2005: The Year on TV

Let’s face it. The new fall season is a dud. They’ve cancelled shows that I was watching (like Just Legal and Threshold) and kept on inferior ones (like Invasion, Surface, Ghost Whisperer) that I wouldn’t want to watch unless you paid me (and I ain’t seen no cheques in the mail yet!). However, calendar year-end is only the halfway mark for the fall season and while some shows have yet to hit their stride this season (yes, I’m talking to you, Desperate Housewives) and others have yet to debut (January 15 will be the start of another very long day for our buddy Jack), others have had awesome moments and cool twists already. Let’s take a 20x rewind through 2005, the year on TV.

For me the single most memorable moment of 2005 on TV was the season finale of my dear friend, Alias. Not only had Sydney and Vaughn just decided to elope, Vaughn tells her that he’s not really Michael Vaughn. So who is he? But not time to answer, because Wham! Another car slams into theirs (and the infuriating Alias logo appears). I literally fell off my sofa when I watched that moment. Alias deserves the “most improved” award this season. It’s picking up steam with new characters, and pregnant Sydney is a lot more fun than unpregnant, serious Sydney. Too bad this is the last season—damn you ABC!

A close second to the Alias moment was the Lost moment. Exasperated, Locke pleads with the hatch, and the island itself and at the moment hope is lost—boom! The light turns on. That was an amazing moment because it brought the show to another level. Sure we know there are freaky things on the island and creepy people, but when I saw that hatch light, it reminded me of a UFO showing up on X-Files. Here’s the proof that there’s something more going on. Unfortunately the hatch-elor pad has hardly kept my interest this season. If it weren’t for the tailies and their other 48 days (and the long-awaited elimination of Shannon!), I think my Lost-ometer might be dipping a bit.

All Hail Empress Sato! Remember a kindler, gentler time when there was still Star Trek on TV? The fourth season of Enterprise was some of the best Star Trek ever done. It was fun and clever and intriguing. One of the best episodes was the two part mirror-universe episode where we watched darker versions of the Enterprise crew as they jostled and killed for power. It was a great twist capped off by a jaw-dropping twist when “weak” little ensign Sato took over the entire interplanetary Empire and became empress herself.

Not to be outdone in the sci-fi vein, Battlestar Galactica has more yummy twists than a Twizzler. I mean, this show makes the revelation that one of your friends or allies is a human-killing robot clone in disguise seem run-of-the-mill. Even just counting the moments that aired in 2005, there’s: Commander Adama is shot! [highlight to see spoilers]Colonel Tigh has declared martial law! Galactica has lost the entire fleet in hyperspace! Cylons are using humans as baby-machines! Another Battlestar ship has survived! Its officers are tyrants and rapists! They’re going to go to war with Galactica! Can I say enough how much this show rocks?!!

There have also been a number of memorable performances in 2005. I’ve stopped watching most of the melodramas on now, nor do I watch the medical/procedural shows where the tragic fate of guest characters can draw out gut-wrenching drama.
However, I just want to give props to some great characters played by some awesome actors.

24’s Shohreh Aghdashloo as Dina Araz was incredible. I loved the way she spoke, and her silky velvet personality over the hardness of a desperate terrorist. Her fierce, protective love for her son Behrooz was intense, but she always kept a handle on it (take a lesson, Walt’s father Michael!). When she said to Jack, “I believe in our cause, and if you can’t save my son, I am happy to see the reactors melt down” it gave me shivers.

On a show known for its endless stunt casting of celebrity guests, Will & Grace pulled a rabbit out of its hat with Alec Baldwin as Malcolm, the CIA agent who preposterously pretended to be Will’s boss at a non-profit organization while secretly working in the interest of Karen’s ex-husband Stan who was supposed to be dead. The character was almost insane in his oddness, but yet he was played by Baldwin as someone with an overdose of politeness. The way he mixed normal smalltalk with “slipped” mentions of how he might take deadly measures to protect CIA secrecy was hilarious.

Last but certainly not least is Neil Patrick Harris’s Barney on How I Met Your Mother (which, as a sitcom is starting to spin its wheels a bit). As an inwardly insecure but outwardly cocky faux lady’s man and party master, his lines are often perfect-pitch hysterical and Harris gets the delivery bang-on. It’s unfortunate that the other characters (including Lily played by Alison Hannigan of Buffy fame) always seem to be dimmed by his comedic presence, but it’s great to watch Barney go. I’d say he’s responsible for 80% of the humour on that show (which in itself counts for about 30% of the humour in the fall 2005 lineup—sad eh?)

Finally, quick mentions for Smallville (still a fun show to watch, even though the tension between trying to tell the story of college boy Clark Kent vs. the pre-story of one of the greatest superheroes is getting a bit strained); Simpsons (chugs along after 16 years, picking up chuckles on the way—the recent Christmas episode with a send-up on the nativity story was very amusing, even for a Christian like myself); Veronica Mars (still an awesome show, with some of the best dialogue on TV, but it still needs to find a rhythm in its second season, which will hopefully be kicked off by the recent revelation of comatose former friend and boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend’s pregnancy and death—this show goes there); Stargate Atlantis (every episode is really well plotted and fun, full of action and excitement—good sci-fi); Charmed (still needs an interesting story arc for the season as a whole because they’re re-treading old ground about having a normal life, or destiny and their love lives, otherwise the staleness of the show might make it boring); Medium (capped off last season with a great cliffhanger—hospital-bed-bound sheriff attempted suicide in order to appear to psychic Allison and warn her of danger; an excellent mix of mystery, a nice family, and some clever theatricality in story-telling).

There’s still a lot to enjoy on TV and while 2005 was an eclectic mix and maybe there were some disappointments for those of us addicted to our shows, I’m certain that 2006 will have some exciting stuff to offer those of us who are tube-tied.

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