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DO NOT GO GENTLE:
Six Feet Under died the way it lived, with an emotionally messy, hugely poignant bang. It bowed out before it lost its sheen, unlike shark-jumping ex-faves Gilmore Girls and The O.C.
SCI-FI SOUL: The networks’ fall bonanza of uninspired supernatural thrillers ( Invasion, Surface, Threshold) paled next to two cable series. THE 4400 (USA) turned a silly premise—4,400 alien abductees snatched from all over the world are suddenly returned to Earth for unknown reasons and enhanced with a variety of hidden powers—into a taut, captivating drama. BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (Sci Fi Channel) is good enough to wipe away all memories of the goofy ’70s original. Last season’s plotline even squeezed in political allegory, pitting a religious visionary–turned–president (Mary McDonnell) against a secular commander (Edward James Olmos) who just wants to ward off cyber-foes.
POOR BOYS : MY NAME IS EARL and EVERYBODY HATES CHRIS both offer heartwarming poverty comedy, but Earl plays its white-trash scenario (degenerate loser attempts to redeem his past sins by rectifying things for those he’s wronged) strictly for laughs, while Chris offers a tinge of social comment along with the Chris Rock– generated gags in its portrait of a working-class black family struggling to improve their lot in 1980s Bed-Stuy.