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Best and Worst TV of 2009: Bob's list

by Bob Sassone, posted Dec 18th 2009 5:02PM
Mad Men
What is a best and worst list anyway? Is it truly a list of the best shows of the year and the worst shows of the year based on quality alone or do we have personal "favorites" in there too? Even if you watch 10 hours of TV a day there's no way that any TV critic can watch every single show, so there might be some gaps in what one person considers the "best and worst" and what another person has on their list.

Here are my picks.

The Best

1. Mad Men. There was no other drama this year that did so many things in so many ways. It's funny how a lot of people kept saying that "nothing ever happens" on this show. Actually, everything happened on this show, and it's all acted, written, and filmed in such a gorgeous way. This is a beautiful television series.

Here's one of the more talked about scenes from this season:

2. 30 Rock. I know some critics are saying it was off its game this season, but I think any show that has as many jokes jammed into it like 30 Rock does and actually succeeds a lot more often than it fails deserves a spot. It's the single funnest show on TV right now. Every episode is laugh-out-loud funny. Insider info: I watch every episode twice on Thursday nights just so I can write all the good quotes down. With some shows that would be a chore, but not with this one. It's the only comedy on TV where I get a little depressed when there's not a new episode.

3. Lost. I have no idea if this show knew at the start that it would end up as a time-travel drama about life and death, but it doesn't matter. At this point, this show is doing so many wild, funny, great things that it's still appointment television. That's not to say it's time for the show to wrap up. I'm glad this is the final season.

4. Chuck. I can't prove this, but I bet a lot of TV critics won't put Chuck on their year-end list because it's not "important" enough, even as a comedy/action show. But was there any other show that was this wall-to-wall entertaining this year?

5. Burn Notice. Who would have thought that the "must-see" action drama on TV would be on USA Network? Burn Notice is so much more than that though. The show has created fantastic characters (and has cast them perfectly) and given us great plots, whether they are the "missions" that Michael has to go on each episode or the bigger story arc about who burned him. Like Chuck, this is fun as hell.

6. The Colbert Report. Stephen Colbert is doing something really interesting here. Where The Daily Show (still very good) is a straight satire and takedown of news, politics, and current events, The Colbert Report is like performance art. He has created this "character" and it has taken on a life of it's own, and it's great to see what he does with it each and every night. The writing is brilliant too.

7. The Middle. A lot of people will pick Modern Family over this, but I think The Middle is funnier and isn't tied up by a faux-documentary style. Patricia Heaton and Neil Flynn are great and so are all the kids.

8. The Office. This show has fallen out of favor with a lot of people, but it still hits a lot more than it misses. And even its misses are interesting and odd and unpredictable, aren't they? Jim and Pam getting married, Jim becoming co-manager, the whole arc with Michael quitting an starting a rival company. That was great stuff.

9. Party Down. Party What? This is Rob Thomas' new show about a catering service in Hollywood run by struggling actors, and he has several cast members from Veronica Mars on it (and Jane Lynch!). It's on STARZ, which is slowly become rather AMC-esque with this show, Head Case, and Crash. This is subtle-funny, with a tone like The Office or my number 10 selection.

10. Curb Your Enthusiasm's episodes about Seinfeld. This has never been one of my favorite shows. While I get uncomfortable humor and often appreciate it, this show can be too much like that for my liking. However, wasn't it fun to see the Seinfeld gang get back together and do a "reunion," with the old sets and the table read?

The Worst

1. I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here! As if having Heidi and Spencer on The Hills and on talk shows wasn't enough, we had to put up with their asinine "we're quitting, no we're not quitting" antics on this show too. Hideous and pointless on so many levels.

2. Jon & Kate Plus 8. This was a weekly show, but didn't it feel as if this soap opera was on every single day of the year, all year long? Ugh.

3. Jersey Shore. This show came in at the last second to get on everyone's list of one of the worst shows of the year. Just proves that a show can make an incredible, um, "impact" after only a few episodes.

4. Hank. It was sad seeing Kelsey Grammer in this instantly-forgettable sitcom, wasn't it? It made you want to get out your Cheers and Frasier DVDs. Heck, even Back To You, if that's on DVD.

5. The Cleveland Show. A lot of people might disagree with me about this Family Guy spinoff, but it's about 14% as funny as its parent. And that one episode...wow.

balloon boy6. The Heene Family. I remember going on Twitter and telling everyone to turn on their TVs so they could follow this tragic story about a kid trapped in a homemade balloon, so I was sucked in too. But this isn't a worst nod for the media coverage, it's a worst nod to the family itself.

This is what reality TV does to people, people!

7. Larry King Live's coverage of Michael Jackson's death. Awful on so many levels, from Larry King's odd questions to Jermaine Jackson's odd answers to Larry King's questions to the tour of Neverland to the endless guests he had on to talk about every single aspect of Michael Jackson's life and death. How does Larry King sleep at night anyway?

Other Awards

Biggest Surprise: Cougar Town. When I first heard about this new comedy I think I literally cringed. They're actually going to have a show about cougars, and they're going to actually use the term "cougar," which not only nauseates but also instantly dates the show? Then I watched it and, you know what? It's really not that bad. It's funnier than I thought it was going to be, and the ensemble makes it work. (Honorable Mention: Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.)

Best Commercial:

Great Lines: "I'm Peggy Olsen and I want to smoke some marijuana." - Mad Men; every other line on 30 Rock.

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JD

HELLO!! Sons Of Anarchy

December 19 2009 at 1:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to JD's comment
Travis

I second your vote for Sons of Anarchy. Best show I saw in 2009. Hands down.

December 19 2009 at 9:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Paul

I agree about Fallon being a pleasant surprise. It's turned into a really solid show, even with his relative mediocrity in interviews (though he has improved). The writing is really strong, and he's been doing some strange (and funny) things.

My Top 10 list would be somewhat similar to yours (Lost, 30 Rock, and Colbert) and I do agree about the Seinfeld episodes of Curb. But I'd definitely put some shows on there that I think are great, such as my 2 favourite (House and Psych), along with Community, Bones, and Castle.

December 19 2009 at 9:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Borat

Imo Breaking Bad was the best show of 2009, and is currently the best drama on tv.

December 19 2009 at 3:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
RobynM

I'm a bit surprised - given that we have very different tastes in television, I didn't expect to see anything I watch regularly on your list, but there're actually three we agree on. Chuck, Burn Notice and Colbert Report. Sticking to American programming, I'd add Community and Leverage to the list, but that's me.

With the possible exception of The Cleveland Show (I'm behind, so jury's still out on that one), I pretty much agree with all of your worst list.

December 19 2009 at 1:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
John Hewitt

That's a solid list Bob. Two through eight are all shows I enjoy. The Middle is definitely the most under-appreciated new show. My vote in that category for an existing show is Bones. It has a great cast, good mysteries and rarely hits a sour note but it gets almost no critical recognition.

December 18 2009 at 11:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
alxf9

What about Parks and Recreation? I thought it was much better than the Office this year

December 18 2009 at 7:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
BugKiller

Ummm...

BATTLESTAR GALACTICA???

Any "Best of..." list that leaves off RDM's reimagined BSG is an EPIC FAIL.

December 18 2009 at 7:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to BugKiller's comment
H

Not everyone is head-over-heals for BSG. I'm a Scifi fan and I've only seen three episodes. This show wouldn't make it on to "H's List" either.

December 18 2009 at 10:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ingrid

I totally agree about The Middle. While I find both shows entertaining, I like The Middle much more than Modern Family.

December 18 2009 at 6:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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