In the grand tradition of end-of-year “best of” lists, here’s my list of the top ten shows of 2009:
I had almost written this series off in its fourth season, but it has made a brilliant comeback. I’ll miss Jennifer Morrison, but the writing has been as crisp and clever as you’re likely to find on a network TV drama.
2. “Top Gear“
I love everything about this show, except that (since I don’t pay for cable and don’t live in the UK) I have to pay to watch it. The challenges, each a spontaneous road-movie to prove a point that didn’t need to be proven, are my favorite parts of the show. Jeremy, James, and Richard make me laugh.
I don’t know if it is fair to judge the new season on the first five episodes, since they feature a lot of the former cast members who won’t be on the show after the sixth episode, but the finale of the eighth season was outstanding, as was the two-parter in the Bahamas.
Word that this series has already been scrubbed (they’re allowed to produce only 16 episodes this season) makes me sad. Perhaps ABC, which seems to have no problem rescuing shows from other networks, might consider picking this one up?
5. “The Late Late Show“
Craig Ferguson grew into the role of talk show host (check out clips of the early seasons of the show if you don’t believe me). Like the fourth season of “House,” I was not optimistic about Ferguson’s future, but his timing and ability to tell a story have both improved. The puppets make me laugh too. My one piece of constructive criticism is that I’d like to see each episode shot in sequence… no pretaping segments.
Another show slated to go off the air, this show went from being a bland procedural with an underrated cast to a better-than-average procedural with a underrated cast. It is as good as formulaic television is likely to get.
7. “Defying Gravity“
I wrote about this show already. Suffice it to say, this was a fun summer series that just didn’t attract a big enough audience, which is a shame because it was enjoyable to watch. Cool special effects, decent acting, and compelling drama set this show apart from SGU, another soap opera set in space. Looking forward to one day seeing the handful of episodes produced-but-not-aired on ABC.
8. “White Collar“
I’ve already written about this series, too. It is a buddy-cop show in the tradition of “I Spy” or “Hunter.” USA did a good job putting this on the air, and I hope they can nurture the series the way they did with “Monk” and “Psych.”
9. “The Office“
The level of humor contained in each episode of this show is consistent, which isn’t easy after all the years it has been on the air. And, as much as I enjoy watching the show, I’m looking forward to the day they are allowed to wrap up the series, because I think the cast and crew will do a good job of saying goodbye to the characters of Dunder-Mifflin.
10. “The Colbert Report“
It was a toss up between this show and Jon Stewart’s for the number ten spot. In the end, I’m giving it to Stephen Colbert because he deserves credit for carrying the show on his shoulders. Granted, he has writers to help him, but he is the on-air talent for the show, and he maintains a persona by himself and during interview segments. The comedy is sharp and the concept is wonderfully executed.
Honerable Mentions (if for no other reason than this is really the sum total of what I watch on television):
“The Daily Show”
“The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien”
“Lie To Me”