Thursday, December 31, 2009

Best TV of 2009


1. NBC THURSDAY - Four quality comedies, and they're all ensembles. Community is buoyed by Joel McHale (good enough to be at least the next Greg Kinnear) and Chevy Chase, finally ready for prime time. Parks & Recreation has found its voice and greatly improved in its second season. The Office continues to be a must-see. The Jim-as-co-manager subplot has been uneven, but I look forward to the new direction now that Dunder Mifflin has been sold. And even though it gets all the awards, I like 30 Rock, but I look forward to the other three shows more.

2. BIG BANG THEORY (CBS) - The conventional sitcom lives, and while everyone around him is good at what they do, Jim Parsons as the egg-headed man-child Sheldon, once described as "one lab accident away from becoming a supervillain," steals the show.

3. MODERN FAMILY (ABC) - Nice to see Ed O'Neill back. In fact it's nice to see everyone in the mocku with a heart. Different cast members get a chance to shine each week.

4. BETTER OFF TED (ABC) - This tragically underpublicized comedy combines the absurdity of The Office with the soul-crushing corporate soullessness of Dilbert. It resulted in hysterically wrong situations. They should put this in the Wednesday line-up, so the quality of ABC Wednesday can truly rival NBC Thursday from the 1980's and 1990's, but the ratings are too low to justify that. Alas, poor Ted, I knew him well.

5. CHUCK (NBC) - Adam Baldwin's John Casey is the coolest sardonic tough-guy on TV since Jayne Cobb. Hm... I love the hijinks of the BuyMore crew, the off-kilter chemistry of Chuck & Sarah, and especially the multi-episode arc of Chevy Chase (!) as that Steve Jobs-type villain.


1. BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (Syfy) - One of the best sci-fi series ever went out with class and finality. Most questions were answered, each cast member got their moment, and geeks of the world (and others who can appreciate good drama) can sit back and wait for the next big thing.

2. MAD MEN (AMC) - I started watching this season one, episode one, before all the hype. I can see people getting overhyped for this. But there are so many layers to it, and the season-ender was one of the best springboard episodes yet.

3. DEXTER (SHO) - The fourth season lived up to the first three, with John Lithgow as the disturbing family-man Trinity Killer. And just when it looked like Dex might be able to give up serial-killing, he has his world ripped apart.

4. LOST (ABC) - Here's looking forward to the last season helping this season make sense. Probably won't happen, and I'm okay with the jumbled time-shift thing, but wow, how are the pieces going to get put back together now? Probably with the deaths of many more characters, but hopefully at least some couples will get to live happily ever after. (Jin & Sun at least?)

5. V (ABC) - The remake is faithful to the spirit of the original while reinventing aspects of it that really fit into these modern times. Elizabeth Mitchell carries over her Lost mojo, and I appreciate that this show actually dares have a priest be one of the main good guys. I don't know how Morena Baccarin does it, but she looks like a beautiful woman who's secretly a lizard underneath.

And Other Things...

POLIWOOD (HBO) - Barry Levinson's documentary examines the overlapping relationships of politics and celebrity thanks to the age of Big Media. Even though it covered familiar territory, I learned more than I thought I would. Candid interview with and between celebrities and media pundits made them seem like real people. Which they are, but it's easy to forget when you just see them on TV.

SHATNER'S RAW NERVE (BIO) - I'll take an intimate 30-minute chat with William over any other host out there.

SURVIVOR (CBS) - In the spring, country boy JT was the sly charmer that kept people on his team when it was obvious at the merge he was a biggest threat than Coach the Delusional Dragonslayer. In the fall, Russell pulled a Dr. Will by being so devious and cunning that he became fun to root for. If he'd just been a little less cocky, he would have won.

And, the leftovers I like...

Simon Baker on The Mentalist (CBS), Julianna Marguiles on The Good Wife (CBS), Jeremy Piven on an otherwise stale season of Entourage (HBO), the urgency of 24 (FOX), the whimsy of Cougar Town (ABC), the "Sister Christian" shoot-out on FlashForward (ABC), the group numbers on Glee (FOX), the explosions on MythBusters (DISC), the sightseeing of The Amazing Race (CBS), the dark turns of Breaking Bad (AMC), the Seinfeld reunion on Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO), pretending to be a judge of song (Fox's American Idol) or dance (MTV's America's Best Dance Crew), and the summer splashes of Wipeout (ABC).

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