DAILY FILM DOSE: A Daily Film Appreciation and Review Blog: Best of TV 2009

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Best of TV 2009

By Matt Reid

Hey everyone, it’s time for 2009’s Top 10 list…and only two weeks late (better than last year’s end-of-January list). To recap, I started this a couple years ago and people seem to enjoy getting it every year (based on the comments I get, such as ‘you are an idiot – you have terrible taste’), so I guess I’ll keep offering up my unsolicited opinions …

A big question I often get is ‘how do you find time for so much TV?’ I guess a more accurate name for this list would be Matt’s TV 2009 (dropping the Top 10) since the only shows I watch are the ones listed below (if a show is not keeping me interested, I stop watching). Plus a New Year’s resolution that Beth & I have to read more and watch less TV may make next year’s a Top 3 list…

Also, the usual disclaimer: these shows are ones that I (personally) watched in 2009 (and since I don’t have pay TV, some shows (e.g. Dexter) won’t be watched until this year on DVD)

First, the sub-categories:

As an avid-Anti Reality Show person, the three ones I actually do watch: The Amazing Race (still enjoyable), Survivor (Russell made it exciting again), Top Chef (mmmmm)

Shows that I used to enjoy but find truly unbearable now: Scrubs, Weeds, Heroes, SNL, Flash Forward (bonus points: this last one only took half a season!)

Honourable mention: Castle (fun guilty pleasure) Big Bang Theory (consistently funny), Office (still good but not what it once was), Rick Mercer Report & Dragon’s Den (these two are proof that my tax dollars can still churn out something worth watching)
Shows that are waiting for me on DVD so they can make next years’ list: Dexter (yes, I’m a little behind), The Wire (I know, I know, it’s the best show ever), Rome

And the Top 10 for this year:

10. How I Met Your Mother

I often hear ‘but it has a laugh track’…..when you generate this many laughs, even I can overlook that. This is more than just a means to an end (who even cares who the mother is); it’s an entertaining look at a group of friends growing up in New York City. A solid cast led Neil Patrick Harris plus writing that rewards loyal viewing puts this on the list for the second year in a row

9. Better Off Ted

I’ll be pretty surprised if anyone reading this watches this show – the ratings are horrific (so it is probably two weeks away from cancellation). From the gifted comedy mind behind Andy Richter Controls the Universe (the cult show that I enjoyed watching again on DVD this summer), it’s a great send-up of corporate culture at a large U.S. conglomerate. Solid performances led my Portia DeRossi (who proved she could do killer comedy in Arrested Development) and sharp writing make this one a winner.

8. Glee

A show unlike any other: completely over-the-top but never playing it safe. One of the most buzzed about shows of the fall, it’s got music (showcasing the power of great pop songs), comedy (Jane Lynch is top-notch), and drama (the reality of wanting to belong in high school). The show misses sometimes (pregnancy storylines, another ‘Glee club is doomed’ story) but it’s so nice to see a show try something different that it can be forgiven for those sins. I’m looking forward to the shows return….unfortunately, not until April

7. Friday Night Lights

Thanks to the investment by DirecTV, this low rated but critically loved show received a third season (and the fourth is on its way to NBC this spring/summer). One of the best depictions of small-town USA life, it is anchored by the top notch performances of Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton. There’s been some turnover in the show’s young cast, but that only further adds to the realism of the show (people do go away to college, you know). A show with heart, humour and drama.

6. Fringe

A show from last year’s ‘Futures Pick’ list, it has become the next great sci-fi show. Whether the episode is part of the overall show arc/mythology or simply a creepy, self-contained episode, I find myself consistently enjoying it every week (and making in one of my first PVR playbacks from Thursday night). John Noble is brilliant as the eccentric Walter but the entire cast gives solid performances. Complex but not too myth-heavy, a show that has really hit its stride in its second season.

5. 30 Rock

Still one of the top laugh providers on my weekly TV schedule, Alec Baldwin and Tina Fey really deliver. With a tone that veers from biting satire to absurd over-the-top humour, this show has introduced phrases such as ‘Shark Farts’ and ’I Want to go to There’ to my vocabulary (which no doubt makes me seem weird to people who don’t watch the show). As someone who works for NBC-Universal, I’m interested to see if the show incorporates the sale by GE into the plot this year….

4. Modern Family

What a gem: the last comedy I remember arriving of the scene this fully formed was a little show called Arrested Development. Modern Family combines a snarky/sarcastic sense of humour with a good dose of heart (but not too sweet) for the fall’s best new show. The cast is solid overall, but early standouts include Ty Burrell as clueless dad Phil and Eric Stonestreet as son-in-law Cameron.

3. Breaking Bad

Bryan Cranston (who won his second Emmy in a row for this show) anchors this complex, darkly humorous and tragic look into the life of a man dying of cancer and the lengths he goes to to provide for his family. Finally getting a full season (Season 1 was cut short due to the writers strike) we became immersed in this world and, at season’s end, were left wondering where the web of deceit will take us next year.

2. Lost

Down from #1 last year but fully expected to regain that title for next year as we head into the final season. Definitely a more sci-fi heavy season last year but still unbelievably executed with amazing acting, writing and directing. The cliff hanger ending has only left us fans salivating in anticipation of the Final Season Premiere in just 3 weeks! Will the final episode satisfy everyone? Most likely not, but I’m just glad we’ve all been taken along on this exhilarating ride.

1. Mad Men

The jockeying between this and Lost for the #1 show seems to alternate in the last few years, but this year Mad Men was the show I found myself most looking forward to once the current week’s episode had ended. As Don Draper is finally forced to confront some issues he had so easily avoided before, the acting by Jon Hamm was second to none. January Jones and the rest of the cast also chipped in top notch performances and Matthew Weiner and his writing team delivered great drama against a historical backdrop. The season finale reset all the pieces and I already can’t wait for Season 4….


Patrick said...

Great list. I have been trying to spread the word about Better Off Ted as I think it's one of the best-written comedies on TV. No one's seen Breaking Bad either it seems, but it's more likely to have an audience catch up with it. Have to admit that Fringe lost me at the pilot though.

Matt said...

Thanks for your take Patrick...the funny thing is that I never saw the pilot for Fringe (didn't start watching until midway through Season 1) - maybe that worked out for me in the end...

T.J. Hawke said...

Glad to seee someone giving Better off Ted some props. Although I wouldn't put it over The Office, Parks & Rec, and Community.

Also, a drama I think you should take a look at is Sons of Anarchy.

Matt said...

I've heard good things about Sons of Anarchy....maybe I'll give it a try

leah said...

what about dexter?