Wednesday, January 21, 2009

My Favorite TV of 2008 (Part 1)

Dice's Favorite 10 TV Shows of 2008
(These are, in order, the 10 shows I enjoyed, respected, desired, and loved the most that aired new episodes in 2008.)

I'm a TV fan.  I say it unashamedly and with my full voice, "I LOVE TELEVISION!".   It just seems like we spend so much time apologizing for liking these tasty blocks of story that we miss the opportunity to really proclaim some of the amazing things that happen in "the little box"  Well, not any more!  You can have your high brow, theater going, elitist snobbery we call the movie industry, and I'll hang with the real people watching the weekly genius that was television in the year 2008.  Until next week, when I will be picking my favorite movies... but for now...

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 I just haven't seen it.

- These rankings are based on episodes that aired in 2008, so the last half of last season and the first half of this season in most cases.

Honorable Mentions:

(in alphabetical order)

Fringe - The more episodes of Fringe I see the more I am falling in love with this show.  It's still hard for me to shake the fact that it is about as blatant a copy of the X-Files as you could create.    But I loved the Files, and in turn I am learning to love JJ's new child as well.  I do have to say though, that if it weren't for John Noble's portrayal of half child, half genius, half loony Walter Bishop I would have given up on this show pretty quickly (yes, I realize I gave him three halves, he's just that good.)  I cherish almost every line that he emits, and keeps this otherwise heavy show from collapsing under it's own weight.

Jericho - Forgot about this one didn't you?  Jericho's final bow aired early this year and it was well worth the fight to make it happen.  Sure, the show still ended up in the trash pile (where it awaits a treasure collector network like Sci-Fi to find it and dust it off) but those final few episodes offered a great amount of closure and honor to a show that deserved it.  The final episode especially was full of wonder and grandeur that would not have happened if a bunch of nutty fans hadn't raided the Planter's factory and willed this show back into existence. 

The Simpsons - Now in it's 20th season The Simpsons continues to quietly go about it's business as one of the smartest and funniest shows of all time.  Keeping in mind the level of difficulty that comes with doing satire in an age where sarcasm seems to reign supreme, it's hard not to be impressed with the genius they churn out week after week.    Not only is this the longest running scripted comedy of all time, it has maintained the same voice cast for the entire 20 years.  The fact that it doesn't make my top 10 this year is not a sign of slippage, rather a sign of just how good TV has gotten recently.

Wipeout - See this is what I'm talking about.  Normally to admit you love a show like this you have to do a lot of hemming and hawwing and come up with excuses for having it on never delete status on the old Tivo.  Well, fear not fellow lover of slapstick and puns, today you can crawl out of the shadows and proclaim it, Wipeout is one of the best shows on TV!  Yeah, your right, that does sound a bit weird, but it is true.   Johns, Henson and Anderson, are perfect hosts to what is essentially just a tribute to "he fall down, go boom".  The genius is found in how the show knows exactly what we want to see and doesn't spend time pretending that it's anything more than what it is.  This is America's Home Videos on steroids, or crack, or maybe crackroids, whatever it is, it's so fun to watch and I make no apologies for doing so.


Worst Week - Probably the toughest show to leave out of the top 10 for me.  There is no other show on TV like it, and it caught me completely off guard this season.  Kyle Bornheimer, who plays the always unlucky Sam, manages to sell the role with so much sincerity and charm that you can't help but root for him.  As the intricate, Rube Goldberg like plot progressions unfold you find yourself both laughing at the moment by moment insanity, and trying to solve the Three Stooges meets Sherlock Holmes mystery of comedic tragedy that is sure to come.   I would tell you to start watching this if you have missed it so far, except, of course, it appears as if the final surprise calamity of Worst Week is that it may have seen its last week.

#10 through #6 coming tomorrow...