Monday, January 04, 2010

Decadeworthy - Television of the Decade

Here's my picks for the Best in Television of the Decade. Yes, it was the golden age of television. Where shows were able to further blossom, delve deeper, run archs that created emotionally satisfying stories that took advantage of using the longer format. Or, the opposite, where crime procedurals flourished.

And yes, while it may seem like I watch every show out there, I actually do not. Sadly, I had real jobs to do. So no, I still haven't started The Wire or Battlestar Galactica or Big Love yet, and while I petered out on Six Feet Under and The Sopranos, I never got back into them when they apparently resurged in quality.

So I've limited to picking the shows with their best season in this decade (so thus, The Sopranos S1 was 1999 and thus ineligible, as was S2 of Sex and the City. 1999 was a good year for HBO wasn't it?), and it can't have already been mentioned on my Decadeworthy: Best of Television 1 Season Wonders List.

I also started listing them in order but kept switching the orders for days that I almost went back to alphabetical, but decided to leave the ranking, but you can probably argue a different order especially from 11+ and I could agree. So don't put too much attention to the exact order.

So here's my Decadeworthy List for Television of the Decade:

1. Friday Night Lights (DirecTV/NBC) - Season 3 (2008)

Right from the get go, Season 1 grips you into the lives of the residents living in Dillon, TX, but Season 3 is when the emotional culmination comes to full fruition in deeply moving stories that continue on in Season 4 as more characters are giving satisfying sendoffs while new players are rolled in, all with the central core of Tami and Coach Eric Taylor staying strong at its heart.

2. Lost (ABC) - Season 4 (2008)
Best Episode: "Through The Looking Glass" (Ep. 322)

The 3rd Season finale changed the game but also confirmed Lost was in fact, not completely lost, with Season 4 continuing the build on everything since the terrific first season, mixing the mystery and lore with deep looks into Oceanic 815 survivor's lives and their destiny.

3. Coupling (BBC2) - Season 3 (2002)
Best Episode: "Remember This" (Ep. 304)

A British version of Friends with Sex and the City thrown in, the show is cute and builds to comic perfection in Season 2, but Season 3 tops that with some genius devices including the "Split" and "Remember This". I would say 5 of the 7 episodes in the season are perfect and cannot be touched.

4. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (TheWB/UPN) - Season 5 (2000-2001)
Best Episode: "The Body" (Ep. 516)

Before the decade had begun, the show had already perfected the use of high school/college as allegory for bigger, more devilish themes, with a funny Scooby crew fighting off demons and vampires, but everything seemed to gather to an emotional and urgent climax to fight Gloria, as well as the incredibly moving and non-supernatural death of Buffy's mom.

5. Everwood (TheWB) - Season 4 (2005-2006)
Best Episode: "Foreverwood Parts 1 & 2" (Eps. 421 & 422)

Every season deepened the family drama about a successful surgeon and his two kids that he tries to know better after moving to the small town of Everwood, CO. Everwood managed to balance both a light and fun tone with deeper and more emotionally dark issues, all with characters we learned to love, and managed to cobble together one of the most satisfying finales despite having the show cancelled unceremoniously at the last minute.

6. Pushing Daisies (ABC) - Season 1 (2007)
Best Episode: "Pielette (Ep. 101)

A deliriously delicious romantic murder mystery that sort of defied genres. Part romantic comedy, part crime procedural, part fantasy, part gay wonderland, and all wonderful.

7. Veronica Mars (TheWB) - Season 1 (2004-2005)

A mystery film noir done for the high school set but was not for the high schooler, with the dark cases and witty repartees, Kristen Bell led a terrific cast in a sleuth show that constantly surprised with twists and turns that were both fun and actually puzzling.

8. Gavin & Stacey (BBC3) - Season 1 (2007)
Best Episode: "Episode One" (Ep. 101)

A great romantic comedy television show that wasn't schmaltzy or cliched and pushed forward in a dizzying pace with harsh realities without ever losing the dream romance at its core.

9. Arrested Development (FOX) - Season 1 (2003-2004)

O that zany Bluth family. There's no words to describe the hilarity or to make sense of it all.

10. Gilmore Girls (TheWB) - Season 2 (2001-2002)

Comfort TV at it's finest, and fastest with the witty banter between the close mother and daughter relationship of Lorelai and Rory Gilmore, but the power in the Gilmore Girls was that it was really a 3-generations relationship with grandmother Emily. The quirky townsfolk of Stars Hollow just romanticized small town living to its finest.

11. Friends (NBC) - Season 9 (2002-2003)

Some said Friends went downhill in the later seasons, but while it had its up and downs, I thought things started picking up again once Chandler and Monica started having their secret affair post Ross' London wedding, and got back into a great groove near the end when Rachel had her baby, Joey had his crush, and things started to set up for the end in the following year. The comic timing between the tight cast were down to perfection by that point, and the writing got sharper again, using the years of character history to construct new comedy gold.

12. Mad Men (AMC) - Season 1 (2007)
Best Episode: "The Wheel" (Ep. 113)

I haven't seen the latest season yet, but the series is a fun and addictive look at the 60's lifestyle of these Madison Avenue men, but the heart of the show is still its women (Peggy, Betty, Joan). The show slowly draws you into the darker underlying tones that hide under the well tailored suits and flower patterned dresses.

13. Modern Family (ABC) - Season 1 (2009)

Welcome to the new age of the family sitcom!

14. 30 Rock (NBC) - Season 2 (2007-2008)

While the overall story arcs are sometimes left at the wayside for the side-splitting insanity within each episode, but when it's that insanely funny, what's really the problem with that?

15. Glee (FOX) - Season 1 (2009)
Best Episode: "Pilot" (Ep. 101)

Do I need to explain my love for this high school musical with a black humour streak? Just don't stop believin'!

16. Desperate Housewives (ABC) - Season 1 (2004-2005)
Best Episode: "Pilot" (Ep. 101)

At it's best, the show, and especially the pilot, was a great dark satirical soap opera on the suburban lives of these desperate housewives and while it had some hiccups, the five year flashforward reinvigorated the show. Still, the first season, with the 1st mystery arc and the dark humour, worked great together.

17. The Office (NBC) - Season 3 (2006-2007)

For once, I thought the Americanized version of a show actually bettered the original UK version. I know purists will disagree but the original was TOO painful and awkward. Fascinating yes, but painful. The American version really got into its own groove in the second season mixing painfully awkward humour with a more powerful emotional impact by making it easier to relate to the office drones. By season 3, the balance had been perfected and the show really became its own entity.

18. Grey's Anatomy (ABC) - Season 2 (2005-2006)

When it was great, it was melodrama at its best.

19. Alias (ABC) - Season 1 (2001-2002)
Best Episode: "Truth Be Told (Ep. 101)

Things could not be more complicated for Sydney Bristow (a star making turn by Jennifer Garner) and the pilot episode was a wealth of information and twists and turns into her world as a secret spy living as a grad student by day. In comes spy daddy (the terrific Victor Garber) who may or may not be on her side, plus a cast of great characters in her spy world and at home, and it was the beginning of a totally wild and action packed series that eventually fell off the tracks, but boy was it fun while it was still hot.

20. The Amazing Race (CBS) - Season 2 (2002)
Best Episode: "Help Me, I'm American" (Ep. 202)

First season was brand new, but they perfected the race in the 2nd season with a perfect mix of racers including Tara and the Weasel Will, Cute brother and sister team Blake and Paige, the fabulous Danny and Oswald (who actually stopped racing to go shopping in Hong Kong AND still beat the others to the airplane), and the hunky Boston boys. Plus it's where the racers played it boldly, including the first time a team was brave enough to ask strangers for help and when the race still ended in a footrace that ended with teams so close together that it went down to the wire. Exciting and hilarious.

21. Ugly Betty (ABC) - Season 1 (2006-2007)

22. Once and Again (ABC) - Season 2 (2000-2001)

23. Entourage (HBO) - Season 2 (2005)

24. Weeds (Showtime) - Season 1 (2005)

25. Nurse Jackie (Showtime) - Season 1 (2009)

26. So You Think You Can Dance (FOX) - Season 2 (2006)

27. The OC (FOX) - Season 4 (2006-2007)

28. Better Off Ted (ABC) - Season 1 (2009)

29. The United States of Tara (Showtime) - Season 1 (2009)

30. Damages (FX) - Season 1 (2007)

31. Supernatural (TheCW) - Season 1 (2005-2006)

32. Burn Notice (USA) - Season 1 (2007)

33. Angel (TheWB) - Season 4 (2002- 2003)

34. Survivor (CBS) - Season 1

35. Bones (FOX) - Season 4 (2008-2009)

36. American Idol (FOX) - Season 1 (2002)

37. Top Chef (Bravo) - Season 6 (2009)

38. Project Runway (Bravo) - Season 4 (2007-2008)

39. Chuck - Season 1 (2007-2008)

40. Six Feet Under (HBO) - Season 1 (2001)

41. Southland (NBC/TNT) - Season 1 (2009)

42. Scrubs (NBC/ABC) - Season 2 (2002-2003)

43. Ed (NBC) - Season 1 (2000-2001)

44. Gossip Girl (TheCW) - Season 1 (2007-2008)

45. It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia (FX) - Season 1 (2005)

46. 24 (FOX) - Season 1 (2001)

47. The Big Bang Theory (CBS) - Season 2 (2008-2009)

48. How I Met Your Mother (CBS) - Season 2 (2006-2007)

49. Without a Trace (CBS) - Season 1 (2002-2003)

50. Men In Trees (ABC) - Season 1 (2006-2007)

Best Shows I Started Watching But Am Only Finished or Partway Through the First Season So I Didn't Feel I Watched Enough to Properly Place A Ranking For It But They Are So Awesome I Need to Acknowledge Them Somehow:

Breaking Bad (AMC) - Season 1 (2008)

Dexter (Showtime) - Season 1

Fringe (FOX) - Season 1

The Secret Diary of a Call Girl (SHOWTIME/ITV2) - Season 1

Shows I Know Are Good But Have Yet To See and Still on my Pile of Shows to Watch:
Big Love
BattleStar Galactica
The Wire


Decadeworthy - The Best of 2000-2009 Lists:
SYTYCDworthy (w/ Videos) - List Format
Theatre of the Decade
Best Films of the Decade
Favorite Films of the Decade
Television of the Decade
Television of the Decade - 1 Season Wonders

Best of 2009 Lists: Coming soon
Best of Music 2009
Best of Television 2009
Best of Stage 2009
Best of Movies 2009

Previous Best-of Lists:
Best of 2008 Lists:
Best of Music 2008
Best of Television 2008
Best of Stage 2008
Best of Movies 2008
Best of Television Fall '07 - Winter '08 List

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)
Best of Television Fall '06 - Winter '07 List

Best of 2006 Lists:
Best of Music 2006
Best of Television 2006
Best of Movies 2006
Best of 2006
Best of Television Fall '05 - Winter '06 List

Best of 2005 Lists:
Best of Television 2005
Best of Movies 2005

Vance at


theTVaddict said...

A great list once you remove the following shows:

Without a Trace
Men in Trees
Nurse Jackie
Desperate Housewives
and really, you're judging MODERN FAMILY on less than 10 episodes. Don't get me wrong, I love it. but holy generous batman!

Vance said...

You didn't like Southland? And Nurse Jackie? I get the others are taste, but while Entourage and DH have had bad seasons, they were great in their best season.

Yah, I also considered taking out this years new batch and putting it on a separate list.

But yes, I love FM THAT much.

momo said...

Gotta watch The Wire ASAP. It's fantastic TV.