Thursday, December 10, 2009

100 Best TV Shows of the Decade: 100-91

This might have been the hardest part of the listing process. The top shows fell together pretty easy. The bottom 20 were toughest because I had about 60 shows to squeeze into 20 spots. Sorry, X-Files. Seeing as how only Seasons 8-9 fell in the 00s, you got the shaft, along with Heroes, Malcolm in the Middle, Ugly Betty, Spaced, Boomtown, Harvey Birdman and Keen Eddie.

So without further ado, 100-81:

100. Lizzie McGuire -- Ha! What were you expecting would be the worst of the best? Or the best of the worst? Everybody Loves Raymond? Most assuredly not! Anyone who's watched and enjoyed both Arrested Development and Lizzie McGuire will understand that the latter is basically a carbon copy of the former, only with less inappropriate humor and more loving familiness. What All That was to SNL, Lizzie McGuire was to AD. Easily the funniest kid show of the decade. And easily 100 on my list.

99. Scrubs -- For some reason, I just couldn't get past Zach Braff and his shenanigans. From time to time they were okay. BUT HE WAS ALWAYS TALKING! If J.D. were played by, say, Jason Schwartzman, Jason Siegel, or even Jason Statham, I would have enjoyed this show much much more. John C. McGinley, Neil Flynn and Judy Reyes are brilliant comedic actors, and deserves high praise from a peculiar people. Zach Braff? Drops the show to 99. Sorry, dude.

98. That 70s Show -- This sitcom should suck. And I'll readily admit, the last couple of season actually do. A cast of no name kids (at least, back then) who hang out in a basement in 70s Wisconsin? Really!? But Bonnie and Terry Turner wrote their hearts out on this one, and struck comedy gold with a cast of kids who really understood timing and sharing the stage. That combo's what elevates this one into the top 100. Also, Mila Kunis and Laura Prepon. They helped, too.

97. Everybody Hates Chris -- I told you in the intro, comedy rules in this house. You bring the funny, you get blogged about. This blog is why Chris Rock created a sitcom based on his life. This honor, number 97 out of 100, is the only thing Chris Rock ever wanted. I really, really wish more funny people who aren't white would get sitcomes these days. UPN was really the only network going out of their way to make that happen. And then they merged.With the whitest station. On the planet. Game over. Sorry, Chris. You'll always have No. 97.

96. Supernatural -- Speaking of the whitest station on the planet....Buffy and Angel made a name for supernatural dramedy on the WB, a torch Supernatural currently carries for the CW. While it's never quite reached the heights of its predecessors, the chronicles of the Winchester brothers do a fine job of bringing the funny while slaying demons and putting family first.

95. The Middleman -- Oh, ABC Family. You had no business airing this series. Twelve episodes of comic book to TV goodness. Javier Grillo-Marxuach (of Lost and Jake 2.0 fame) brought his graphic novels to ABC Family, not Sci-Fi or USA, and the show was screwed before it ever aired. Shame was, it was a really fun show, an odd mix of sci-fi/pop-culture zaniness, 1940s screwball comedy, and two secret agents, who on a weekly basis, saved the world from mad scientists, evil aliens and extra dimensional beings hellbent on destroying and/or taking over the world. Pure fun. But having nothing to do with the ABC Family brand. Oh well.

94. The IT Crowd -- On the BBC! The first of many British hits to grace this list, the IT Crowd tells the story of two socially inept technicians who get stuck with a technological illiterate female boss, and get shat upon by their corporate overlords episode after episode. Set in the basement of their company's London headquarters, nerd hilarity ensues. With accents. Anybody who's ever fixed a piece of technology for a co-worker will understand...but I guess you had to be there.

93. The Brak Show -- Adult Swim is an acquired taste. Most of their shows are hit and miss, but when they hit, they hit very, very well. The Brak Show was never the funniest show on Adult Swim, but the Brak character was one of the most ridiculous on television for a while. Originally a send-up of the suburban sitcom, most episodes took on the same hyper-surreal situations that Aqua Teen Hunger Force and Sealab 2021 made famous. And that Brak character. Oh my.

92. Warehouse 13 -- Quirk meet Sci-Fi; Sci-Fi meet quirk. TV writer extraordinaire Jane Espenson set the tone for this show, and Eddie McClintock and Joanne Kelly brought it to life as Secret Service agents who recover mysterious objects for storage in the even mysterious-ier Warehouse 13. Honestly, there is nothing special about this show other than its cast. No disrespect to the concept or the staff writers or the effects, but without McClintock, Kelly and the supporting cast of CCH Pounder, Saul Rubinek and Allison Scagliotti this would read like Sci-Fi's less than stellar fare (see Sanctuary, the Stargate franchise, et al). Funny characters are the best.

91. Brothers & Sisters -- A non-science fiction, non-sitcom! Rejoice! Brothers & Sisters would be much higher on this list if the morons at ABC had never fired Jon Robin Baitz after season one and Justin and Rebecca never started sleeping together after the new writers decided that they weren't related anymore. Whatevs. After a rocky start, Greg Berlanti joined Baitz and Ken Olin to craft one near-perfect season of family dramatics. And that cast: Flockhart, Griffiths, Rifkin, Wettig, Field, Rhys, Getty, Annabelle, Lowe, VanCamp....why does this show have to suck so much post-Baitz! Damn you, ABC! Damn you!!!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Let the listing begin

100 Greatest TV Shows of the 00s ~ Introductory Notes & Ground Rules

I've been working on this one for a few weeks now.

While the decade lists for music, film and etc. will be much, much shorter, I've gone all out with the TV one. Over the next couple of weeks I'll roll out my picks for the top 100 television shows of the 00s. Of course, it'll be my top 100 shows, which'll mean some glaring omissions, of course. I never really got into much of what FX has to offer, like the Shield, Rescue Me and Nip/Tuck. And while I enjoyed the Sopranos, it didn't crack my top ten. Also, up until last week, I was sure Freaks and Geeks aired in 98-99. But Alan Sepinwall reminded me that while Freaks debuted in fall of 1999, more than few new episodes aired in 2000 -- a pleasant surprise that brings me to my ground rules.

1. Shows in question must have had a first-run airdate between 2000-09. No exceptions.
2. Episodes of shows in question that aired before 2000 do not count in determining their ranking. Not good news for Buffy and the X-Files, which we'll get to over the next few days.
3. Shows in question must have produced at least six episodes, though not all episodes had to air on the original network -- i.e., Bryan Fuller's Wonderfalls is in. Mini-series are not.
4. Finally, I excluded reality shows, news, sports, and talk shows only because I didn't care to write about them, even if some might have made the list. Nothing objective about this rule. Just my preference. Many apologies to the Daily Show and Craig Ferguson. Sketch comedy, however, is in like sin. Because this is my list, dammit!

And that's really it.

Some caveats. All of these shows are in English. While I do love the small screen, I don't claim to know my Korean soaps or every international version of the Office. For that, I apologize. The BBC and ITV are represented quite well. Canada gets two shows, and Australia one. The rest come form the good old US of A. Having only seen the Onion AV Club's 00-list, I think my list might be a little comedy heavy as compared to others. But over the next few weeks we'll see if the real critics like to laugh as much as I do. Also, I have no aversion to ranking science fiction alongside more "realistic" programs. Spoiler Alert! Battlestar is ranked higher than the Sopranos. Deal with it.

I hope someone out there has as much fun reading this as I had writing it.

(P.S. I'll probably post an abbreviated version of this over at Saniel Bonders's sometime soon, but check it out as the list action has already begun. Happy listing!)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Red Pill Blue Pill

 I can't play fantasy football anymore, even though it's the only part about football that I still like. Dan Hopper explains why:

As of Monday night, I was trailing my game by two points going into the Monday Night Football game between Houston and Tennessee, and I still had Houston receiver Andre Johnson yet to play, but my opponent had Matt Schaub, Houston’s quarterback, who’d be throwing the ball to Johnson and essentially canceling out his points.

But, rather than assume I was going to lose, ignore a boring NFL game that had no impact on the standings, and spend my night usefully by reading a book or planting a tree or whatever valuable people who don’t play fantasy football do, I sat on the couch watching the Texans play the Titans and rooted for Andre Johnson to catch a touchdown but for Matt Schaub to also throw two interceptions afterward to drag his points back below Johnson’s. This is not an actual thing anyone does.

Fortunately I was joined on the couch by my roommate, who had absolutely no stake in the game other than needing Tennessee’s Rob Bironas to kick ONE field goal so he could win his fantasy game for the week. So basically, the two of us — a Steeler fan and a Giants fan — watched a regular season Texans/Titans Monday Night game with me shouting at the tv hoping for Matt Schaub interceptions or for the running back to throw a touchdown pass to Andre Johnson (but only Andre Johnson), and my roommate rooting for the Titans until they got to the opposing 30 and then rooting against them.

Could the inventors of Football — John J. Football III and his cohorts — have possibly foreseen something so specifically pathetic ever deriving from their innocent pastime? If so, they were terrible people.

I wish the Dan Hopper I knew back at summer camp had written this. Sadly, no. It's the Dan Hopper from Best Week Sometimes, though, I pretend they're the same person.