Ten shows you should know

Have you boycotted TV time ever since the sun set on “Friends”? Well couch potatoes, the time has come to dig out your remote (it’s under your bed next to that stale piece of pizza from last September) and tune in, because there’s a whole new world of broadcasting that has yet to be discovered.

Listed below are 10 television shows that could be loved and lifted to “My So-Called Life”-status – if people only knew about them. Whether you’re into comedy or reality, talk shows or drama, here are the shows that are classified as the “underground” of awesome airtime – the ones everyone loves, but for some reason no one talks about. So try your darndest to ward off Buffy’s accusing stare – it’s about time you moved on. Tune in and enjoy.

The Comedy

1. “Monk”

A personal preference, this show stars everyone’s favorite “defective detective,” Emmy winner Tony Shalhoub, as Adrian Monk. Monk is a former member of the San Francisco Police Department who became obsessive-compulsive and left the force after his wife’s murder. Now acting as a police consultant, Monk is able to solve impossible cases with the help of his nurse, Sharona. The show is mostly a mystery/comedy combo, but every now and then it takes an emotional turn when Monk’s wife is mentioned. All in all, you’ll get hooked no matter what you look for in a good show.

Airs: New episodes start in January. Get caught up Sunday, Monday and Friday nights on USA. Check local listings for showtimes.

Rating: 5 stars

2. “Reba”

Country singer Reba McEntire plays a single mom who has to deal with more than her fair share of difficulties. Not only does her husband of 20 years leave her to have a baby with his annoyingly upbeat dental hygienist, but her 17-year-old daughter gets pregnant and marries her high school boyfriend. In addition, Reba has to deal with her other two children and her ex-husband’s new wife who oddly enough wants to be her best friend. From the creator of “Boy Meets World,” this show is nothing short of hilarious and proves that Reba can do a whole lot more than just sing.

Airs: Fridays at 9 p.m. on the WB

Rating: 4 stars

3. “Reno 911!”

This show is an incredibly unique cross between improv and a real

TV series that will keep you laughing. Its witty, satirical undertones support a strange mix of characters who play off a variety of “Cops” themes – hookers with bizarre wigs, belligerent arrests and wacky domestic disturbances. You know it’s great when the actors can barely keep themselves from cracking up.

Airs: Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m. on Comedy Central

Rating: 4 stars

4. “Scrubs”

Perfect for anyone who enjoys quirky humor, the show follows the young medical staff of Sacred Heart Hospital through love, confusion and tragedy, all of which are taken seriously for about five seconds before being thrown into a comic spin. “Scrubs” will no doubt gain a bit more popularity in the future, as it stars “Garden State” actor Zach Braff.

Airs: Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m. on NBC

Rating: 4.5 stars

5. “Two and a Half Men”

For all the Charlie Sheen lovers out there, this one is for you. Sheen plays Charlie (how original), a wild bachelor whose world is turned upside down when his newly divorced and uptight brother Alan – and Alan’s young son, Jake – move in. With a cast of crazy characters, the show is a

developing hit that was wrongly overlooked in its first season. Look for guest appearances by Sean Penn and Ryan Stiles in the near future.

Airs: Mondays at 9:30 p.m. on CBS

Rating: 3.5 stars

The Drama

6. “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”

Many may be familiar with the original “Law & Order” series, but “SVU,” now beginning its sixth season, is becoming the favorite of many who love crime dramas. Olivia Benson and Elliot Stabler are tough New York City detectives helping victims and pursuing criminals of sexually based offenses. With twists and turns that will keep you guessing, “SVU” is more action and less courtroom than the original. Oh, and you get to see Ice-T act.

Airs: Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on NBC. Watch reruns on USA every night.

Rating: 5 stars

7. “The Dead Zone”

Based on the Stephen King novel, this show is one of the best psychological thriller series around. Johnny Smith led an ordinary life until he was in an accident that left him in a coma for six years. He woke up to find his fianc? married to another man, raising his son who doesn’t even know him. Because of his near-death experience, Smith has visions of the past and future that are brought on by touch and help him stop terrible events. Now signed for a fourth season, “The Dead Zone” is a must-watch.

Airs: New episodes start in Jan. Get caught up Sunday nights on USA. Check local listings for showtimes.

Rating: 5 stars

8. “Third Watch”

It’s like “NYPD Blue,” just better. “Third Watch” is not only about police officers, but also about the paramedics and firefighters who share the New York streets, trying to make the city a safer place. As with “ER,” those who don’t like an intense show should be warned – “Third Watch” is action-packed and very emotional. In the midst of too-often tragedies, however, the men and women of the show have strong, funny personalities that really get the audience interested.

Airs: Fridays at 9 p.m. on NBC

Rating: 4 stars

The Reality Show

9. “Last Comic Standing”

For everyone who makes fun of his or her friends who watch “American Idol,” or who has sworn an oath never to watch reality television, “Last Comic Standing” might just make you reconsider. Unlike shows where much of the airtime is taken up by what other people think (Hello, Simon Cowell), this show is straightforward comedy. On Wednesdays and Thursdays, you can tune in to see who was eliminated, but if you stick to Tuesdays, all you get are a bunch of comedians with great material packed into an hour.

Airs: Tuesday nights at 8 p.m. Additional telecasts (if you really care) on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Rating: 3.5 stars

The Talk Show

10. “Ellen”

Finally, a talk show that’s actually fun! Cheers to Ellen DeGeneres for making an awesome comeback to television. She has great guests, she dances for her audience every day and she never has heavy subjects that bog down the show. It’s very rare to find a host who is as fun to watch, but it’s not surprising that Ellen fits the mold after her long history in comedy. Ellen is not afraid to act a little crazy, and that is exactly what makes the show stand out. Watch and I guarantee she’ll put a smile on your face.

Airs: Weekdays at 10 a.m. on NBC

Rating: 4.5 stars