The Best TV Shows of 2010: Redux

**Please be careful of spoiler alerts. I will probably spoil some parts of the shows so if you have not seen it, do not read my description all the way through**

At the end of July, right before the fall season starting airing, I did a list of the best shows of the year up to that point. Well now that 2010 is all but over, it's time to revisit that list and add to it.

I will say that I of course have not seen every single show on television this year. Hell, even TV critics don't do that. But I have spent many anights flipping through my On Demand to watch a shit ton of television. Sure, that means I am biased towards NBC, USA, and FX because those channels are actually smart, live in the 21st century, and realize nobody watches live TV anymore. So instead of me going to watch shows I like via the internet, I just watch shows I never would have been accustomed to because of the convenience of On Demand. But the downfall of that is that I have watched a lot of bad TV- especially of late. I mean A LOT of bad TV. I have seen every single episode of Chase, Law and Order L.A., and Undercovers simply because they were there. Yes, I unfortunately had a lot of free time of my hands.

And I also do not get HBO or Showtime which also limits my selections. The #1 show people have asked me about this year was HBO's and Martin Scorsese's Boardwalk Empire. It's gotten great, critical reviews. I went out of my way to see the one and half hour pilot spectacle- and I wasn't impressed. The only show I have seen all the way through after being disappointed by the pilot (besides the aforementioned crappy NBC shows) was Heroes. And even that show was not all that good (May you rest in peace). So if I'm disappointed by the pilot, I honestly don't think I will like the show. Now I'm sure I'm proven wrong by essentially everyone who has seen Boardwalk Empire, but I do not foresee me ever watching that show in the future.

Now, the overall theme of this list is "disappointing". This was an extremely poor year for television and this was the year for dribble. So many shows this year were either not even close to being as good as they once were or had a pretty bad sophomore season. I was very disappointed in this year and therefore the top of this list was not hard to create.

As always, I'm going to start off with shows that didn't make my list but I'm sure the vast majority of people think they should.

Louie (FX)

Let me first start off by saying that I have seen every single episode of Louie- another benefit of being board and having On Demand. Let me also get the disclaimer out there that I love Louie C.K. as a comedian. The 'Bright' One and I have discussed (I'm sure on a podcast) how much we were anticipating the release of this show because we are huge Louie C.K. fans. But I can not understand why people like this show.

I can understand why people think it's good. Louie C.K. is such a smart comedian and I'm not an idiot to recognize the quality of the product that was being delivered to me (i.e. good versus entertaining- this show was good). But at the end of the day- I need to either be entertained by the show and especially for a comedy- it needs to make me laugh. The only time I laughed was during the stand up scenes a la Dmitri Martin's Important Things. I hated the skits and I truly don't understand why critics and fans alike jerked off to this show.

Persons Unknown (NBC)

OK, so no critic and probably no rational person has this miniseries in their top 10- or even top 20 of 2010 list. But I had this show in my mid-season top 15 and I just want to spend a few seconds talking about it. Even though I am looking at my top 15 and really want to replace it at minimum in the "15" slot, I will restrain myself. Partially because if I wasn't bored during the summer and did not have On Demand (notice another theme here) I probably would not have watched this show.

The show is something out of The Cube and followed 8 strangers and their journey to escape from a town run by an international company that will not let them escape- even if they do escape. I loved the first few episodes and I loved the fact that after each episode another layer of the onion gets peeled back for the audience to see what's happening in this town. And I absolutely loved the end (I'm going to spoil the show for you right here because let's face it, if you haven't seen it by now, you never will) where even though everybody escaped the town, the corporation brings them right back to continue on with the process. The look of defeat on the main characters faces when they realize they can never escape and all hope is lost and there is no happy ending is great. But the show spent about 5 episodes too many dragging the story along.

Anyways, and now on with the list.....

15) 30 Rock (NBC)

I really wanted to leave 30 Rock off of my list. In fact, in my heart of hearts I think I have Persons Unknown over 30 Rock, but alas I could not do it. 30 Rock has been such a brilliant show for so long that even though Season 5 was by far and away the worst season of the show so far, it still is better than most of the dribble that's out there. Plus, the second half of Season Four occurred in 2010 which means I can't take the show off of the list.

The best part about 30 Rock is that it is side-splittingly funny. Despite all of it's clever jokes and characters, the show always made me laugh. But outside of a few exceptions in Season 5 (most notably the second episode where Jack is filming self-help videos for his unborn son and Tracy gets stuck on Cash Cab on his way to the hospital for the birth of his daughter) this season was not funny. Like at all.

And to pour salt on the wounds, the show built up story lines and then made them disappear without any excuses. Season 4's plot focused on the addition of a new member of TGS with Tracy Jordan and except for a cameo in the SNL-funny (i.e. not funny) live episode of 30 Rock, I didn't see the new cast member once. In Season 4, Tracy was on a quest to EGOT (to get an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony). While that story line did emerge in the new season (with Tracy making a movie a la Precious to earn him an Oscar) it still fell short of the goal and "umph" that it had in the previous season. I could go on and on with plot holes like this (the fact that NBC is now a porn distributor known as Kabletown and that senator Queen Latifah forced Jack to put more black people on NBC shows and then proceeded to never bring it up again) that made the show frustrating to watch.

But the 2010 Season 4 30 Rock was excellent as always and there were still some great episodes laying underneath the pile of manure that was Season 5 and because it's still the most original comedy on television, 30 Rock earned a spot on this list.

I feel like I was a judge on the Japanese version of Iron Chef. I just explained why the challenger had the best and tastiest dishes, how the Iron Chef's dishes were the worst pile of crap ever, and yet still overwhelmingly voted for the Iron Chef.

14) The Big Bang Theory (CBS)

So I wrote WAY to much for 30 Rock so I'll do my best to keep this short.

This show is hilarious. The End.

But in all seriousness, whenever I watch this show I always crack up and even though TBBT is still using its formula from Season One (even the Penny/ Leonard will they won't they even after they dated and then broke up) it's still funny. The one drawback to this current season is that they gave Sheldon a girlfriend. Which I'm absolutely glad the writers did that because as much fun and flack as the other characters gave about Sheldon not knowing how to interact with a girl, he still is a human and still needed a girlfriend. But what I don't like about it is that she is the exact same character as Sheldon but with boobs and a va-jay-jay. Sheldon as a character is one of the best characters on television, but you can't replicate him. The writers needed to find a way to make a girlfriend that would realistically be with Sheldon but still be her own character.

But I'm nitpicking (sort of) and although this show is mind numbing, it's still funny and always a pleasure to watch. And for that, The Big Bang Theory earns a spot on this list.

"They built a pyramid!"

13) Glee (FOX)

I will more than happy take lumps and shit for admitting to liking this show. Everyone who is a hater has never seen the show and therefore can't judge. These people are the same people who love to use Jay Cutler as a punching bag- even though they have never actually seen him play or even care to root for him.

Listen, the writing on this show is Heroes-esque bad. It's stupid teen drama that at the end of the day, is only good for talking about with other people who watch the show. It's unrealistic in two senses: First, no high school is that mean and would give shit to a glee club- especially one where the vast majority are football players and cheerleaders. Secondly, it pisses me off when the show breaks off into song at the drop of a hat, without any practice, performs it beautifully. The band magically knows and hits every note and beat, the glee club members magically hit every single note and song lyric perfectly, and they all magically dance in perfect sync with each other.

But you know what, who cares? Like me, everyone watches Glee solely for the music (although I'm very upset that 13 year olds are retarded and think songs not sung by Beyonce are the show's original creations) but the music is still very good nonetheless. The episode in which Gweynth Paltrow guest stars alone got me hooked to this show with her rendition of Cee Lo Green's "Fuck You" (called "Forget You" in the show) and a fantastic mash up of Rihanna's "Umbrella" with "Singing In The Rain".

For having great music and for being very awesomely mind numbing, Glee earns a spot on this list.

12) The League (FX)

I was recently watching this show On Demand while my dad was in the other room. He pointed out to me that this show really does use the lowest form of humor. The show is extremely "blue" and uses cheap five year shit and barf jokes to get cheap laughs. But I don't care. I will take funny "pull my finger" jokes over Season 5 of 30 Rock (extremely smart but NOT funny) any day of the week.

But in line with my "disappointing" theme, Season 2 of The League was nowhere close to the greatness of Season 1. I feel like Season 1 was scripted more or had more time put into it and therefore was better. I also agree with Bill Simmons that this show really could be done so much better. A TV show centered around a group of guys in a fantasy football league is a great premise that I truly feel FX is squandering.

It also upsets me that in an 8 team fantasy football league an owner has to make a decision between Donald Brown and Steve Breaston. I barely have to make this choice in a 14 team league, nevertheless an 8 team league. No club in an 8 team league even owns Breaston or Brown or many of the decisions the show brings up. But that's REALLY nitpicking.

But I still laugh at the show and since EVERYBODY plays fantasy football, it's a great show to talk with people about it. And for that, The League earns a spot on this list.

11) Modern Family (ABC)

This is the only ABC show to crack the list. Unfortunately, I have not seen too many episodes of Season 2 (which primarily aired in 2010) but the ones I have seen I have enjoyed heavily.

Because I don't really know a whole lot of my friends/ acquaintances who watch this show I really don't have a whole lot of anecdotes and thus I don't have much to say. But this show is brilliant as it is funny- following around three abnormally normal families who are all related to each other.

If you haven't seen this show yet, go out and watch the first episodes of the first season and you'll be hooked. Plus, Sofia Vergara is smoking hot. If you don't know who she is, Google her.

10) The Office (NBC)

I don't think The Office will ever be as good as it was during Season 2 or Season 3. But I think I need to stop comparing future seasons to those seasons. If I do, Season 7 doesn't even come close to those seasons. But Season 7 is still better than Seasons 4 and 5. But not as good as Season 6- it's predecessor and the season I will and properly compare it to. And thus, also falls along with my "disappointing" theme.

There are basically four different character traits of Michael Scott: there's the authoritative Michael Scott (as seen in: where he yells at Stanley after Stanley refused to listen to a word Michael says; seen rarely; a great side), the goof ball Michael Scott (as seen in: after Michael eats the pretzel and goes into a sugar high; seen very often; mainly a good side), the awkward Michael Scott (as seen in: Michael hitting on any woman not named Holly (er, rather, Michael hitting on any woman); seen often; can be hit or miss), and the petulant, baby Michael Scott (as seen in: the Glee episode where Michael doesn't get his way; seen often; the worst side of Michael Scott).

Season 7 featured a vast majority of petulant, baby Michael Scott which is an awful thing to be shown consistently. This season also featured a lot of a lazy, not funny, and not good prank playing Jim which added insult to injury.

But overall, this show was still funny, still far better than 30 Rock and still enjoyable to watch. Even though I am super glad that after this season Steve Carrel is leaving and the show can finally rest in peace and die. But for the aforementioned reasons, The Office earns a spot on this list.

9) Community (NBC)

Community is like Gordan Beckham. It initially started off slow, then it hit like crazy and was amazing to watch, and then it had a break, and then just when you expected it to be awesome, it sinks like man floating in caramel like a Milky Way commercial. That's not fully an apt comparison because Community still is in the top 10 and Bacon's first half of 2010 looked like I was the one out there hitting. But overall I think it's a good one.

If the second season of Community was its first season, I probably would have had #1 on my list. The show is still smart and funny but my expectations were held too high and its for that reason Community earns a spot on this list.

And you can rant and rave all you want DME, Joel McHale IS funny and IS great on this show. Stop being a hater.

8) White Collar (USA)

I like Psych and Royal Pains a lot but not only is White Collar the best of the USA shows, it's kind of the epitome of USA shows. And therefore, White Collar is the only USA show to make my list. The USA Network fully admits that is produces "happy" shows. These shows have conflict to keep you entertained, but it's really nothing like something as heavy as you would see on maybe a Law and Order SVU and it's not as gripping as say like a Mad Men or Breaking Bad.

USA shows are a great On Demand pleasure, and unlike Law and Order L.A. or Outlaw, I don't regret watching it when I'm done. In fact, quite the opposite. And it is for that reason that White Collar (representing the USA Network) cracks my list.

7) Archer (FX)

The reason I ranked Archer so low during the midseason was because I thought the show had too many lows and the highs were not THAT great to warrant it any higher. But I was wrong. The "Skytanic" episode was the shows best and it still is one of the funniest things ever and I just recently watched the second half of the season (by recently I mean right before this post) and while it still is pretty bad, it's nowhere near as bad as I thought it was and it still was fairly clever and original and funny. And it's for those reasons that Archer earns a spot on this list. It comes back in January of 2011 and I'm super excited for its return.


6) It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia (FX)

It's Always Sunny is probably the worst name for a TV show just because it's so long to say and to write out. But it is excellent (I don't want to use "brilliant" even though it fits justly but I've used it to often already) and still impressive and strong after six seasons. Shows like The Office show us that you can only be good for X amount of time until you lose your edge and you deserve to go, but not Sunny.

The show is just as funny as it was in it's inception and even though the subject matter is extremely crude, it's actually smarter comedy than a show like The League. Seinfeld was great in it's dialogues and situations and It's Always Sunny takes that smart, genius humor and uses it in the raunchiest scenarios possible. It is for those reasons that Always Sunny earns a spot on this list and I apologize for not ranking it during my midseason rankings.

5) Justified (FX)

"Oh My Gosh! Sexy Rexy! Really!? Another FX show?" As Lana would say in Archer, "YUUUP!" And it's not even the last one on the list. FX is the best network out there, and with the exception of Louie (a show everyone but me loves) FX is batting 1.000. I'll say what I wrote in my midseason wrap up where I ranked Justified #3- this show is just Timothy Olphyant being a bad ass. It's got heart and character development, but it's just Olphyant being a bad ass and it's awesome. Period. Now go watch it in anticipation for Season 2. Also, I told you about how awesome FX is earlier in the year. Now I'm putting my money where my mouth is. So to speak. Ish.

4) Entourage (HBO)

The first few episodes of Season 7 were bad. I mean really bad. I mean "Gigli" bad. Hell, the conflict in the first few episodes was that Vinny got a haircut and thus messed up the re-shoots of his newest movie. But then, without you even realizing it, the show got great. I stopped watching for a bit because the beginning was so bad, but then I saw like three episodes in a row and I got hooked and wanted more.

The best episodes and seasons of Entourage are the ones in which Vinny Chase's and Ari's careers are in trouble and in jeopardy. That's what made the rebound 5th season of the show so great and made the show really good from Seasons 1-3. But from Season 6 to the first part of Season 7, nothing really happened. Everything was really all good for Vinnie and the boys. And thus bad television.

But then Vince met and started dating porn star Sasha Grey and that led to a Don Draper-esuqe (see next show) downward spiral that you didn't know where he would land. That in turn affected his personal life, but most importantly, his professional life. And when Ari is threatened to get exposed and lose his job and to lose being a member of the team to bring an NFL franchise to Los Angeles because of his normal antics, like Vinnie, both his personal and professional life get threatened. I also loved the Johnny Drama's side storyline where his career is in jeopardy but could possibly get saved by the return of Billy Walsh.

It is for those reasons that Season 7 of Entourage deserves a spot on this list and I regret anyone who jumped off the bandwagon too early. But like The Office, I'm also glad this show is on it's last season.

3) Mad Men (AMC)

**Spoiler alert, if you have not seen Season 3 or Season 4 of Mad Men, stop reading right now. I repeat, stop reading and move on to my #2 selection**

This was the worst season for Mad Men. I normally enjoy and respect and TV critic Alan Sepinwall's opinion, but he just jerks off to this season of Mad Men (along with Bill Simmons) and I don't understand why. This season might have had the best Mad Men episode ever (but not really) in "The Suitcase"- an episode that just solely focuses on Don Draper and Peggy Olson and I hope both get Emmy's for their brilliant performances in that episode. But as a whole, this season was just alright. This season was Michael Young or Derrick Mason of Mad Men seasons- there were no real highs but there were no real lows and it was just steady, constant performances.

I found the best part about Mad Men was Don Draper being Don Draper. He was a cheating scoundrel who was a smooth talker- both to the ladies and his clients. But since he is no longer married and starting spiraling into a drunken mess, he was no longer smooth with either.

Now the show still had some great conflict, like with the future of Sterling, Cooper, Draper, Pryce and the future of Don Draper which made for some FANTASTIC television. But it wasn't all good as its previous seasons. Nonetheless, Mad Men still earns a spot on this list. And bee tee dubs, an off year for Mad Men is still a top 5 show, so what does that tell you about how great the show is, huh?

2) How I Met Your Mother (CBS)

HIMYM is currently the funniest show on television. During my midseason rankings, I didn't even rank How I Met Your Mother (this show is up there with Always Sunny as the wost title ever) and ranked 30 Rock in my #2 spot. Oh how the tides have turned. The reason for the 30 Rock dropping was because of Season 5. But HIMYM rose- mainly because I'm actually watching it now. And stupid Lifetime network syndicating the show. It's awesome that I get to watch HIMYM a lot more, but I also now have to stop on the Lifetime Channel when I'm channel surfing on the off chance Mother is on. Plus, I've seen a bajillion more stupid Lifetime movie advertisements in one month than I ever want to see in my life time. But, for being the funniest show on television, and proving (unlike The Office) that you can still be hysterical after six seasons, How I Met Your Mother earns a spot on this list- and the best comedy slot.

1) Terriers (FX)

Even though I was just bashing Alan Seppinwall a minute ago, I have to praise him for getting me hooked on this show. I'm so upset that this show got cancelled and it ranks right up there with Freaks and Geeks as the best one season show ever. The show followed around two private investigators- one former alcoholic cop played by Donal Logue and one former thief played by Michael Raymond-James. The show had heart, it had depth, it had GREAT character development, it had mystery, and it had a great cliffhanger literally the very end of the season finale that I sadly will never get to see resolved.

The show starts off with the two investigators shaking off a murder rap that they were framed for and then flipping the table and framing the man who was the actual killer and ends with them solving one of the greatest conspiracies ever laid out on television. I wouldn't expect anything less from the writer of Ocean's 11 (although I did have to sit through Ocean's 12 and 13). The show was simply great and I loved every single episode.

In a year where every single show was not the best season in the show's history and there were not many (or really ANY) good new shows, a great show like Terriers takes 2010's top spot as the best show of the year.

So here's a recap of my list:

15) 30 Rock (NBC)
14) The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
13) Glee (Fox)
12) The League (FX)
11) Modern Family (ABC)
10) The Office (NBC)
9) Community (NBC)
8) White Collar (USA)
7) Archer (FX)
6) It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FX)
5) Justified (FX)
4) Entourage (HBO)
3) Mad Men (AMC)
2) How I Met Your Mother (CBS)
1) Terriers (FX)


David "MVP" Eckstein said...

1) The League would be infinitely funnier if about Fantasy Baseball, but i absolutely love this show. Should I be embarrassed that I have gone to some of the lengths these characters have in fantasy? :)

2) You do to Archer what I do to Michael Young

3) Always sunny was by far and away the best show on TV this year

4) The Walking Dead. Watch it. Trust me, you'll rank it top 4. I was skeptical too when I watched the pilot, but this show is amazing.

5) Ive never seen justified, but i can tell you always sunny is better than modern Entourage and probably even season 4 of mad men.

Bryan said...

I don't actually watch a lot of TV (and when I do, it is usually sports or food related... Bourdain's No Reservations? awesome), so I have not seen a lot of these shows. But I will jump right in to confirm that 1.) Yes, Joel McHale IS funny and DME is the moron for not agreeing on this one; and 2.) Modern Family is one of the most clever shows on television. I'm surprised more people our age don't watch it... It is so well written. Plus one of the characters supposedly played U of I football... can't get much better than that.

Sexy Rexy said...

here's my midseason "analysis" of Modern Family: "Another show slightly hurt because it had too many episodes which opened the door for some really bad shows, but overall very funny and a very original take on the traditional family sitcom. Plus, one of the characters on the show was an offensive lineman for University of Illinois (and wore a Juice Williams jersey in one episode) w=and I get a chubby every time someone mentions "Illinois" on TV"

I'm also very surprised many people our age doesn't watch MF

The 'Bright' One said...

louie is top 3 show, that i have seen.

league, E&D, and louie

thought to be honest i have not seen more than 1 episode of any of top 7 shows