Friday, December 28, 2007

A Baker's Dozen Of The Year's Favorite Shows

So, here it is, the list of all lists.

Packed so thoroughly, I had to extend it to a baker's dozen of choices, and still there are shows that could easily be on the list and I'm leaving them off. I'm also sticking with dramatic programs, despite the great number of documentaries that aired this year.

Here's a quick Top 10 of the shows that DIDN'T make the cut. Had this been my final list of shows, few could have argued the picks:

1. The Sopranos
2. House
3. The Office
4. Rome
5. Curb Your Enthusiasm
6. Heroes
7. Burn Notice
8. Chuck
9. Rescue Me
10. Ugly Betty

Yep, those are shows that I lavished a lot of praise upon for the past year (and more) and aren't on my list of favorites. Nor are such critically praised/well-rated shows like "Grey's Anatomy," "CSI" or "30 Rock," none of which make my regular viewing habits.

It's not as if the above shows did anything wrong. It's just that for whatever reason, my ultimate favorite viewing goes to the list below. They aren't the right choices or the wrong choices, just my favorites. I expect that the regular readers of this blog will have their own selections, which I'd love to hear.

Anyway, in alphabetical order, so as not to play favorites among the favorites:

1. Battlestar Galactica (Sci-Fi): Honestly, in our post-9/11 world, there isn't a show that provides a better commentary on the human condition than BSG. Well acted with great production values, it also gave fans one of the best cliffhangers of the season.

2. The Bronx Is Burning (ESPN): You know what, this mini-series on ESPN was a heck of a lot of fun. John Turturro really nailed Billy Martin, and the rest of the cast was great as well. I found the Yankees/Son of Sam interweaving to be a bit disjointed, but from a dramatic perspective, this is the best thing ESPN has ever done.

3. Dexter (Showtime): The reason I subscribe to Showtime. Michael C. Hall is wicked cool in the title role, and each week provides a roller-coaster of emotions. Since the viewer is rooting for a serial killer, the series really turns everything upside down.

4. Doctor Who/Torchwood (Sci Fi/BBC): I'm cheating a bit here by lumping the two together, though there was some crossover between "Doctor Who" and its spinoff at the end. Not many shows can lose its insanely popular female lead and not skip a beat, but "Doctor Who" did. Meanwhile, "Torchwood" managed to carve a niche among mainstream, non science fiction reviewers and watchers.

5. Extras (HBO): Worth watching, if for nothing else but the wild cameos from such guest stars as Daniel Radcliffe, David Bowie and Orlando Bloom all playing warped versions of themselves, this show was also a high point for regulars Ricky Gervais, Ashley Jensen and Stephen Merchant. The finale was a bit too heavy-handed, but also had its sweet moments.

6. Friday Night Lights (NBC): This almost didn't make the list because of the times it drifted into melodrama, but the fact remains that this is one of the best-acted shows on TV, and even when the writers made a mis-step, such as the Landry-Tyra murder subplot, some great scenes came out of it. This show is too ignored by the general viewing population and the people who vote for awards.

7. How I Met Your Mother (CBS): The most consistently funny sitcom on the air. It's not quite as high a concept as "The Office," but I find it slightly more enjoyable. How this is more lower-rated than "The Big Bang Theory" is beyond me.

8. Life On Mars (BBC America): Not many shows are as clever in both their premise and their execution, but "Life On Mars" is also a tremendous amount of fun, providing both a neat perspective and a certain bit of nostalgia for those '70s-era cop shows.

9. Lost (ABC): Despite ABC managing to undermine what was once its signature show with a ridiculous hiatus for the likes of "Day Break," those final dozen or so episodes proved to be worth the wait with one of the best season finales ever produced by network TV.

10. Mad Men (AMC): An amazing ensemble cast that captures its era of the pre-Vietnam 1960s perfectly. With several star-making performances and brilliant writing, this was the best thing to come out of the summer of 2007.

11. Pushing Daisies (ABC): The fall's best new show, there isn't anything on the air that comes close to "Pushing Daisies" in terms of imagination and whimsy. With its glorious colors and well-executed dialogue, this is TV's most distinctive show.

12. The Shield (FX): I'll say this with the caveat that I've never seen "The Wire" (I plan on catching up during the WGA strike), but "The Shield" is the most gritty, realistic and consistently good cop show TV has ever done, IMHO. (And you won't find a bigger "Homicide: Life On The Street" fan than me.) Every year, the cast gives a clinic in acting, and the writing has been remarkably consistent since the show began. It's killing me that it's about to start its final season.

13. Supernatural (CW): I may leave myself open to a lot of criticism picking this over some of the shows I left off, but few shows have started as good as "Supernatural" and gotten even better each season. "Supernatural" is funny, smart, very scary and a lot of fun. It's the true successor to two TV classics, "The X-Files" and "Buffy, The Vampire Slayer."

So, hopefully I've justified myself in all my lists this week (sorry, "John In Cincinnati" fans) and given you guys something to think about. One thing worth mentioning is that despite people decrying the state of television, 2007 was an excellent year, and we can only hope 2008 gives us as many fun-filled hours.

WEEKEND'S BEST BETS: As you have probably heard by now, the NFL got wise at the last minute and decided to air the New England Patriots-New York Giants game on network TV. Originally, the game was only going to be shown on the NFL Network, but the NFL decided that the historic possibility of the Patriots completing a perfect season might be of interest to more than the 11 people who subscribe to the NFL Network. So the game will also be seen concurrently on both NBC and CBS.

"The Amazing Race" (CBS, 8 p.m.) is all-new Sunday night, one of the few new things on before the new year.


Toby said...

Well, it's a hodge-podge of all the types of categories you covered in several posts, but at Inner Toob "we" passed out the annual Toobits Awards for the year's best and worst:

The only contingent was that it all had to be new in 2007, so a lot of fantastic work by people whose characters premiered in an earlier year had to be set aside.

Hope you enjoy it!

Phillip Ramati said...

As I posted on your site, a good and eclectic list. Obviously, there are some things I'm going to disagree with, and a lot I did agree with, and some things that will come down to quibbles. (While "Blink" was an imaginative episode, it doesn't come down to the pure emotional impact of "Family Of Blood.")

I'm jealous you've apparently seen all of "The Sarah Jane Adventures." I only got to watch the first two episodes.

I thought about doing a Best of 2007 only list, which would have allowed me to include more items like Dirty Sexy Money and Aliens In America, but I decided not to limit myself in the end.