End of Decade Blowout pt 6: Top 20 TV Shows, 10-1
Network: Cartoon Network
Commentary: This show got off to a bit of a slow start, as they were trying to figure out who the characters were and what type of plots they wanted. Season 2 of Justice League was where the show started to heat up. However, Season 1 of Justice League Unlimited is really where it's at here, with tons of awesome characters and an ongoing plot that I think qualifies as really insightful. It's definitely one of the best seasons of all time, and while the rest of the series was good, it never did quite manage to live up to that one. Still, good enough to jump this into the top 10.
9. Home Movies
Network: Cartoon Network
Commentary: This was far from the most hyped show from the Adult Swim block, but in my opinion it stands out as the best. The voice work is hilarious, as is the touching relationship between Coach and Brendan. Basically, all the characters are funny, and the plots are consistently fun and inventive. One of the funniest shows of the decade, maybe the number one funniest.
Commentary: The show never did reach the heights of The Simpsons at its best, but it still manages to consistently bring laughs, and the characters are interesting and likable enough that the show is still interesting even when the jokes don't work. Lots of great episodes here and, honestly, I've found that they haven't held up great upon multiple re-viewings, but I'll still rep for them.
7. Phil of the Future
Network: Disney Channel
Commentary: Yet another show I've written much about on this blog. All in all, I still think it has an outstanding young cast and that the Phil/Keely relationship was well done and genuinely touching. Aly Michalka is great, Kay Panabaker is hilarious, and the show's jokes genuinely work on their own merits, very rare for a show of this type.
6. It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Commentary: This show has no depth or characters, so it relies 100% on the merits of its own jokes to succeed. Fortunately, the joke writing is spectacular, definitely the best of any show this decade, so the show consistently manages to generate laughs and entertainment. But don't take my word for it, www.itsalwayssunnyepisodes.com has all the episodes online for free!
5. How I Met Your Mother
Commentary: Every time I do one of these lists, I always go in thinking It's Always Sunny is going to rank as the highest sitcom, because it's the funniest show of the decade, but I always end up coming back to this one. The reason is, it's legitimately very funny on its own merits, but it also has great plots and characters, which makes it much more consistently watchable than Sunny. Ultimately, they're both great shows, but I give the slight edge to HIMYM's depth versus Sunny's better jokes.
4. The 4400
Commentary: It still surprises me how much I love/loved this show, but I think it managed to be the most consistently well plotted drama of the decade. My theory is that the shorter seasons of this show versus, say Lost or Heroes force it to make stuff happen in every episode. And the show did have a breakneck pace, so even when one particular plot thread didn't work out, it was constantly moving on to another more interesting one. But all the plot threads always came together in interesting ways, and they very impressively managed to blow up the show and start all over again in each season. This is a show that just got better and better as time went on.
3. Friday Night Lights
Commentary: It's hard for me to say much about this show, since it's one of the only critical consensus shows on my top 20 and I therefore don't feel a need to speak out in its defense. Much like everybody else who has seen the show, I love the characters, I find the acting amazing (particularly from Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton), and the plots are compelling. Actually, I think too much was made of the season 2 swoon, it still managed to be quality TV. Season 1 of this is probably the second best season of any TV show this decade though, and that alone makes it deserve this slot.
2. Freaks and Geeks
Commentary: Yeah, yeah, it's funny and incredibly well-realized, and painfully realistic, and all those other critical cliches people love to lob at it. The geeks are great comic relief, but the freaks are really where the show is at, since their drama was usually more interesting. All in all a well-balanced show. Let's just say that I agree with everybody else and move on.
1. Joan of Arcadia
Commentary: Well, if you know me at all, or if you've read this blog a bit, this will come as no surprise to you. I dedicated an entire rambling, lunatic post to this show four and a half years ago (it can be read here), and as embarrassing as it reads today, I still mean every word. There's absolutely no doubt to me that it's the best show of all time.