Sunday, December 12, 2010

Top 5 TV experiences of 2010

It is the end of the year and as someone who likes lists and hates coming up with original writing ideas I decided to make a list of the Top 5 TV experiences of 2010. A “TV Experience” is similar to a “Girlfriend Experience” without the extra $1500 and a rash that never seems to go away. A TV experience is a season of a TV show that I watched this year. This can be a new show. It can be season of a show that I had not seen or it could be a DVD set of a TV show that came out previously and I have not had a chance to view it.
1. Treme
Treme tells the story of New Orleans as the city recovers from the “Man Made Disaster” that was Katrina. It explores the different perspectives, challenges, needs and frustrations that people who choose to come back home to New Orleans instead of taking the easier route of moving. New Orleans is the only unique American city. You could go into restaurants, offices, city blocks in any major city and they are indistinguishable. New Orleans is different. Treme tells its story. It explores corruption, incompetence of city/state officials; contractors who took money and did not do work; musicians trying to get by living gig to gig; and people doing whatever it takes to bring the city back to its greatness. Stephen Zahn is the best part of the show. His quick humor, reliance, humor, energy, womanizing, helpful, everyman characteristics, happy go lucky personality and true devotion to music make him the living epitome of New Orleans. If you like his character you would love New Orleans.
If you like these things you (might) like Treme: The Wire/Generation Kill (same writer/production team, but those were much better). Concrete Blonde’s Bloodletting CD (great songs about New Orleans),
2. The League
The League (which most of you have never heard of) is a show on FX. It centers around five friends who are in a Fantasy Football League together. Just as Cheers was about a bunch of guys in a bar, The League is about a bunch of guys who play fantasy football. Fantasy Football serves as a way to put five friends together so we can watch these self-absorbed, crude, very funny people interact. This show is essentially about how men behave around other men who they can say anything too.
If you like these things you (might) like The League: It is Always Sunny in Philadelphia (same type of base crude humor and a dialog that seems to have come from a real conversation. ); Fantasy Football (helpful but not necessary); If you are not easily offended (jokes about masturbation, scaring children and cocaine fueled sex); if you have a group of friends you can bust balls with, tell jokes with, drink beer with, help them move and be there if you are ever really needed,
3. Life (Season 2 on DVD)
Life is a show that deserved to go on longer. There were only two seasons of this show. Life is about a cop who was exonerated for a brutal family murder after 12 years in prison. As part of his release, he received a huge settlement check (amount never disclosed) and got his job back as a Los Angeles Police Detective. His time in prison changed him. He embraced Buddhism and the shows have him receipt some sort of Buddhist statement. The best one was after getting a new Bentley “I am not attached to this car. I am not attached to this car.” This is a show that embraces the Who Dun It premise and gives it a radically different perspective. This show should have gone on for another three years.
If you like these things you (might) like Life; Buddhism; Intelligent TV shows that make you think; The L Word (Sarah Shahi stared in both. She is easily one of the 10 most beautiful women in the world. She is great in the show and deserves another TV show. NOW!);
4. Justified
This is a show about US Marshal who after a justified shooting, is reassigned to his home town in rural Kentucky. I can only hope that a future episode with feature the Creationism amusement park. Justified addresses how the US Marshal Service does a wide variety of things from Prisoner transport, criminal investigation, and anything that needs to be done. The shows strength, like all good shows, comes from two places outstanding writing and a character that you trust, are interested in and want to succeed. Timothy Olyphant who has always been adequate in movies but never outstanding has created a character that is entertaining, funny, tough, genuine and like all good western hero’s he always gets his man.
If you like these things you (might) like Justified; The Shield (Walton Goggins (Shane) from The Shield is a recurring character); old fashion westerns (the hero actually wears a White Hat); very, very dry humor.
5. Dexter Season 3 and Season 4 on DVD. Dexter remains one of the most creative, well acted, subtly/darkly funny, scary, shows on television. Dexter suffers from comparison to its first two seasons. The first two seasons were much better than seasons 3 and 4, but that is also like saying the 1996 World Series Champion Yankees were not as good at the 1927 Yankees. Dexter is radically different from any other character previously on TV. Dexter created a likeable, serial killer who operates within an ethical code that both serves society and his compulsion to kill. The best parts of the show remain the outstanding writing (especially Dexter’s narration), Sgt. Angel Hernandez (Always great and always underrated. He is the type of partner you would want if you were a police officer),
If you like these things you (might) like Dexter: Oz (several of the characters came from this painfully overlooked unflinching TV series that was in many ways darker than Dexter), anything about serial killers (duh)

Honorable Mentions:
1. Law and Order season 20: the television equivalent of a great cheeseburger. Always consistent, VERY formulaic, but NEVER disappointing. It deserved another season.
2. Man Men; I still have not seen an entire season beginning to end. The episodes here and there I have seen have always been good.
3. Nip Tuck; another show that started with two brilliant seasons, started to decline and had a good final half season to close the show well if not great.

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