Guest commentary by Matt Reid
I started this annual TV summary a few years ago when I noticed a number of friends sending Top 10 Movies and/or Music lists at year end, so thought I'd throw my hat in the ring. Why so late? Well, it probably means I'm busier and/or lazier this year, but we won't dwell on that (hey, at least it's not February, right?)What qualifies me, you ask? I guess nothing more than the fact that maybe I watch too much TV.
First off, a couple notes & sub-categories for this year's list:
The programs on my list were ones that I (personally) watched in 2008 (some people may have seen them in 2007, but due to my lack of Pay TV, I may have watched later than some of you)
This also means there are shows that aired this year that I haven't seen yet (e.g. Season 3 of Dexter) so I can't put that on until next year's list
Another perennial favourite missing this year: Friday Night Lights (Season 2 was on the 2007 list and Season 3 just started, so it will have to wait for next year)
Best Use of PVR Award:
SNL - nothing is better than skipping through a too-long skit or terrible musical performance to find the truly funny nuggets hiding in there
2009 Top 10 Futures Award (for new shows with promise that aren't quite top 10 worthy yet):
Fringe, Life on Mars
Summer Guilty Pleasure Award:
Hoping That It Can Rebound Award:
Heroes (here's hoping the new volume starting next week will feel Bryan Fuller's returning influence sooner rather than later)
Getting More & More Ridiculous But I Just Can't Stop Watching Award:
5-day-a-week Show Award:
Canadian Shows I enjoyed this year:
jPod, The Rick Mercer Report
I've Been Watching So Long I Have To Give It An Honourable Mention:
Reality Shows That I've Started Watching Again Due To Some Unknown Influence:
The Amazing Race, Survivor
Now that's those are done, here's the actual Top 10:
10. HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER/BIG BANG THEORY
Two more traditional sitcoms that have found their way through my usual 'laugh track snobbery' armour. HIMYM is my favourite of the two and does a great job of providing a good dose of heart amongst all the great laughs (plus, Neil Patrick Harris's performance is 'legen....wait for it.....dary'). Big Bang is also worth the price of admission for Jim Parson's performance alone
9. DAILY SHOW/COLBERT REPORT
Sad as it is, this is the way I keep up on current U.S. events.....it is the best way to get them though: through a prism of sarcasm and mockery. This election year truly brought out the best in both shows and when they teamed up together for a live show on Election Night, the results were incredible....
8. PUSHING DAISIES
Obviously the last year this show will make the list (which is really too bad), but it's fantastical look, top notch cast and quirky murder mysteries made for a great mid-week pleasure. The upside of the cancellation is Bryan Fuller's return to Heroes. [By the same token, I quite enjoyed Eli Stone, which also was a breath of fresh air but not in the Top 10 as it just wasn't as good as Daisies]
7. THE OFFICE
A perennial Top 10 on my list, they've kept it fresh by shaking things up. Toby's shorter than planned vacation, Pam going to school, Ryan returning at the bottom. Amy Ryan's guest turn as Toby's replacement was a favourite of mine. Not as good: the hour long episodes, which feel a little stretched.....
I watched all of Season 2 and the Finale all together at the start of this year. Ricky Gervais has created another classic character to go right up there with David Brent. The decision between selling out and sticking to your principles makes us all wonder what we'd do in that situation....while keeping us laughing, of course
5. BREAKING BAD
High school teacher dying of cancer sells meth to support his family? Come on, everyone will love that! It may sound like a ridiculous concept, but it's executed so well (most notably by Bryan Cranston, who deservedly won an Emmy for this role) that you can't help but be drawn in. I can't wait for a (full) Season 2 (Season 1 was cut short by the strike) to see what happens next....
4. 30 ROCK
My favourite weekly sitcom continues to win awards and critical praise, but can't quite find that broad audience. Maybe that's a good thing and they'll give up on the big-name guest stars, which is my only real complaint about the show. Just keep the focus on the core cast and you've got so much funny, I often need to watch twice
3. FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS
This is one that I'm sure a lot of you saw in 2007....well, I'm not quite lucky enough, so it was a DVD marathon for me. And, wow, I'm glad I did - the struggles of Bret & Jemaine only became funnier when put to music (Murray may just be my favourite though). Getting the album for my iPod allows me to drive along laughing as the Hiphopopotamus takes on the Rhymenoceros...
2. MAD MEN
Brilliant show that got even better in its second season. Now that all the characters have been set up, we're able to dive more into the stories about their fascinating lives. Top notch writing and performances are supported by the gorgeous look of the show and its meticulous attention to details. What's next for the Sterling Cooper group? I can't wait for July to find out.
Back on top again. After changing the entire game in 2007 with the switch to flash forwards, this year took us on an intense adrenaline ride. Mystery? Check. Compelling characters? Check. Action? Check. This show has it all and I can't wait to experience these final two seasons.....which, by the way, I've given up trying to solve all the mysteries. I'm just enjoying the ride now.....
Would love to hear your thoughts on my choices if you so wish to share.....and then we can end up in a vicious, no-holds-barred debate......