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TOP 10 BEST

1. Touched by an Angel

CBS/ 8:00 p.m. (ET/PT) Saturdays -- ranked #2 last season

This year marked the end of Touched by an Angel's successful nine-year run.  The family drama about four angels who help mortals on Earth defied conventional wisdom by drawing huge audiences while providing pro-family, faith-based entertainment. 

Every episode emphasized the power of goodness over evil, the need to strengthen familial relationships, the importance of individual responsibility, and an encouragement to maintain faith in God.  Although it's no longer part of the broadcast schedule, Touched by an Angel lives on in syndication, airing weeknights on ITV.

2. Doc

 ITV/ 8:00 p.m. (ET/PT) Sundays -- ranked #1 last season

Doc is a fish-out-of-water story about a country doctor who moves to New York City and gets a job at a busy HMO.  Dr. Clint Cassidy's homespun values and friendly disposition provide a striking contrast to the jaded and impersonal city environment, but he refuses to let the harsh world in which he lives harden him, or make him forget the values of kindness and compassion that were instilled in him as a child. 

In addition to being completely devoid of offensive language, sexual content, or violence, episodes of Doc consistently reinforce family-friendly themes such as honesty, compassion, hope, and reconciliation.  Moreover, Doc has been recognized for its pro-faith themes, earning Movieguide's "Faith and Freedom" award for consistently teaching Biblical principles. 

3. Sue Thomas F. B. Eye

ITV/ 9:00 p.m. (ET/PT) Sundays -- first season

This series, from the creators of Doc, tells the inspiring true story of Sue Thomas, a deaf woman originally hired to work in fingerprint analysis at the FBI but soon tapped for work in surveillance because of her unique talent for reading lips. Sue Thomas is truly ground-breaking TV in that the main character is portrayed by a deaf actress. This unique series brings a new twist to a normally tawdry television genre.  It is action-filled and suspenseful but never contains graphic or gratuitous violence, inappropriate sexual content, or foul language.  

Sue Thomas skillfully illustrates the challenges faced by deaf individuals working in the hearing world without being mawkish or overly simplistic.

4. 7th Heaven

WB/ 8:00 p.m. (ET/PT) Monday -- ranked #4 last season

After six seasons on the air, 7th Heaven continues to be the WB's highest-rated series.  In a TV landscape littered with dysfunctional families, this drama provides a refreshing portrait of American family life.  The Reverend Eric Camden and his wife, Annie, have created an atmosphere conducive to honesty, which proves especially helpful as their seven children are confronted with difficult issues and circumstances.  These parents are eager to provide wise counsel along with love and understanding.

As the Camden children have grown, episodes have included more mature themes, such as premarital sex and peer pressure, but such topics are always handled responsibly. 

5. Life with Bonnie

ABC/ 9:00 P.M. (ET/PT) Tuesdays -- first season

It's not difficult for a television show to be funny, tender, entertaining, and clean all at once.  As evidence, you need look no further than ABC's Life with Bonnie.

Bonnie Hunt stars as Bonnie Molly, a loving wife and mother who also is the host of a morning television talk show.  Life with Bonnie explores the challenges of being a modern working mother with humor and charm. This series is laugh-out-loud funny, but never panders to the lowest common denominator, and never resorts to cheap innuendo for laughs.  Episodes seldom contain inappropriate language or sexual content.  Bonnie depicts a loving family that respects each other, but unlike other family sitcoms, the parents are actually smarter than the children, and are still in control.

6. Smallville

WB/ 9:00 p.m. (ET/PT) Tuesdays -- ranked #6 last season

Smallville provides a twist on the traditional teen coming-of-age drama.  In this series, the teenager is the young Superman, who came to earth during a meteor shower and is endowed with superhuman powers.  

 

Smallville presents a positive picture of family life.  Clark Kent's loving adoptive parents, Jonathan and Martha, provide him with wise counsel and guidance, and instill in him the morals and values that guide him as a hero.  By contrast, Clark's friend, Lex Luthor -- the man who will eventually become his nemesis -- is like his father, Lionel Luthor: emotionally distant and cruel. 

 

Although episodes have contained mild sexual innuendo and comic-book-style violence, the overall themes of good triumphing over evil, the importance of helping others, and the moral imperative for those who are strong to aid the weak is unique in today's television landscape.

7. Reba

WB/ 9:00 p.m. (ET/PT) Fridays -- ranked #7 last season

Country superstar Reba McEntire stars in this sitcom about an all-American dysfunctional family.  The Hart family was shaken to the core when Reba's husband Brock left her after 20 years of marriage to marry Barbara Jean, his pregnant girlfriend. The family was further shaken when Brock and Reba's 17-year-old daughter, Cheyenne, became pregnant and married her dim-witted boyfriend, Van. 

Despite the off-putting premise, Reba contains some very positive messages: Reba is a strong, responsible mother, providing Cheyenne and Van with advice on marriage and parenting.  She doesn't glorify her situation and is willing to admit her faults and embrace her responsibilities, and she never makes or accepts excuses from her ex-husband or her children. 

8. Star Search

CBS/ 8:00 p.m. (ET/PT) Wednesdays and Fridays -- first season

Singers, comedians, dancers, and models compete for show business careers and cash prizes in this updated version of the classic Ed McMahon-hosted talent competition.  This time out, the series is hosted by Arsenio Hall and judged by a panel of celebrities including Naomi Judd and Ben Stein.  Each episode features amateur performances and interactive online voting by audience members.

Star Search is a refreshing change of pace from other talent competitions that tend to encourage sleazy behavior.  In this competition, contestants often lose points for off-color language and inappropriate material.  All of the judges encourage child competitors to perform material and wear clothing that is age-appropriate and modest.

9. George Lopez

ABC/ 8:30 p.m. (ET/PT) Wednesdays -- ranked #9 last season

Minority-group activists have pressed Hollywood to make minorities more visible on prime time TV. If this is Hollywood's answer, hooray for Hollywood. George Lopez deserves wider exposure not simply because the series has something unique to say to America's Latin-American community, but because the show's themes and messages are universal. 

George Lopez stands out for its positive depiction of a minority family, its strong family values, and the important lessons imparted in each episode. More significantly, the series has performed well since its 2002 mid-season debut without resorting to cheap humor or innuendo. 

10. 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter

ABC/ 8:00 p.m. (ET/PT) Tuesdays -- first season

Inspired by the best-selling book of the same name, 8 Simple Rules for Dating my Teenage Daughter stars John Ritter as the over-protective father of three children. Unfortunately for Paul, his two daughters have reached adolescence and are starting to date, something he's just not prepared for. 

8 Simple Rules focuses on the problems every family lives through -- sibling rivalry, lack of communication, teen rebellion -- but each episode ends with a positive message that emphasizes the importance of family relationships and parental involvement. 

This series explores the difficulties of raising three teenagers when both parents work, but the underlying message is that being involved in your child's life is as rewarding as it is necessary for the child's well being.

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