Friday, December 28, 2007

Sepinwall on TV: Best of 2007

Two columns today celebrating the best stuff I saw in 2007, starting with my top 10 list:
  1. "The Sopranos"

  2. "Mad Men"

  3. "30 Rock"

  4. "Friday Night Lights" season one

  5. (tie) "Dexter" &

  6. "The Shield"

  7. "House"

  8. "Extras"

  9. "The Office"

  10. (tie) "Chuck" & "Pushing Daisies"
To read the full column where I elaborate on why those shows got the nod (and include video links to great scenes wherever possible), click here.

Meanwhile, I did a second story about the best episodes and/or moments of shows that either just missed the cut (say, the "Price Is Right" episode of "HIMYM" or the mugging episode of "Flight of the Conchords") or weren't good enough for top 10 consideration but had rare moments of genius (say, the "Lost" finale or the "Day Man"/"Night Man" episode of "It's Always Sunny"). Lots and lots of YouTube links in that one, so click here for it all.


Stef said...

Great list. Even though CNN just reported there's "no end in sight" for the strike, I hope it does get resolved soon enough so that there actually can be a best of 2008 list. Otherwise, I'll be catching up with several 2007 series through Netflix all year long.

Unknown said...

Ooh, thank you for including "Fairway, My Lovely" on the best episodes list! I forgot how hilarious and awesome that was.

AlexR said...

A strong list, Alan, and I agree with the majority of it. Here's my personal Top 10 (as if anyone but me would care, but here goes just for discussion purposes):

1. Mad Men

The 1st season was pitch perfect, with only that one giant failure at the end with the asinine Peggy pregnancy storyline, which I may have bought if I didn't just see my wife go through 9 mos. of pregnancy.

2. Friday Night Lights

There are some who agree with me that the murder plot wasn't that horrible an idea because, well, it's a TV show and it brough dramatic tension. The show's acting is downright stellar at all times, save for Minka Kelly.

3. 30 Rock

This show, even when it has a down episode, is still the funniest thing on Television. What "The Office" used to be.

4. Lost

I don't care that most people didn't love those initial 6 episodes - I thought they were still brilliant and the back 13 were can't miss except for the tattoo episode. Even the way they killed off Nikki & Paolo was genius. The season finale was the best of any show I saw this year.

5. The Shield

Unlike FX counterpart "Rescue Me", "The Shield" has never had a singular bad moment. Or season a(the way RM just had). I will really miss this show when it's gone.

6. Battlestar Galactica

Arguably the best ensemble cast, like a FNL or 30 Rock, a mediocre episode is still better than 90% of what's on TV. Can't wait for the next season.

7. How I Met Your Mother

This show is just pure joy to watch and the chemistry of the 5 actors is downright effortless.

8. Chuck

Glad you put this on your list, Alan. The only episodes I didn't love were the first 2, and even they were pretty good. When a show gets BETTER as it goes along (ahem, Reaper) rather than worse, it's something to behold.

9. Jericho

It may not be in your top 10, but it's in mine. There is a reason 8 million people felt the need to mail peanuts to CBS. This show started off a mess, and by the end, had as much genuine scary tension as BSG or The Shield.

10. Journeyman

Another show like "Jericho" that started slow out of the gate and was downright brilliant at the end. It's no more, but I will likely go out and buy the 13 episode complete series DVD as soon as its released. Kevin McKidd was amazing.

Hon. Mention: Ugly Betty

A great first season, an OK second second season that has had a bit too much Betty loves Henry, Betty and Henry break up, they love eachother again. The cast is downright awesome.

Hon. Mention: The Office

I used to say 'even bad episodes are still amazing' but I can't say that anymore. Still, you can always find some brilliance in every episode.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised Heroes didn't make it on the strength of the second half of season one (minus the finale of course). My personal favorite is Lost, and I think those 13 episodes (minus the tattoo one like alexr said) were its best ever. Since that's the entire 2007 run and it's the same amount of episodes as Dexter & the Sopranos, I don't get how people keep bumping it off their list. Whatever, the show will go on with or without critical cheer.

Alan Sepinwall said...

There are only two "Heroes" episodes I loved unreservedly -- "Company Man," which made the best episodes list, and "Five Years Later" -- and the rest was too much flash, not enough substance.

The six episode "pod" from '06 was the worst part of that "Lost" season, but I really didn't like most of the '07 episodes, either. It wasn't until the last four or five (around the Sun pregnancy ep) that I felt the show got its mojo back. And as brilliant as the finale was, the series as a whole didn't quite make the cut.

I really advise people to look at the best episodes story, where a lot of the shows you're lobbying for wound up.

Anonymous said...

You had mentioned possibly giving a hint on which DVD set you'll be working through on the blog - did I miss that or is it not in there?

Alan Sepinwall said...

It got delayed, because my bosses want to do a big splashy announcement in the paper next week. Look for it on Thursday.

cpennylane said...

The second AI link doesn't work for me. I've never watched the show, and was wondering about it...

Bruce Reid said...

Fun lists, particularly the "Episodes" one, because that's probably closer to how I remember television--brilliant stuff occasionally bursting out from its drab surroundings.

In that spirit, my favorite selection on either list is that magnificent couch gag from an otherwise lackluster Simpsons.

Surprisingly few one-offs, though. Did you find it a particularly drab year for movies and miniseries, or do you tend to focus on ongoing series when it comes to Top Elevens?

Anonymous said...

I'm glad that you gave It's Always Sunny a mention even if you aren't the biggest fan of the show overall. Personally, I would've chosen that hourlong mafia episode they did. It served as a great contrast to The Office hourlongs since rather than being commissioned to do a longer episode, you could tell that the writers had been saving up for such an occassion and did the episode on their own volition.

T. said...

I was with you until the Office. If you could have managed to leave NBC out altogether with the exception of Friday Night Lights you'd have batted 1000.

-M said...

Chuck? Really? I know it didn't suck as hard as...let's say...Women's Murder Club but I don't know if it blew my mind away enough to be on a Top 10. I'm trying to take the season as a whole into consideration vs possible one-hit episodes (as that was another list) and I just don't see it with Chuck. Am I the only one?

Anonymous said...


SJ said...

I'm disappointed that Flight Of The Conchords is not on there. In my opinion it was better than the last 3 shows on your list at least. Definitely better than Chuck! I like Chuck but FOTC was way, way better.

I have finally started watching Mad Men (just saw the 1st episode) so let's see if it is as good as people say it is. Definitely agree with The Sopranos and 30 Rock being that high up there.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I don't want to be a jerk, and I know it's all opinion and stuff, but it's hard to take you seriously if you're going to put Chuck on your top ten list - or House for that matter.

Anonymous said...

"Yeah, I don't want to be a jerk..."

Whoops. Unintended consequences, I guess.

If Chuck and House are so awful, how about explaining why you think so, instead of pretending it's self-evident? Since apparently it's impossible that other people see things about them that you don't.

Cassie said...

Count me as someone else who thought all of 2007's Lost (not just the last few eps) was terrific.

As someone who got sucked back into The O.C. in its final season, I have to question your choice of the earthquake episode. I remember Adam Brody being distractingly terrible in that one. He was really phoning it in throughout that final stretch.

Anonymous said...

I too have started watching Mad Men. Unfortunately I think I picked it up on the last 2 episodes. What I've seen, however, was very good and I'm looking forward to watching the whole season. There was no mention of the Tudors which I know might not fall into the high quality plane-but was certainly a guilty pleasure and anything with Jonathan Rhys Meyers is ok in my book. I am one of the people who think the whole season of Lost was great and it's still my favorite drama on network television. The whole thing about Chuck is that while it's a decent idea with a likeable guy-the stories, the development, everything about it screams disposable. It's a show to watch when there's nothing else on. It's not a show that you wait for a week to see the next episode-looking forward to it-caring about the characters and what might happen. It's just a show that you don't care if you miss an episode. That's why putting Chuck on the top 10 is a big question mark. I understand that this might be the worst season of television in over 20 years-there really isn'y one new show to get excited about. But that still doesn't make it ok to make Chuck the cream of the crap.

Anonymous said...

Chill out treacher, just my opinion. And ironically, I really did want to sound like a jerk.

Chuck is bland. Its dialogue is uninspired, its plots (episodic and serial) are mind-numbingly cliche, its action is just cheesily-choreographed padding. If you disagree with any of the above reasons, then yes, in my jerky opinion, I can not take you seriously as a legitimate critical authority. The other choices I may disagree with, but understand the reasoning. Now I admit, I was going a little overboard in my harshness, and I understand that people, even intelligent people, might fall for Chuck's charm. But it's tantamount to putting 300 on a list of the year's 10 best movies - it's silly.

Is that enough of an explanation? And by the way, people state their opinions as if they're self-evident all the time. Sepinwall does it.

As for House, it gets on my nerves because it's the same garbage every episode. Hugh Laurie made some kind of deal with the devil in order to have everyone fawning over his bug-eyed mug, praising his awkward American accent and his monotone delivery.

T. said...

Yeah, Chuck is pretty awful.

Chris Littmann said...

My quickie list (keeping in mind I don't watch all of the shows on your list):
1. Dexter
2. The Sopranos
3. It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia
4. 30 Rock
5. Friday Night Lights
6. House
7. The Office
8. How I Met Your Mother
9. Bones
10. Chuck

Anonymous said...

Chuck is one of the most breezily enjoyable, clever shows on tv out there. Its got a stellar ensemble and a delightful throwback quality to it. LA Times and Miami Herald also named it one of the best.

Critics also named Burn Notice, Reaper, Californication, Pushing Daisies, and Entourage. All good shows. All on the same level as Chuck.

And the New York Times named Gossip Girl as one of the 10 best for god's sake.

I like Alan's list cause it never feels like so many tv lists - and reader's - exclusive, overly precious or homogenized. It's hard to argue that there is a guy who likes tv more and his is a list for people who also enjoy watching tv. Not trying to be snobs about it.

Also Mad Men is dull.

Alan Sepinwall said...

cpennylane, I just went to YouTube, and there are a bunch of clips of Blake doing Bon Jovi, including this one. (If the Fox copyright police are somehow working on New Year's eve day, you can always try searching for "Blake" and "Bon Jovi," and eventually one link will work.)

Anonymous said...

I am so thrilled you gave a shout-out to Lauren Graham's sublime karaoke scene in one of the final Gilmore Girl eps. And the OC nod made me all sorts of warm and fuzzy inside. Thanks for your great columns, Alan, and happy new year!