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|Written by Lauren Cheal|
|Thursday, 30 December 2010 13:36|
2010 has been a pretty solid year for television, and here is a list of my personal favourites.
Modern Family (ABC), Cougar Town (ABC), Glee (ish) (FOX)
I am as surprised as anyone at my top three in this category this year. Two entries from ABC? Um, the 90s called, they want their hit lineup back! These three are the shows that I looked forward to watching the most this year, and that is something. I still watch 30 Rock, but it is just nowhere near as funny as it used to be. There have been good moments this year for sure (I love the addition of Matt Damon as Liz's pilot boyfriend, who loves the Barefoot Contessa as much as I do), but on the whole I don't find myself remembering to catch it. I have also given up on The Office. I don't even download this one anymore. Pam and Jim got married, a dumb takeover by a new company brought in some unnecessary drama and even the addition of Kathy Bates couldn't get me interested. Each week, though, I have found myself turning to Modern Family, Cougar Town and Glee to satisfy my comedic needs.
I am giving this one top spot because the first season of it was great and because what we have seen of season two is just building on that success (a difficult feat for a show that had a such a strong first year). This show is really funny, thanks in large part to some great comedic actors (Ty Burrell, Eric Stonestreet, Jesse Tyler, Ed O'Neil, Julie Bowen, Sofia Vergara all pull their comedic weight in this ensemble). The writing is also strong, focusing on the humor in everyday life, and the crazy things families do for each other. I particularly enjoy watching Claire and Phil because they remind me a great deal of my own kooky parents. They kind of drive each other crazy, but they love each other and their kids so much, it is just fun to see. Favourite episodes from 2010 are "My Funky Valentine" where Phil and Claire try to have a romantic evening at a hotel and Claire winds up caught in an escalator, the season two premiere, where Claire gets nostalgic for the past and Phil creates a time machine out of their old station wagon, and the Halloween episode, which brings the ensemble together for the Dunphy's favorite holiday.
I am as shocked as anyone that this is on my "best of "list for 2010. I have already written an apology to Courtney Cox, but it continues to surprise me how much I enjoy watching this show. The cul-de-sac crew is entertaining because of their weird inside jokes (Penny CAAAAAAAAAN!, Tip 'o' the Imaginary Hat, mimed murder-suicides), because of Courtney Cox, and because of smart writing about the kind of family you create for yourself. Favourite episodes from 2010 include the season one finale (a great wrap up to the second half of the season), and the episode where we meet and say goodbye to Jules' enormous wine glass, Big Joe (more info on him, here). Ellie's eulogy for him was touching and hilarious "When I first met him, he was holding 8000 pennies in an antique store, but I walked right by. But Jules, she gave him a home" (you can view the service for Big Joe here. There is a reason my sister and I have been searching for our own Big Wine Glass for the past two months.
I am really torn about whether to include Glee in my best of list for 2010, and it is because the show is so damn uneven. There have been definite problems with the show this year (owing mainly to the break it took in the middle of the first season-the writers returned knowing it was a hit, and some of their choices show they are writing to satisfy that popularity, not writing the show they set out to write). The story has often been disregarded for the sake of production, and when attention is paid to story, they sometimes take it in weird directions. All that being said, when Glee is good, it is really good. The story between Kurt and his dad has been really strong and a refreshing take on what has become a clichéd gay teen story arc (the season 2 episode where Kurt is in a coma was a particularly touching look at their relationship). Jane Lynch also continues to hit it out of the park, and I would watch this show no matter how crappy the story is to hear her one-liners. Her recent trip to whoville as The Grinch was a fun way to play on her character and her constant insults for Will Schuester are just endlessly entertaining.
Mad Men (AMC), The Good Wife (CBS), Big Love (HBO)
To be honest, I had trouble coming up with three dramas that I would call favourites of the year. Big Love just barely made the cut. I didn't watch Lost, so its end wasn't too exciting for me. I wanted to like The Big C, but despite a very strong cast, I have lost interest after the first 6 or so episodes. I have also had a hard time continuing past the second season of True Blood, even though parts of that show are very entertaining. Maybe it has been a bad year for TV drama or maybe I just have not been in a dramatic mood, but here are the three shows that did impress me in 2010.
Without a doubt, this is my favourite show of the year. I have written about it a fair amount already (in our Roundtable Discussion of the season 4 finale and in an article where I call it the Best Season of Mad Men Ever). Given some more time since the finale, I am more convinced than ever of the show's greatness. The writers handled the new company in smart, fun ways and they introduced some great new characters too. I loved Miss Blankenship for her zingers, and even though I still don't like Megan and Don's decision to get married, I enjoyed the turns Don's love life took this year, and the new women we met because of it. Mad Men has really shown us how to do a period drama well. The show doesn't rely on the historical events of the time to dictate its plot, but it does let its well-crafted characters react to those events in very believable ways. Some of the best episodes center around cultural touchstones of the times (the Moon Landing, the Cassius Clay and Sonny Liston fight, the JFK Assasination), largely because those events represent turning points in American culture and we are shown how those turning points affected people's day to day lives. The show continues to captivate me and I just can't wait for next season to start.
The Good Wife
This is a bit of a surprise entry on the best of list for 2010, but despite having a fairly dumb premise (cataloguing the life of a wife of a politician caught in a scandal), this show is very entertaining. There is a cast of strong actors, starting with Julianna Margulies as the titular wife. Her understated performance anchors the show in a credible person's life and emotions. A good supporting cast helps the show as well. Chris Noth (Mr. Big!) is becoming a TV veteran and he plays sleazy well, but manages to be likable at the same time (see again, Mr. Big). Alan Cummings is also fun to watch as Eli Stone, the political fixer; and Christine Baranski is a great addition too. One more cast member worth noting is Archie Panjabi as the mysterious Kalinda.. She is super secretive and the more we learn about her past, the more we want to know. I tune in regularly, and always enjoy it.
Ahh Big Love. This HBO show is always entertaining as it catalogues the life of a polygamist family trying to keep their polygamist lifestyle hidden from the world while maintaining a public business (if you have never watched it, check out this article which describes the ins and outs of the Henrickson family). Season four saw the Henrickson Clan making some weird choices, like having patriarch Bill run for a government office. Not the best way to keep your three wives under wraps! It was nice to their eldest daughter Sara step out on her own and away from the polygamy world, and the hijinks that Bill's family on the compound got into were also amusing this season. The end of the Prophet, Roman (played so well by Harry Dean Stanton) also brought a great deal of change to the compound and the rise of his son, Albie (and his hair!). I like to believe, as Roman's first wife Adaleen does, that Roman died playing "his favourite canciones Mexicanos". This show has a strong cast, a fascinating plot setting, and high production values and it is always worth tuning into the seasons, whenever they finally air.
And those are my picks for the best of TV 2010. It has definitely been a good year, and here's hoping 2011 brings us more great comedy and even more good drama.