Thursday, December 27, 2007

Best of Television 2007

Say what you want about the writers strike or the fall being the worst fall ever (it wasn't, may I remind you about Homeboys In Outer Space?) but it was another good year in TV. So good that I still have yet to make time to catch up on shows I hear are excellent but I don't have US cable so I never started and am waiting for moments to get to the DVD marathon (Dexter, Battlestar Galactica, Big Love, The Wire, Damages, The Riches, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia etc.).

On a side note, my selections for the Best of TV 2007 were also calculated into ModFab's The Best Television of 2007 list.

So here is the Best of Television 2007, with the ranking from the two previous lists (Best of TV - Fall 2006/Winter 2007 Season, and Best of TV 2006) in parenthesis.

1. Friday Night Lights (1, 3) - Like peaking into a real slice of America and watching the tiny dramas that unfold for the real people of a small town who hinge their hopes and dreams off the success and failures of their high school football team. It's more real than reality TV.

2. Pushing Daisies (New) - A delightfully morbid and fanciful dream that lives in some strange and colourful world full of magic touches.

3. Ugly Betty (4, 9) - Campy and heartfelt. Overdramatic and hilarious. Zippy and shocking, and very gay gay gay.

4. Lost (2, 6) - At its simplest form, it's an amazing character drama that slowly peels away at the layers of human relationships and the human soul. Add the whole mystery and shocking twist in the season finale for bonus points.

5. 30 Rock (10, Not Ranked) - Zany and twisted that still seems sweet in that New York bitter type of way. This is one wacked out comedy and all the better for it.

6. Weeds (7, 8) - As if you didn't think Nancy Botwin could get in any more trouble. Or funny. Or heartbreaking.

7. Veronica Mars (5, 5) - It was unceremoniously dumped by The CW and the network didn't help by hacking down its season long mystery arch into smaller plots, but the spirit of Veronica Mars showed more power than Dawn Ostroff ever could so even on a bad day, Veronica Mars was very very good.

8. Chuck (New) - A fun and thrilling ride led by the immensely likable Zachary Levi as Chuck, the hapless nerd herd now thrown into the milieu of the spy world, with a trusting family at home (Ellie, Morgan, Captain Awesome) and a questionably trusting spy family he must now deal with (Sarah, Casey).

9. Aliens in America (New) - A biting look at family politics, American values, our social customs and prejudices and what America looks as a whole to a naive foreigner. Oh, and it's really really funny.

10. The Office / Mad Men (2/New, 2) - Office politics both new and old and while the styling, decor and surface attitudes might have changed, the underlying politics and human desires haven't.

11. So You Think You Can Dance (Not Eligible, 16) - Yes, we think they can!

12. How I Met Your Mother (6, 10) - While it hasn't had as steady of a laugh diet as previously, when this show is ON, it is completely ON. If you don't believe me, I'll just have to slap you.

13. Brothers & Sisters (9, 18) - A terrific melodrama that verges on comedy and soap opera antics rarely falling overboard and just teetering just on the brink of each element.

14. Project Runway / Project Runway Canada (13/New, 14) - A reality show where the competition is creation, with or without the drama, it's always fun to watch.

15. Bones (14, 20) - The sole procedural that makes it onto my list because despite the morbid cases, it's one of the most humanizing and romantic shows on television.

16. Entourage (Not Eligible, 15) - It still hasn't returned to Season 2 glory but the boys were back from filming Medellin and while the director became tedious, everything else was still happy-go-lucky fun, just as the boys are.

17. The New Adventures of Old Christine (11, 17) - A traditional family four camera sitcom can still be funny as long as the material and the actors are fresh and interesting and Christine is both new and old in the best sense of the words.

18. The OC / Gossip Girl (12/New, Not Ranked) - The OC rebounded by killing Mischa Barton's Marissa Cooper off and bumping Autumn Reeser as Taylor Townsend into the forefront and who would have guessed it was their best move since the first season? As The OC came to a close, the drama moved back east to New York where gossip prevailed and Blake Lively and Penn Badgely have taken the reigns to another enjoyable soap about pretty people with ugly problems.

19. Men In Trees (16, Not Ranked) - It's always been comfort food television and it knows it, but by dealing frankly with all sorts of subjects (gays, prostitutes, religion), it manages to be enjoyable light fluff without being dumb.

20. Desperate Housewives / House (Not Ranked/Not Ranked, Not Ranked/Not Ranked) - Two shows I was about to write off came returning in the new season all freshly scrubbed and with more drama and hysterics to deal with, all with a fresh comedic return to their season one glory days.

Shows Fallen off the Top 20: Heroes, Scrubs, My Name Is Earl
Shows on the rise again: House, Desperate Housewives, Grey's Anatomy, The Amazing Race, Survivor (China)
Solid Shows that are still Tapeworthy: Supernatural, My Boys, Everybody Hates Chris, The Big Bang Theory, Samantha Who? , Notes From The Underbelly, Greek, Top Chef, Corner Gas

ModFab had also asked me to add in my picks for the best performances (individually or cast) so since I'm moving my Best Newcomers list until later this season (mainly because I haven't had time), here was what I submitted for:

Best 5 Performances of 2007:

1. The Casts of my Top 5 Shows, Friday Night Lights, Pushing Daisies, Ugly Betty, Lost and 30 Rock. Each show has amazing writing, are visually stunning and are terrifically entertaining but they also all rank in my top 5 because they all have amazing casts that are rock solid so I'm cheating here by grouping them all together but I wanted to leave room for people not in my top 5 shows, because if I didn't, Connie Britton, Zach Gilford, Kyle Chandler, Gaius Charles, Adrianne Palicki, Scott Porter, Jesse Plemons, Aimee Teegarden, Taylor Kitsch, Minka Kelly, Lee Pace, Kristen Chenowith, Chi McBride, Anna Friel, Ellen Greene, Swoosie Kurtz, America Ferrera, Vanessa Williams, Michael Urie, Becky Newton, Eric Mabius, Christopher Gorham, Mark Indelicato, Anna Ortiz, Ashley Jensen, Rebecca Romijn, Judith Light, Michael Emerson, Yunjin Kim, Matthew Fox, Terry O'Quinn, Josh Holloway, Dominic Monaghan, Jorge Garcia, Naveen Andrews, Evangeline Lily, Elizabeth Mitchell, Henry Ian Cusick, Daniel Dae Kim, Emilie de Ravin, Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, Tracy Morgan, Jane Krakowski, Scott Adsit, Judah Friedlander and Jack McBrayer would all top my list.

2. Kristen Bell - Whether she's Veronica Mars, being a total Gossip Girl, or being Heroes to us, Ms. Bell adds a spark to the television screen that is just indescribably awesome.

3. The Cast of Brothers & Sisters - The show is basically a really good trashy dramatic soap acted by an A list ensemble. Only Sally Field and Patricia Wettig can turn a full out food fight with spaghetti being thrown around into something comically shocking and artfully dramatic. Calista Flockhart has graciously shared the screen time with Rob Lowe, and connected in incredible family dynamics with brothers and sisters Matthew Rhys, Rachel Griffiths, Dave Annable, Balthazar Getty and Emily VanCamp.

4. Adhir Kalyan and Amy Pietz on Aliens in America - If Adhir plays the "alien" Raja with a deep sense of proper morals on a easy going and lovable naive note, Pietz plays the surprised American mom with feisty zest and a do-right attitude even when she doesn't always do right. He's the zenful ying to her energetic yang and the pair, with a terrific Dan Byrd as the connector in between, gives this show the spark and the heart of the show.

5. Mary-Louise Parker on Weeds - Again, the whole cast is amazing, from Elizabeth Perkins and Justin Kirk to Romany Malco and Tonye Patano, but Mary-Louise Parker singlehandidly anchors the show with her devastating performance. Devastatingly funny. Devastatingly soulful. Devastatingly desperate. Devastatingly damn good!

Best of 2007 Lists:
Best of Music 2007
Best of Television 2007
Best of Movies 2007
Best of Stage 2007
Best of 2007 (The Final Wrap Up)

Previous Best-of Lists:
Best of Music 2006
Best of Television Fall '06 - Winter '07 List
Best of Television 2006
Best of Movies 2006
Best of 2006

Best of Television Fall '05 - Winter '06 List
Best of Television 2005
Best of Movies 2005

No comments: