2009 has been a really fun year for TV. Lots of good shows returned or debuted. There’s so much exciting stuff to write about, that I’m going to split my year-end post into 3 parts: TV shows, TV characters, and Movies. (I’m saving Movies to the end because there are a whole slew of intriguing movies premiering on Christmas Day, and I gonna be playing catch-up until year-end.) Without further ado, here are my top 10 shows of 2009.
It was tough for me to narrow down to 10 top shows. My top 10 were shows for which I couldn’t wait to see new episodes each week, sometimes I wouldn’t even let my Tivo finish recording them — I’d just watch them live (commercials and all) — now that’s love! Unfortunately, there were also some new stinkers this year and others which are just growing stale. Keep in mind that I don’t watch every show out there, so there is plenty of other bad TV, but I’m just discussing shows that I did follow at one time (or had high hopes for) which did not live up. But first, the good stuff …
My Top 10 TV Shows
On seeing the Spring pilot episode, the combination of satirical high-school melodrama, tongue-in-cheek comedy, and full-fledged musical numbers was so refreshing and fun-to-watch, that I was hooked. When more episodes finally arrived in the fall, Glee was not only my top must-watch show, but I also fell in love with the songs (now in constant rotation on my iPhone). There’s a lot of hype about this show, but in my opinion it’s well-deserved.
Another hot new show fully deserving of praise: a family sitcom with top-notch writing and acting — humourous and heart-felt, this show never misses a beat. The multi-generational aspect is clever and the family angle actually freshens up the “mockumentary” format. One of the best sitcoms ever. I hope it keeps getting better.
Big Bang Theory
Nerdvana to the max — This show is paradise to a geek like myself. I have loved it since day one and this year it has continued to get better, most notably by bringing hot neighbour Penny deeper into the mix as Leonard’s girlfriend, allowing her to interact more with Sheldon (a match made in sitcom heaven). I have not gone a single episode (in three seasons) without serious laugh-out-loud moments.
I guess this show’s caught on as much as it’s going to, but now that it’s paired with the surprisingly successful Ghost Whisperer on CBS, I hope Medium will continue to live on. Each week I am dying not only to see what crimes Allison’s psychic dreams uncover, but also what wonderful situations her family has to deal with. All clairvoyance aside, this is still one of the well-portrayed families on TV.
Season one of HBO’s southern vampire drama was pretty good, but season two was off-the-hook. Not only did it jump deeper into the mythology (based on a book series), but it went off the deep end in terms of wildness and craziness. Where else would you find shape-shifters, human slaves, anti-vampire cults, a pagan demi-goddess, all culminating in a town-wide bacchanal?
Drop Dead Diva
This show was a surprise. Aspiring model Deb has a car accident and her spirit is accidentally sent into the body of lawyer Jane. The premise is not the best, but it made for some interesting, yet light-hearted, drama. Not only did this show reincarnate one of my favourite series, Ally McBeal, with its quirky-yet-sentimental court cases; it also really came into its own (thanks in no small part to its charming lead, played by newcomer Brooke Elliot).
What more can be said about this sci-fi crossover mega-hit? This year it really embraced the time-travel and sent the Oceanic gang back to the 70s, as well as starting to unravelling some of the story-knots that had been tied over the seasons. Each week I eagerly followed where each episode would take me. Despite the “answers” that were revealed, there was still a super-deep well of character and mystery that remained. This show has really become a class all its own (hence the many attempts to copy its success).
Other shows dabble with apocalypses, but no other show tackles the original, Biblical one, with angels and demons and all. But it’s not all the fire and brimstone that make this show fun to watch (let’s face it, the end times is no barrel of monkeys!) but the relationship between the two Winchester brothers, and the clever (often funny) nature of this show that makes it enjoyable to experience the end of the world.
Torchwood: Children of Earth
OMG, the five episodes of this mini-series were epic, thrilling, scary, tearful, and awesome (not necessarily in that order). No one has ever done an alien invasion story like this one. Even the chilling scenes of children speaking in unison were eerie and captivating at the same time. If you are not a sci-fi fan, you still have to watch this series.
While the series has stayed close to the conspiracy-tinged themes of The X-Files, its sci-fi predecessor, where alien abductions and experimentation were the staple for that show, Fringe’s coming war between two alternate realities is really taking things up a notch. The weirdness only continues to bloom and I can’t wait to see how things play out.
Honourable mentions go to five more shows that I look forward to each week: Chuck (the little spy comedy that could); Dollhouse (which only got crazy-good after it was cancelled, shoot!); FlashForward (which may be stumbling over its concept, but I still really enjoy); Better Off Ted (hilarious and well-written corporate sitcom), and Castle (the funnest crime procedural on TV).
My Bottom 5 TV Shows
Lo, how the mighty have fallen! There is not a single story line in this multi-arc series that I continue to care about. Also, they got rid of some of my favourite characters, neutered some others, and brought in some new ones that are just ridiculous (yes, I’m talking about the carnival freaks — what is the tattoo lady’s power anyway? human plot device?)
The interwebs are aflutter with geek controversy over this show. Some say that it’s a new, grittier flavour of Stargate that requires an acquired taste. Others (myself included) just think it’s sadly boring and unpleasant to watch. I can’t believe I actually miss the hideous, life-sucking (and fun-sucking) Wraith!
I know, I know, this season is supposedly good, but I just can’t bear to watch this show, which is way too long-in-the-tooth for my taste. Maybe it’s the Kryptonian DNA that makes Smallville impossible to kill.
Scrubs: Med School
I didn’t have high hopes for this money-grab continuation of the Scrubs series, but they could have at least made it funny. They are trying too hard to match the old formula and losing the humour in the process. After the neatly-tied season finale, they should have just tagged Scrubs as “Do not resuscitate”.
Season one was great fun, full of clever heists and scams, but then they went and retooled! No recasting or anything (and the change may appear subtle), but the show’s once light humour is now too broad. I liked the way the first season took itself seriously. Now it’s more like a cartoon and every time the characters get into disguises I feel like I’m watching an SNL sketch or something. Why’d they go and mess things up?