I should probably be posting something about the inauguration today, but instead… here are some great TV shows! Actually, I thought that TV was better than film in the year of two thousand and eight, and here are ten reasons why.
1. The Wire: The final season, the one about media’s influence on a mid-level city (in this case, Baltimore), was as good as the telly gets. I know people thought it didn’t breathe the rarified air of seasons 3 and 4, but those same people will tell you that all five seasons work as one whole. That it is “novelistic” in approach. All true. Truth be told, I would have ranked this #1 if they had ended it with all the characters being figments in the imagination of an autistic child, all living in a snow globe. The final season of the best show ever. Done.
2. The Shield: Again, another final season. And one that is probably more viscerally enjoyable than The Wire. For those of us who have driven autos on ice before, do you know the feeling of losing control of the car and sliding toward something that will cause some degree of damage to you and/or your car? When you can see it coming and there is nothing you can do about it, but you know it will definitely hurt? That is kind of what this final season of The Shield felt like.
3. Mad Men: I liked season 2 better than season 1, maybe because I was returning to the universe of cocktails, cigarettes, and missile boobs rather than discovering them. Paced very, very deliberately, this is a show that doesn’t grab people instantly. But one day, you just realize- this is a fantastically realized piece of programming. Glad the creator signed on for a few more seasons.
4. 30 Rock: Eclipsed The Office as funniest sitcom on TV. Endlessly quotable.
5. Lost: I’m the guy who liked season 3 (the one where Jack, Kate, and Sawyer were captives of The Others for most of the season). BUT- season 4 upped the ante in every single way possible. Setting an end date was the best idea the creators of the show ever had.
6. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: I still say this is hit or miss, but its hits are big. Real big. “The Nightman Cometh” was one of the funniest half-hours of TV this year. Or last year, I guess.
7. The Soup: Sportscenter for people who watch things other than sports.
8. Summer Heights High: A bit derivative, but Chris Lilley cannot be denied. His characters are so specific, you will not believe they are the same guy.
9. Top Chef: Best reality show on TV. People with real talent having to do real hard things. Fast. With food.
10. Boston Legal: Yet another final season, this show became about itself in a way that few shoes have the guts to do. A comment upon ‘lawyer’ shows by the king of ‘lawyer’ shows- David Kelley. Also, it was a chance to watch James Spader and William Shatner square off every week. I will miss this show.
The Worst: Entourage: I am tired of watching good things happen to these douchebags.