With just a couple of days left before 2011, it's a great time to think about our favorite television gems from the past year. There were a TON of phenomenal programs this year in fact, this could have been a top 20 list. Good TV has become so prolific, watching it all could easily become a full time job. I'm sure I've missed something...but these are the shows that kept me glued to the couch in 2010!
Mad Men (AMC): The Madison Ave men and women grace so many top ten lists, it's almost redundant to add them to mine. But it would be criminal to not include this amazing period piece which is more mini-feature film than any TV drama I can recall. From the intricacies and in-fighting of the ad biz (which I adore) to the character study of smoking hot Don Draper and 60's career woman Peggy...it's the one show that never got recorded in my house. I had to watch it in real time.
Louie (fX): We wrote about it many times on the Nose, in fact it became somewhat of an obsession. Hilarious, profane, heartbreaking, insane and sometimes so creepy it was almost unwatchable. This show within a show about stand up comedian Louie CK, his divorce, his adorable daughters and his NY friends was the most original effort on television this year. I am soooo getting the boxed set when it comes out, because each episode is infinitely re-watchable.
Breaking Bad (AMC): The bleak, cold high plateau of New Mexico...the double life of Walter White and his Meth cooking lab....the evolution of Jessie from drug addict loser to moral compass. Woven between it all the relentless terrorism, and mesmerizing violence of the Mexican drug cartels. Which happens to be more relevant this year than ever before. Where will this series go now that Walter has lost his brain cancer motivation for crime? Who cares, I'm coming along with them.
Nurse Jackie (Showtime): You haven't lived until you belatedly get Showtime and then dive into an entire season of Nurse Jackie over a period of 3 days. Thank you, On Demand. Yes, I had a total immersion NJ marathon and I LOVED it. Edie Falco rules the roost as Jackie, but the entire cast is absolute gold. I'm particularly fond of Zoey, the youngster who brings comic relief to the grim hospital setting. Also love Jackie's BFF Dr. O'Hara, who had an interesting twist with a lesbian turn this season. Nurse Jackie, along with Breaking Bad, Mad Men, and Dexter, has character duplicity as a core plot device. Who are these people? Why are they doing such terrible things? And why does nobody notice except for us?
Modern Family (ABC): As an ABC alumni worker, I can't say how much I adore seeing the alphabet network with a top comedy hit. Every character in this series is hilarious, even the teenage girls. And teenage girls usually suck the laughs out of every scene they're in. My personal favorites are Mitchell and Cameron, the gay couple raising Lilly, the world's most stoic adopted baby. Catch Mitchell's song about "not biting" on the ABC website, it will give you an ear worm.
Dexter (Showtime): Sweaty Miami, Cuban Mojitos, swamps with dead bodies in barrels....and amidst it all, our Dexter of the enigmatic smile. He found true love this season with Lumen (Julie Stiles) but lost it in real life with Jennifer Carpenter, who plays his sister Deb on the series. Yes, it is fraught with peril to date your co-workers and even more hazardous to marry them. Let's hope all the dust settles before the next season so we can root for America's favorite serial killer once again.
Glee (Fox): Now that American Idol has jumped the shark, Fox should thank its lucky stars for "Glee". AI is toast. Would I watch it without Simon Cowell? Not in this lifetime. There is no musical show on TV as strong as Glee. We love the characters (especially breakout girl Britney, who is the funniest dumb blond on TV), and the music is fantastic. Some episodes don't quite make the mark (Rocky Horror was a horror), but most are award winning. If "Grilled Cheesus" doesn't get an Emmy I will be shocked.
Great Migrations (National Geographic): Even though I have not been able to watch the entire series because Comcast prices Nat Geo out of my reach (hateful!), I've seen enough episodes On Demand to know that this is one of the most beautifully filmed nature programs to ever grace the small screen. To watch the Monarch Butterfly migration (followed because they were able to attach a tiny, almost microscopic camera to a butterfly wing) was beyond amazing. On an HDTV it was sublime. Truly the most beautiful documentary series ever. It's the Rose Parade of wild life programs. I'm afraid I'm going to have to pony up for the DVD when it comes out.
Entourage (HBO): I never tire of the escapades of the "boys" as they zoom around So. Cal. in their inappropriate sport utility vehicles adding more smog to Hollywood-land. When is Vinnie going to get a Tesla? He could afford it. Although when last seen, our star was exploding like a supernova, with his porn g.f. dumping him and a bad coke habit wrecking his career. We love Hollywood, and we love cliff hangers. Can't wait until next season to see Ari, Drama, Lloyd and all the young Turks as they pull it out of the fire.
30 Rock (NBC): Liz Lemon, you are our Queen. You are the girl we always wanted to be...a Mary Tyler Moore for the 21st Century. Your glasses...your ham obsession...your fearless and proud braininess. You deserve happiness with a cute pilot or astronaut. But you will probably end up (some season faaaarrrr in the future) with our beloved favorite TV mogul Jack Donaghy. Kenneth can be the best man and Jenna the Maid of Honor. Oh please, at least let it happen as a dream sequence! Actually, the dream is that NBC has managed to create a comedy about television that works on a million levels. Bravo to the Peacock!
And before we close...a special word for our sponsors. I have to give mention to two favorite commercial characters; Isaiah Mustafa, the "I'm on a horse" hottie who made Old Spice cool again and Stephanie Courtney who plays "Flo" on the Progressive insurance ad. Both are originals and immensely appealing.
Happy New Year everybody!