Television shows tend to be set on the coasts -- in California or New York, usually. Anywhere else, and the show is often about that place as much as the characters: Miami inMiami Vice
, Cleveland inThe Drew Carey Show
, or Cicely, Alaska, inNorthern Exposure
. So it is that precious few TV shows are set in Colorado. (There haven't been all that many skiing-related series out there in TV land.)
But there are a few good ones -- and mercifully, very few of them suck.
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7. Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman This show, along with most of Michael Landon's work, became a staple of Christian cable networks back in the day. Which means, as you may guess, that it was pretty innocuous TV (read: sort of unrealistically moral, but family-safe). That didn't keep it from being interesting watching, since the story of frontier life in post-Civil War Colorado Springs has a lot going for it. The show did take some liberties with history: The Springs didn't have saloons, as it was dry until the end of Prohibition. And it wasn't even a town in the 1860s. And it was filmed in California. But, you know: details, details. 6. Everwood Another semi-family-friendly show, Everwood was a victim of the merge of the UPN and WB networks in 2004. It was sort of a Colorado mix-up of Dawson's Creek and Seventh Heaven based on Evergreen, Colorado. But the producers changed the name of the town. Why remains unclear; it's not like towns can demand royalties from shows using it as a setting. (If so, California wouldn't be in the budget mess it's currently in.) In any case, renaming the town Everwood seems like a bad idea, since it sounds more like a potential Viagra side effect than a small-town drama. I mean, come on, did no one run this past the junior-high snickering focus group? 5. Stargate SG-1 What is it about Colorado Springs on this list? In terms of size, Denver should have the majority of the list -- but as it is, it's the Springs 2, Denver 1. For Stargate SG-1, it's much the same reason that films like Wargames take place there, in full or in part: the military. With Stargate, it's Cheyenne Mountain, under which sits Stargate Command. It's a future in which Egyptian and Norse mythoi are set in one of the most conservatively Christian parts of the United States. The most annoying part of the show was the constant whirring sound present in outdoor scenes. 4. Community This NBC comedy supposedly takes place in fictitious Greendale, Colorado -- so fictitious, in fact, that it has palm trees, an utter lack of snow or weather of any sort, and no apparent mountains. (Also, the students don't cut class constantly during ski season.) It's been said that the school itself is based on Glendale Community College in Los Angeles, but for some reason, the California show switched to Colorado. Which is pretty common for Californians, really. We're used to it.
3. Dynasty Ah, the Carringtons. Dynasty was ABC's oil-drama answer to Dallas and had almost nothing to do with Denver at all. Not even the Carrington estate was really Denver-based: That exterior shot was the Filoli mansion south of San Francisco, found after producers decided that there was no actual residence in Denver that seemed tony enough. It was all so sordid. Denver enjoyed the attention while it lasted, but ultimately felt used. The city has never felt so sleazy. Except maybe when slumlord Douglas Bruce was in the Statehouse -- which sort of seems like a Dynasty plot line, come to think of it.
2. Mork & Mindy Even though his first appearance was in the 1950s in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (where he took on the Fonz, naturally), Mork landed his egg-ship in the late '70s in Boulder, Colorado. Crazy aliens, with their time travel and the like. Anyway, Boulder is where the opening montage was shot -- and where absolutely nothing else happened for the rest of the series. Sure, supposedly the deli was on Pearl Street, and so was the record store, but really, not much was Colorado-based at all. Which might be for the best, since the show's main conceit was that Mork was here on Earth trying to understand normal human behavior...and anyone who's spent time there knows that Boulder isn't the best place to do that.
1. South Park South Park is said to be based on Fairplay, Colorado -- which is itself as much a character in this long-running classic animated series. Creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone have skewered the irony of living in Colorado pretty well over the years, featuring mentions of Casa Bonita, Jake Jabs, Tom Shane, Ron Zappolo, Cave of the Winds, the Broncos, KOSI-FM, Pioneer Village, Ward Churchill, medical marijuana, the Pepsi Center, Colfax Avenue and the deification of John Elway. Ah, Colorado: That's you in a sarcastic, profane nutshell.