Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Chuck the Writer's 10 Favorite Shows of the 2008-09 TV Season

It's summertime, and I'm thinking back to the TV shows I started to watch with great anticipation, only to give up on them halfway through their broadcast runs. And other shows that I still continue to watch, whether they be intellectually stimulating or just electronic comfort food from the glass teat, as Harlan Ellison would say.

The following is a list of my ten favorite TV shows from the 2008-09 season. These were shows that I would make a concerted effort every week to watch, or DVR, or call my wife when I'm not home and ask her to set the DVR for me. I am listing them alphabetically, and if I'm missing your favorite shows on this list - well, that's what the comments page is for.

  1. The Big Bang Theory - Probably the only television show about geek culture that doesn't make geek culture seem less than appealable. The adventures of Leonard, Sheldon, Raj and Wolowitz, along with their hot-but-clueless neighbor Penny, is just great television candy.
  2. Deadliest Catch - I don't eat crab legs that often, but I enjoy watching the camaraderie and danger of those who work on the fishing vessels Northwestern, Cornelia Marie, Wizard and Time Bandit. It's one of my favorite "candid" reality shows.
  3. Dollhouse - I never got into all that Josh Whedon fan-worship, but I really got into this series about programmable people who solve problems and then get their minds erased - sort of like "Rent-A-Person." The storylines keep you interested throughout the run. Plus, Eliza Dushku is Death Valley hot.
  4. Flashpoint - Yes, it's another procedural drama from CBS, where you can't swing a cat without hitting a CSI or an NCIS or one of their spinoffs or clones. But Flashpoint is different, in that the show itself doesn't always have the cut-and-dry happy ending. Characters die. Characters get hurt. And for the men and women of the Strategic Response Unit, each case has after-effects that continue throughout the series run. Plus, it's fun to play "Spot the Canadian" - even though the show downplays its Toronto location, every so often (at least once per episode) there will be a reference to a Toronto street, neighborhood, or nearby Ontario location or local doughnut/coffee shop.
  5. Friday Night Lights - How much do I love this family drama about a Texas town where high school football is all the rage? Let me count the ways. It's a great drama series, the acting and storylines are top-notch, and I deliberately avoided any spoiler alerts (as the series was first broadcast on Direct TV, which I don't have, so I had to wait patiently for the NBC broadcasts to air). Thankfully, the series will return for at least two more seasons.
  6. Little Mosque on the Prairie - I have to watch this series through imported Canadian DVD's and YouTube postings, but it's hilarious and sweet. Imagine a culture-clash sitcom featuring a Muslim neighborhood in a Canadian prairie town. It sounds offensive, but when you watch the first couple of episodes you realize it's about as offensive as an episode of The Andy Griffith Show. And about as funny, too!
  7. Pushing Daisies - One day in my life, I'll make a list of all the shows I used to love that were cut down too early in their prime - shows like Max Headroom and Dark Angel and the like. Pushing Daisies would be on that list. Whether it's the Tim Burton-influenced directing style or the delicate but definite wordplay, this show was fantastic. Screw the dumbasses at ABC for not giving it a decent sendoff.
  8. United States of Tara - The last time I ever saw Toni Colette in anything, she was playing the frumpy teen Muriel (or was it Mariel?) in the film Muriel's Wedding. You know, the one that was full of ABBA songs before anyone ever heard of a Mamma Mia musical. In this show, Colette runs the gamut as a person with multiple personalities, playing every personality as if they had a life of their own - and convincingly so. A really funny show with lots of nuances.
  9. The Venture Brothers - My favorite late-night cartoon skewers every action cartoon cliche, throws in about 50 pop culture references per episode, and is just a complete and unharnessed riot to watch.
  10. VH1 Dating "Of Love" Shows - You know it's the same damn show over and over again, whether it's Flavor Flav or Bret Michaels or one of Flavor Flav's rejects or one of Bret Michaels' castoffs, or whether the castoffs are competing in "I Love Money" or "Charm School," these human trainwreck dating shows are completely addictive and fun to watch. It's like going to see the freak tent at the circus - see the guys with multiple tattoos and piercings! See the girls with Goodyear-inspired foobs! Watch as people get completely emotional and break down one day, and then are as chipper as a squirrel with a cachet of nuts the next!

There were a lot of shows I could have included on this list, but I have to catch up on DVR episodes of Lost and Fringe, and Heroes just fell off my radar. Plus, I could have added The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency and Escape to Chimp Eden, but then it would have been a Top 12 and this ain't college football, where you can have eleven teams in the Big 10.

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