... one great TV moment.
2008 was filled with great TV moments, more than most years. So when I asked the TV Squad crew what they thought the greatest moment this year was, I got a lot of responses: the Fey / Palin "summit" on SNL, Letterman going off an an absent John McCain, any of Michael Phelps' Olympic victories, the spectacular opening ceremonies in Beijing, the finale of The Shield, any of the Presidential / VP debates, the Giants' upset of the Pats in the Super Bowl, and probably more that I can't even think of right now.
But they all seemed small in comparison to what happened in the late-night hours of Election Day, when Barack Obama got up in front of a crowd in Chicago's Grant Park and gave his acceptance speech. No matter what you think of Obama or his politics, it was a historic moment, and not just because Obama had just been elected the first African-American president. But the reason why it's the best TV moment of 2008 is because... well, moments like this don't happen that much anymore, do they?
...two perfect series finales.
As TV viewers, we've been conditioned to not let ourselves get too attached to good shows because more often than not, good shows get canceled early. Or, on the flip side, they go on far too long beyond their prime and the series finales end up falling short as unsatisfying afterthoughts.
So it's always a breath of fresh air when a truly quality program ends not only at its peak, but it ends with a series finale that does the entire run of the show justice. It doesn't happen often, and this year we were fortunate to say good-bye on a high note to two of the greatest cop dramas ever made, The Wire and The Shield.
...three Zachs for viewing.
Perhaps it's just coincidence, but right now our TV world has a trio of superb young actors in very different programs and they're all named Zach. Coincidence or the fact that the year they were born, Zachary was a really popular name for baby boys? Whatever, the bottom line is that Zach Braff, Zachary Levi, and Zachary Quinto are terrific and Scrubs, Chuck and Heroes, respectively, wouldn't be the same without them.
What's really interesting about these three Zachs, beside the fact that they all share the same first name, is that they could probably all play each other's roles -- even though it's hard to imagine Braff or Levi as evil, they're good enough to do it. And Zachary Quinto has done the nerdy, computer guy when he was on 24.
It's interesting, but if you squint a little and tilt your head, they all could look like they're brothers. However, while the Three Zs may pass as the Three Amigos if you put them in sombreros, they are definitely making the TV world a much happier landscape.
When John McCain and Barack Obama became the clear front runners, no one thought anyone could pull off a decent impression of either guy. They were both bland, articulate politicians who could speak in clear, concise sentences and didn't sound like someone had stepped on their larynx with a golf cleat.
But in the zero hour, we were saved ... and not just by Sarah Palin.
These are the impressions that we're sorry to have to say goodbye to, even if we're glad the people they poke fun at may not be coming back.
... five canceled shows.
Some shows, like critical darlings The Shield and Battlestar Galactica, are allowed to end gracefully; major story arcs are wrapped up and fans are left satisfied. Others are yanked from network schedules like unsightly weeds from a rose garden.
The networks yanked a number of shows off the air this season. Most of them, like The Ex List, probably deserved the axe, but there were four that deserved more time to develop an audience and one that I'm really gonna miss. In no particular order, they are:
Chats around the watercooler often are about last night's big football game, why Izzie is sleeping with Denny on Grey's Anatomy, or the latest OMG! WTF? twist on Lost. Rare will be the conversations about the latest evil-doer that Sam and his friends had to capture on the latest episode of The CW's Reaper. Thing is, some of us do want to gossip about Reaper, but it seems like we are the only ones around the watercooler to watch it. "How can this be?" we ask ourselves, knowing how cool the show is (especially the Devil)!
Reaper is just an example, as there are tons of shows that people should be watching but seemingly don't. Here I bring you a list of six shows that I think you (or your friends and family members) should be watching and why. I restricted my list to shows that air on one of the major networks - so that everyone has easy access to them - and series that will still be on the air in winter 2009.
I only have seven shows to list at the top of their game, whether its via ratings, critical reviews or both. Given the sheer volume of content available on both network and cable television, it's tough to narrow down the list to seven. On the other hand, this has been a banner year for TV cancellations (and failed experiments as a result of green-lighting new series without commissioning a pilot first) so those that survived have been luckier than usual.
I have only included one reality TV show in the list and there probably should be more, but I don't like reality television and it's my list. So there. Nyah.
Every year, certain stars just stand out on television. There the ones that people talk about a lot, the ones that have the most impact, or the ones that make you say "that guy is going to be a star." These are the eight TV stars that shined bright in 2008 (and probably will in 2009 too).
1. Tina Fey. Is there anyone else who controlled pop culture the way she did this year? It's one thing to have the best comedy on TV and win Emmy awards for it, but in the same year you happen to look like the Republican VP candidate and go on to impersonate her and increase Saturday Night Live's ratings too? Not bad. And let's not forget all the magazine covers and a $5M book deal.
With all of the starry-eyed, out-of-work Midwesterners who litter Sunset Blvd., one would assume that our television landscape would be similarly populated with corn-fed blonds. You would, however, be wrong. In fact, there are a ton of non-Americans who have come to Hollywood to take all of our primetime show-starring jobs.
What's fun for me is watching the shows to see who does a good version of an American accent, and who needs to spend a little more time with their dialect coaches. Below are nine stars who've jumped the pond to come to the good ol' U. S. of A.
Since there are twelve shows a-stinkin' on TV this year (well, that's the low estimate), you might be glad to hear that 2008 brought us some spectacular TV on DVD. You knew there had to be a bright spot, right?
Whether you want to re-watch your favorite classic shows from the '50s or '60s (or earlier), or catch up on one of the hottest shows on current TV (yeah, there are a few) by starting with the first season, they've been released on DVD in 2008. It was actually hard to pick just ten, but for better or for worse, here are my picks:
Oh sure, there may be 12 shows a stinkin', but there's still reason to tune in. See just like advertisers, show-runners and TV executives know that sex sells. And hot chicks sell. And hot chicks selling their sexuality sell like hotcakes ... or chicks ... I never can get that right. But just being hot and sexy isn't enough. To really sell it, they need to be as close to naked as legally allowed on the airwaves. We're talking "Oops, sorry to barge in on you standing there in your underwear bending over the bed pulling on your fishnet stockings. Nice rack."
Sometimes near-nudity, and even nudity, legitimately serves the plot. Let's face it, Anna Paquin had to bang that vampire on True Blood so she was going to have to get naked. It's a necessity. But Yvonne Strahovski on Chuck? Does she have to be in her underwear that often to protect the Intersect? Was it required by Simon Elder that Karen Darling be in her underwear in order to talk to him? Of course not. But it's hot and that's the way we like it. Hell, they made Catalina a stripper on My Name is Earl.
... Twelve shows a stinkin'
That aroma tickling your nose is not one from an oven full of fresh gingerbread cookies. No, it's from a television full of burned-out ideas and gutted hulks of viewers who can't take the crap that is heaped upon them. That's because, more than ever, there is a lot of stink on the television landscape. Most of it is due to inordinate amounts of reality programming which has flooded the market. The rest is due to the lack of new ideas for an industry that is rapidly changing.
In order to start our annual Festivus countdown we have compiled a scientifically proven list of 12 shows just stinking up the flat screen. And, when I say 'scientifically proven' I mean I just asked a bunch of people off the street about shows they disliked. So, it's as accurate as it possibly can be. Nevertheless, I'm sure you'll have opinions, one way or another, on these shows and others not on the list. So, if you have your nose plugs, let's begin.
Starting today, we'll be presenting what has become a yearly tradition for us: our own version of The Twelve Days of Festivus. We're going to start with Rich's list of twelve shows that... well, you'll have to tune in later today to find out why those shows make our list. Each day, we'll have a list of things about TV that annoyed or enthralled us this past year, culminating on December 23 (the official day of Festivus, according to Frank Costanza), when we list the best TV moment of the year -- pretty tough, because this year had a lot of moments to choose from.
If you're new here and don't know what the heck we're talking about, here are the lists from 2006 and 2007.
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