Friday, December 26, 2008

Sepinwall on TV: Top TV shows of 2008

Today's column features my annual top 10 list -- which, as always, has me cheating with a tie at one spot near the end. The list:
  1. "The Shield"
  2. "The Wire"
  3. "Mad Men"
  4. "Chuck"
  5. "Lost"
  6. "The Office"
  7. "Battlestar Galactica"
  8. "In Treatment"
  9. "Breaking Bad"
  10. "Burn Notice" & "The Middleman" (tie)
To read the full column with flowery praise of each choice -- plus embedded video of memorable moments from each show -- click here.

Last year, the top 10 list ran on the same day as my list of the best episodes for shows that didn't crack the top 10, but this year that second list won't run until Monday. So feel free to grouse about the absence of "30 Rock," "Friday Night Lights," et al between now and Monday, when I give 'em nice plugs.

65 comments:

max_h said...

Great list and article, Alan! I'm thrilled to see "Burn Notice" make your top ten, and little "Chuck" placing so high. Really looking forward to the return of "Burn Notice", "Lost" and "Battlestar Galactica" in January.

Do you think "Chuck" has a shot at an Emmy nomination for Comedy Series this year? I've seen it on a lot of year-end critics Top Ten lists, and was wondering if the critical buzz might be worth something come Emmy time. The Emmys aren't probably the best barometer for quality TV, but I thought "Chuck" has been awesome this season, and some awards recognition (other than for its stuntwork) would be nice!

When you were mentioning Ryan in your "Office" write-up, I reflexively kept thinking of Ryan (the BJ Novak character) first. "The female Michael Scott? Oh...right, *Amy* Ryan...". And of course Ryan the character is now gone too.

Anyway, I digress. Thanks the Top Ten list and for all your work on the blog, Alan! It's become the essential go-to website for my TV-viewing. Have a great New Year!

Brandon said...

Alan, would John Adams or Generation Kill have been eligible for this list, or is it strictly for series?

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you included In Treatment as I always felt it was underrated by viewers and critics alike.

OldDarth aka CanuckLou said...

Solid list Alan.

My can't list would be:
Lost
BSG
Chuck

Alan Sepinwall said...

Alan, would John Adams or Generation Kill have been eligible for this list, or is it strictly for series?

Both would have been eligible, but I didn't like John Adams, and while I liked Gen Kill, it wasn't quite enough to crack the top 10. (And, unfortunately, because it's a David Simon show where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, it didn't really fit the best episodes list either.)

Alan Sepinwall said...

Do you think "Chuck" has a shot at an Emmy nomination for Comedy Series this year?

Probably not. It's not highly-rated enough to overcome the fact that it's an hour long, starring a bunch of people who aren't on the Emmy radar screen, etc.

tdf said...

My list would be:

1. The Shield
2. The Wire
3. Mad Men
4. Friday Night Lights
5. Dexter
6. Breaking Bad
7. Supernatural
8. BSG
9. Lost
10. Sons of Anarchy


I've mostly agreed with your views on Friday Night Lights and Dexter this season but IMO they're still better than most things on TV. SoA has been the best new show, House has been the most disappointing (it'd normally be in my top 5). Chuck and Life would probably 11 and 12.

Looking forward to the top episodes list!

LAP said...

I'm hoping Sons of Anarchy also makes an appearance, a show that I can pretty much guarantee I wouldn't have piqued my interest if not for you.

jlf said...

Alan, was there ever any official word on the return of The Middleman?

Anonymous said...

Hey Alan,
I felt the top 5 were pretty much locks this year. Even though you'll probably give Sons of Anarchy props with your episode list, I think that the way the show kept getting better throughout the season should have placed it as a first year show on the list. TV had a stronger year than films did this year so be greatful for that.

Pamela Jaye said...

Hey, it's always nice to see Chuck on a list anywhere.

I'm going to keep watching Grey's Anatomy despite the fact that it's turned into some sort of cross between Dark Shadows and Days of Our Lives (which I don't watch but the best friend does, so I have heard some plotlines)

jengod said...

For "Sons of Anarchy" on the episodes list there are so many choices? The pilot, "Giving Back" ("fire or knife?"), "The Pull" (Kohn's "Oh s--t" and then Jax and Tara fucking next to his dead body), "Better Half," and of course, "Sleep of Babies." Too much good stuff.

Pamela Jaye said...

oh, and I wouldn't even think of complaining that it's not on the list as it's turned so insane lately, after a promising reboot

I do wonder whether it's possible to express, without revealing the goal of this whole mess (which i don't want to know), whether there is any chance the end justifies the means, or if it's just Shonda's humongous ego - again.
Alas, there really isn't a thread in which to ask that.

last night we watched extras for Chuck S1 (hey, i'm almost on topic!) and The West Wing 1-7. Chuck's extras are ..not much

Anonymous said...

Alan, did you really not enjoy John Adams? If so, I am completely blown away by this. Wow.

Otherwise, great list (though the Wire would be a smidge above the Shield for me)!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for singling out Glynn Turman for his performance on "In Treatment". The series was filled with strong acting, but his "session" scene with Byrne was amazing. Acting coaches should use this performance as a teaching tool.

Anna said...

I don't understand how everyone can have Battlestar Galactica so far down the list. If you ask me, season 4.0 has been as near perfect as this show has ever come.

Anonymous said...

I didn't love it, but I have to disagree about the focus on Templeton going against The Wire's focus on institutions. He was as much a product of the modern institution of newspapers as McNulty was of the police or Carcetti was of the political system: it's all about getting your name in print, winning awards, and moving on to the Times or Post, and it's OK to do it dishonestly or obsessively as long as you do it.

Fernando said...

Suprised "The Wire" didn't wasn't number one just of general best ever principle. And though I agree with the flaw of the newspaper story, the end was the perfect mix of closure, ambiguity, hope and despair that I gotta wonder about "The Shield" being number one. Bubs walking up those stairs is enough for me.

After much peer pressure, I have recently started watching the first season of "The Shield" and in a year when i finally finished i expect to be floored lol.

I actually thought "Mad Men" had a better year than "The Wire", and that would have taken it out. I also expect "BSG" to be higher on the list next year with its finale coming up and "Lost" to have a stronger showing just by process of elimination (i.e. no wire, shield, sopranos,)

Anonymous said...

Alan, I've always wondered what your thoughts were onShowtime's Brotherhood? I think its bloody brilliant and was a big fan of its third season.

Anonymous said...

IMHO, I don't think the Templeton story line was nearly as important as the fact that the newspaper MISSED most of the important stories that we the viewers were privy to throught S5, and the show's entire run for that matter.

Templeton was a distraction in the world of The Wire as well as to the viewers - it proved Simon's point by keeping us distracted from what was really important.

Quite genius if you ask me...

Alan Sepinwall said...

Alan, did you really not enjoy John Adams?

I really, really didn't.

Alan Sepinwall said...

IMHO, I don't think the Templeton story line was nearly as important as the fact that the newspaper MISSED most of the important stories that we the viewers were privy to throught S5, and the show's entire run for that matter.

This was David Simon's argument to me, and it's one of the few areas where he and I disagree on "The Wire." I understand that this was the underlying idea behind the Sun story -- that Templeton was a distraction to both the editors and to us -- but because he got so much screen time compared to the other Sun reporters (who likely would have been more fleshed out in a 12 or 13-episode season), and because he was relatively two-dimensional, he seemed less a symptom of the disease (like, say, Carcetti, or Burrell) than the disease itself.

Your mileage may vary. And I'm still calling "The Wire" the bestest show ever, and I believe this is the only time in its five seasons that it wasn't my number one show at the end of the year, so I'm not exactly insulting it.

Adele said...

Alan, techinically FNL could make your best of 2009 list due to the NBC deal.

Fingers crossed.

SJ said...

Hey what about 30 Rock?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Alan, techinically FNL could make your best of 2009 list due to the NBC deal.

It could, I suppose, and it was one of the final cuts from the original list. But barring something weird, there won't be new episodes premiering in 2009 (either the DirecTV arrangement continues, or the show's done), and if I apply the same standards that awards shows and movie critics use when it comes to films that were in narrow release late in one year before going wide early the next, I'd have to count FNL season three as a 2008 thing.

And while the show's been markedly improved over season two, it's only occasionally been transcendent the way it was in season one. And that wasn't frequent enough to get it on the '08 list.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Hey what about 30 Rock?

From the above post:

So feel free to grouse about the absence of "30 Rock," "Friday Night Lights," et al between now and Monday, when I give 'em nice plugs.

Andrew said...

I slightly disagree about The Shield being number one. As riveting as its home stretch was, I still have trouble getting past what a massive contrivance that immunity deal was. It made for a great climax, but I just wish it wasn't built upon a plot point that was so illogical.

SJ said...

Ah sorry I didn't read everything.

I agree with you on The Wire though. I am currently watching the last season of The Shield (on episode 5), so let's see whether it is as good as everyone says. It's a little hard keeping up with it I have to say.

Anonymous said...

so I guess I'm the only one who put The Life and Times of Tim on the top 10 list?

I thought that show was just unbelievably funny, and for me, that comes just behind the great dramas like The Wire, The Shield and Mad Men.

Mike F said...

my list...

1 Battlestar Gallactica
2 The Wire
3 Breaking Bad
4 Mad Men
5 Lost
6 The Office
7 True Blood
8 Brotherhood
9 In Treatment
10 How I Met Your Mother

honorable mentions: Greek, Life On Mars, The Mentalist, Californication, Friday Night Lights, Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Dexter, Big Bang Theory

jimb said...

I'm sorry _Pushing Daisies_ didn't make your list, though I can see how slots are tight. But fingers crossed for an episodes list appearance.

SJ said...

Life and Times was definitely hilarious! Love that show.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I'd pick MAD MEN as the tops this year with THE WIRE a close second and THE SHIELD after, maybe even tied for 2nd. MM was just flawless this year and as good as the last season of THE WIRE was, it mised a few spots here and there (have been rewatching it on my new DVD set and have to admit it is getting better, McNulty's awfulness with the homeless guy and Kima's newfound maternal nature aside).

Hal Incandenza said...

Great list, Alan (with a top three identical to my own). Have to disagree slightly with the previous poster. If you excise two of the three CA eps then I agree that it was "flawless"--as it stands (for me): 11 (near) flawless eps and two duds.

krystle-ab said...

I would love to say great list, ut out of all the shows I have only seen Lost (Silly Country that I live in)...

Maybe next year you could limit the list to 9 shows an then t you would get yur top 10?

HMM2 said...

Alan:

Do you not watch "Brotherhood" on Showtime, or do you not like it?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Do you not watch "Brotherhood" on Showtime, or do you not like it?

I used to watch it, but I didn't like it, so I stopped. A show with some good performances that, at least in its first two seasons, had no idea what kind of stories it wanted to tell and the proper pace for telling them.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Alan, was there ever any official word on the return of The Middleman?

Official? No. But I can't imagine ABC Family bringing it back, or another network picking it up, and right now Javier Grillo-Marxuach says he's focusing on the season one DVD set.

marenamoo said...

Alan, Since I do not watch much cable tv and based upon the ratings of the shows on your list neither do many others - do you think it is time to have a best on broadcast and a best on cable top ten. Is this impossible due to the quality of broadcast shows? I just feel that the Emmys and Oscars (and critics) select movies and shows that no one sees and therefore they feel either uninterested or out of the in-the-know crowd. Is mainstream incapable of producing quality?

I for one would have added Life to the list - what would you have added if there was more room for broadcast?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Life isn't much higher-rated than a number of cable shows on the list (I suspect Burn Notice at least equals its numbers, if not surpasses them). Whether you're talking cable or broadcast, there are very few mass-appeal hits of any kind. Chuck is a show that, in theory, should appeal to a broad spectrum of the population, but because we're all so fragmented in what we do and watch, its actual audience is pretty small.

I'm not a snob about cable vs. broadcast. Frankly, I'm happier when a show I love is one that gets big ratings, because that means a lot of people are getting to experience something great.

But of the big, massive hits on television, American Idol had an awful year, you couldn't pay me enough to watch Dancing with the Stars, CSI gets a mention in the best episodes list on Monday but isn't outstanding enough overall to edge out anything on the actual top 10, etc., etc., etc.

And getting back to Life, it's been too uneven this calendar year to merit serious consideration for such a list, as I can think of only two episodes this season that were really great. One of them may be on the Monday list, but I need to stop spoiling it so people will read the damn thing.

Victor said...

Life and Times really surprised me. It ended up being one of the shows I absolutely had to watch as soon as it aired. Alan, is there any chance of it getting a second season (I'm guessing it got terrible ratings, but it does seem to be one of the cheaper shows to produce)?

It's funny, but with The Office, the first time I started watching it, I really didn't get what the fuss was about. I then gave it a second shot, and have fallen head over heals for it (ended up impulsively buying all the episodes off iTunes, and watching them within the span of three weeks. Side note, damn, Steve Carrell really lost a ton of weight between the first and second season).

Chuck definitely deserves to be on the list. And while I love Always Sunny to death, it still suffers from on and off episodes. I'd love to see it get a mention in the best episodes (the old-time episode being especially good).

The Wire, no doubt deserves to be up there. In Treatment great as well, so I'm happy to see you mention in. Sons of Anarchy, while it got good, really suffers from having Ron Perlman be so weak in his role. I was holding out hope for HBO and 1%, but apparently that's dead.

What else... hmm, I realise this was the year I started watching less shows, but watching them closer. Oh yes, True Blood. While it took me a few episodes to get into it - the corniness was hard to stomach at first, especially knowing Alan Ball was at the helm - it really grew on me through out the season.

A decent year for TV, though I'm especially excited to see all the new shows coming next year. Here's hoping the heavy slate HBO is bringing ends up paying dividends.

Anonymous said...

I would not consider Breaking Bad, The Wire-Season 5, and Dexter to be top 10 shows.
I think the emmy voters got it exactly right with Breaking Bad. The lead actor was worthy of a best actor award, but the show itself was not. The dialouge in Breaking Bad sometimes just seems bad and I still don't buy the plot that a mild teacher becomes a drug dealer.
I enjoyed the Wire season 4 and the heart-breaking story of the kids, but the serial killer plot of season 5 just seemed dumb and implausible.
With Dexter, I just don't like the main character, and when I don't like the main character, I don't like the show.

Anthony Foglia said...

While listening to David Bianculli's top ten on "Fresh Air" a few days ago, I had a realization. We don't need another retrospective top ten list. The top shows don't really change. Instead, we need a list of shows to watch out for. I mean shows that seem on the cusp of making these lists, and might make it next year. Shows that demonstrate potential, but need a little time and work, like the first season of "Chuck" last year, and "The Middleman" and "The Sarah Connor Chronicles" this year can be featured.

It might be better as a blog post, since a general audience probably just cares about the best, but I think it's a good idea to spotlight shows that won't break through the clutter of the usual shows on all the critic's lists ("Lost", "Mad Men", etc.).

Zach Haldeman said...

First, I have never seen Breaking Bad and therefore hold no opinion of it, other than it sounds like something I would like. But Alan, when I saw it in your Top 10 list, I couldn't help but remember your tepid initial review of the first 3 episodes. I went back and read all your individual reviews, and while it seems your opinion did improve by the end, it didn't feel like you would have called it Top 10 material. Did something happen since the first season aired to lift your opinion of it?

Also, have you ever considered writing a Top 10 Performances list, to recognize the year's best acting like NPH, Michael C. Hall, or others?

Anonymous said...

because he [Templeton] got so much screen time compared to the other Sun reporters (who likely would have been more fleshed out in a 12 or 13-episode season), and because he was relatively two-dimensional, he seemed less a symptom of the disease (like, say, Carcetti, or Burrell) than the disease itself.

The disease is capitalism, and to suggest that Templeton's malfeasance isn't a symptom of it and not see how the profit motive has corrupted the journalistic mission, both individually and institutionally, and not see how that is of a piece with its corruption of the other "institutions" explored in "The Wire" is to suggest incorrectly and to not see a lot.

"The Wire," the most subversive show ever on American TV, was a five-year exploration of the social and personal destructiveness of capitalism. It had its own version of the camel and the eye of the needle. Well-rounded character and the singular pursuit of false idols, as with Marlo and power or Templeton and the Washington Post or his bosses and the Pulitzer, not going together seems to have been something of a point. The criticism that these particular characters should have had depth, should have struggled with the angels like Carcetti did, unlike Marlo or Burrell or Valchek or Levy or many others, I don't get.

the show's contention that institutions, not individuals, cause our greatest problems.

The contention was that the way wealth is distributed under unfettered capitalism is the problem from which all others follow, including the corruption of individuals. Some are more easily corrupted and toss aside their humanity more easily than others, Templeton being one.

Mike F said...

That's a gross misinterpretation of The Wire, buddy. The Wire certainly hit local and state government much harder than it ever hit capitalism. In fact, there was very little about big business in all the seasons of the wire put together.

Alan Sepinwall said...

First, I have never seen Breaking Bad and therefore hold no opinion of it, other than it sounds like something I would like. But Alan, when I saw it in your Top 10 list, I couldn't help but remember your tepid initial review of the first 3 episodes. I went back and read all your individual reviews, and while it seems your opinion did improve by the end, it didn't feel like you would have called it Top 10 material. Did something happen since the first season aired to lift your opinion of it?

What happened is, Cranston's performance stayed with me a lot longer than a lot of other shows. There are shows that improve the longer you think about them, and ones that seem more exciting in the moment than they do afterwards. The former group is more likely to wind up on a list like this.

Norgard said...

"I understand that this was the underlying idea behind the Sun story -- that Templeton was a distraction to both the editors and to us -- but because [...] he was relatively two-dimensional, he seemed less a symptom of the disease (like, say, Carcetti, or Burrell) than the disease itself."

I think it's worth noting that in this regard Templeton's story mirrors the serial killer arc. Objectively, even if the serial killer had existed, he would have been a lesser threat than Marlo who, lest we forget, put bodies into the vacants by the dozens. But the serial killer -- one-dimensional and sensationalised, with appropriate kinky rituals -- was a more effective means of holding the city's attention. Likewise, the Sun not only missing out on the real stories but actively dismantling their ability to do real reporting in the pursuit of short term sales is a larger long-term problem than one reporter making up stories, but Scott Templeton, two-dimensional as he was, also provided a more spectacular, accessible story for the viewer. The driving principle behind Templeton's story is the same as behind the story McNulty and Freamon tell with their "serial killer". The only difference is that in the former case, the intended target is the television audience itself.

Anonymous said...

Alan -
What? No Dr. Horrible? Isn't the Internet as viable a distribution mechanism as cable, satellite and air? Or did you just not like it better than "Chuck"?

mj said...

"And while the show's been markedly improved over season two, it's only occasionally been transcendent the way it was in season one. And that wasn't frequent enough to get it on the '08 list."
So shows need to be transcendent to make your Top 10 list? I watched every minute of both Mad Men and The Office (sometimes twice) and don't recall any transcendent moments. On the other hand, even you admit that FNL had at least some transcendent moments in Season 3. I would rank FNL3 above both Mad Men (which was brilliantly acted by Jones, Hendricks, Moss, Hamm, and Slattery, in that order) and The Office, which I agree were extremely good. Thanks for the expanded thoughtful summaries and links to clips of all 10 shows. Go "Hello, Goodbye" for the Best Episodes list on Monday!

Antid Oto said...

I must be the only TV snob left who still thinks Mad Men is unbearably boring. Oh well. I pretty much agree with the rest of the list.

Dirk Digler said...

Antid,
I'm with you on Mad Men. I've only seen an episode or two of season 1, but it seems drearily boring to me. Oh, great, a early-60s-era soap opera. Hey, you can drink at work and smoke in the office...zzzzz. Hey, women are second-class citizens, zzzzz. Oh look, marital infidelities....zzzzz. So many folks praise it so highly though, I may have to give it better introspection on DVD. I still think that the basic premise just won't interest me, no matter how good the performance. It just doesn't seem new or interesting. Can anyone preach the good graces of it for me (keep in mind I felt the same way about FNL before I actually bought the first season on DVD because of Alan)?

Michael P said...

Nice to see such terrific but little seen shows as "In Treatment" and "Breaking Bad" get a little respect. But every time I see a list like this with "The Wire" on it I feel like a dumbass, and I'd really like to know if there are others out there who feel the same way. When this show started HBO was at the peak of its glory, and I'd have watched any series they started. So I started watching "The Wire" and managed to hang on for five or six episodes, but I was finding it awfully difficult to follow and even more difficult to keep up with who all the characters were. So I'm sitting there watching episode 7 or so and I just said "fuck it, I've watched 6 1/2 hours of this thing and I have absolutely no fucking idea what's going on." And I dropped it, never got back to it, and have had to keep reading for five or six years now how it's the greatest tv show ever. Anyone else have this problem? Should I go back and get the DVDs and try it again? I keep thinking that if I can follow "Lost" then surely I can follow "The Wire"

Drew said...

Michael P., I'm with you actually. I got through season one and about half of season two (I bought the DVDs based on recommendations and a great Black Friday sale last year), and I just found that I couldn't keep up, I didn't care to keep up, and I just really didn't enjoy the show. I'd like to get through it just to say that I did, but I find it a very difficult show. I know that's what a lot of people enjoy about it, but for me, it just felt like too much work. I had no idea who anyone was in the projects, in the department, and (in season two) on the docks. I don't get it. I wish I did.

The one thing about your list, Alan, is that I have to really disagree with The Office's inclusion. I will say that its post-strike run was strong with only Dinner Party and Job Fair being misses (and even Dinner Party is only a miss because of its airdate as opposed to its quality), but I can't see how season five makes the show worthy of inclusion on any best-of list. I agree that Holly was a breath of fresh air, but she ended up in a character limbo for a while, adding very little to the show because the writers couldn't do too much with a character that had a limited shelf life.

Most importantly, I find that the show simply hasn't been that funny this year. It's been broad and disjointed with bad characterization and plots that go nowhere. The Andy/Angela/Dwight triangle, especially, has been a display of poor writing with absolutely no consistency and situations designed to make each character unlikeable to an extreme degree (Andy comes off the best, though he's almost too pathetic to root for at this point).

There's no heart to the show anymore (and it's more than a lack of a solid Jim and Pam story, which is what people tend to point to as a quick reaction), no sly observations about workplace life or about life in general, and no effort to keep the show real.

I still enjoy talking about the show and I still enjoy spending time with the characters (and on occasion -- like Customer Survey -- I think it's still a great show), but I find that it is overall and absolute disaster, and I've seen no compelling argument that the show is anything other than a joke right now.

For a comparison, I find How I Met Your Mother to be a much more satisfying, compelling, and character-consistent sitcom, and I find The Big Bang Theory to have much bigger laughs on a regular basis. Their recent killer ratings are very earned.

Geri said...

Really nice to see Chuck on your list. That show is some kind of phenomenon. It´s not the most accurate nor most demanding show on tv right now but Chuck is just lovely. It´s the show I am looking forward to the most. Chuck is the show that manages to put a smile on my face thanks to its goofy characters but on the same time surprises me and let´s not forget my favorite part of that show: Chuck and Sarah...oh my...;)

I love shows like Friday Night Lights, Battlestar Galactica and LOST but it´s nice to have a show like Chuck where you are not constantly depressed watching it.

Anonymous said...

From Jan:

Great list, Alan. I'm looking forward to checking out the links for some of the ones I haven't really seen: "In Treatment," "Chuck," and "The Office." I, too, would have "Brotherhood" on the list--this last season was amazing--as well as "Big Bang Theory." And I'm so glad you included "Burn Notice," "The Middlemanm," and "Breaking Bad." Also, I am really, really enjoying "Summer Heights High." He really nails those three characters.

And the best news of all is that there IS going to be a DVD of "The Middleman." I keep checking on amazon, but nothing yet. I can't wait. I missed one episode, and for that alone I'd buy the DVD.

By the way, amazon has the complete series of "The Wire" for around $79, I think--a terrific bargain.

Thanks for the great columns Alan, and the intelligent blog comments from others. That's why I read this one every single day without fail. Happy New Year!

Kimmy said...

Alan, I am not a big television watcher. You have directed me to several good shows this year to change my stance. I trust your judgment, and getting ready to start the Wire from Season one.

I am only disappointed about the Sopranos being left off of your list. Was it only left off because of the idiotic ending? Had Tony's brains been all over the jukebox, would that have changed your opinion?

Alan Sepinwall said...

I am only disappointed about the Sopranos being left off of your list. Was it only left off because of the idiotic ending? Had Tony's brains been all over the jukebox, would that have changed your opinion?

No, it was left off the list because the last episode of The Sopranos aired six months before 2008 began.

Now, you want to talk about my Best of 2007 list? Well, it did pretty okay there.

Antid Oto said...

Should I go back and get the DVDs and try it again?

I'm assuming that you started with the beginning in watching those 6 episodes. In any case, absolutely you should try again. It does demand an awful lot of patience and attention to follow the plot, but it pays off over the course of a season like pretty much no other show ever. I never really had the problem of keeping the characters straight. But David Simon will often put important plot points in seemingly inconsequential scenes without calling great attention to them.

Nevada Smith said...

Like the major love for the film Wall-E I don't get the love for Chuck. To me it's because there is such garbage on network television that anything that has even the slightest flavor shines (I don't see any flavor in Chuck by the way). Your top 3 are fine but Lost is next if not #1-and with the Office next that basically ends the list. There is no Top 10 list this year-it's basically a Top 5.

Owen said...

I like your top ten, but mine wouldn't include "Chuck", "Breaking Bad", "Burn Notice", or "The Middleman" (I'll give "In Treatment" the benefit of the doubt since I didn't watch it). All fine shows, but not top ten.

In their places, I'd put "Pushing Daisies", "30 Rock", and... er, well I don't know. Maybe I can let "Chuck", "Burn Notice", and "The Middleman" back in. ("Breaking Bad" didn't live up to my expectations. I loved the premise and the acting, but was disappointed by the storylines.)

I also loved "HIMYM" and "The Sarah Silverman Show" but I'm not sure they make the top 10.

I didn't watch "Friday Night Lights" or "Weeds" because I don't get their channels, but I'm holding out hope that when I do see them, they'll be high on my list.

I was glad to not see "Dexter" on your list because, like "Breaking Bad", the writing just do justice to the premise and acting.

Jackie said...

I'm a bit behind the rest of the world with The Wire, just wrapping up S3. Alan, since you don't have recaps up for seasons 2 and 3, do any of your blogger pals have good recaps available? I really enjoyed reading your analysis of the eps of season 1, and was hoping for something comparable - if not as insightful as yours, of course :)

belinda said...

Nice list. For the most part, I'd agree.

All but two:

Burn Notice: Not because it's no good, but merely because I have not watched it yet. I remember reading/watching somewhere about how NBC plasters their offices with said posters, which kind of turned me off from watching. But perhaps I will in the summer, now that it's on the list.

In Treatment: I can't argue there are moments (or really patients, most notably the gymnast, who I found to be the most interesting)in the show that are simply tremendous, and O'Bryne(?sp) is very good in it; But, I can't agree to a top ten position for a show that is quite grating and overbearing character and story wise for half the days of the week, and great the other. It's too uneven. And while it's clearly an interesting experiment that must have been difficult to make, airing every day of the week, the show became quite draining on the weaker patients and days, and detracted from the richness on the days that were good. More doesn't always equal better.

But, I'm happy to see The Middleman on the list. I really enjoyed that show, and was disappointed when it got canceled.

And, while we all grate on NBC as the shit network of all time, and the devil incarnate Silverman and Zucker, look at the distribution:-

AMC: Mad Men, Breaking Bad
HBO: The Wire, In Treatment
NBC: Chuck, The Office
SF: BSG
ABC: Lost
FX: The Shield
ABCF: The Middleman
USA: Burn Notice

There are only three network shows on the list, and two of them are on NBC. Kind of creepy.

henry said...

Great to have The Middleman on the list! I only caught a couple of episodes but it counts as an amusing distraction (like Chuck). I'd add The Big Bang Theory onto the list, which was consistently hilarious throughout the fall.

Fritz Novak said...

Great list, except as others have noted, I would have put Dexter in there. I, like many others including you, was very disappointed with this season. However, my main concerns have to do with them writing the show into a corner and missing opportunities for dramatic potential. While these are legit concerns, this season was still great television, and it shouldn't be judged on what it could have done. This goes for any series, by the way. Once you focus on missed opportunities, it just becomes a message board feeding frenzy on who thinks they could have written a better plot line and what "should" have happened.
I agree with you that I don't like the direction Dexter is taking, but this season had the fantastic Jimmy Smits-Michael C. Hall pairing, which should have catapulted it into top 10 status alone, especially if you're going to put Breaking Bad there, which is a much more seriously flawed show with a great leading performance.