Saturday, December 25, 2010

Top Ten in TV 2010

I have not watched this year's seasons of HBO's True Blood or Boardwalk Empire. But I hear good things.

Stuff I liked:

The scenery of CBS's The Amazing Race, master manipulator Russell getting to the finals again on CBS's Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains, likeable dim-bulb Fabio on the otherwise unpleasant CBS's Survivor: Nicaragua, the smartest men in the room with body-language experts Simon Baker on CBS's The Mentalist and Tim Roth on FOX's Lie to Me, the perservering Dundler Mifflinites of NBC's The Office, the love for Simon Cowell on his last year of FOX's American Idol, the gawky baby-giraffe of a model Ann on CW's America's Next Top Model, the enigmatic Michael Imperioli on ABC's Detroit 1-8-7, Patricia Heaton's exasperated mom in ABC's The Middle, the line-reads of Scott Caan on CBS's Hawaii Five-0, the strong second season of STARZ's Party Down, the mournful post-Rita season of SHO's Dexter, the round-table segments under Jake Tapper's brief tenure on ABC's This Week, the fresh talent of Jay Pharaoh on NBC's Saturday Night Live, the sportswriters spouting on ESPN's Around the Horn, and the 2010 midterm election coverage by Fox News and CNN.

Honorable Mentions:


DEXTER (SHOWTIME) - It wouldn't be able to top the Trinity Killer season, but the mournful aftermath fifth season gave Dexter some serious consequences, and Michael C. Hall's performance was able to hit new levels as the formerly emotionless monster deals with true grief.

... and my top ten are ...

10. CABLE NEWS COMEDY - I specifically identify The Daily Show (Comedy Central) and Red Eye (Fox News). Jon Stewart continues to be the master referee (even if he insists he's on the sidelines) and he's fair enough for a left-leaning host, and then there's right-wing comedian Greg Gutfeld hosting his middle-of-the-night party with unique guests and hilarious deadpan ombudsman Andy Levy. I DVR both and watch at least a couple episodes a week of each.

9. THE TUDORS (SHOW) - The final season was a crowning one, where Henry VIII realizes too late that killing all his old advisors just means more untrustworthy ones will pop up in their places. I've watched the series since the beginning, and it's the role of Jonathan Rhys Meyers' career. His Henry was vain, impetuous, ruthless, and had the will to change the course of history forever.

8. THE BIG BANG THEORY (CBS) - Funniest show on TV that still employs a laugh-track. Loving how they're rounding out the cast with geeky girlfriends for Sheldon and Howard.

7. THE GOOD WIFE (CBS) - The perfect combination of weekly procedural and backstage politics. I like that Alan Cumming's been given more to do as Peter's lawyer Eli Gold, I like the clever guest-casting (Michael J. Fox was great), and I like that each week we don't know what Alicia's going to do.

6. BETTER OFF TED (ABC) - This brilliant, brilliant office-place comedy deserved far better than ABC schedulers gave it.

5. MODERN FAMILY & COUGAR TOWN (ABC) - Both shows are still just as funny in their second seasons, if not more so.

4. COMMUNITY (NBC) - No show is more consistently funny. There've been many episodes from either where I've watched them a second time before deleting them from the DVR. I love the genre-poking, the theme episodes (like the action-movie parody embodied by a campus-wide paintball war), and especially Abed (Danny Pudi), the film student who's like an alien observing life on Earth.

3. JUSTIFIED (FX) - Timothy Olyphant's Raylen Givens is the coolest casual crime-fighter since Magnum P.I. The Kentucky atmosphere is rich, and it plays a nice balance between encapsuled cases with plenty of subplots that work throughout the season. I especially enjoyed the one when Olyphant's old Deadwood co-star W. Earl Brown showed up as a hostage-taking career convict. Emmy needs to remember this show next year.

2. AMC - Three of the best show on TV are on this channel. First is BREAKING BAD, which raises the stakes every season to where the tension becomes unbearable. I love how Bryan Cranston's Mr. White switches back and forth between family man Walt and hardened drug-dealer Heisenberg. Then there's MAD MEN, where the characters had another year of growth and the new ad agency is finding their financial situation as precarious as their old one. Finally there's THE WALKING DEAD, an addictive drama that has one of those premises where I can't believe it hasn't been done until now. Zombies walk the Earth and we follow the handful of survivors wondering what next. Andrew Lincoln (Love Actually) is a nice steel-eyed protagonist in his sheriff's uniform, and I'm also enjoying veteran actor Jeffrey DeMunn in a role he can be remembered for.

1. LOST (ABC) - Oh, how I'll miss you. Sad to know we'll ever again check in with Locke, Ben, Hurley, Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Sun & Jin, Desmond, Sayid, Crazy Claire, etc. I liked the flash-sideways world as this self-created purgatory where time doesn't exist, giving the chance for the core group to all reunite.

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