Saturday, January 26, 2008

My Favorite TV of 2007

Dice's Favorite 10 TV Shows of 2007
(These are, in order, the 10 shows I enjoyed, respected, desired, and loved the most that aired new episodes in 2007.)

A couple things to get out of the way before we get into the list:

- I don't have HBO or Showtime so if you like the edgier stuff they show (ie Sopranos, The Wire, etc.) I just haven't seen it.

- These rankings are based on episodes that aired in 2007, so the last half of last season and the first half of this season in most cases.

Honorable Mentions:

The Biggest Loser - I've always enjoyed this show if for no other reason than the amazing transformations. But season 4 added a great twist with a vindicated exiled black team (under the tutelage of returning trainer Jillian) dominating and eventually eliminating the reds and blues. This season also so gameplay from contestant Neil where he purposefully regained 17 pounds in a week to make sure his teamate was eliminated. The overall production quality is too weak to consider this as the best, but it was a fun season to watch for sure.

CSI - 8 seasons in and still a great show to watch. My favorite episodes are always the episodes that stray a bit from the format and take some risks (like the one involving the testing of a CSI board game) but from week to week the overall quality is a bit of a roller coaster (for instance, I could have completely done without the Grissom love story arc). Still more good than bad for the show that started the procedural drama craze nearly 8 years ago.

My Name is Earl - Earl has been slipping creatively but not much. The acting is still top notch and it's still a very funny show but it just seems like the writers have run out of idea. The prison storyline was a way for the writers to escape the list gimmick, but isn't that what made the show in the first place? Now that Earl is out of the slammer and has dealt with his karma collapse maybe we can get back to the Earl we used to know and love.

Mythbusters - There are so many things to love about this show. The blowin' stuff up testosterone, the scientific Mr. Wizardish experimentation, and the chemistry of the hosts just to name a few. But I think the thing I like the most is the consistency of fresh myths and urban legends to explore and the gusto in which they do it. This is one show that seems to be on all year long and they are still coming up with new ideas. In fact, The MacGyver special, where they test to see if MacGyver could really do the things he was shown doing on the show, coming in February is assurance that Adam, Jamie, and the crew will be on my list again next year.

So You Think You Can Dance - This show remains one of the most honest Reality Shows on TV. What I mean when I say that is that this is a show that is truly looking for the best undiscovered dancer in America. There are no Sanjaya's or Boy Shakira's in the finalists just for entertainment purposes and there is a real level of education that happens when you watch. Even without Benji competing this season (though his sister did, and he was a guest choreographer) it was a show worth watching.

10. Heroes - It's only through the last half of Season 1 that Heroes sneaks onto the list. The abridged second season almost made me thankful that the writers strike had put it out of it's misery. This is a show in desperate need of redemption, which I can only hope will come in Chapter 3. If it sounds like I'm being too hard on our freak friends it's become the potential is so great. We are hardest on the ones we love.

9. The Simpsons - Not the best show on TV, not even the funniest, but still worth watching every week. Just think people have been watching this yellow family since 1987. How many other pieces of pop culture have stayed this strong and this smart for 20 years? Any? It's incredible.

8. Survivor - Fiji was great and Earl was a winner you could root for but the Machiavellian machinations of Todd and his skeleton crew made China one of the better editions of this still amazing show. Another great pair of seasons from the show that made Reality TV a mainstream phenomenon.

7. Chuck - I'm so glad people are watching this show, because I love Zachary Levi (Chuck himself) and think he deserves a hit show. I remember thinking he was absolutely hilarious and compelling in "Less Than Perfect" and am glad he has found a vehicle for his charming persona (Wow, this is sounding way to much like a man-crush, and I don't want JJ Abrams to get jealous so we should move on.) The fact is that Chuck is a well written show with a fun concept and a great cast and it's great that it's getting eyeballs on it week to week.

6. 30 Rock - Tina Fey is a genius writer and her touch can be felt all over this show. People are starting to realize just how funny this show is and it's showing in the increased awards, exposure, and viewership. Quirky character studies abound, from Baldwin's pitch perfect corporate bossman to Kenneth the page, played with innocent abandon by Jack McBrayer. Each personality adds a piece to this absurdist, yet somehow grounded, comic endeavor.

5. Journeyman - This years entry into the annual "show I loved that nobody else watched so it got canceled". I guess with 3 great new shows debuting this season it's not surprising that one of them got left in the cold. If you missed this and it ever comes out on DVD I would highly recommend it. It's a well acted, thought provoking, sci-fi drama and it will be missed.

4. Pushing Daisies - Best new show of the season and consistently the most well written. The cadence in these scripts is a work of art, as are the visuals that accompany these quirky yet touching plots. It's high concept but not high brow and the most joy full show on TV. Add to this the genius voice work of Jim Dale (who you may know if you ever listened to any of the Harry Potter books on tape) and it's genuinely in a class of it's own.

3. The Office - Still the funniest show on TV and Steve Carell continues to dominate with his impeccable performance. It was the first show to go down when the writers strike happened and has since become my first writer's strike withdrawal case. Is anybody else as impressed as I am at how they pulled off Jim and Pam actually being a couple? The degree of difficulty on that one is off the charts, yet somehow it worked.

2. House - Gregory House is hands down the most interesting character study on television. Though the conceit of having a Survivor type showdown for his new team was a love it/hate it thing (I personally loved it), it is exactly the kind of thing we expect House to do. This is exactly the kind of person you wished existed in real life, only to quickly be relieved that they don't. The stories sometimes feel contrived, yet somehow there isn't a second that goes by in this show that you aren't deeply interested in what's going on in this captivating show.

1. Lost - I'm really running out of things to say about this show that I haven't mentioned before. Knowing when the end will come has given the creators of Lost the freedom to start resolving things quickly and satisfactorily. It shows in the confidence of the crescendo of amazing episodes ending Season 3, culminating with what was arguable the best single TV episode of the year, the mind blowing finale. I feel utterly sorry for those who didn't hang on through the muddle of the beginning of Season 2 because the show quickly returned to form and is now as good if not better than it was when it debuted. 48 episodes remain, and I have a feeling they will encompass 48 of my favorite hours of the next 3 years.