Thursday, January 22, 2009

My Favorite TV of 2008 (Part 2)

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.)

Honorable Mentions:
(in alphabetical order)

On to the Top 10:

10. So You Think You Can Dance - The most legitimate competition show on television.   It outclasses Idol by a mile, and balances out the travesty that is America's Got Talent on the respectability continuum.    They accomplish this in many ways; rotating judges (who actually know their stuff), allowing professionals to participate, and only putting through contestants who are amazing at what they do (no sob stories or freaks make it through solely for entertainment value).  But the primary piece of genius that gives this show so much cred is that they keep us out of the final decision until the end.   We get to vote, but at the end of the day the judges (you know, those people who actually know a thing or two about this stuff) make the call.  It all comes together to create not only the most impressive talent show on TV, but genuine drama and intensity of competition. 

9. The Mentalist - The highest freshman show to make the list, this show captures my attention for it's light hearted approach to the typically dark and dreary world of the crime drama.   That and the wonderfully confident, yet nuanced, work of Simon Baker (yet another non American throwing on an American accent.) whose titular character is part Svengali and part Sherlock Holmes.  What is yet to be seen is if this conceit (of using mentalist gimmicks to solve crime) will be sustainable (a la CSI) or become quickly tedious (a la Numb3rs).   Only time will tell, but for now it's got me hypnotized.

8. Survivor - Both Gabon and Fans vs. Faves proved to be great seasons of the show that started the reality TV craze almost a decade ago.  Perhaps the key tool in the most incredible moments recently has been the hidden immunity idol.  The fact that players continue to find new ways to use and abuse this precious commodity is testament to both our ingenuity and naivete as a human race.  The show also continues to be an eye opening and sometimes even heart breaking look into human nature and how we treat each other.   This may be a show that has slid off your radar over the years, allow me to suggest you zone it back on.

7. Chuck - Zach Levi is the heart and sole of this show as the unassuming, sincere, and always in over his head Chuck.  The supporting cast is great, and I love the fact that the show refuses to take itself too seriously, but at the end of the day it's all about one man and his well intentioned bumbling into an accidental career as an uber spy.  This is pop entertainment pure and simple, just how I like it.
6. 30 Rock - There is certainly much ado about Tina Fey these days, and it's well deserved.   I've been on the Fey train for a while now (check last year's list for proof, as well as for evidence of my consistency in picks 8-6) and I think it's great that she is finally getting the press and awards.  However, 30 Rock has always been more about the cast of characters swirling around Liz Lemon than the Lemon herself, and that's what makes this show tick more than ever.   These guys are the very definition of the word ensemble cast, and it's a pleasure to watch them work each week.  I'm still mourning the loss of the other SNL inspired show "Studio 60", but at least we have this gang to enjoy for another year.