Nellie asked for top ten TV show lists. Here’s mine, in alphabetical order:
- Deadwood (HBO): it took me a while to get into it, and it’s taking me forever to get through it (due to my own time constraints, not the show’s quality) but I’ve come to love the brutal, profane, quirky, startling, treacherous and often hilarious town of Deadwood. Technically, Deadwood’s off the air now, but I’m including it since I’ve only just started season 3.
- Friday Night Lights (NBC): it hovers right on the border of a soapy teen drama without ever crossing the line, and does almost as good a job as the film did in showing how the twin religions of christianity and football swirl together in small-town Texas.
- Heroes (NBC): I don’t think their refinement and manipulation of the Lost doctrine — which they’ve wielded pretty effectively to this point — can last, so I’m going to enjoy this while it lasts.
- It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia (F/X): never — on North American televison, anyway — has there been a comedy that so effectively mixed political incorrectness, satire and sheer comic timing. It’s gone downhill since Danny DeVito came on board, but it’s still a hundred times edgier than anything on network TV.
- The Office (NBC): after hiding in the long shadow cast by the original, the American series has become the only worthwhile comedy on the networks. This show needed three things: Steve Carell had to hit his own non-David-Brent stride (he did), the romantic tension between Jim and Pam had to work (it does) and the timing of the actors — especially the Jim/Tim character’s — had to be impeccable (it is).
- The Shield (F/X): this is the most ferocious show not on HBO, and Vic Mackey might just be the most interesting character on TV. It’s surprisingly easy to cheer for him and against him at the same time. The supporting cast is excellent, and the last two season-long guest stars — Glenn Close and Forest Whitaker — have put the show into the upper echelon.
- The Sopranos (HBO): it’s showing it’s age and the schedule is annoying, but there is just no more compelling cast of characters on TV now that Six Feet Under has wrapped. The writers can take any character, even a minor one like Vito, and turn him into a household name in weeks.
- Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip (NBC): probably the weakest of the ten, but still miles ahead of most network fare. Not as ffrantic as Sports Night and not as meaningful as The West Wing, but still some ahead-of-the-curve writing.
- The Unit (CBS): speaking of writing, any show written by David Mamet — even a preachy military drama — gets my vote. This show is badly underrated; the action is more intricate than 24, as are the scripts. The show works because of good writing and solid casting: Dennis Haysbert can rock anything, Robert Patrick is T1000-scary as the commanding colonel, the guy who used to be on Felicity (!) is great and even the dude who was on Street Cents fills in nicely. The one redeeming feature of CBS…which is more than I can say for ABC.
- The Wire (HBO): best show on television. There, I’ve said it.
Shows which didn’t quite make it and, as such, may cause anger in my household
- Veronica Mars (CW): I just can’t recommend seasons 2 and 3. I’ll admit it, I was hooked on season 1. She was an underdog, she was misunderstood, she was a hardass, she was put-upon…in short, she was compelling. Once you take away the injustice and the righteous anger, though, there’s not much left. It’s still a good show, but I don’t cheer on the inside anymore when Veronica busts a dumbass.
- 24 (Fox): it’s still tense, I still like Keifer and it definitely keeps my attention, but the writing is awful and they just seem to keep throwing the same story at us over and over and over again. I keep watching, but I’m starting to feel stupid about it.
- Weeds (Showtime): at first it was interesting to watch them try to make someone so likeable seem so unlikeable, and the sly attacks on suburbia were nice while they lasted, but I grew tired of it all and stopped watching.
Nightly shows that didn’t seem to fit on such a list
The Daily Show, The Colbert Report and Jeopardy: mandatory viewing, all.
[tags]top ten tv shows[/tags]