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Best Talk Shows of the Decade

Winners from nearly 10 years of Talk Show History

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It probably isn’t fair to call this the best talk shows of the decade. It might be more appropriate to call this a series of winners. Seven talk shows that debuted in the 2000s that already feel like they’ve been around forever.

1. Winner: ‘The Colbert Report with Stephen Colbert’

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Stephen Colbert debuted his satirical pundit program (he calls himself a fundit) in October 2005. Since then, the show has been nominated for a slew of Emmy Awards and garnered the George F. Peabody Award in 2008, recognizing the show’s excellence news and entertainment. (If you’re wondering where sister show The Daily Show is on this list – well, the show debuted in 1999, so technically it didn’t debut this decade.)

2. Winner: ‘The Dr. Phil Show’

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Once a fixture on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Dr. Phil McGraw and his uber-advice talk show ostensibly became the first Oprah spin-off in Sept. 2002. The venture has done well. Dr. Phil is just shy of 1,500 shows and still draws people in with his detailed life strategies. He isn’t without controversy, though. In 2008, Dr. Phil made headlines when pop singer Britney Spears’ family asked Dr. Phil to talk to Spears during a hospital stay. After doing so, Dr. Phil issued a statement saying Brit was in need of “medical and psychological intervention.” There was even talk of a special episode of Dr. Phil dedicated to Britney’s case. The Spears didn’t like either and suggested Dr. Phil breached doctor/patient confidentiality.

3. Winner: ‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show’

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When The Ellen DeGeneres Show debuted in 2003, Ellen was seen as little more than a sit-com actress trying to do what Rosie O’Donnell did best a few years before: revive the daytime entertainment talk show format. Then Ellen defied the odds and showed how funny, personable and inviting she could be. The rest, they say, is history. Today Ellen is an American Idol judge, an Emmy winner, more popular than Oprah, according to some surveys, and she’s seemingly as happy as she could ever be.

4. Winner: ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live!’

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Jimmy Kimmel took the talk show stage in Jan. 2003 as ABC’s answer to David Letterman and Jay Leno. No one paid much attention to Kimmel, the kid from Comedy Central who worked on a game show and low-budget sketch show. And as early as 2009, there was speculation that Kimmel would get bumped to later in the evening – or altogether – if Jay Leno moved from NBC to ABC. But then, slowly, Kimmel grew an audience and imbued his program with just enough class and sass to make his mark in late night.

5. Winner: ‘The Rachael Ray Show’

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Here’s another successful, award-winning talk show that was consider a longshot at best when it unspooled in Sept. 2006. But then Rachael Ray wasn’t your ordinary cable-cook-show-host turned talk-show-marvel. Oprah Winfrey and her studio had Ray’s back. And the show, which mixes a little cooking and creativity with celebrity interviews and fashion chat, has gone gangbusters.

6. Winner: ‘The Tyra Banks Show’

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Tyra Banks proves you never can tell. The former supermodel turned super talk show host debuted in 2005. Turning on Tyra these days is a little like turning on a daytime talk show from the 1990s – larger than life personalities and topics that either captivate or (more likely) titillate. Still, it’s what people seem to be after. Maybe that’s why Tyra got an Emmy in 2009.

7. Winner: ‘Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson’

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The Late Late Show has been around since 1995, but it didn’t enjoy the success its enjoying today until Scottish comedian and actor Craig Ferguson became host of the show in 2005. Ferguson reinvented the monologue with lilting tales and wicked fast comedy. His monologues are often more warm conversation (albeit with razor wit) than one liners. No one can forget his defense of Britney Spears or his eloquent eulogy to his father.

8. The Worst Talk Shows of the Decade

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Though it's not fair to call them the Worst Talk Shows of the Decade, these seven talk shows debuted - and then disappeared. At least most of them did. Some of them, like The Wayne Brady Show and Talk Show with Spike Ferensten stuck around for a while. They even garnered critical acclaim and Emmy awards.
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