- The Onion News Network, IFC, Seasons 1 and 2-Even though this is my #1 slot, I don’t have a whole lot to write here except that this is the program I was most blown away by week in and week out. I know it doesn’t score too many points for originality or risk as it is was basically an extension of their youtube channel, but that doesn’t mean the show’s not on the edge creatively. Both the first and second seasons came out this year and the show added a new level of complexity in the latter as the show became experimental and semi-serialized in the form of Brooke Alvarez’s rivalry with do-gooder news reporter Brady O’Shaw. Examples of episodic arcs included the broadcasting of the apocalypse, the computer becoming a sentient being and falling in love with Brooke, and the revealing that the icy Brooke was once a famous Russian cosmonaut as a baby. I imagine that in the same way hard core fans of The Daily Show and Colbert Report cling to those shows as a bastion of cutting edge satire, I see this as program as both the most funny and twistedly honest program on television. On second thought, maybe I do have a lot to write about it.
- Parks and Recreation, NBC, All of seasons 3, 1st half of Season 4-No longer in the shadow of Office, Parks and Recreation has an incredibly strong cast that didn’t lose a beat with the arrival of Adam Scott as geeky outsider Ben Wyatt and Rob Lowe as hyperactive city manager Chris Traeger. The show hasn’t just created a strong sense of place and time, but it’s created an inviting one. Leslie Knope was originally an irritating opportunity for Amy Poehler to try out a leftover SNL impression. Now, she and her gang of government bureaucrats have become the best definition of a great ensemble: you see them less as actors and more as a group of friends we want to hang out with.
- Hell on Wheels, AMC, Most of Season 1-The show is beautifully shot but doesn’t do the glamor of the West any favors. The railroad camps and the life of backbreaking labor is so hellish that only marked men would go there. The show interestingly contrasts that with two Irish brothers who think they can get a slice of the American dream with their picture show, a preacher who wants to open up a church, a whore with scars from her time as an Indian princess and a newly widowed fair-haired maiden who was told by another character that, not being a whore or Indian, she doesn’t beloing out there. It’s the traditional Western told through a lot of unique and diverse perspectives. Note: In retrospect, I've learned that not a lot of other people liked this show because its inferior to Deadwood. I never saw Deadwood and proudly stand by it.
6. Wilfred-FX-Season 1-It took me a couple episodes to get into this, but I loved it once I started seeing it as a drama rather than a gimmicky comedy. It has one of the most depressed characters on television, it doesn't treat his illness with kid gloves and it's a feel good story with no false moments which is a lot to say for a show with a talking dog in it. Read my review here.
-Revenge, ABC-A good twist on the high society soap opera: Having an infiltrator out to secretly destory everyone
-Web Therapy, Internet/Showtime-I did not expect to like this show because I'm not a Lisa Kudrow fan at all. This show was highly inventive in premise and execution and I was taken by surprise as its characters grew into an intertangled web with each other. Guest stars like Alan Cumming, Rashida Jones, Michael McDonald, Selma Blair and Molly Shannon all deserve great praise.
Just to let you all know what I saw this year:
2 Broke Girls, CBS, 2 and a Half Men, CBS, 30 Rock, NBC, Big Bang Theory, CBS, Bob's Burgers, Fox. Bored to Death, HBO, Burn Notice, USA, Community, NBC, Conan, TBS, Cougartown, ABC, Daily Show & Colbert Report, Comedy Central, Eastbound & Down, HBO (just one ep. but I hated it), Family Guy, FOX, Free Agents, NBC, Funny or Die Show, HBO, Futurama, NBC, Glee, Fox, Grimm, NBC, H8R, CW, Happy Endings, ABC, Ice Road Truckers, History Channel, In Plain Sight, USA, Last Man Standing, ABC, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, NBC, Life and Times of Tim, HBO (or that might be 2010, not sure), Mad, Cartoon Network, Misfits, Hulu (Although the 3 episodes I saw were originally produced in 2009), Modern Family, ABC, Off the Map, ABC, Onion Sports Dome, Comedy Central, Outsourced, NBC, Pan Am, ABC, Playboy Club, NBC, Raising Hope, Fox, Retired at 35, TV Land, Ricky Gervais Show, HBO, Royal Pains, USA, Running Wilde, Fox, Saturday Night Live, NBC, S*$# my Dad Says, CBS, Sports Show with Norm McDonald, Comedy Central, Suburgatory, ABC; United States of Tara, Showtime, Waking Dead, AMC, Wipeout, ABC