Time to make with the listing. Go here to read the introduction of this post for the qualifications for this list and my general thoughts on television this decade, along with some honourable mentions for shows that didn’t fit well with the list. Also, I should add that some of my thesis about this being the best decade in television history was influenced by this great piece by Emily Nussbaum of New York Magazine titled “When TV Became Art”. If you haven’t read it yet, you probably should.
Consider this the companion piece to my Top 10 TV Shows of 2008 list. Unlike that list, this one is a more standard year end list, only covering episodes that aired January 1st to December 31st. Because I’m judging thousands of episodes, there was a bunch of contenders for this list, many of which were bunched pretty closely near the end of the list, so I used the 8-10 spots for shows that missed my other list just to change things up.
NOTE: Since I’ll be talking about specific episodes, the write-ups will be necessarily spoilerish. For people who want to skim but remain unspoiled, the pictures are fairly unspoilery. On that note, I’ll reiterate that I haven’t caught up to The Shield, so please don’t spoil it for me by telling my how amazing the final was and how dumb I am for leaving it off this list (well okay, you can tell me that it’s awesome. Just please don’t tell me why).
Here’s something many of you probably never expected to hear me say (or read me write for that matter): I watch too much TV. Okay, I don’t really mean that, at least not in the traditional sense. I don’t actually have a problem with the number of hours I spend in front of the television (well, okay, in front of the computer which is in front of the television), but rather the number of shows I’m currently watching.
What’s the issue? Well, every week it seems that most of my free time is spent keeping my DVR clear of the new shows that air, leaving me less time for other important matters, like movies or TV box sets (ha… and you thought I was going to say “reading”). This is an issue because there’s a good chunk of TV series that I’m currently following that aren’t as good as the ones I’d like to be watching on DVD (The Shield in particular). So I figured a good exercise would be to look at all the TV series currently airing new episodes that I follow, and maybe make some choices that will ease my burden (or, you know, “burden” as it were). After all, the last time I used this space to muse about a show that I no longer cared for, I cut the cord a week later.
Plus, I thought it could be fun for you all to see exactly what I’m watching, day by day. You know, if you were wondering.
Year-end TV lists are difficult things, as network TV follows a different schedule than January-December. Some writers go ahead and try to cram TV in the January-December calendar, judging two half seasons put together, but that’s just silly. Instead, this list judges seasons that ended in 2007, including portions that began in 2006. If a season began in 2007, but is slated to return in 2008 (whenever that may be), then it is not under consideration for this list. Make sense?
Acclaimed shows that I don’t watch, and thus won’t be appearing on this list include The Sopranos, Battlestar Galactica, The Shield, Ugly Betty, Rescue Me, Brothers & Sisters, Mad Men, Flight of the Conchords, and House. On with the list…
Hey, did you know that the Emmy nominations are to be announced tomorrow? Yeah, until a few minutes ago, I didn’t know either. And I doubt I’ll be watching the eventual awards show either. But, thanks to the white hot, one comment reaction to my Andy TV Awards post last year, along with my zero comment 2006 Andy Movies Award post, I’ve decided to once again tell you who I’d nominate and give awards out if I was the only voter. Hey, if I worried about actual readers, I’d have to find other things to do with my time.
You know how the Oscars are often stupid and wrong? The worst part of it is that the Oscars are far better than any of the other entertainment awards, for the simple reason that voters have a much better chance at seeing more of what they’re voting on. Even a professional television critic can’t hope to watch every show out there. I’m no different, so there will be a lot of omissions here that have nothing to do with quality. But, I do watch a fair bit of TV, and I like to think most of it is good. To get it out of the way, acclaimed shows that I don’t watch include The Sopranos, The Wire, Extras, 24, Battlestar Galactica, Ugly Betty, Brothers and Sisters, Friday Night Lights, and any procedural. Because I can only watch so much, I’m limiting my nominees to three per category.
Hey, I wasn’t kidding when I said I love year-end lists. Thus, I shall leave no stone unturned in my attempt to quantify the year in pop culture. Unlike my Top 10 TV Shows of 2006 list, this list only judges episodes that aired in the calendar year, January-December. So some might be from current seasons, while others will be from previous seasons.
To put the list together, I went through episode listings and summaries from the shows I watch on various web sites like TV.com, IMDb, Wikipedia, and Television Without Pity, picking out episodes that stand out in my memory. Then I worked from that list to make my ten. I didn’t do anything crazy like re-watch every episode or anything, cause if an episode wasn’t memorable enough for me to decide on it now, then it wouldn’t be top ten, now would it? As a result, this list is heavy with event programming, be it season finales or sweeps week episodes that send the show into hiatus. But, hey, they usually save their best stuff for then anyway, so I’m sure this list is solid.
NOTE: Since I’ll be talking about specific episodes, the write-ups will be necessarily spoilerish. For people who want to skim but remain unspoiled, the pictures are fairly unspoilery.
Like last year, this list will be for shows whose season ended in 2006. It’s too awkward to try and judge the second half of one season from January-May, then the first half of the next season from September-December. Seasons should be judged by themselves, as a whole. Thus, this list will include seasons that began in 2005, but ended in 2006, or shows that had their entire season within 2006. Seasons that began in 2006 but have yet to finish do not qualify for this list.
Shows I don’t watch, and thus will not make this list include all procedurals and cop shows, Battlestar Galactica, Deadwood, The Wire, 24 (which I do watch, but am behind on the DVDs), and Gilmore Girls. Also, I didn’t catch all of the first season of How I Met Your Mother, so I’m leaving it off the list. Consider that an honourable mention.
TV Talk: Survivor: Cook Islands
Starring: Jeff Probst, 20 contestants
Series Creator: Mark Burnett
Since the Andy Movie Awards 2005 were such a big hit, and because we all know I know more than those who give out awards, I’ve decided to do the Emmy’s one better, and list MY nominees and winners for the past TV season. Of course, unlike the Oscars, where I make a concerted effort to see all Oscar-baiting movies, I didn’t see every show of last year, or even all the critically acclaimed ones. Unlike the Academy, I’m basing my awards on all the episodes I’ve seen from last season of a particular show, instead of just one or two episodes that were submitted.
To be nominated, I had to have seen at least part of last season’s shows of the series. Thus, 24 and Arrested Development, two shows I’ve seen on DVD and enjoy, are not nominated because I haven’t seen season five and three respectively. Other critically-acclaimed shows that I do not watch include The Sopranos, House, Curb Your Enthusiasm, any CSI or Law & Order shows (actually, no procedurals at all), The Office, Six Feet Under, The Shield, or Boston Legal. Despite not having seen any of those shows, I still think I did a better job than the Emmy people.
NOTE: I’ll only being doing major categories, and for two of them, I won’t have nominees. Because I’m not judging single episodes (too hard), I won’t be doing any writing or directing awards. Also, no mini-series or TV movies.