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…
10. Survivor: Fiji (Season 14): For the first half of this season, I was convinced it was the worst season of Survivor ever, and for the first time ever, I considered not watching. The whole haves vs have-nots gimmick was a terrible idea, creating some of the least compelling TV in series history, made worse by the participation of some of the most loathsome contestants in series history like Rocky, Lisi, Alex, and Mookie. But then they switched up the tribes, putting the likable Earl, Yau-Man, and Michelle on the haves side, putting all the sucky people on the have-not side, giving us some karmic justice. Then after the merge, things got really interesting with some high level strategy and a surprise immunity tear by Yau-Man, completely turning the show around to become one of the better seasons in series history, and a reminder of why I watch this show: because you never know when the tables are going to turn and something different will happen.
9. Veronica Mars (Season 3): It already feels like this show has been gone forever, which tends to happen when you do these lists 6 months after the last episode has aired. The third season of this much-loved, little-watched series was a mixed bag, with a lot of the hallmarks that made it one of the best shows on TV. But it was also uneven, due to the fact that it was fighting for its life as a series, implementing changes to try and draw in viewers or lower the budget. It was all a little too much to take in at times as a viewer, with me spending a lot of the season preparing for the worst that eventually came.
8. Heroes (Season 1): Remember, this is just a judgement of the first season of Heroes, not the mostly-crappy volume two of the second season. That said, the flaws of the second season helped illuminate enough flaws that were present in the first that I probably dropped it down a couple spots. Still, it was mostly a thrilling season of appointment television that at times was my most anticipated viewing of the week.
7. Big Love (Season 2): It was a little tough-going at times for the second season of Big Love, as the tensions within the family started to affect my favourite elements of the show and Bill kept making stupid decisions that had me shouting at my TV. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t good television. Barb’s withdrawal as the glue that held the family together was inevitable after the end of the first season, and without that glue, things got a lot worse for our favourite polygamous family (even worse than they realise), which helped keep things exciting for what is essentially a family drama. This was probably necessary to keep the drama up while the novelty of a TV show about a polygamous family died down, and should keep things interesting for next season.
6. Rome (Season 2): It’s too bad Rome didn’t garner more attention, as it was unlike anything else on television, ambitious and epic in scale in a way that no other show is (possibly too ambitious for television). Where it succeeded was creating characters that were earthy and relatable while still being bigger than life. That, and the sex and violence. That was always fun.
5. How I Met Your Mother (Season 2): With its first season, How I Met Your Mother proved that there was still life in the multi-camera sitcom. With its second season, it proved that there was still greatness to be had in the format. It’s a genuinely funny show that manages to mine new material from much-mined format of the relationship comedy, while showing a far greater attention to continuity than you’d expect from the format.
4. Friday Night Lights (Season 1): As a show about a high school football team that’s not really geared toward either high schoolers or football fans, its not surprising that it had a hard time finding an audience. It’s also really unfortunate, as it is easily the best drama on network television, with a level of intimacy and verisimilitude unmatched by anything on the networks. To know Friday Night Lights is to love it, so if you haven’t watched it yet, I highly recommend that you do.
3. The Office (Season 3): Not only does The Office provide some of the best comedy on TV, it also provides some of the best, and truest, dramatic moments on TV as well. It’s the dedication to the characters that invests us so much in their inner lives, with payoffs that reward fans for that investment. The third season showed that the series writers have the patience to let moments build, without drawing them out past the point of anyone caring, which is a lesson many shows never learn.
2. 30 Rock (Season 1): Not only are 30 Rock and The Office the best comedies on TV, and two of the very best series ever, they’re both much better than any comedy movie out there. Whereas even the best theatrical comedies take shortcuts by following simplistic, tried-and-true plots and character archetypes to concentrate on the humour, The Office and 30 Rock create original set-ups and characters on a weekly basis. 30 Rock is the funnier of the two (by a slim margin), delivering gut-busting moments seemingly on a non-stop basis, with whip smart gags that you might miss if you’re too busy doubled over from laughing at the last joke.
1. Dexter (Season 2): If there’s a more thrilling and addictive show on TV than Dexter, I’d like to know about it so I can check it out immediately. Until then, I’ll stick with everyone’s favourite serial killer. The second season kept us on the edges of our seats as we wondered how Dexter would manage to get away with his killing spree, while wondering if he would possibly change his ways. The show still needs to find a way to make the non-Dexter storylines more interesting, but mostly excels due to Michael C. Hall’s fantastic lead performance.
Top 10 TV Shows of 2005
Top 10 TV Episodes of 2006
Top 10 TV Shows of 2006
30 Rock Season 1
Friday Night Lights Season 1
The Office Season 3
TV Talk: Heroes 2006
TV Talk: Heroes 2007
TV Talk: Office, The
TV Talk: Veronica Mars