27 December 2005

Ten Best TV Shows of 2005

Because I'm a copy cat (tip o' the tammy shanter to The Instapundit), and cause I do actually watch a bit of TV from time to time, here goes it.

1. Extras. Ricky Gervais is god. This is better than The Office. Kate Winslet saying 'friggin myself rotten' while dressed in a nun's habit, classic.

2. Rome. Bloody, and bloody brilliant. Titus Pullo and Lucius Vorenus are the best pair since Vinny Vega and Jules Winnfield. It doesn't sugar coat who these folks were, but this show does a great job of putting all that was Rome into a greater context and views them from their morals, not ours. Plus it's entertaining as all get out.

3. Doctor Who. (new, new Who pictured at link, the old new Who was very good and performed all but the Christmas Invasion episode) The relaunch of Doctor Who is brilliant. I'm quite pleased that it will be released on DVD in the U.S. even though it's never been shown here. Rose is cheeky, the Daleks aren't overplayed, the overall arch to the season is satisfying and it's filmed in Wales, what more could you want (ah, to be in lovely Cardiff). (That's it for the BBC love, some great shows they produced or co-produced this year)

4. Robot Chicken. One fifteen minute episode of this show (more like 12 minutes but shown without commercial break) has more funny than a month's worth of SNL. I'm hoping Seth Green's new series fails (I think this wish might come true, too) so that he'll have more time to devote to these little masterpieces. It's the pop culture from the past 2 1/2 decades thrown in a blender, chilled to perfection and served with a side of snark and a dash of love. Adult Swim better DVD-ize this, soon. (or I'll head over to Williams Street and do something that ends in -ize to all of 'em over there)

5. South Park. This season was AMAZING. They got straight to the Katrina, and didn't stop from there. The Scientology/R. Kelly episode was sublime. Cartman as king of the 'gingers' was another masterpiece. The season closer with the Ass-mata combined with slamming AA makes the wait for new shows feel that much longer.

6. Deadwood. How to describe this show without resorting to various descriptions of bodily functions and what acts can be done between genitals and each and every orifice? I give up. It can't be done. The main character's name ain't Swearingen for nothin'. But besides the swearing, the Shakespearean flights of language are mesmerizing and the acting top rate. If you don't get HBO rent the damn DVDs.

7. Everybody Hates Chris. The first (and only) network show in my top ten. The kid portraying young Chris is a terrific actor. The parents work well together and this show feels like the 3rd or 4th season of an ensemble show rather than the first few episodes. If the writing can continue to match the actors then hopefully this show will be given long life.

8. Full Metal Alchemist. Yes it's a cartoon. It might be easy to confuse it with simpler fare like Yu-Gi-Oh!, but it's so much more than that. It poses real questions about identity, what makes you human? do the ends justify the means? how do you define family? The central tenet of the show, and alchemy (as envisioned here) is as follows, "Humankind cannot gain anything without first giving something in return. To obtain, something of equal value must be lost. That is alchemy's first law of Equivalent Exchange. In those days, we really believed that to be the world's one, and only, truth." Nothing of value comes without giving something of value. The show begins with the Brothers Elric attempting to resurrect their mother only to lose all of Al's body and one of Ed's arms and both legs. In other words nothing can balance a human soul. Deep, duuuuude. It's surprisingly philosophical for a cartoon. (And more complicated than a couple of Dickens novels combined)

9. Jeopardy!. This was the year of the ultra-mega-super duper see if someone can beat Ken Jennings tournament (and yes, somebody did). Jeopardy rolls along and stays consistently engaging. No reason to ever leave this show out of any top ten list of TV shows. (and Mr. Trebek, bring back the 'stache please, you still look strange without it)

10. Battlestar Galactica. It was engrossing, bleak, grim, dark, brutal, challenging, thoughtful, at times slooooooow. It could have been better, but it's far from bad.

Honorable mentions. Curb Your Enthusiasm had a great season. Weeds was good but inconsistent. Barbershop was very good, but a trifle. Jimmy Kimmel's Friday night shows (Unnecessary Censorship (QT streaming video at this link) is the best regular bit on any of the late night talk shows, by far) are always worth catching. The Amazing Race is the best 'reality show' (though the Family edition was a major stumble). American Idol entertains as it repulses. Paranoia Agent was a weird head trip that I'm still processing and can't decide if it was great or awful. Samurai Champloo likewise has moments, but so far doesn't hold a candle to Watanabe-san's previous work.

Dishonorable mentions. Lost, so far after returning has lost me. It's feeling kind of pointless and I've missed episodes, read the recaps and thought, well I didn't miss much. David Chappelle, GET BACK TO WORK BIIIIIYAAAAAATCH!!!!!, comedy needs you. You are making blackface jesus cry by not making more shows. The Boondocks has been unfunny so far. Seriously so. Pedantic, self-important, repetitive, I'm not feeling you Aaron (and it's not just the politics), very well drawn though.

OK, that's it I'm sure there's plenty for everyone to disagree with mixed in there.

Disagree in silence, mutter at your monitor, or hurl thunderbolts in the comments, the choice is up to you dear reader, or Blog up your own list dammit, I'll link to yours if you'll link to mine. (So long as you're over eighteen, otherwise might get in trouble, oh wait that's SHOW me yours, I guess if you're under eighteen it'd be OK, but noone under thirteen please, there are laws you know)

And which year end list was more entertaining, mine or Mr. Poniewozik's?
(and linkariffic - I started this post Tuesday and feels like I didn't finish it till some time Thursday!)


Pooh said...

I found myself pretty disappointed in Rome, to be honest, though I agree that the Vorenus/Pullo relationship was pretty good. For whatever reasons, it lacked the punch of Deadwood. That being said, it sitll might qualify as one of the top ten shows considering how far some have fallen. The fact that there was no new "Sopranos" or "Wire" season in 2005 hurt. (But coming soon!)

I guess I also enjoy Boondocks substantially more than you do.

And the best comedy on TV tends to be Inside the NBA on TNT with Chuckie, EJ and the Jet.

Icepick said...

Wow, out of your top ten, I've seen one episode of Everybody Hates Chris (the Halloween episode), and one episode of BG.

I've watched Samurai Champloo off and on, primarily for the violence. I have to agree with your assessment of that one.

And Lost has been somewhat disappointing, but the Hurly-centric episode made up for a lot.

I just don't watch that many series anymore....