Sunday, January 4, 2009

No Top 50 of 2008... but here's some favorite things

Not doing that this year as inevitably every one of the top 40-some-odd slots would be filled by The Wire, Mad Men and Lost, with a couple 30 Rock, The Shield and Battlestar Galactica episodes thrown in. Also there was that whole writers strike and there's so much less TV to choose from. Also I cut down semi-significantly on my TV consumption this fall.

Instead here are a few of my favorite things from TV 2008 (outside of the above shows... which, um, d'uh), in no particular order. Please beware of spoilers. Ride the walrus.

- Tina Fey. Oh, come on, you knew she'd be on this list and for reasons no one in their right mind can deny. There, I said it. Lemon, out!

- Chuck Bass and Blair Waldorf. Where would I, and Gossip Girl, be without them? Also the Yale episode (hahah, shot at Columbia... just like the University of Pennsylvania substituting for Princeton University in this summer's Transformers sequel)

- Jim Parsons as Sheldon Cooper, Ph.D. on The Big Bang Theory.

- Amy Ryan as Holly Flax on The Office. And then she left and the show sucked again.

- Grey's Anatomy. Shut up, I know! Here's the thing. For a lot of 2008... Grey's was actually kind of good? Not, like, back to its apparently-a-fluke second season good. But much better after the writers strike. Meredith seeing Amy Madigan as a psychiatrist worked. The way season four ended totally worked. And the start of season five worked, too. And then Erica Hahn had a minute long diatribe and glasses and foliage and lesbianism and Izzie started seeing ghosts and then Melissa George showed up and the interns started playing basement surgeons on themselves and then Izzie STARTED HAVING SEX WITH GHOSTS. Shut up, I know... basically all this shows is that Shonda can put together a string of pretty good episodes when not burdened with having to do more than, y'know, about 5 episodes. She'd do great in the UK. Anyway, the revival and quick fall from grace (again) of Grey's is totally one of my favorite things about TV 2008.

- Jimmy Smits dies on Dexter. I dunno, I just don't like him in, well, much of anything. And I thought his character, among other things, brought season three down several notches from the first two seasons (also hurting: obvious plotting and a snail's pace). But I was relieved when the last few episodes built to his death in the penultimate episode of the season, because it showed that Dexter still had it.

- South Park. The fall half-season wasn't so great (although who can forget the Indiana Jones Gets Raped sections of the premiere?), but the spring half was typical South Park genius. Cartman gives Kyle AIDS, Britney is ritualistically killed off in a harvast ritual (watch out, Miley!), cat pee drugs, The Writers Guild of America Canada goes on strike for more internet revenue, Mrs. Garrison (a MTF transexual who is a lesbian, who used to be a gay man, who used to think he was a straight man) gets her penis back (so, is Mr. Garrison straight now?) as Cartman teaches inner city kids to cheat like Beel Belichick in a Stand and Deliver parody, the internet fails... the only down note of the whole half-season was the finale.

- Frumpy Gabrielle Solis on Desperate Housewives. Okay, Eva Longoria Parker doesn't ever look bad but, um, that character now has a few more layers and that's what I've been asking for since early season one.

- Kevin and Scotty get civil unioned on Brothers & Sisters, a week later the CA Supreme Court rules that same sex marriage is legal in the state, then the dolts at ABC air the episode that talks about Prop 8 a week after the election. While on the topic of B&S... Kima Greggs as the birth mother to Kitty and Robert's not-yet-born baby!

- Ugly Betty kinda sorta gets its groove back? The show has certainly opened up since moving production to NYC. They use those locations (but, um, Gossip Girl did it first!) And I think that, somehow, Betty's wardrobe has gottem even more clashy/poofy/over-the-top/unfashionable since the NYC move. I loved the episode "When Betty met YETI" because, now in her third season, Betty really needed a kick in the pants to start moving away from Daniel's desk, and the resulting conflict showed some truly ugly behavior from Marc (who remains my favorite character), but then some real heart from both he and Betty and yay. Also Justin's straight/str8 friend at school rejects his offer to go see In The Heights together because his friends are hecklers and homophobes. Also Amanda as Betty's roommate has been fun. The only things not working for me at the moment are the slight declawing of Wilhelmina and WHEN THE EFF IS CHRISTINA GOING TO BIRTH THAT BABY!?

- Anne Dudek as Cutthroat Bitch on House is dating Wilson and then she dies. Season five just hasn't been as good.

- Chuck. Man is there any other show currently on the air hitting it out of the park pretty much every episode the way Chuck has this season? Although they're going to run out of women who turn out to be secret agents for Sarah to get into girl fights with at some point... but hopefully not soon! "I hate you, Bryce."

- How I Met Your Mother's ratings rise. Who knows if it's linked to having a strong/funny/compatible lead-in with The Big Bang Theory, but in its fourth season, finally HIMYM isn't a bubble show. The final 2008 episode "Little Minnesota" was a lot of fun (Barney's smutty holiday song parodies... the Canada bar with karaoke at the end). Oh, and "Sandcastles in the Sand"! Barney/Robin! If only the show could get rid of Ted...

- David C beats David A in the American Idol season seven finale. Who knew there were more hungry cougars than horny teenage girls?

- Isis on America's Next Top Model.

- Christian Siriano winning Project Runway 4 and forever destroying the show in the process (seriously, even the top group of season five's designers sucked in comparison to, like, all of the season four designers... and they were all trying to catch phrase it up... annoyalicious!)

- Stephanie from Top Chef: Chicago and Jamie from Top Chef: New York.

- Ed pleading with America to let Heba be in The Biggest Loser Families finale instead of him and then America so obviously telling him it hates his wife by choosing him over her 84/16.

- The Mentalist showing freshman series can be hits (and simultaneously that, perhaps, once again, broadcast TV isn't dead)... even if I didn't like the second episode so stopped watching...

- True Blood showing that, while it's possible to make television shows about vampires, you're inevitably going to get Buffy comparisons and you just won't win that battle. Also the series started out laughable, got better, then became, um, just odd? Also for showing that you should never reveal to the audience who the killer is in a serial killer mystery before the main character(s) know unless there's going to be some sort of super awesome twist. Which there, y'know, wasn't. But, hey, at least HBO is making buzz-worthy TV again (cough, Entourage sucks, cough). Also... Ryan Kwanten.

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