Wednesday, October 28, 2009

End of Decade Blowout pt 5: Top 20 TV Shows, 20-11

Here's the list of my 20 favorite TV shows of the decade. Some preliminary notes:

1) Shows are rated entirely based on how much pleasure they gave me to watch.
2) For the few shows on here that span the 90's and 00's, they are rated on the entirety of their body of work. I only included shows whose 2000s output alone was enough to get them on the list though (e.g. No Simpsons)
3) There are a lot of top critically acclaimed shows this decade I have never seen. A LOT. Like, all of them. So, for example why aren't Mad Men or The Sopranos or The Wire or Battlestar Galactica or pretty much any other show that would make any respectable critic's top 10 on my list? Maybe I would like them maybe I wouldn't. I often disagree with critical consensus. But it's a moot point, because I've never seen them.

Enough caveats, let's see the list.

20. Eli Stone
Network: ABC
Commentary: This is one of the few hour long dramas to make an appearance on the list, but it's an outstanding, very uplifting show that always makes me happy to watch. The characters and were generally well done, and I liked all of the actors, especially Johnny Lee Miller as Eli Stone himself. Overall a fun happy show, in a mold that's right up my alley. The plots, however, were not consistently good enough for me to be able to rate the show higher.

19. Scrubs
Network: NBC, then ABC
Commentary: For a few year stretch, this was the most consistently funny sitcom on TV. Now, it significantly fell off after that, and constant repeats have worn even those episodes a little thin, but it still made me laugh a lot and deserves a placement. This is a tough one because it has less rewatchability than most of the other shows, but it has memorable characters and good joke writing and overall executes well, even if it did all wear thin after a while.

18. Strange Days at Blake Holsey High
Network: Discovery Kids
Commentary: Interested readers are directed to an entire very long post I dedicated to this show all the way back in 2006: "Fave TV Shows of All Time, Vol 2.: Strange Days at Blake Holsey High"

17. American Idol
Commentary: A lot of people seem to not like this show, but it's a classic. Its pop culture impact this decade is unrivaled by any other show, and it still remains consistently entertaining. Yes, the quality of the show fluctuates up and down depending on the quality of the contestants, but I've generally found the show does a great job of playing up the drama in an enjoyable way. Plus, the show produced Katharine McPhee and Brooke White, so there's something right there.

16. House
Commentary: This one is kind of hard to rank because it is very formulaic, and has had about as many bad and boring episodes as great episodes. Overall, the formula has gotten very stale, and I've mostly lost interest in watching the show, but it was/is a genuinely great formula and Hugh Laurie is, of course, brilliant and quite possibly the TV actor of the decade. This is a very boom and bust show; it's given me some of the most entertainment of any show this decade, but also probably more idle boredom than any other show on the list.

15. Unfabulous
Commentary: I hate to keep doing this, but when I've already dedicated multiple posts to a show, it seems pointless to make any additional commentary.

14. Monk
Commentary: Tony Shalhoub does a great job with a very original and fun character. OK, the plots and mysteries are generally pretty lame, but overall the characters and the comedy still make this a great show. I was originally sad when Bitty Schram left, but Traylor Howard has been great, even though the show itself has significantly declined. But the show had about 3 legitimately great and funny seasons, and that's enough to get it here.

13. True Life
The episodes in this show have a pretty wide range in quality, but no show this decade has more effectively run the gamut between hilarious, interesting, dramatic, and informational like this one has. It generally finds the right tone for each story it tells and finds interesting characters to talk about. Some are a little boring, but rarely do they seem like a pointless waste of time.

12. Six Feet Under
Commentary: Some of the most interesting characters and best acting of the decade, even if it does get a bit dreary at times (and by at times, I mean constantly). Sure, sometimes you wish they would just throw the Fishers a bone here and there, but the plots and characters manage to almost always be executed well so it's hard to complain too much.

11. The Mole
Commentary: In my opinion, the best reality show of the decade. The concept of the show was killer, Anderson Cooper was a great host, and the challenges were well designed and fun to watch. Even the celebrity episodes were good, because of the inherent entertainment of the concept and the great execution. Of course, the guessing game of who is the mole is the most entertaining part, and they always managed to give just enough information for it to be fun.

But with all these great shows gone already, what makes the top 10? Wait and see!

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