Monday, December 19, 2005

Visually attuned

My abstention of awards season continues, but as promised, I thought I would give you an idea as to how my tastes run. (To those of you who knew me before this blog, and therefore know of my listmaking compulsion: consider this an occasional indulgence. I still fight the battle one day at a time.)

Below is what I regard as the year's best in television. I'll cover music later this week, and tackle movies and books next week.

1. Prison Break, FOX. So Abruzzi gets the razor blade to the neck, but he's still alive, and being transferred to a hospital? Why didn't Scofield think of this? It would be much easier to break your brother out of there than death row. Oh well. This show is basically like early 24, but without those complicated international political undertones. And a cast of mostly unknowns (led by Wentworth Miller, who plays it cool in the liquid nitrogen sense) shows the rest of TV how it's done. Terrific and completely addictive. The perfect show, assuming it lasts no more than 2 seasons.

2. The Colbert Report, Comedy Central. How do I break the news gently? I won't: it's already better than The Daily Show. There, I said it. Sorry, Jon Stewart.

3. Everybody Hates Chris, UPN. Anyone who'd seen White Chicks -- and I recommend it -- knew that Terry Crews was fated to be in bigger and better things. And here he is, anchoring the strongest sitcom in years as Julius, the father who's both rock steady and frugal to a mathematical degree. Everything about him rings true, and he's just as essential as Chris Rock's irreverent narration.

4. House, FOX. It's a testament to Hugh Laurie's greatness that the added presence of a TV heavyweight like Sela Ward barely causes a ripple in the flow of the show. This shows thrives on what CSI won't do: get into the personal lives of the characters. Surprisingly, this makes House the best procedural on TV. And that House/Wilson relationship just gets better.

5. Grey's Anatomy, ABC. A stunning development. I had no interest when it began, mostly because Ellen Pompeo struck me as a poor man's Renee Zellweger, complete with the squinty eyes and flighty ways. Then the impossible happened this fall: the show began running plots that existed solely to crush her morale. Repeatedly. And it was good. The result: a true ensemble emerged, highlighted by Chandra Wilson's Dr. Bailey, who's used sparingly but perfectly, and Isaiah Washington's Dr. Burke, who (despite what Patrick Dempsey and his scruffy facial hair will tell you) is the real McDreamy.

6. Smallville, WB. This is kind of a Goblet of Fire season, where everything changes because it has to. We know these characters as adults, and it's so different than how we've seen them so far. These are the episodes that bridge the chasm.

7. How I Met Your Mother, CBS. Is it the second coming of Friends? No, but it's not bad either. It's somewhere in between. In a cast of five, you have three unknowns mixing in well with Alyson Hannigan and Neil Patrick Harris (both of whom play to their strengths). The vibe is so strong that you let a few of the weaker plots go. But then there's an episode like "The Pineapple Incident," which (despite the Seinfeld-esque title) reminds you how good this show can be with a strong script.

8. Gilmore Girls, WB. This show is ranked a little lower than usual for me, but that's mostly because it's currently at the breathing point of a long development that demands the viewers' utmost patience. Sort of a calm before the storm, and with a season and a half to go, the end is near. Still, they could make a show with the peerless Lauren Graham acting in front of a test pattern, and I'd still name it a personal favorite.

9. My Name is Earl, NBC. Finally, a redneck sitcom for Hindus.

10. Supernatural, WB. Is it more worthy of mention than all the other TV shows? Not sure. But it's started well, hasn't quite felt formulaic yet, and Jensen Ackles is too damn amusing to ignore.

Honorable mentions: This ad parody on SNL; any scene in Desperate Housewives with Gabrielle and Carlos; the last three minutes of the Duke-Virginia Tech men's basketball game.

Dishonorable mention: Poser Mobile. "You guys are clowns."


Angry Pregnant Lawyer said...

I love Everybody Hates Chris and My Name Is Earl. I know I really should start watching Grey's Anatomy, but now I'm to the point where it's been on long enough that I think I'd be lost, with respect to the chracters and their pasts. (And I don't have the time to read all the recaps on Television Without Pity.)

you-know-who (not Voldemort) said...

Hey- Thank God for a redneck comedy for Hindus! (If you put curry powder on your beef jerky.. you might be a Hindu redneck. Or perhaps just a Hindu who didn't catch on to that whole "vegetarian" concept...)

BTW: Wentworth Miller is the REAL McDreamy!

Somehow corporate headquarters let me slip through to send you this email.

Good list.
Better than any crap that David Spade comes up with.

Lex and Lana forever. forever, ever? forever, ever? Yeah! (or as Luke Wilson, would say, "Hmmm.... Yeahhhhh..." (sexy sigh with nodding head)

Neel Mehta said...

APL: The curious thing about Grey's Anatomy is that it lacks a thick mythology with its characters. We saw a whole season of Dr. Bailey before we knew she was married. We're just now seeing where Dr. Yang (Sandra Oh) lives. It's easy to catch up, if you want.

YKW: Great. I'm better than David Spade. Maybe one day I'll reach the level of Rob Schneider.

Asian Provocateur said...

hey N -- so not better than TDS. hush your mouth!

Neel Mehta said...

Let's be realistic, AP. The Daily Show is not as good as it used to be. It could reach its past levels of greatness, but it would need an election, the old couch, and Stephen Colbert.

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