Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Best Television Experiences of the Year

As I said yesterday, I have many holes in my television watching diet. I am usually too busy making sandwiches for homeless people and working on my great American novel while you lesser beings are having your brains sucked out by Seth McFarlane and Simon Cowell. Okay, maybe that is not entirely the case and I let most evenings get away from me, especially since there are so few hours between when the kids crash and our need for sleep (under 3). That said, here are my top television experiences of 2009 (note: Number 1 is from previous years, but so what, I watched it this year).

10. Seeing Tim Tebow cry after losing the SEC Championship. link

9. Modern Family's cheerful dysfunction. Al Bundy was never this good. link

8. Community is willing to step on toes, much like 30 Rock and touch third rails on sexuality, race, politics and religion. Plus, it is dang funny. I heart Abed and Troy. link

7. Watching the Arizona Cardinals defeat the Eagles to make the Super Bowl, followed by the Super Bowl coverage in which they had to acknowledge that the Cards were actually in the Super Bowl. It continues this year with the Cards making the Giants and Vikings look silly on National television. link

6. Ted Danson getting his mojo back as an aging pothead/ major magazine publisher on Bored to Death with Jason Schwartzman. link

5. Jon Stewart taking down Glen Beck on The Daily Show (along with hundreds of other bits). Sure it is not perfect, but when it is on, the Daily Show is dang near perfect. Plus, they are doing a great job on race issues, which I am sure White People Like. And how can I forget his takedown of Hannity's "news coverage of tea parties." link

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
The 11/3 Project
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

4. "Hello, Dexter Morgan." The introduction of John Lithgow to the cast of Dexter. link

3. 30 Rock, when it hits all the marks. It misses the marks half the time, but when it is perfect, it is level of perfection few comedies can touch. Case in point was the Christmas episode from last week.


2. The Seinfeld "reunion' on Curb Your Enthusiasm.


1. Finally watching what could be the best television show in history during the summer and early fall. I found myself fully engaged on a level even Dexter has not engaged me on. To have a show with such fully realized characters, in which you never knew when someone you cared for (usually against your better judgment) would randomly die or do something heinous is something I had not experienced before. While I disagree with many regarding the show's realism (it is still a show and stretches timeline boundaries, character motivation and coincidences beyond recognition as any other television show would do), I think the arc of the show is truly like the Greek Tragedy its creator describes it as, with the capricious gods being city hall, the police department, the drug scene and schools and the main characters of the show just pawns on a life-size chess board.

While The Simpsons, LOST, the Sopranos and The X-Files make for good sermon fodder or the latest "Gospel According to …" book, The Wire is something else indeed. A book examining its bearing on the Gospel would be one-dimensional, a sermon would be substance free and anything less than a dissertation or graduate level class in Literature, Economics, Education, Political Science or Film would be strikingly trite. If I were a college prof in any of the afore-mentioned subjects, I would make The Wire required watching.

In fact, everyone should see this show. Very few films in history are at its level of perfection, especially sustaining this for 60 hours. To think there were no wins and only two Emmy nominations during its life is proof of the joke that is the Emmys. As Jacob Weisberg of Slate said, "its like them never giving a Nobel Prize to Tolstoy. It doesn't make Tolstoy look bad, it makes the Nobels look bad."

By the way, I have never mourned for a drug dealer like I did twice on this program.

Seasons in order of Quality (if you haven't seen the show, understand this is an exercise all watchers engage in):

4 (like everyone I acknowledge this may be the most heartbreaking and perfect season television has ever produced)

1 (do cops really drink that much? Plus, my single favorite scene in which McNulty and Bunk use one profane word over and over as they investigate a murder)

3 (wanna go into politics and be unsullied? Good luck. Watch this and learn)

2 (that guy playing Nick could not act. Seriously)

5 (one too many coincidences- but a great ending)

warning language

Link to 100 great quotes from The Wire.

Honorable mention: The Inauguration

1 comment:

Carla said...

I think the Wire Season 1 scene to which you refer should be shown in every acting class. It's masterful.