The Big Bang Theory -- you know how much we like this CBS Monday night comedy, a geeky delight featuring a talented and hilarious cast and clever writing (which I must say with some dismay has started to rely a little too much on sexual innuendo -- actually way more than innuendo -- making some scenes play like creator Chuck Lorre's other hitcom Two and Half Men, which isn't necessarily a good thing.) But we still love it and we're happy to see it on this list!
Big Love -- star and producer Bill Paxton keeps this HBO saga about a polygamist Mormon family man on the right path, just absurd enough to be extremely entertaining but with a serious vein that never goes in for easy ridicule or cheap melodrama. With a gaggle of female co-stars who are some of the best actresses around -- Jeanne Tripplehorn, Chloe Sevigny and Grace Zabriskie among them -- Big Love is compelling and doesn't always get the credit it deserves. So good to see it on the AFI list!
Friday Night Lights -- I know this is a great NBC show, but I've never watched an entire episode. It's the high school football millieu that has turned me off -- wrongly, of course -- and I vow to make this acclaimed show part of my viewing retinue. Good on AFI for calling out this terrific show that has managed to survive for three seasons so far and has earned the loyalty of many devoted viewers.
Glee -- Fox's new hit comedy/drama/musical is a favorite of Flaming Nose correspondent Jane, and we salute her foresight in calling this one a success right out of the box. This is one dare we say "quirky" show that has managed to wriggle its way into mainstream coverage, and its choice by the AFI is proof of its far-reaching appeal and unique qualities.
Mad Men -- Of course AMC's Mad Men has to be on any list like this. The TV show that's more a piece of art than a simple television series, MM entices the viewer to travel back to a time when men and women were still learning many things about each other, at home and in the workplace, and work itself -- especially in a cushy Madison Avenue ad agency -- was both a privileged and a cutthroat endeavour. Would have loved to see AMC's other excellent drama Breaking Bad on this list also, but maybe another time.
Modern Family -- ABC's new situation comedy about a collection of unconventional families who personify some of the diverse family groups out in the world today is a critical and audience favorite already. Though the people in the show may be nothing like you or your particular family, the universality of their problems and ultimate devotion to each other are certainly something everyone can understand and enjoy. Good choice for the list.
The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency -- HBO's charming Botswana, Africa-set light mystery series, is a wonderful addition to the list. Our Jane also called this one, loving its attitude and its seductive charismatic performances. More gentle than most of the breakout cable dramas getting so much publicity these days, this is a darling series with much to delight us all.
Nurse Jackie -- Showtime's brittle, brutal, heartbreaking, sexy dramedy starring the exquisite Edie Falco definitely belongs here. Is it more a comedy than a drama? Probably if you count the minutes, but Falco's performance is pure dramatic gold. Unusual, delving into the skilled Jackie's convoluted personal and professional life, Nurse Jackie is a show where good people don't always get the chance to do all the good things they'd like, but also get the chance to do the bad things that sometimes need to be done, too. Terrific choice by the AFI.
Party Down -- Where oh where was The Flaming Nose when this little gem ran on Starz? We were obviously asleep at the wheel, because we completely missed this one. (I never even saw ONE episode of this and have to confess I didn't recognize the title when I read it on AFI's list. My bad.) Party Down is a comedy about moonlighting aspiring actors, with a wonderful cast and the kind of comic sensibility that would have made it a hit if it had run on HBO, let's say, or even NBC. Don't miss this one if Starz repeats it, or seek it out online. Good for AFI to find this series and bestow some deserved limelight on this hidden delight.
TrueBlood -- HBO's vampilicious melodrama boasts not only one of the most attractive casts in recent memory, but they're giving some genuinely outstanding performances and bringing alive the kind of outlandish exploits that could sink a less skilled troupe. No worries here, though; TrueBlood is sexy and savage enough to make anyone a believer in the children of the night. It's one of the most fun shows out there, too, combining thrills and whimsy in a delicious Louisianna gumbo of gorey greatness. We love TrueBlood, can you tell?
Congrats to all the honorees!