29 December 2010

Top Ten TV Shows of 2010

10. Running Wilde:  Mitchell Hurwitz, creator of Arrested Development, comes back to mainstream television with Running Wilde, a show starring Will Arnett as Steve Wilde.  The show is an acquired taste, as many will likely be put off by the subtle sight gags and self-referential humor.  However, the show is funny in its right, and Will Arnett has enough presence to distract from all but the most glaring of errors.

9.  Lie To Me:  Now entering its third season, the show stars Tim Roth as Dr. Lightman, the brilliant but eccentric head of the Lightman group.  The premise of the show, that people reveal their true emotions through micro-expressions, is solid enough, and is actually based on real research.  Each episode seeks to highlight the subtle side of human expression, though this is becoming more formulaic each episode.  Not that this is necessarily a problem, for the show is now able to move on to character development.  Roth is a strong enough actor to make Lightman believably complex, and the actual science is interesting enough to make the show compelling.

8.  The Office:  Now entering its eighth, and possibly final season, The Office continues its inevitable trek.  The main characters, Michael, Dwight, Jim, and Pam, are now well enough developed for viewers to feel close to.  Michael is still hilarious, and the side characters still have their moments, especially Creed Bratton, who remains hilariously random.  The show has certainly jumped the shark often enough, but the cast and story lines still remain compelling enough to keep you coming back for more.

7.  30 Rock:  Tina Fey’s project continues to impress, in its own wacky way.  Tracy Morgan is hilarious, Alec Baldwin continues to ham it up, and Tina Fey remains cleverly clumsy.  The humor, as always, tends toward the weird.  Still, it’s lots of fun to watch, and remains profound in its own quiet way.

6.  Sons of Anarchy:  Everyone’s favorite gun running bike gang continues on its unstoppable trek.  The drama in every episode is palpable, and there are enough deus ex machina plot twists to keep the story going.  The cast is strong enough to pull viewers away from the occasional plot weakness, and smart enough to not take themselves too seriously.

5.  Parks and Recreation:  Sadly, this fun little show is currently on hiatus.  However, the first and second seasons are available on DVD.  The show features Amy Poelher as Leslie Knope, the unbelievably naïve and idealistic deputy director of the Pawnee, Indiana parks and rec department.  Nick Offerman plays her boss, a highly subversive libertarian whose dream is to get rid of his own department.  The shows also features a strong supporting cast, and includes the quite entertaining Aziz Ansari and the underrated Aubrey Plaza.

4.  Psych:  Good clean family fun is the name of the game, which Psych has played rather deftly.  Dule Hill rules as Guster Burton, and James Roday potrays the inestimable Sean Spencer.  Corbin Bernsen does a credible job as Sean’s father, and Maggie Lawson is nothing short of fantastic as Juliet O’Hara, Sean’s love interest.  The show’s shtick is well-established: a highly intelligent slacker with crazy good observational skills pretends to be a psychic in order to work as a police consultant.  It sounds weird, but it works quite well.

3.  Fringe:  Science Fiction, by definition, offers scientifically impossible stories for one’s enjoyment.  Fringe, however, is as close to believably plausible as the genre will ever come.  The show revolves around Olivia Dunham, played by the incomparable Anna Torv.  The supporting cast is surprisingly strong, and features Joshua Jackson and John Noble, accompanied by the quietly brilliant Lance Reddick.  Early episodes are quite engrossing, in their own right, though the show has moved on to character development.  Lesser
minds would ruin this show, but with J.J. Abrams at the helm, one can be quite confident that this show will end quite well.

2.  Justified:  Timothy Olyphant stars as Raylan Givens.  The show is set primarily in the backwoods of Kentucky, though the show starts out in Florida.  Most of the supporting cast actually hails from The South, lending an air of subtle authority to the show’s portrayal of rural Kentucky.  The show is deeply engrossing; once you start, you won’t be able to stop.

1.  Mad Men:  It is disappointing that I’ve just started watching this show.  John Hamm is simply magnificent as Don Draper, and the rest of the cast is strong as well.  The retro vibe set by the show is mostly cool, though it occasionally becomes annoying feels somewhat forced, at times. Ultimately, though, the show works as a character study of the ever-so-complex Don Draper.  Fortunately, he’s a character that one can never seem to get enough of.

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