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Jess's 2010 Favorites


Like last year, for 2010 I’m doing a list of the shows least likely to stack up on my DVR, which aren’t necessarily representative of the best TV had to offer this year. Read on for my favorite show picks from 2010 (in no particular order).

Lost. I didn’t care for every detour and reveal in the final season --- The Temple business? The glowy cave with a stone cork? Adam and Eve? --- but I thought Lost came to a rousing and emotional conclusion, and they could not have come up with a more perfect or poignant concluding moment. I look forward to revisiting the show in a few more years.

Friday Night Lights. A perennial favorite of mine. In Season 4, Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton brought the goods, as always, as Coach and Mrs. Coach dealt with Eric’s exile to the reopened East Dillon High. As beloved characters from seasons past said their goodbyes, the writers effectively managed to introduce new characters I’ve grown to care about. The show suffers from some logic lapses at times, but with powerful episodes devoted to one character’s grief after a sudden death and another character’s struggle with an unplanned pregnancy, FNL had another emotionally compelling season. I can’t wait to bawl my eyes out when the final season airs on NBC in 2011.

Eureka. This summer, I decided to just dive right in with Season 4 of Eureka and quickly found myself eagerly anticipating each new episode. Balancing the ongoing emotional fallout from a time travel twist with endearing characters and hilarious misadventures, the crazy antics of this little town of mad scientists made for an incredibly enjoyable new find.

Stargate Universe. This show took awhile to grow on me, but with a mostly solid finish to Season 1 and a surprisingly strong first half of Season 2, SGU quickly became one of the shows I most anticipated each week. Unfortunately, the show was felled early in its run by a move to Tuesdays and by a storytelling style and pace that appealed to too few. I’m glad we’ll get ten more episodes this spring, but I also dread the cliff I’m sure fans will be left hanging off when the series ends.

Cougartown. I tried this one when it premiered in 2009 and wasn’t impressed. But after hearing it had found its groove later in the season, I decided to give it another try. All it took was the final two episodes of Season 1 and I was a convert. I love the dynamics between Jules and her dysfunctional family and neighbors, and the show never fails to make me laugh out loud. This season the series has been channeling Scrubs at its finest, effortlessly combining a mix of kooks, weirdos, and running gags with a soft doughy emotional center. These characters may be crazy, but they really care about and support one another and I enjoy hanging with them for 30 minutes every week. Surprisingly, the show has usurped Modern Family as my favorite Wednesday comedy. Bring on the zany antics of the Purple Tooth Crew!

Supernatural. This show surprised me this year, not by wrapping up its five-year arc in a relatively strong fashion, but by managing to turn out a sixth season that thus far is even better than the last season! I love what they are doing with the characters, especially Sam, and I’m also loving how the writers have kept us guessing about the overall story arc for the season. In the last few episodes, they rather suddenly closed the initial arcs of the season (or so it seems), and I honestly have no idea where it goes from here. I can’t wait to find out!

As an added bonus, here are my favorite “New to Me” shows from 2010:

Deadwood. Technically, I watched most of Deadwood in December 2009, but since I finished up the last season in January 2010, I’m including it. Truth is, even if I had watched all of the series in late 2009, I’d include it on this list because Deadwood may be my favorite series since The Wire. With a richly detailed setting and wonderfully layered, deeply flawed characters --- most of whom manage to surprise with small acts of heroism from time to time --- this series had me completely engrossed from start to finish. Part of me will always be sad that Deadwood didn’t manage to reach its natural conclusion, but at least we got those three wonderful seasons and countless unforgettable performances.

Better Off Ted. Another gem from the “gone too soon” vault. If you loved Arrested Development, you should check out this hilarious and quirky satire of corporate life. With wacky, lovable characters and even wackier situations created by The Powers that Be at Veridian Dynamics, Better Off Ted often had me in stitches with the insanity of the week. I know I’ll be revisiting Ted, Veronica, and crew frequently.

Mad Men. I tried this one when it initially premiered, but was completely turned off by the rampant sexism. I know, I know; the sexism is reflective of the time period in which the show is set, but it wasn’t something I wanted to immerse myself in on a weekly basis. And yet … four years in, the critics were still touting the show’s awesomeness, so I decided to give it another go. Knowing that at least one of the women breaks out of the “secretary looking for a husband” mode made it easier to get through the sexism in the early seasons, and slowly but surely I became entranced by Don, Peggy, and Joan. Many of Mad Men’s characters are entertaining, but these three in particular are what keep me coming back. Fortunately, I was able to catch up in time to enjoy the show’s most recent season, which was a real treat, particularly ‘The Suitcase’ episode. Whenever it returns, Mad Men will surely be high on my “least likely to stack up on the DVR” list.

Sons of Anarchy. So many critics were singing the praises of this show, that I decided to give it a go in early fall. I quickly found myself getting completely engrossed in the visceral thrill ride and the complex character dynamics, downing episodes up to four at a time some nights. Katey Sagal is simply outstanding as Gemma Teller Morrow, and the rift between Clay and Jax made for some very intense conflict in Seasons 1 and 2. Plus, I just love seeing Dayton Callie (Charlie Utter, Deadwood) on my TV again! Unfortunately, Season 3 (which I’m slowly catching up with on FX’s website) has not been nearly so compelling, but at least we’ve gotten a couple more Deadwood alums to enjoy most weeks! (Now, if we could only get them together in one room …)

Breaking Bad. I recently started watching AMC’s reruns of Breaking Bad, so I’m only in the first season, but I’m already kicking myself for not watching this series sooner. With an immediately gripping and hilariously dark pilot and an absolutely riveting performance from Bryan Cranston, this one is definitely a keeper for me. I can’t wait to get to the much ballyhooed third season!

Parks and Recreation. Another show the critics insisted got better in the second season, so I started streaming it on Netflix the other night (starting with Season 2). I’m 12 episodes in and I’m chomping at the bit to watch more. Just an entertaining setting and group of characters, particularly Leslie Knope and Ron “F***ing” Swanson. Parks and Recreation consistently makes me laugh, and I especially love how serialized the show is, even though individual episodes tell relatively contained stories. I plan to get caught up with this one before the new season premieres and add it to my regular rotation.

That’s it for this year, but on my “New to Me” watch list for 2011: The Pacific, Terriers, Fringe, Justified, and The Shield.

8 comments:

Greg Boyd said...

Good list. I love "Parks and Rec" too, and am just getting into "Breaking Bad" (love it so far). And "Mad Men" is... well, terrific. As is "FNL".

"The Shield" is amazing. Now just add HBO's "The Wire" to that list, and you're set.

Greg Boyd said...

Also "Arrested Development" (if you haven't already seen it).

Greg Boyd said...

Oh, sorry. I didn't read the "Deadwood" or "Better Off Ted" entries before those two comments. Glad you loved both shows!

Billie Doux said...

This is lovely, Jess. The best thing about it is that you mention a number of shows I've never even seen. Directly into the Netflix queue! Merci bien!

Paul Reed said...

I'll second that. It was because of Jess' reviews that I started to watch Eureka, SGU and T:SCC. The stuff she likes is so cool and diverse.

Some new stuff to check out here, too. Thanks Jess.

Jess Lynde said...

Thanks for the kind words, guys! I hope that you enjoy the new shows you check out!

Dimitri A.C. Ly said...

Great list, Jess. I loved Better Off Ted too and was really sad to see it go quietly--and I mean quietly--into the night. I'm surprised you didn't mention Zombie Scrubs. For me, the two comedies came as a combo pack of absurdist hilarity.

Jess Lynde said...

I enjoyed Zombie Scrubs (a lot more than most folks out there), but I didn't eagerly anticipate it every week, so it didn't make the "favorites" cut. Did that show even air any episodes in 2010?

(BTW, can I count that show as zombie fare that I actually watched and liked?)