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What We’ve Been Watching!

March 20, 2010

A list of the most watched television episodes in the last decade has been released. What do you think? Any surprises? -Thrive

1. Friends
Titled “The Last One,” the “Friends” series finale closed a modern-day Golden Age of comedy TV — and marked the end of the NBC’s “Must-See TV” era. At the time, the final “Friends” was the most-watched entertainment telecast in six years, and it has never been surpassed. A finale that stayed true to the series, the “Friends” closer was well-liked by fans and concluded with slow pan across Monica and Chandler’s empty apartment.
Airdate: May 6, 2004
Viewers: 52.5 million

2. Survivor: Borneo
“Survivor” was a new series that premiered in the dead of summer, yet that didn’t stop its August finale from nearly toppling “Friends” as the most-watched telecast of the decade. During its riveting two-hour closer, audiences expected tough whitewater rafting guide Kelly Wiglesworth to triumph over scheming corporate trainer Richard Hatch for the show’s $1 million prize — and then were stunned to discover that on this new TV genre called “reality,” sometimes the villain wins.
Airdate: Aug. 23, 2000
Viewers: 51.7 million

3. Joe Millionaire
Fox put a deceptive twist on the reality TV genre with “Joe Millionaire.” Why tell contestants the truth when fooling them is so much more fun? With women vying for the attention of fake millionaire Evan Marriott, millions watched the season finale to see which bachelorette he would choose and, more important, how she would react when she learned the truth about his identity. Marriott’s relationship with winner Zora Andrich didn’t last and, once the show’s twist played out, neither did “Joe Millionaire.”
Airdate: Feb. 17, 2003
Viewers: 40 million

4. ER
A car crash the previous week left Lucy Knight and John Carter gravely injured after they were attacked by schizophrenic patient. A massive audience tuned in for this episode, “All in the Family,” to see who would survive. Considered one of the most tragic episodes of the series.
Airdate: Feb. 17, 2000
Viewers: 39.4 million

5. American Idol
The “American Idol” sixth-season premiere marked the pinnacle of the show’s popularity, back when each season brought in a higher number than the one before. The Minneapolis opener was for a season won by Jordin Sparks and introduced millions to the name Sanjaya.
Airdate: Jan. 16, 2007
Viewers: 38.1 million

6. Grey’s Anatomy post-Super Bowl episode
Airdate: Feb. 5, 2006
Viewers: 38 million

7. Who Wants to Be a Millionaire
Airdate: May 3, 2000
Viewers: 36 million

8. Frasier
The seventh-season finale of “Cheers” spinoff “Fraiser” promised to end the suspense over Niles Crane’s swooning over physical therapist Daphne Moon.
Airdate: May 18, 2000
Viewers: 33.7 million

9. Everybody Loves Raymond
The series finale for Ray Romano’s long-running sitcom went off the air as a top 10-ranked show among total viewers.
Airdate: May 16, 2005
Viewers: 32.9 million

10. Spin City
Yes, we were surprised, too — and it’s not for the series finale. This was the final episode starring Michael J. Fox, who left the show because of his worsening Parkinson’s symptoms. Charlie Sheen took the lead role for two more “Spins” seasons, though Fox had a brief return in the final year.
Airdate: May 24, 2000
Viewers: 32.8 million

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