What We're Thankful for: TV Squad Staff Picks
by AOL TV Staff, posted Nov 24th 2010 2:00PM
As Thanksgiving approaches, we're all reminded to take a step back and appreciate the things in our lives we're most grateful for. We're also reminded of how someone should really stop Aunt Maude from pouring that third glass of chardonnay -- but mostly we're reminded of the good stuff.
In the spirit of the holiday, the TV Squad staff has plenty of television-related thanks to give this year. Read on for our choices -- you might even pick up some suggestions for your annual post-turkey "I'm so full I can't leave this couch" TV marathon tomorrow.
I'm thankful 'Stargate Universe' finally found its footing after a shaky first season. As a loyal 'SG-1' and 'Battlestar Galactica' fan, I had high expectations for 'SGU' that initially led to disappointment. But the show has taken a great, dark turn since Rush's discovery of the bridge and it's become of the few shows worthy of appointment viewing.
I'm thankful for readers. Not to get all sappy, but It's been both humbling and exciting to interact with the readers in my new gig and to realize that some of them followed me to TV Squad from my previous job. I didn't know if people would follow me when I changed jobs, quite honestly. But I'm seeing a number of "regulars" from my previous site commenting, tweeting and emailing and so forth. Getting to interact with the previous readers plus meeting new readers on TV Squad has been really gratifying. Plus all the TV Squad staffers have been extremely nice and helpful. There's even talk that they may teach me the secret AOL handshake one day! I live in hope. Seriously, thanks. A lot.
I'm thankful that 'Friday Night Lights' stars Connie Britton and Kyle Chandler were finally recognized with Emmy nominations for their outstanding work. Their easy rapport has made Coach and Tami Taylor one of the best married couples on television ever. It'll be sad not to see them on my screen after this final season.
I'm thankful for the technician from Comcast who was kind enough to bring me a brand-new DVR cable box instead of the beat-up ones I've been getting from the local office. As a guy who writes about TV for a living, having a DVR on the blink is akin to being a microbiologist with a broken microscope; I just can't do my job. Not only does this new DVR not crash five times a day, it has a lot more hard drive space than the old box...
I am thankful for '30 Rock' getting its groove back. It's like Liz, Jenna, Tracy and the gang took a vacation, got with a sexy man and are now better than ever. There's nothing better than pulling out a block of night cheese and settling in for the best comedy on TV right now.
I'm thankful for 'The Vampire Diaries.' Never has a teen-oriented show been so consistently thrilling, compelling, sexy and mysterious. Despite the show's story unfolding at such a breakneck pace, it shows no sign of stopping. Plus, it's got a smoldering Ian Somerhalder wearing tight t-shirts in every episode. I'm thankful for Ian Somerhalder too.
I'm thankful for nightly 'Family Ties' airings on The Hub. Michael J. Fox's brilliant performance as Alex P. Keaton, cool 'rents Elyse and Steven and Ubu the dog at the end of every episode make for one of the best reminders of why no other medium is, or will ever be, as great as TV.
This year, I'd like to give thanks to BBC America for providing me quality programming all year long. Some of my favorite shows were spawned by the BBC: 'Doctor Who,' 'Being Human,' 'Torchwood,' and 'Skins,' just to name a few. I'm grateful that BBC America has managed to import these shows from the UK (mostly uncut) over the past few years. It's definitely my favorite network and I hope they keep the awesomeness coming. Thank you, BBC America.
I'm grateful for the not-so-new paradigm that gives TV shows -- dramas like 'Breaking Bad' and 'Mad Men' as well as lighter fare like 'Drop Dead Diva' and 'The Glades' -- license to thrive on cable. Any one of these shows would have never survived on the broadcast nets. The diversity found beyond the broadcast networks (ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox) is comforting. It also fills the gaps seasonally, offering new shows in the spring and summer when the traditional outlets are burning off dreck and giving lame reality shows a fly.
I'm thankful for complete series DVD sets. Even though we live in a 500-channel cable/digital/satellite/SlashControl/Hulu/On Demand world, not every show is available everywhere, all the time. It's still amazing to me that I can have on my shelf every single episode of shows like 'The Twilight Zone,' 'The Dick Van Dyke Show,' 'NewsRadio,' 'Sports Night,' 'Kate and Allie' and so many other favorite shows, and watch them any time that I want. What a great thing that is!
I'm grateful for Steven Moffat as showrunner of 'Doctor Who.' While I had my doubts about Matt Smith taking on the lead role, there was never any doubt that the quality of story was in good hands.
I am most thankful for the addition of Jay Pharoah to the cast of 'Saturday Night Live' this season. What a find! The guy is an amazing impressionist who does a dead-on Denzel Washington and a flawless Will Smith. I am looking forward to seeing how this fresh new talent develops over the course of his run on 'SNL.'
This sounds really crazy but I would like to thank Kathie Lee and Hoda for the fourth hour of the 'Today' show. Where sometimes Meredith, Matt, Ann and Al take things too seriously, Kathie and Hoda make you feel like it's okay to down a bottle of wine at 10 in the morning. I am also thankful for this season of 'Eastbound and Down.' After having really rough days at work, I can always look to that show to remind me, "Hey at least Don Johnson ain't my deadbeat dad."
Dancing! In a 'Glee' season that's been a bit uneven (looooved Gwyneth, Rocky Horror was more raff than riff) I am grateful for Heather Morris bringing totally dope dancing back to TV. For everyone who thinks the 'Britney/Brittany' episode was the weakest 'Glee' this year, you're wrong! I also rejoice in Jennifer Grey's comeback turn on 'Dancing with the Stars.' Bristol Palin can have the 'Best Dancer of the Yukons' title and let Jennifer bask in the 'DWTS' top spot.
I'm thankful for my fellow sci-fi/fantasy nerds. No matter how many times networks cancel our favorite shows like 'Firefly,' 'Dollhouse' and, more recently, 'Caprica,' we still watch, believing that the next show is going to be 'Battlestar Galactica.' We watch sci-fi/fantasy webisodes like 'Sanctuary' or 'Riese: Kingdom Falling' hoping they'll end up on TV. We are eternally hopeful, even knowing that none of us seem to be a part of the Nielsen ratings system.
As strange as it might sound, I was very thankful for the final season of 'Lost' this year. I am thrilled that they ended the series on their own terms and completed the six-year journey without network interference. While many continue to criticize the 'Lost' finale, I found it to be incredibly inspiring and satisfying.
I'm thankful for AMC, where story does indeed matter, as do memorable characters and great acting. The third season of 'Breaking Bad,' a show that keeps getting weirder and more wonderful; the fourth season of the magnificent soap opera that is 'Mad Men'; the first (and, sadly, last) season of the fascinating if sometimes confounding 'Rubicon'; and now, 'The Walking Dead' -- sickening and utterly compelling.
When I was a teenager, I never saw any character like Kurt Hummel on 'Glee.' Kurt is an outstanding character for the gay community and Chris Colfer delivers amazing performances every episode. His rendition of 'I Wanna Hold Your Hand' is haunting and one of my top songs of 2010. I'm thankful that Chris Colfer represents a role model for teaching tolerance and being unique.
I am grateful for soap operas that are alive and kicking! I'm thankful for twisted Meggie's (Sean Young) run on 'Y&R' and 'B&B' for Stephanie's visit to Skid Row and also its great Friday cliffhangers (Oliver and Brooke!). I'm also grateful to ABC Daytime for bringing back familiar faces Kim Zimmer and John Wesley Shipp ('OLTL'), Vanessa Marcil Giovinazzo ('GH') and Daniel Cosgrove ('AMC.') Thanks also to NBC for renewing 'Days' and to the much-missed 'ATWT' for inviting Larry Bryggman back as "mean Johnny Dixon" for the show's final weeks.
Even though I write about TV for a living, I have the attention span of gnat with ADHD. What's my favorite show? 'Futurama,' I think? When is it on TV? Couldn't tell you. Thursday, maybe? What time does it come on? Sometime between 8PM and 11PM -- and that's assuming I even picked the right day of the week. So I'm thankful for the rise of Hulu, Netflix and all the rest of it ... just so I don't have to remember when something is on, ever, ever again.
Oprah, Oprah, Oprah! I watched your very first show 25 years ago. I watched you the second time because I liked you the first time. Now, 25 years later, I'm still watching. You're leaving me next year? Please say it ain't so.
I'm thankful to know that 'Dexter' is still worth watching. Week after week it's been deadly dull this year, particularly compared to last year's series-best season. But the mojo came back with the eighth episode, 'Take It,' a creepy, suspenseful, even moving hour that made me care about Dex (and even Deb and Batista) once again. I'm also thankful DIRECTV saved 'Damages' -- I might drop Comcast. The former FX drama featured writing as sharp as the scripts for 'Boardwalk Empire,' characters as compelling as anyone on 'Mad Men' and suspense as palpable as anything 'Breaking Bad.' In other words, this was the best show on television this year that far, far too few people watched. Please, give it a chance.
Rebecca Adler Warren
Andy Cohen is the goofy gay husband I've always wanted. And Mom, he's Jewish! I'm Ramotional just thinking about Bravo's bountiful year: Scary Island and the attack of Kelly Bensimon; Phaedra's "boughetto" baby shower and portrait with pickles; the linguistic stylings of Danielle "those woman" Staub; Seth's rage against the 'Just Desserts' machine; and the answer to my reality prayers, 'Top Chef All Stars.' Thanks, Andy. You're my mazel of the year.
An initially shaggy-dog PI story that developed into one of the more heartbreaking shows on television, 'Terriers' mined familiar territory for unexpectedly powerful results. Come for the on-screen chemistry between Donal Logue and Michael Raymond-James, stay for the unique cases, colorful characters and surprisingly deep emotional depths. Ocean Beach is a city that holds much danger, but the pair at the center of the show have the capacity to hurt each other much more than a simple bad guy of the week.
Dr. Ryan Vaughan
I'm thankful for television as a concept: keeping me informed/entertained/distracted/sedated/amused/aroused/confused and aroused/frustrated and aroused/infuriated and aroused/embarrassed and aroused since 1973!
In a world jammed with terribad reality shows, 'The Amazing Race' proves that the genre can still provide high quality family entertainment. From the incredible snapshots of other cultures to the fast-paced drama of the race -- not to mention host Phil Keoghan's signature eyebrow pop -- 'The Amazing Race' sets the standard for reality television.
What are you thankful for about TV this year?