Sunday, 10 January 2010

Favourite TV Shows 2009 - Top 10

I know I've put the title top 10 up in the title, but it's actually a top 11, so already I'm lying, also apologies for not getting this up sooner but a mixture of snow (and not actually being too ill this year to take advantage of it) and jumping back into school right in the middle of mocks means that I'm really quite busy. I'll have more time come summer once exams and the television season are over, but really this being done quite disjointedly whenever I have a free moment and I'm not trying to maintain a social life and my education. Not easy to say the least.

But here we go, my favourite shows of 2009.

11. Scrubs
Scrubs hit its eighth season (and technically ninth) this year, and whilst the past few seasons had been disappointing, it’s hard to say that Season 8 wasn’t an overall success. Whilst some people began to experience ‘show fatigue’, overall this eighth season was a huge return to form. Gone was the cartoony buffoon that JD had become over the preceding few seasons. Also gone were the over long fantasy sequences that had plagued the past few season. Overall, Season 8 was just back to basics Scrubs which is what we wanted all along. With one of the best episodes that Scrubs has ever made in the form of ‘My Last Words’ and a perfect finale, Scrubs Season 8 was an absolute winner, even if it did come a couple of years too late.

10. Glee
People who know might have expected to see this one a bit higher, and whilst I do deeply love Glee, it's only had 13 episodes and there were better shows from 2009. Glee is kind of the spawn of High School Musical and Freaks & Geeks. It definitely errs more towards Freaks & Geeks which is definitely a positive, considering how well regarded those 18 episodes of F&G are. Glee takes popular and show tunes and then has them be covered by the outcasts of the Glee club. It sounds like a crap idea for a show, but a mixture of the talent and it being really quite cynical about high school life make it great. Jane Lynch is superb as Sue Sylvester, one of the best comedy characters produced this year (along with Ron 'freaking' Swanson) and the rest of the cast are just as enjoyable. The show might sound like a real hard sell but overall it just works, the songs are well done, the cast is great and it just exudes happiness. It might be camp as fuck, but I love Glee and cannot wait to see what's coming in the back 9 (with an episode directed by Joss Whedon!!!)

9. True Blood
The best vampire fiction to be debuted in the post Twilight fervor. It's more adult, funnier, sexier and more enjoyable. More events are crammed into one hour of True Blood than almost any other show on television. Whilst it's easy to say that True Blood is shit, that's mostly from people who can't see the camp and humourous side to the show. You're supposed to realise that none of this is supposed to be taken seriously. There are so many great moments within True Blood that can make you laugh or even occasionally cry. There are some great characters and the plot just moves at such an unbelievable pace. Whilst the show does occasionally slip up (look at the long and protracted Maenad arc in Season 2) pound for pound, it offers the most content and enjoyability a week for each episode.

8. Parks and Recreation
Easily the best show to debut in 2009, Parks and Recreation started out slow. However like the US Office, it quickly found it's feet and when it came back for its second season it was firing on all cylinders. The characters were meshing and the writing was tighter. Everything was just working now and what went from one more tepid shows from earlier on in the year has become one of my absolute favourites. It's easily the best out of NBC's Thursday Night comedy lineup (far better than Community which flits between good and bad episodes) and one I want to see survive for a while. Hopefully it won't become like The Office where it just seems to run out of ideas, but when you have a scene stealing character as Ron 'Freaking' Swanson, I don't really mind how long it stays on the air, just so long as it maintains it's current quality.

7. How I Met Your Mother
Still my favourite overall comedy on television. Mostly because of some incredibly inventive writing and Neil Patrick Harris' portrayal of Barney Stinson. It's not the most critically acclaimed comedy on television but for me, in terms of laughs, I will get a couple of good laughs an episode and that's honestly all I really want from a comedy. We're barreling into How I Met Your Mother episode 100 tomorrow and I can't wait to see what the show does to celebrate it's longevity. HIMYM is probably the best example of a classic sitcom still on television, especially compared to the other awful examples that still exist (apart from BBT). I don't really care if we never find out who the mother is, the show is always funnier when not focusing on that story and again, it's really only the humour that matters.

6. Dexter
Dexter came back for Season 4 far stronger than it left us at the end of Season 3. Whilst Season 3 wasn't bad, it certainly wasn't as good as Season 1 or 2. It moved at a far slower pace and whilst Michael C. Hall was fantastic, as well as the stellar performance from Jimmy Smitts, they were still the two main pulls. Luckily Season 4 not only had the stellar performance of Michael C. Hall and John Lithgow, the story was a lot more exciting and delivered some terrific twists (seriously that last scene was such a curveball and just changes how the show will be next season). I can't wait for Season 5 now with such a changed landscape. My only wish is that an end date gets announced because the concept of the show is one that begs for an endpoint, we can't keep following everyone's favourite serial killer for 6 years and not have any kind conclusion. So whilst I'm sure Season 5 will be just as good, the show needs to end within the next year or two if it wants to go out on top.

5. Supernatural
I started the year watching Supernatural Season thinking it was decent yet seriously flawed show. After a couple of months break and I kept seeing good things about the show. So I decided to get over my trepidation and watch Season 2, which blew my mind. It was such a solid season of television that perfected pretty much everything that was wrong with Season 1. It was the strength of this season that led me to watch all of Season 3 and 4 before Season 5 premiered. It was such a fun ride and whilst Season 3 has sooo many flaws it doesn't harm the overall feel of the show at all. Supernatural is just a great show from start to finish. It mixes standalone and mythology based episodes with such precision that it always feel like the show is continuing and now we're actually moving into the final 12 episodes of a story 5 years in the making. I couldn't be more excited to see Eric Kripke is taking us on the final stretch of episodes. The show is a superb mixture of humour and drama and the supernatural that just make it winner overall and also a sucess story when it comes to networks messing with their writers story in the fact that they promised a five year story and that's what we're getting (even if the show is renewed this year).

4. Chuck
Chuck is just fun, a hell of a lot of fun. I can't believe that last year I only ranked the show at 11. Chuck didn't really improve in 2009, it stayed true to what it was but somehow it just clicked and became one of the shows that I'd just want to watch over and over again. Season 2 was an amazing season of television and I'm so glad that we're getting a third season (which starts tonight). Chuck just wins on so many levels. It's abashedly geeky with so many film and game references, it has quite possibly the best guest cast on television with it being almost guaranteed that anybody in a one time guest role or even a recurring arc will be incredible and the fact that it has one of the best soundtracks on television. The show is never anything less than it what it aims for and it does so perfectly. The entire is cast is great and there are so many great moments throughout the season (JEFFSTER!!!). Chuck is action packed and hilarious and a show that wouldn't give up for anything, whilst my other favourite new show from 2007 might have died, I'm glad that Chuck is sticking around to give me one of the most pure fun hours of television that I can find each week.

3. Lost
Last year Lost was number 3 because there were 2 better shows. This year, Lost is number 3 because not only were there 2 better shows, but also Lost didn't actually have an amazing year in Season 5. Not that the show wasn't brilliant, Season 5 was still fantastic, it just wasn't as good as it has been in Season 3 or 4. Whilst we're still barreling along at an impressive pace. The show was setting up all the pieces for Season 6. We got the normal fantastic acting, great twists and great writing but overall it just seemed the show was hitting the normal stratospheric heights that it hit in Season 4 with episodes like 'The Constant'. Luckily when it comes to Lost, even an episode that can only be labeled 'good', it's just better than 95% of everything else on television. The show is going to have an incredible sixth season, I'm sure, and since it is one of my favourite shows ever, I'm sure it'll top my list next year. But before we move onto Season 6, let's focus on some great moments from Season 5. Episodes such as 'The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham', 'Dead is Dead' and 'The Variable' were all superb. And there was the finale, which I'll talk about in my next blog post based on top episodes.

2. Breaking Bad
If it hadn't been for the number 1 show, this would have been there with a bullet. But I think we all know what number 1 is. Breaking Bad is another show I regret putting so low last year (number 10? what on earth was thinking), it's just a phenomenal show. Everything about it just drips quality. The writing is darkly funny and the acting is incredible. Bryan Cranston is a revelation but in Season 2, Aaron Paul really stepped up the game and was going head to head with Cranston in so many scenes and just elevated the season above pretty much everything on television. The frequent foreshadowing used during the beginning of episodes, incredible set up as well as some genuinely disturbing scenes scattered throughout the season, really made it stick out in my head. When a show has only aired 20 episodes and already people can be asking whether or not it's deserving to be on not just end of the year lists but end of decade lists, you know you have a winner. Season 3 starts in March, which still feels so very long away.

1. Mad Men
Mad Men is the best show on television at the moment. No other show is anywhere near as good. At all. Lost on the whole might be and Breaking Bad is close, but Mad Men is just transcendent. Like The Wire it just feels like a perfect whole. Everything comes together in such a satisfying way. The performances, the writing, the set decoration and costumes. It might be a slow burn but when it gets to the end it just feels like so much has happened. The way show mixes in real life events over the top of the characters lives just seems amazing know what I go into a massive long stream of hyperbole of what makes this show work. Essays can be written about it's tone and style, analysing the characters motives. But all you really need to know is that, yes it's as superb as you've heard and if you're not watching it you should be. It's one of the greatest televisions shows ever produced and should be seen a lot more outside of those people who actually take critics opinions seriously (they like stuff you've never heard of for a reason, it's just better than the shit you watch).

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