiences.
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The third live-action TV series based on Edgar Rice Burroughs' immortal "King of the Jungle" (there had also been a few cartoon series and innumerable theatrical features), the WB network's Tarzan offered a few new up-to-date spins on the classic canon. Orphaned in the jungle as an infant, John Clayton (played by male model Travis Fimmel) was raised by apes and came to maturity as the resourceful Tarzan. All this changed when John/Tarzan was captured by his uncle, billionaire industrialist Richard Clayton (Mitch Pileggi), and flown to New York City, there to take his rightful place as the heir apparent of the vast Greystoke business enterprises. As uncomfortable as Tarzan felt in his new civilized surroundings, it was nothing compared to the discomfiture expressed by Richard Clayton's sister, acid-tongued publisher Katherine Clayton (Lucy Lawless), who wished that Tarzan would return whence he came so that she could take over Greystoke. At last fed up by all the inter-family squabbling and backstabbing, Tarzan escaped to the concrete jungle known as Manhattan, where he befriended feisty female NYPD detective Jane Porter (Sarah Wayne Callies). Ultimately, Me-Tarzan teamed with You-Jane to track down elusive criminals, while Jane's detective boyfriend, Michael Foster (Johnny Messner), and her official partner, Sam Sullivan (Miguel Nunez Jr.), expressed dismay at the girl's newfound bravado -- and while Jane's younger sister, aspiring actress Nicki Porter (Leighton Meester), lolled around awaiting her next "damsel in distress" assignment. The new Tarzan swung into view on October 5, 2003.
In Tree Hill, North Carolina two half brothers share a last name and nothing else. Brooding, blue-collar Lucas is a talented street-side basketball player, but his skills are appreciated only by his friends at the river court. Popular, affluent Nathan basks in the hero-worship of the town, as the star of his high school team. And both boys are the son of former college ball player Dan Scott whose long ago choice to abandon Lucas and his mother Karen, will haunt him long into his life with wife Deb and their son Nathan.
Beginning on September 29, 1998, as a "teen angst" romantic drama, the weekly, 60-minute WB series Felicity evolved into a "young adult angst" affair by the time the series ran its course on May 22, 2002. Each of the series' four seasons represented a different year in the college life of its heroine, dewey-eyed Felicity Porter (Keri Russell). Enrolling at the University of New York in Greenwich Village so that she could be near her high-school crush Ben Covington (Scott Speedman), Felicity soon discovered that Ben wasn't interested in her -- at least not at first -- but she decided to remain in school anyway. Just as Felicity fluctuated between a pre-med and an art major during her stay at U. of N.Y., so too did her romantic inclinations shift between Ben and her dorm advisor Noel Crane (Scott Foley), with both men falling in and out of love with Felicity at regular intervals, and she with them. During the series' first and last seasons, Felicity would report on her progress -- scholastic and otherwise -- in audiocassette letters sent to her old and never-seen friend Sally (whose voice was supplied by Janeane Garofolo). Other series regulars included Felicity's rather odd roommate Meghan Rotundi (Amanda Foreman), who may or may not have been into witchcraft; her best friend Julie Emrick (Amy Jo Johnson), who after several failed romances, one with Ben, dropped out of school -- and the series -- at the beginning of season three; another friend and classmate Elena Tyler (Tangi Miller), a girl of humble means who was attending college on a scholarship, and whose boyfriend, Tracy (Donald Faison), refused to have sex with her until marriage (he eventually "gave in," but wedding bells never rang); Ben's naïvely optomistic roommate Sean Blumberg (Greg Grunberg), he of the thousand-and-one "get rich quick" schemes and ultimately Noel's partner in an independent web-design firm -- not to mention the husband of the spooky Meghan; Javier Quintata (Ian Gomez), Felicity's gay boss at Dean & DeLuca, a campus café; Zoe Webb (Sarah Jane Morris), whom Noel weds at the end of season four; Lauren (Lisa Edelstein), young mistress of Ben's father, who ultimately bears Ben a child. Outside of the series' outrageous "double surprise" finale, which is right up there on the jaw-dropping meter with the last episodes of St. Elsewhere and Newhart, Felicity is best remembered for the shock delivered to its fans at the beginning of season two, in which star Keri Russell showed up with a new, very short haircut forsaking the long tresses that had become her trademark. With one stroke of the shears, both the series and its star became the darlings of the tabloid crowd -- and, of course, Felicity enjoyed the best ratings it ever had throughout its four-year history.
If "greatness is thrust upon us," as Winston Churchill once said, then it stands to reason that those who are destined for greatness are rarely aware of it. Take Jack and Bobby McCallister for example: two bright young brothers growing up under the watchful eye of their eccentric single mother Grace McCallister. Grace's personality is a force of nature destined to shape both of these young men's lives and secure one a place in the history books - as President of the United States.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Joss Whedon's first cult-favorite horror-comedy drama, used its supernatural trappings as the breeding ground for countless metaphors about adolescence, young adulthood, and female empowerment. But Angel, its spin-off and Whedon's second successful outing for the youth-oriented WB network, uses the mysterious demon realm to literalize the nebulous grey areas -- moral and ethical, professional and romantic -- that suddenly leap out at young adults once they've left the nest. A detective comedy-cum-supernatural soap opera with a conscience-stricken immortal as its ambiguous hero, Angel follows the adventures of the titular vampire and an ever-expanding group of sidekicks as they seek to "help the helpless" in the glamorous shadows of Los Angeles. If the cheap math for Buffy is Wonder Woman plus The Munsters times Beverly Hills 90210, then Angel is more like Dark Shadows meets Melrose Place with a dash of L.A. Law. David Boreanaz leads the cast as Angel, a handsome, brooding hunk who, like many Angelenos, doesn't look his age. Born nearly 250 years ago to a stern Irish father and christened Liam, he spent his youth as a dissolute and drunken lecher. Then he met Darla, an American beauty. She promised to show him the world, and she did -- after making him, like her, an immortal, soulless fiend. As Angelus, Liam terrorized Europe for a century before a gypsy curse restored his human spirit to his demon-animated body. With the knowledge of his vampiric sins burning a hole through his newfound soul, Angel spent most of the 20th century a useless wreck. Then, as chronicled on Buffy, he was recruited by the mysterious Powers That Be to serve as a champion in the fight between good and evil. Buffy fans are no doubt aware that Angel's gypsy curse has a loophole that strips him of his soul the instant he achieves a moment of true happiness -- say, for instance, a night of passion with a certain previously chaste vampire slayer. It was this conceit that allowed Angel to serve as both ally and nemesis to Buffy, and, by precluding any real future for their epic romance, set the stage for his decision to seek atonement in L.A. The quest for redemption, then, is Angel's carrot; the possibility of sliding back into atrocity is his stick. For the show's first four seasons, fellow Buffy veteran Charisma Carpenter served as Boreanaz's comedic and sometimes romantic foil. As the show slowly morphed from a tongue-in-cheek comedy-adventure to an action-packed metaphysical melodrama, Carpenter's Cordelia Chase developed from the spoiled brat of the Buffy years to the kooky girl Friday of Angel Investigations to a champion in her own right. Some longtime fans were therefore outraged when the popular star was written out of the regular cast at the end of the fourth season. Others, however, were relieved that Angel survived a close brush with cancellation to return for a fifth season with an addition to the cast: James Marsters, reprising his Buffy the Vampire Slayer role as Spike, Angel's romantic rival, longtime antagonist, and fellow vampire-with-a-soul. Other recurring and regular cast members have included the late Glenn Quinn as the half-human, half-demon Doyle; Buffy refugee Alexis Denisof as Wesley Wyndham-Price, a bumbling "rogue demon hunter" who eventually becomes truly roguish; J. August Richards as Charles Gunn, a street-smart vampire hunter with hidden depths; Amy Acker as Winifred "Fred" Burkle, a damsel-in-distress turned super-scientist; Andy Hallett as Lorne, a horned, green-skinned demon who can read your future, but only if you sing karaoke for him; future Law & Order babe Elisabeth Rohm as a Scully-esque police detective; Julie Benz as Darla, Angel's oft-resurrected vampire paramour; Vincent Kartheiser as Connor, Darla and Angel's rebellious (and human) teenaged son; and Christian Kane and Stephanie Romanov as a pair of lawyers at Wolfram & Hart, the evil law firm that Angel fights for four seasons and eventually takes over.
Debuting September 29, 1999, the weekly, hour-long WB series Popular was frequently described as a "satire" or "send-up" of the heavy-breathing teen angst genre. This, of course, did not prevent many fans from taking the series' incredible plot twists and turns with the utmost seriousness. The show's basic conflict boiled down to the age-old struggle between the cool and the uncool. The scene was Jacqueline Kennedy High School (where the school paper was called the "Zapruder Reporter"!), where the acknowledged social arbiter was the disgustingly popular Brooke McQueen (Leslie Bibb), captain of the school's "Glamazon" cheerleading squad. Brooke, of course, was also the leader of the school's coolest clique, numbering among its members her football-star boyfriend, Josh Ford (Bryce Johnson), and her two best friends, über-bitch Nicole Julian (Tammy Lynn Michaels) and shallow, borderline-psychotic Mary Cherry (Leslie Grossman). Annoyed by Brooke's smug supremacy, Samantha "Sam" McPherson (Carly Pope), resident intellectual, crusading journalist-in-training, and tireless campaigner for social equality, formed her own "anti-clique," including nerdy, self-conscious Harrison John (Christopher Gorham), plain and portly Carmen Ferrara (Sara Rue), and firebrand activist Lily Esposito (Tamara Mello). Alas, the battle lines between the two factions were blurred when Sam's widowed mother, Jane (Lisa Darr), fell in love with Brooke's divorced dad, Mike (Scott Bryce), forcing the two bitter rivals to live under the same roof. Even after Jane and Mike broke up, Sam and Brooke found themselves bound together by family ties when Jane gave birth to Mike's baby. This unholy and undesired alliance served also to break down the barriers between the other members of the two cliques, resulting in some truly surprising romantic couplings and unpredictable alliances. Its title and its fan following notwithstanding, Popular was not popular enough to warrant any more than two seasons on the WB schedule. Even so, the producers obviously hoped that there'd be a last-minute reprieve for the series, as witness its final episode on May 18, 2001, which concluded with a tense cliffhanger, leaving the fates of four principal characters hanging perilously in the balance.