Wherein I opine about something I have absolutely no basis for opining about, and no credentials. But since that doesn’t stop me with music, why not expand my lack of expertise?
THE TEN BEST T.V. SERIES IN 2007.
10. Planet Earth (Discovery Channel). Here’s random words from reviews of this show: Breathtaking; biodiversity; beautiful; fascinating; family friendly; bad voiceover; staggering; green; blue; vast; powerful; mountains; deserts; underwater; never-before-seen; how did they film; captured; environmental; moving. I can’t do any better than that.
9. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FX). I hated season one, missed season two, and tuned into season three only under protest, to find some of the funniest raunchy humor I’ve ever seen. If you’re easily offended or over the mental age of 16, you’ll probably hate it. But if you’re like me, you’ll love it. Where else can you find a woman beating a masturbating wino senseless with a souvenir baseball bat?
8. Reaper (CW). Basically Buffy the Vampire Slayer revisited, a consistently clever and entertaining program with an incredible performance by Ray Wise.
7. Pushing Daisies (ABC). Yes, it’s precious and goofy and innocent and all about love. I never thought I’d like it, but it’s the most hopelessly romantic show on T.V.
6. Rescue Me (FX). Another series that is showing its age, but this one chooses to do it on screen, with Denis Leary’s character struggling with impotence and sobriety, the cassanova firefighters having kids and getting married (and divorced), and the entire house being undermined by the presence of a younger, more eager, and stronger (and black!) new probie. Simply excellent, the best slice-of-life action drama that’s not on HBO.
5. The Colbert Report/The Daily Show. The writers strike hasn’t really bothered me much, except that I’m missing the best hour on television. Yeah, it’s often uneven, but what do you expect from four original hours of programming each week?
4. The Riches (FX). The show that HBO should have had on was instead on FX. Eddie Izzard and Minnie Driver are brilliant as gypsies trying to go straight by capitalizing on the death of a “buffer.” It’s The Beverly Hillbillies turned upside-down and backwards, Lois and Clark without superpowers, and the most engrossing new family drama since The Sopranos.
3. The Shield (FX). Still great after all these years, Walton Goggins (Shane) finally proves that he can act, and act well. Unfortunately, it’s all too late. A show that has nothing but promise for some strange reason loses viewers season after season, even with the addition of Glenn Close and Forest Whitaker (who was simply incredible on this show). It kills me that the show will end after it’s next run of episodes. Unlike The Sopranos, the quality of this show has never dipped and it really looks like it could roll on forever. Best ensemble cast on TV.
2. Sopranos (HBO). The last season wasn’t their best season ever, but it was still great (and so much better than the earlier “dream series”). This was a show that was clearly past its prime but could go on being entertaining forever and, even at its lowest moments (Tony as a traveling salesman?), it was better than 99% of everything else out there. What is that 1%? I’m glad you asked. It’s . . .
1. Battlestar Galactica (Sci Fi). Both the actual series and the 2-hour movie, Razor, are head-and-shoulders above the rest of the universe in terms of quality. They even beat Law and Order on the topical front, producing clear (and fair and balanced)
allegories to the current war in Iraq, covering prison torture, war crimes, friends-turned-enemies and enemies-turned-friends, and, for good measure, offering some of the most interesting contemplations on the meaning of God and the essence and purpose of a Holy War. After all, the show is essentially about a war between two races, each of which is conducting its own jihad.
Honorable Mention: The way-too-short BBC series, Jeckyll.
TOP 10 DISAPPOINTMENTS IN TELEVISION THIS YEAR
10. HBO. HBO. HBO. See items 7, 6, 4, 3, and 2, all below.
9. 30 Rock (NBC). Stunt casting? Why do we need Seinfeld when we’ve already got Tracy Jordan and Alec Baldwin? Weak scripts, too much plot, and way too much Tina Fey show that the first season, which was fantastic, may have been a fluke. It doesn’t suck (yet), but not a single episode this season has even come close to being better than any of last season’s episodes.
8. Damages (FX). I liked it, but it should have been much better. That lead actress has got to go.
7. The Wire (HBO). Where the hell was it?
6. John From Cincinnati (HBO). The creator of the brilliant Deadwood series makes a new one, with all the profanity but none of the passion.
5. Bionic Woman (ABC). How did they screw up a sure-fire premise like this?
4., 3., 2. Flight Of the Conchords; Entourage; Tell Me That You Love Me (all HBO). The Boring, The Significantly Depreciating, and The Unwatchable. HBO, what hell hath you wrought? Answer: A new show that recycles others shows’ old bits and jokes, a returning show that recycles its own old bits and jokes, and a new show that shows only bits and pokes. How can a show about
sex be depressing and dull?
1. The Office (NBC). It’s still good, but it seems to be trying not to be, with bloated hour-long episodes, a too-cute-and-too-precious office romance, and even a gradual softening of one sit-comedy’s greatest villain since Newman, Dwight Schrute.
Best Series Finale: The Sopranos (HBO). It’s not even up for debate. Obviously, as soon as the screen goes black the viewer knows that Tony Soprano has
Worst Series Finale: The King of Queens (CBS). A show that was kinda funny it’s first year, and exponentially less funny each year thereafter, deteriorating into fat-guy-skinny-girl jokes through which I sat impatiently until I could see Jerry Stiller yell hoarsely at Patton Oswald. The series finale brought them to China; had a wedding; had not one but two babies; everything you need to jump the shark, except for Ted McGinley.
Best Season Finale: Curb Your Enthusiam. An interracial marriage! I can’t wait to see what they
do next year.
Worst Season Finale: Burn Notice (USA). Promoted as the episode that would answer everything, it answered absolutely nothing.
Best Show For Old Men and Ladies: The Closer (TBS). They tell me it’s great (I’ve never been able to sit through a whole episode).
Best Camp: Prison Break (FOX). If you’re not addicted to laughing at this show and its numerous and hysterical plotholes, you should be. Here’s the basic plot for this season: The CIA gets Frowning Dude thrown in a foreign prison so that FD can help bricked-in-a-wall-mysterious-man escape. BIAWMM has been hiding behind that wall for a long time, but as soon as he meets FD, he suddenly emerges and walks around and nobody cares about who he is or seems to notice that he’s suddenly emerged from his hidey-hole. Then, the CIA gets impatient and just tried to break BIAWMM out on its own using a helicopter, but by now FD is so irritated that he stops the escape from happening. Best thought-out American rescue mission
since Carter attempted to free the Iranian hostages in 1977. My only hope is that next season, FD breaks into a women’s prison.
Best Miniseries: Five Days (HBO). Simply extraordinary. More like an extended film than a TV series, detailing five days (but not five consecutive days) in the life of a family destroyed by kidnapping and murder.
Best Show I Never Saw: Weeds (SHO). I can afford only one subscription, and mine’s to HBO, but soon, very soon, I may be switching to Showtime, based on the word-of-mouth and reviews of shows like this, Brotherhood and Dexter. Runner up: Mad Men (AMC). Shame on AMC for not promoting this better, or at least for not showing all the episodes in a string after they started getting positive press.
Best Essentially Stupid Show That I Can’t Stop Watching Because The Lead Actor Is So Talented: Life (NBC).
Best Essentially Stupid Show That I Can’t Stop Watching Because I Miss The A-Team: Burn Notice.
Most Improved Show: Big Love (HBO). Although I enjoyed last season’s meditations on polygamy (is it wrong, etc.), this seasons dramatic storylines were just what was needed to make the program as good as the concept behind it.
Show That Should Get Awards But I’ve Run Out of Ideas Because I’m Not That Witt: The Sarah Silverman Program (Comedy Central).