Sunday, December 27, 2009

Top 40 TV shows of the decade

I'm sorry, I haven't been posting much. Recently, I started realizing that I have to be consistent with all the things I could do and that i can't slack off. I should be able to put at least 5 posts a month on here. So here's post #1.

40 Best TV shows of the decade. This is one of those things where I see a list somewhere else and feel a need to imitate it. In this case it was the AV Club's list followed by Alan Speinwall's list and EW's list.

Here's my opinion of what have been the most significant and well-received shows of the decade. It's not my opinion of what's been the best. Shows that came really late or really early in the decade don't count here.
1. Wire, HBO-I've never seen it but all the other lists say it's the best show of the decade and the best thing since sliced bread. And a show exploring the issues of drugs and Baltimore sounds a lot more intriguing than that other show I've never seen that's considered the best thing of the decade as well....
2. Sopranos, HBO-Never seen it. Doesn't even sound intriguing. Like that SNL parody points out, Sopranos is too critically loved to death for me to put it anywhere else
3. Deadwood, HBO-Just like MASH was based on a Rob Altman movie that turned the war genre upside down, I feel like Deadwood is the successor to Altman's 1971 masterpiece McCabe and Mrs. Miller. Kind of an improved version of that film.
4. Arrested Development, FOX-It is truly a blessing that now everyone loves AD. There are a number of great series this decade but no other show had such intricate layers of humor, a cast that we'd grow to love so much and root for in their future careers, and moments of warmth that are given with an ironic wink because we know that this temporary happy ending is going to fall apart so quickly.
5. Lost, ABC-Added points for influencing other shows such as Heroes and Flash Foward
6. Office, BBC-Doesn't compare with the American version in terms of quantity, but it rarely ever missed a note.
7. Colbert Report, Comedy Central-People criticized me for not adding the daily show if I'm adding this, but Colbert is playing a character so this is a fictional TV show.
8. Mad Men, AMC-Revisionist 60's series treats the decade as a pretty hellish place to live if you're female or a minority. Don and Peggy are really the only two characters that give me reason to anxiously tune into this series. They're the heart of the show. There's also the appeal of watching the masters of spin in action as they take on a client's mundane product and turn it into something appealling before your very eyes.
9. 24, Fox-It's just a matter of watching it yourself and seeing how intense it is in a way that spells quality.
10. The Office, NBC-The last season in which Michael Scott quit and started a rival company (among other things) shows that the writers room isn't one of laziness. When things get dull, the writers have the ability to take these very real characters and take them in unlikely directions. They pull it off in flying colors.
11. Tudors, Showtime-John Rhys-Meyers has long been a star in the making. It was quite an epiphany to whomever noticed that all the scandals in the Tudor Dynasty of England would make for a sexy cable series
12. Battlestar Gallactica, Sci-Fi-Created by a Star Trek scribe who was responsible for the intricacies of DS9 and who quit Voyager. Battlestar Gallactica took the possibilities that sci-fi had to offer and gave it to a larger audience.
13. Practice/Boston Legal, ABC-I've never seen the Practice but my understanding is BL spun off from the Practice, so I'll place them both here. Just like Aaron Sorkin, David E Kelly has a unique style that has it's appeal.
14. 30 Rock, NBC-If nothing else, when the show's characters start to get sloppy, 30 Rock never lets the brilliant level of dialogue slip. The show's jokes are so well-crafted that you want to stop and dissect them before moving onto the next one. The cast is excellent in Tracy Morgan, Jane Krakowski and Alec Baldwin and while some complained that in season 3, they became a little sloppier, the actors have always been excellent.
15. Damages, FX-I hear it's comparable to the Sopranos. Never watched it
16. Breaking Bad, AMC-The photography is amazing. The premise was a winner from the start and the show occurs at a pace that keeps you glued in through the whole hour. And that was before things started to get really interesting and really messy. The show keeps you at the very edge of what might be plausible for this man to descend to.
17. Desperate Housewives, ABC-There are a number of female-audience centered shows that have hit it big this decade and in distinguishing from fluff (i.e. Grey's Anatomy) verses something like Desperate Housewives, the latter doesn't aim to sensationalize. Desperate Housewives aims for quality.
18. Firefly, Fox-The western meets sci-fi had a cast of characters that enjoyed relatively good post-sitcom success and a fanbase that spurned a movie.
19. CSI, CBS- How many other shows have sparked people to choose their college major. CSI has coincided with a rise in forensics science majors all over the country. It's got good ratings largely because it's not dependent upon continuity but that's not necessarily a bad thing.
20. Futurama, Fox- I used to think Family Guy was the definitive animated show of the decade but I think it's declined in recent seasons and hurt its legacy, whereas Futurama won't yet have the opportunity to ruin its legacy until next season so it's a toss-up. Futurama is infectious. Groening has stated that as a kid who used to draw spaceships and futuristic contraptions in class and now he can't believe he's getting away with it. The fun of using the future as a playground for Greoning's wacky ideas is very easy to join in on.
21. House, Fox-I tended to think of House as the Ray of TV. Starring Jamie Foxx, Ray coasted to a best picture nomination solely on the basis of the lead actor's performance. Over time, House has developed a supporting cast to the point where it's not just about House and that's quite a strength that Hugh Laurie doesn't jsut overshadow the cast.
22. Pushing Daisies, ABC-The tone of the series was truly unique. It was a world you wanted to live in. It was also quite a creative achievement that although the pie maker had the power to solve all murder myteries in 60 seconds, no caper was ever that simple.
23. West Wing, NBC-Sorkin also had Studio 60 which was a fairly admirable failure
24. Everybody Loves Raymond, CBS- I feel like it's less pretentious and snotty than Curb Your Enthusiasm and if I had to pick a traditional tv sitcom that aged well into this new era of handheld camera comedies, it would be this one. I also didn't feel it started getting popular until halfway through its run as the ensemble chemistry started to gel
25. Flight of the Concords, HBO-Like Glee (which would've made the list if it came out a season or two earlier), the music is part of the fun.

26. Big Love, HBO-An intimate look at a corner of society that's certainly frowned upon.
27. Extras, HBO-Poignant and poetic, it certainly picked up steam in the second season with the true moral of the series: once you get fame, it's no picnic either, if you can't still be an artist
28. Friday Night Lights, NBC-I'm not much of a football fan (even fictional football) so I haven't watched this but I keep hearing it's quite good. It's placement on this list is a rough estimate. It's high on critical acclaim and low on cultural buzz.
29. Prison Break, FOX-Certainly one that I've been addicted to. When you think about it, Wentworth Miller ins't that charismatic of a lead but maybe that's kind of the point.
30. Family Guy, Fox-Unapologetically disjointed and unabashadly hillarious most of the time, Family Guy has its fans and detractors. One can't argue that their fans have been effective, since it's come back from the dead twice. Personally, I'm a fan
31. How I Met Your Mother, CBS-This decade's equivalent of Friends.
32. Six Feet Under, HBO-Don't get much HBO so I haven't seen it. In my first draft of this list, the omission of this drew the most protests.
33. Joan of Arcadia, CBS-Touched by an Angel meets the high school melodrama. For the first year, it was both acclaimed and popular and it featured two vets in Mary Steenburgen and Jason Mantenga doing good work.
34. Heroes, NBC-As far as I can remember, I don't remember sci-fi ever becoming so mainstream as when Heroes took over the waves it's first season. Comics often try to portray their heroes as ordinary Joes, but this really resonated in that respect.
35. Monk, USA-Inspired a number of copy-offs from USA. One criticism is it's a little too safe but it infused comedy into the murder mystery genre in a way that consistently worked week-in and week-out. The chemistry between Monk and Sharona followed by Monk and Natalie was also one of the best couples on TV.
36. My Name is Earl, Fox-Jamie Pressley, Nadine Vasquez, and Ethan Suplee had some of the most memorable supporting roles I can remember in this allegorical series of a lowlife trying to make good. There was something uplifting about this series that made it grow on me. One of the high points of NBC's schedule for a good four seasons.
37. Curb Your Enthusiasm, HBO-Although, I personally hate it
38. South Park, Comedy Central-It started in the 90's and while it's crude, it's become very relevant in pop culture the way the Simpsons was in the 90's. It is an equal-opportunity offender and offends in a way that shows that while its creators might be rediculously immature, they have their pulse on the zitgeist and know how to exploit it
39. Weeds, Showtime-It can be unpleasantly dark in the way American Beauty was, but it's earned accolades for a great cast and the show knows how to build suspense
40. SNL, NBC-It had it's good years and bad years and while the Bad Boys came out of the early 90's, there's the case to be made that there was a more solid chemistry to the cast in this decade
Let me see if I can make it all the way to 50:
41. Ugly Betty, ABC-Definitely a chick-flick of a TV show but one that has more cross-gender appeal than say, Sex in the City. Like Pushing Daisies it definitely has a unique surreal tone it establishes. It also is a celebration of multiculturalism and deals with issues of illegal immigration, preteen homosexuality and more without ever making an issue of any of those things.
42. Malcolm in the Middle, Fox-The family sitcom on crack. A precursor to shows like Grounded for Life, Everybody Hates Chris, The Bernie Mac Show (even though it only predates that show by 2 years, I believe) or American Dad
43. It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, FX-A personal favorite of mine.
44. In Treatment, HBO-Gabriel Bryne stars as a shrink who needs one of his own. The series focuses on interactions between Bryne and four of his patients as well as the doctor with his own head doctor.
45. Veronica Mars, UPN-A Nancy Drewish series with heavier plots that was a perfect fit for UPN.
46. Studio 60, NBC-A very noble failure featuring some of the best actors assembled for one show. The show's biggest flaw was that the writing was too idiosynchratic and the characters all sounded alike, but the show had it a certain electricity to it that made it so effortlessly watchable at times.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I know one more decision