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Josie's Best of 2010


2010 was a year in which I thought, perhaps too much, about television. As the heady rush of Lost’s final days turned into the mock scavenger hunt of Persons Unknown, I started to have a serious crisis of faith in my second-favorite medium. The best shows were long over, or the best parts of very good shows were coming to completion. A show I thought was genre-changing (yes, Lost) wound up being merely good, a come-down that left me bemused at best.

In the middle of all of this, I began to seriously consider the role of my favorite second-tier medium: the review. The joy of our What Are You Reading? thread aside, finishing a book doesn’t spur me to seek out others who have read it. Finishing a book makes me want to sit in my comfy chair and think. But television, for those of us in the billiedoux.com community, has become a social practice. We don’t just watch, we react, we rant, we discuss. With the shiny new blog that now has all of our reviews open to comments, we do so to an even greater degree than before.

And we do so with greater skill than anyone else on the internet.

No, I’m not congratulating myself or devising some new laurel to place on my avatar’s head (for which Dimitri, my designated portrait-painter, will be grateful). I say this as a reader of everyone’s reviews and every single comment that gets posted. So many sites write reviews and the dreaded “recap,” but few do so with the consideration of my fellow writers here at billiedoux.com. So many commentors on other sites confuse ad hominem attacks with valued insight, nitpicky observations with more comprehensive analyses, and repetition with veracity. Not us. Even when we disagree, we do so respectfully (well, almost all the time) and with a solid respect for grammar. Along the way, we sometimes find ourselves asking much bigger questions of the type not usually found outside of a classroom. And somehow we make it fun.

A show doesn’t feel complete to me unless I’ve read a review of it here. SGU? I think of Jess. I suspect Paul is actually a later regeneration of the Doctor, one who looks just like John Barrowman. Harry, our new Glee reviewer, only ever sings, even when he’s ordering a cup of coffee. And Billie is our hero—in a Buffy way, not a Joseph Fiennes way.

So for me, 2010 wasn’t just about the currently running shows that I watched, although they played a huge part in my TV-watching life. It was also about the joy of discovering new shows and new reviews, all thanks to the wonderful writers who are kind enough to let me join their circle.

Best 2010 Discoveries:

Supernatural. Yes, this was on my list last year, because I started watching in late 2009. By January of 2010, though, I was a crazed Supernatural fan—the sort of freak who talks about it at work even with people who don’t like TV. In January alone, I got four other people into the show. (I should look for a career in sales.) While I’m enjoying Season Six, the first five seasons feel complete to me, as though the current season is a sequel to a much-loved book.

Torchwood. Damn, it’s good. Okay, it’s not great—I’m in the middle of an out-of-sequence re-watch, and individual episodes, especially in the first season, are iffy. But the characters! The characters! Captain Jack, with his devil-may-care attitude and willingness to face dire straits with a cheesy grin; Ianto, who can be my tea boy anytime (Is that dirty? I don’t really know. Maybe I want it to be dirty.); Gwen, who is a damned impressive female character…Torchwood is great, and “Children of Earth” was incredible. I can’t wait for the next season.

Doctor Who. It took me longer to like Doctor Who, but it started to grow on me, and then it started to get really good. I enjoyed Tennant’s Doctor rather more than I do Matt Smith’s, but I like Steven Moffat’s perspective more than Russell T. Davies’. Catherine Tate was a wonderful companion.

Stargate Universe. This barely counts as a discovery, since it’s such a new show (and such a short show, what with the cancellation). But it’s fairly good, and is—I think—best watched marathon-style with breaks between episodes to read Jess’s reviews.

Show That Went From a Next-Day DVR to Appointment Viewing:

Fringe. There was a period in there when Fringe was really low on my list of priorities, and I thought about no longer reviewing it. But in the second half of Season Two, the show suddenly grew up. Everything became richer and more sharply defined as the writers found their focus, and Season Three has continued to be quite strong. Fringe is moving to Fridays on Fox, which is usually where shows go to die—while I hope it gets another season, I would also love to see it go out on a high note, and this season might be the time to do so.

Show That Turned Out To Be Really Good, Shocking Us All:

The Vampire Diaries. If you haven’t checked it out yet, my article on Why VD Doesn’t Suck is a great place to start. VD has everything I love and nothing that I’ve learned to be wary of: it’s fast-paced, character-heavy, well written, and filled with sexy people doing sexy things. Great marathon viewing, too. Like a crack binge with vampires.

Show I Wish Had More Episodes:

The Walking Dead.

Worst Show That I Reviewed in Its Entirety, All For You, Constant Reader:

Persons Unknown. It was an unmitigated disaster. I’m still not sure what we were supposed to do with it—analyze? Sit back? Ignore the gaping plot holes and logical inconsistencies? Struggle with the religious symbolism? Mourn? Cry? The best part of PU, for me, was the fun hunt for new pictures of cute animals each week. Just look at those bears. Aww!

Show That Could Have Been So Much Better:

FlashForward.

Show That Should Be on This List, But Isn't:

Chuck. It's good, but it's starting to wear thin. I think they should wrap up this season and go out on a (sort of) high note.

Best “What is Reality, Anyway?” Moment:

Running into the Man in Black at my grocery store, twice, right as Lost was coming to an end.

12 comments:

  1. What a lovely article, Josie. I hadn't really thought about the difference, but I read constantly and never look around for book reviews. I'm not even that into movie reviews. But television is different -- possibly because it lasts so much longer. An episode of a show I truly love doesn't feel complete if I don't write/read a review of it here.

    Sadly, I agree with you about Chuck. It's starting to lose me. :( I wonder if it's because the story just doesn't have anywhere to go now. Chuck used to be a nerd under guard suffering from unrequited love, and now he's a superspy who has the girl of his dreams. What now?

    Running into actors from our favorite shows is one of the best things about living in Los Angeles. Possibly the only good thing about living in Los Angeles. :) The most exciting celebrity experience I had this year was meeting someone who actually knows Jensen Ackles. Not as exciting as running into the Man in Black at the grocery store, but still -- one degree of separation!

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  2. Laaaaa!

    "An episode of a show I truly love doesn't feel complete if I don't write/read a review of it here" - This. It's just so true. I actually am addicted to billiedoux.com.

    As for the celeb-nearness, I'm very envious of you LAAAA lady.

    Great article Josie :) you're so spot on about everything I'm not sure I've much to add regarding 2010's offerings!

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  3. Josie, I am incredibly jealous that you've run into the Man in Black twice. I'd love to meet, or even see, a celebrity. Closest I've been is when Eric Bana was in Tasmania to be in TargaTas, and a little while ago, Michelle Rodriguez and William Dafoe were here respectively. One of my work mates went out drinking with Michelle, and another served William at a coffee shop.

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  4. Very nice article, Josie. I definitely agree that episodic television has a particular "let's discuss what's happening!" pull, and that's part of what makes it so darn entertaining for me.

    I'm also with you on Chuck. I've enjoyed some individual episodes a lot this year, but on the whole I'm just not getting the same joy from the show that I used to. It has been feeling more like a "I better just get this done" chore than an "I can't wait to watch this!" event most weeks. And that makes me sad. I hope it gets its groove back soon.

    (And thanks for the multiple SGU review shout outs! Much appreciated.)

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  5. Children of Earth was *horrible*--if I put that many plotholes & inconsistencies & science fails in a paper I wrote, I'd get an "F"!

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  6. I wish I did look like John Barrowman. Unfortunately, Abzorbaloff is probably more like it.

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  7. Well, he's not that...

    Oh, look! A flying cat!

    (By the way, don't forget that it's the internet. We are all as attractive as we want to be.)

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  8. And would it be horribly gauche if I mentioned, off-handedly and in passing, that I was once within 15 feet of Brad Pitt?

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  9. Grr! Des cerveaux! J'ai faim pour des cerveaux!

    Lovely piece, Josie. I feel the same way about Chuck... and Fringe... and FlashForward, which I also watched to the end despite my better judgement.. and Persons Unknown, though, by the end, you were on your own for this one (loved the reviews, mind you, especially the pictures).

    Caroline Dhavernas from Wonderfalls is an old classmate of mine. We also worked on a couple of the same projects on French Canadian TV. We didn't really hang out in the same circles, but she always struck me as a really kind and courteous person, the complete opposite of Jay.

    As for a new laurel, you realise if I make one, the words "Edward" and "Forever" are going to be printed on it.

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  10. Speaking of Caroline Dhavernas, over the holidays I saw a preview for that new ABC show Off the Map, and I noticed that both she and Zach Guilford (Friday Night Lights) are in it. Unfortunately, it looks like one of those overwrought, melodramatic, "young docs under stress and falling in love" kind of shows. Grey's Anatomy set in the Lost jungle (only without the polar bears and freaky electromagnetic anomalies). Too bad. I think those two are phenomenally talented, but that's not the kind of show for me.

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  11. You got Supernatural exactly right! Season five ended well, and I would have been happy with that. I haven't gotten to season six yet, but I've heard good things about the direction it's taking.

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  12. I'm so jealous of you all! When celebs come to Brazil they always go to Rio or the Northeast region. I live in São Paulo, so I never just "run into" them.

    And you're right, Josie. I was considering dropping Fringe, but ever since "Peter", their episodes have ranged from excellent to exceptional.

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