Friday, January 14, 2011

Best of 2010: Top 10 TV Shows (by Dave Machado)

There was a lot of great TV in 2010. So much so that I didn't really get a chance to watch everything that was being offered. So I'd like to preface this list by saying these were my favorite ten shows of the year, and I am in no way saying they are the ten best on TV. You'll find obvious omissions (Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Boardwalk Empire) not because I didn't like the shows, but because I either still have most of the season on my DVR (Boardwalk) or I'm still behind on previous seasons as I slowly go through the DVDs (Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Modern Family). Having said that, I still believe the following 11 shows (I felt the need to include an honorable mention) provided some great entertainment throughout 2010.

Honorable Mention: The Walking Dead
I really wanted this show to end up in my top 10 of the year but it simply had far too many problems with bad dialog. The show debuted with a lot of promise, as it was directed by Frank Darabont. But as the short series went on (6 episodes), it started to show less and less promise. I'll admit the show picked up again during the last episode but that execitement quickly died when I realized I now had to wait 10 months for Season 2 to begin. Let's hope they use that time wisely and come back a much stronger show. I believe in the end, Season 1 will be considered just a small tease to what the show would really become.

10) Eastbound and Down
Kenny Powers is such a great television character. While Season 2 may have had slightly less laugh out loud moments than Season 1, I was still in love with every episode. It was good to see Kenny in a new element (Mexico) but I am really looking forward to the third and final season where we can see him back in his Season 1 territory.

09) 30 Rock
30 Rock suffered from a huge dip in quality last season. Thankfully this seems to have only been a temporary problem as this year has produced some of the funniest 30 Rock episodes since Season 2. My biggest complaint from last year was that the characters were becoming too one-note. While I think the show still suffers from that problem from time the time (mainly Jenna and Kenneth), they've done a better job of opening each character to more stories.

08) Parks and Recreation
Parks and Recreation wins the award for biggest improvement for a show between Season 1 and Season 2. It was sad to see this amazing show so low on the list but the only reason is that it had so little shows on the air in 2010. Last airing in August, Parks and Recreation was an unfortunate victim of network programming issues as it was shelved for midseason to make way for the terrible new show Outsourced. I'm at least thankful for the small amount of episodes I did get to see this year as each one contained some of the best comedy on TV this year. Thankfully, Parks and Recreation is coming back Jan. 20. I really need some more Ron Swanson in my life.

07) The Soup
I debated on whether or not to include this on the list as it's not a sitcom or a drama but there is no denying that The Soup really is one of the best shows on TV. Thanks in large part to Joel McHale (making his first of two appearances on this list), The Soup is consistently one of the funniest 30 minutes on television, thanks in large part to the huge amount of crap that is currently being shown on TV. I make it a point to stay away from any show on VHI, MTV, or anything "reality" based, but I still love nothing more than seeing these insanely unimportant humans make fools of themselves in bite sized clips only to then be further beaten down by a cruel joke about their lack of purpose on earth.

06) Daily Show/Colbert Report
Like The Soup, this may not be a traditional "show" but it's one of the best things going for television right now. I consider these shows two sides of the same coin so it's fair for them to split #6. They both perfectly compromise each other by providing different (but equally important) takes on what's currently going on in the world. The Daily Show provides more of the cynical "Are you kidding me" anger towards the broken system of current politics while The Colbert Report dishes out amazing mockery of the blow hard types currently trying to pass off opinion as facts. While I consider The Daily Show to be the better important show, The Colbert Report is the necessary dessert of absurd humor that's needed after such a filling meal.

05) It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Similar to 30 Rock, It's Always Sunny has had quite the resurgence in quality this season as opposed to the previous few years. I would say that It's Always Sunny actually went one step further than 30 Rock this year though and actually had their best season to date. I've already talked about my love of the Blackface Debate from the Lethal Weapon 5 episode, but almost every episode had at least one scene that was almost just as funny (Dennis' idea of luring women on a boat, Charlie and Dennis getting trashed at the fundraising event in Atlantic City, Mac searching for his "God Damned Bible", etc...). Part of me wishes this was the final season because it would have been a great way to go out (especially considering how many past characters they brought back for the season finale). The writers and cast have their work cut out for them this year and I look forward to see what they try out.

04) Supernatural
Supernatural is the show that I love but have no one to share that love with since it seems nobody else I know watches it as much as me. While I admit the beginning of the latest season was a bit rocky due to the planned "5 year story" now being stretched beyond it's original ending point, I'm glad to see that at the mid-point of the season, I am now fully on board to see where they take the show. Last year's final push to the finale was one of the best I had seen in a show in a while. It's a shame the real ending was ruined slightly by many forced twists in order to allow the show to continue, but it doesn't take away from the fact that they did a very good job of ending a planned story without too much compromise. It's great to see a show that is still able to mix-up "Monster of the Week" episodes with dense myth building ones and never really miss a beat. Now if only they could ease on the episode ending "heart to heart" talks that I'm pretty sure use the same conversation week to week.

03) Louie
Louie was the best new show of 2010. It's amazing this show exists and that Louis C.K. was able to take a chance to make his own show in his own voice and not screw up at any point. Each episode was like a mad genius mix of stand-up comedy and absurd sketches that combined to form a perfect half hour of TV. Every aspect from this show came from Louis C.K.'s mind and it really shows in the end product. I'm extremely happy the show is getting a second season and hope this time it's audience continues to grow as more people discover just how great it really is.

02) LOST
It was hard to put this show at #2 because it really is my favorite show of all time. But considering it was only on the air for 1/2 of 2010 (added to the fact that I still feel let down by the final season) I think this is where LOST belongs. This season was a mix of highs and lows as the final mysteries started to unveil themselves. But after spending a whole season trying to figure out the mystery of the "sideways universe" only to discover it was all some "afterlife" holding pen caused much anger, especially the night of the finale. I've since come to terms with the finale and find it quite touching, though there are still lots of issues I have with the show. The most of which would be the total waste of time that was the Temple arc. For a show with so many questions as LOST to throw in a new location, only to never have any of the questions raised there really pay off, has left a sour taste in my mouth when looking back on the last season as a whole. I'm sure as years pass and I revisit LOST I'll find myself enjoying it much more the second time around (there were lots of great episodes, such as Happily Ever After, the final Desmond-centric episode).

01) Community
Community is the best comedy on television right now. Mostly everything this show does is perfect and it's the best mix of character vs. pop culture related jokes. It can weave its structure into pretty much any genre (post-apocalyptic, mob family, claymation, zombies, etc...) and never at the cost of moving the story forward. Community has formed a real tight ensemble so any of the main characters can bounce off each other, giving the show a large number of combinations to explore. I know a show is good when I'm left saying "Well that was their best episode ever" after roughly 2/3 of all episodes in 2010. It's exciting to have a show like Community on TV and I just hope it is able to stick around for many more to come. While I find it hard to believe that they will ever top the perfection that was the paintball episode ("Modern Warfare"), it doesn't take away from the fact that most episodes since have only been slightly less amazing.

You're Welcome,


  1. A. No excuse for not being up to date on Mad Men while having seen (presumably) every episode of, for example, Parks & Recreation. Mad Men towers above just about all else on TV.

    B. The most glaring omission is 'Treme', which was epic in scope and amazing in execution. You didn't even mention it in the list of shit you are trying to get to. The last episode was one of the most haunting/powerful things I've seen.

    C. Parks & Recreation?

    D. You need to venture outside the realm of network and basic cable, son. Shit, 'Big Love' is better than most of this bologna, and I'm only familiar with it because my lady watches it.

    E. Parks & Recreation??

    F. When last we spoke, you informed me you hadn't watched The Sopranos. If that holds true, please put all other viewing on hold and watch it. Then watch The Wire, because I have a feeling you haven't seen that either. Two best shows ever.

  2. A) I fully admit dropping the ball on Mad Men. I think it's a great show but have only made it through 1.5 seasons. I have 1-3 on DVD so it's just a matter of finding the time to watch it (and then wait for S4 to come out). I'm far more upset about not being up to date on Breaking Bad. Watched seasons 1-2 over Xmas break and thought it was fantastic. I can't wait for S3 DVD to come out.

    B) I actually watched the first 3 episodes of Treme but it didn't click for me. Maybe I didn't stick around long enough for the "hook" but I couldn't get a clear picture of the overall main story and really only like one character (John Goodman). So it was cast to the side. I actually subscribed to HBO specifically for Treme and The Pacific. At least the latter paid off for me.

    C & E) I was surprised you chose this and not Supernatural as the show to rag on. Though just to defend the show a little, I think S2 of that show was really smart and funny. It started in the Spring of 09 as a terrible Office ripoff but came back as a fully revamped show that was so much better. Not really much else to say other than it clicks for me.

    D) I try but typically never get sucked into HBO shows (I'm too cheap for Showtime so watch Dexter and Weeds when it comes out on DVD, hence their omission as well; though I heard both had subpar seasons this year). I have seen all of Big Love except the latest season because I didn't have HBO. I heard they dropped the ball a bit. If you disagree I'll check out the DVD and then the finale season. I do enjoy Boardwalk Empire and it would have been in my list if I actually finished the season yet.

    F) I have yet to see Sopranos or The Wire. I have S1 of Sopranos and S1-S3 of The Wire on DVD but just haven't had the time to start digging in. I feel of the two I will love The Wire more. I also really want to see Deadwood, as I feel I may love that even more since it has a more "genre" feel to with being a Western.

    G) We both forgot about how great Two and a Half Men is.