Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Best of 2006, Part I: The Also-Rans

As pointed out in a recent posting on our music blog, Amped, Top 10 lists are a bit of a mixed bag that are pretty much dictated by the individual critic's taste.

Still, there's no new episodes of anything on, so I can stretch my Top 10 picks for 2006 out for three days' worth of postings.

I saw the year's end Top 10 list put together by the great Mo Ryan of The Chicago Tribune. It's a good list for the most part, though I took her to task for picking "Psych" over "Rescue Me." By the way, you should check out Mo's blog if you get the chance; it's always worth a read.

As Mo points out, there is so much good TV on right now that it's hard to limit it to just 10. So, in an effort to try, I am limiting myself to scripted, dramatic series. That means quality TV like "The Colbert Report" or "The Daily Show" don't make the list. Nor does any reality program. (Not a problem for me this year). Nor any TV movies or specials.

I am also limiting myself to shows I watch. As our music critic, Maggie Large, mentions on Amped, that's one of the drawbacks to doing lists of this kind: You can't see or listen to everything. For example, I don't have Showtime, so I don't get to see "Dexter" or "Weeds" or "Sleeper Cell," any one of which will make most critics' lists.

How good is TV these days? Even without listing the reality shows, fake news shows, and shows I don't watch, there's enough left over deserving to be mentioned. So much in fact, that today's list is the also-rans. These are good shows that don't even make my honorable mentions, let alone the Top 10. (Honorable mentions will come Thursday, Top 10 on Friday).

Here they are:
*Rome (HBO): This lavish, well-acted, well-written series could have broken into the Top 10. Sadly, it's so expensive to make that its second season will be its last.
*Prison Break (Fox): The writing stretches you beyond the point of belief, but it's a thrill-a-minute ride, and boasts one of TV's best villains in T-Bag (Rob Knepper).
*West Wing (NBC): The reason why this got bumped off the honorable mention list is that it ran last season. Kind of a dumb reason, since it was one of the venerable show's best seasons. The election was a great storyline, though I think Alan Alda should have won.
*NCIS (CBS): One of CBS' many procedurals, this one is produced by Don Bellisario, so it gets extra points there. You can tell the cast and crew also have a lot of fun with it.
*Bones (Fox): This show makes the list because of the terrific chemistry between TV's best couple, Emily Deschanel and David Boreanaz. I also like the Squids, the series' lab techs. The plots, though, are far-fetched.
*Smallville (CW): Two years ago, they had the great addition of Erica Durance as Lois Lane. They've only added to that by building on the DC comics lore, adding Green Arrow (Justin Hartley) and Jimmy Olsen (a hilarious Aaron Ashmore). It also has another of TV's best villains, Michael Rosenbaum's Lex Luthor.
*Supernatural (CW): This show is having one of the best sophomore runs of any on TV. The writers have done a great job in keeping the show clever and consistent.
*My Name is Earl (NBC): You can't help but love these characters.
*Kidnapped (NBC): Despite the dorks at NBC's attempts to kill this show, while it was on the air, it was one of TV's most compelling hours. Had it played out its run on the air instead of the internet, it would have easily moved into the honorable mentions.
*It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FX): Along with "Rome," this one one of the most difficult shows to leave off the honorable mention list. It's the true heir apparent to "Seinfeld."
*Numb3rs (CBS): Yet another CBS procedural, this one makes math fun.
*Shark (CBS): It rips off the "House" formula, but James Woods makes it compelling.
*24 (Fox): I really hate this show. I really do. Why I keep watching it, I don't know. It's beyond ridiculous, the writing to get every disaster to fit into the span of a day. And Jack landing that plane on, what, 100 yards of freeway? I could to a 10 Worst List, and have "24" on it, no problem. I mean, it really bothers me to include this. Seriously. But the acting is good (especially Chloe, a character I hated but have grown to love) and one thing I can't say is that the show is dull.

Coming Thursday: Top 10 Honorable Mentions

WEDNESDAY'S BEST BET: Nuthin'. It's all re-runs. However, the second "Bones" (Fox, 9 p.m.) airing tonight is a pretty good repeat of last year's Christmas episode, when the gang is quarantined in the lab for the holiday after a deadly spore is accidentally released.

Also, you can catch the re-airing of Tuesday's "My Boys" (TBS, 11 p.m.) tonight. Since I'm already plugging Telegraph blogs, I was mentioning to 'Rose' of our Macon Love blog the other day, this series continues to get better each week, and these two installments were quite good.


Anonymous said...

I think numb3rs should be ranked higher. Agree with you about "24", I, too, watch it but hate it.

Rose said...

"My Boys" is awesome. All of my friends are addicted to it because they think that group of friends acts like we do. In fact, we do have a tendency to repeat words over and over again, much like "sheep shirt." Now if I could only get my computer to play it online since I don't have cable ... hmmm ...

Phillip Ramati said...

Anon, this list isn't ranked really in any order, it's just when they popped out of my brain. 24 is like a disease you can't get rid of.

Rose, I keep telling you, ya gotta get cable!

Anonymous said...

I assume that when you come out with your final top ten list on Friday, each and every single spot will be occupied by HBO's "The Wire." That goes without saying, right? Best dramatic series. Ever.

Zodin2008 said...


"My Boys" is terrific--my wife & I are addicted.

And despite the obvious snobbery of "The TV Guy" and Anonymous, "24" is the most exciting show on Television. It's the show I have most in common with all my friends. Seriously, I don't know one friend of mine all over the country who doesn't adore this show.

So, Phillip, you continue to take nasty potshots at this show yet have watched for 5 solid years. Unlike you, I proudly love this show, so does my wife and so do all my friends. But I guess we're all just diseased idiots.

Phillip Ramati said...

Anon, I won't have "The Wire" on the list. It's not because the show isn't good - everything I've heard is that it's one of the best shows on TV - but it's because I've never seen it. I wasn't getting HBO when the first couple of seasons came out, so I've never had the chance to catch up with it.

Much like some of those series like "Dexter" or "Weeds," I hope to catch up with it some day. However, it's a bit of a dilemma to try to rank a generally-agreed excellent series if I have never seen it. That's why this is my Top 10 list.

It's all pretty subjective. After all, shows like "Grey's Anatomy" and "CSI" have legions of fans, but I am not one of them. It doesn't mean they are bad shows, but they are shows that I don't particularly enjoy.