Originally posted December 28, 2009
TV shows are a bit easier to rate. I’m going to combine “real programming” with fiction. Numbers 6-2 are kind of interchangeable, as I love these ones pretty equally.
10. First season of Veronica Mars. The others were okay, but the first season was consistently good in terms of snark, mystery, romance and dysfunction. And I love it when you make me root for the asshole. Best ep: “Hot Dogs” – we start to see Logan through different eyes, Aaron Echolls goes after his daughter’s abusive boyfriend, and Weevil is further implicated in Lily’s murder.
9. The Daily Show/Rick Mercer Report. Like old-time American-Canadian cousins, Jon Stewart & Rick Mercer have done more for political awareness in either country than any news program every could. Both play the everyman, the buffoon and the astute correspondent in equal measures. Love.
8. The Office (UK version). Some of the most uncomfortable television I’ve ever watched. While it sometimes invoked PTSD from my corporate life, it is a great example of why the Brits are better than us (often) when it comes to playing it straight. Best ep: The Christmas Special.
7. Mythbusters. Adam and Jamie made geeks famous and introduced the scientific method to a whole new generation. It’s still not old for me yet.
6. Location, Location, Location. For a real estate pR0n addict like me, this show is the bomb. Kirstie and Phil are never coy, and their tours through houses across the UK (and beyond) is always enjoyable. I watch the eps over and over again.
5. Torchwood – “Children of Earth”. So this is kind of cheaty because I’m picking on one specific mini-series, but the calibre of writing for this arc was unbelievable. Particularly in how the politicians deal with the impending catastrophe and moral dilemmas of offering up the children. Really great television. And if that’s the end of the series, then we can’t ask for more than that.
4. BSG. I know this one will show up higher on someone else’s list, but my criteria included how willing I was to move or cancel plans so as to not miss the show in its first showing, and I was willing most of the time to watch this one as a download. BSG was a game changer. Loved its darkness, its moral ambiguity, its characters and ability to leave me gasping. Best ep: “33? – the fleet has to jump every 33 minutes to stay ahead of the Cylons. If I had a heart rate monitor during this ep, it would have been spiking.
3. True Blood. Ball has taken the books and turned something of a girlie drink into a freaky shot of post-sex scotch. The best news? This one isn’t done yet–can’t wait until June. Best ep: “I Will Rise Up” – Eric saves Sookie and then uses it to his advantage for some pretty hot mouth-to-wounds, and Godric becomes a saviour.
2. Buffy. For changing the game. For big stories on the little screen. For OMWF. For bringing us some of the best characters ever on television. I know it started in 1997, but its last seasons were in this decade, so it counts. Best ep: “Becoming” I and II (kinda cheaty) – we were so invested in the characters by the end of season 2, and the whole drama of her battle with Angel (one little word… “Me.”) and ultimately, her decision to sacrifice her love for the world. Wow. Just wow.
1. Firefly. I watched it during first run and loved it even though the eps were shown out of order. My level of pissed-off-edness increases every time I watch it. Fox will never be able to make this up, and saving Dollhouse for an extra year is not payment enough. Of all things Joss, this show was the optimum of ensemble casting, wit, charm and challenge. Best ep: “Out of Gas” – wherein we learn of origins and love and the complex hero that is Mal. Absolutely fabulous.
There are also some honourable mentions, like Angel (should be in the top 10 but I ran out of room), West Wing (when it was good, it was riveting and when it was bad, it was preachy), Dirty Jobs (Mike Rowe somehow manages to be condescending and humble at the same time, and some of those jobs are awesomely gruesome), Fear Factor (the original omg! show – especially the stuff they had to eat), Six Feet Under (wonderful combination of dark comedy and darker family), Intervention (some of the most riveting television there is – some call it exploitive, but there seems to be a lesson in every show), and Dr Who (really close to Top 10, but there’s as many blah episodes as there are good ones).