Best and Worst TV of 2009: Allison's list
by Allison Waldman, posted Dec 20th 2009 9:24AM
What a year! Once we got over the WGA strike, the networks kicked it into high gear and got busy making TV. Except for NBC. Even Jeff Zucker has admitted that NBCU has failed to respond to the need for new programming.
Fortunately, the other channels have been busy and there's been a lot of great television... and some that's just plain awful. But I'm a half-glass full kind of person and I have good feelings about 2009. However, since I don't want to repeat my list from last year, I'll just mention that I could put these 2008 best choices -- Breaking Bad, Friday Night Lights, NCIS, The Big Bang Theory and Mad Men -- on my list again. But I'm going to go for an all new list and, thankfully, I had plenty of 'bests' to choose from.
1. Glee. If there was ever a show that was made just for my personal taste, this is probably it. I love the singing and dancing. I get the characters. It even tickles me that I had just as much angst with bullies in high school as these kids. Every episode hasn't been perfect, but it's perfectly fine that they keep striving.
2. The Middle. I was buying all the pre-season hype about Modern Family and Community, so it was a really sweet surprise that The Middle has turned out to be the best new comedy of 2009. Not only is it terrific and real, but when you find a show and adopt it early, you become like a cult member and advocate like crazy for it. This is me advocating for Patricia Heaton and Neil Flynn's excellent sitcom.
3. Nurse Jackie. You gotta love that Showtime can get away with a show like Nurse Jackie; hard, raw and funny. Edie Falco plays Jackie like the mess that she is, but you admire her grit and determination to do her job well, even under less than wonderful conditions. She's probably going to win another Emmy.
4. In Plain Sight. The second season of In Plain Sight was superior to the first. That's it. Simple. The show improved, the characters were more focused, the stories were much better. What was a good watch became a must-see show. And the cliffhanger ending still has me worried about Mary's fate.
5. Big Love. There aren't enough words to describe how good Big Love is. Complicated, diabolical, spiritual... it takes you into a world you don't know and yet makes it understandable. You wouldn't want to be part of the Hendricksons, but you can enjoy their consternation.
6. Parks & Recreation. All those other NBC sitcoms get the notices and Emmys, but in a quiet little way, Parks & Recreation has wormed its way into the top spot on the network in my estimation. Amy Poehler is Leslie Knope. She's become that character and owned her outright. Brilliant look at small town America.
7. The Good Wife. What I really think is working about The Good Wife and makes it one of the best shows of the year is that it's more than just the premise. They have a plan and this has become a top-notch legal show. And since it's not by David E. Kelly, it's fresh.
8. Drop Dead Diva. Lifetime's little show that could... Whimsical and touching, Drop Dead Diva was television comfort food. The characters weren't larger than life, they were human and flawed. The cases touched close to home, and Jane's journey from Deb to the woman she could be was compelling TV.
9. Lost. Nothing like an end date to focus the writers, hey? I am absolutely riveted to Lost and the possibility of what's going to happen in this upcoming final season. And that's thanks for the 2009 season that -- literally -- ended with a bang.
10. The Best Thing I Ever Ate. You might consider this a shout-out to Food Network, but seriously, I loved this show. The professional foodies talking about the dishes they've eaten around the country and can't forget was delicious TV. I could taste every bite just because of their enthusiasm for the food.
Worst (explanations in one sentence or less)
1. Accidentally on Purpose. Bring back Dharma without Greg, that would be funnier.
2. The Jay Leno Show. Retro in a bad way.
3. Cougar Town. Not funny, but annoying.
4. Project Runway. It lost all its edge.
5. The Real Housewives of Atlanta. Pointless excess that made these women look foolish.
6. The Insider. Who are these people gossiping about the daily news and why are they on my TV?
7. Hank. Kelsey, look in the mirror. You said "yes" to this.
8. The Fashion Line. Bravo's poor replacement for Project Runway.
9. Sports Nation. Stick to radio, Colin Cowherd.
10. Bridezillas. Who would anyone marry any of these women?
• 30 Rock. Sorry, but this show is like Mad magazine becoming Cracked. It's all over the place and sliding by.
• Modern Family. Have the nation's critics been so swayed by this show's hype that they haven't noticed that it's disconnected and uneven? The hokey, voice-over narrations at the end of most shows is toe-curling. The Middle deserves the big praise, not Modern Family.
Worst decision by a network
The Jay Leno Show. NBC's idea of giving up 10 o'clock weekday programming to all Jay Leno, all the time was insane. It will go down in history as one of the dumbest moves ever by a network. You watch, they'll reverse the decision in 2010 and move Jay into quarterly specials or a sitcom or something to fulfill that contract. He could sweep the halls at 30 Rockefeller Plaza or tune up the corporate cars.
Worst success story
TMZ. Anytime I watch this show I feel the need to shower. Harvey Levin is really living down to the image of lawyers as bloodsuckers. Did they have Michael Jackson's death first? Yes. But the way they feast on celebrity gossip is horrific.
CBS. Yes, they skew older, but they also reach more total viewers than any other network. Give credit to Les Moonves. He does it right and he's reaping the success with NCIS, The Big Bang Theory, The Mentalist and the like.