Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A "Your List Sucks!" Special: State Of TV

We're in a pop culture dead zone with a bunch of crappy movies and the next TV show to premiere that I love, Mad Men, doesn't return until July 25. Add on that I didn't get home until very late tonight and you have a brief post on my favorite current shows.

Top 5 Funniest Comedies:

  • 5. How I Met Your Mother: It's cheesy, but the show built its characters well enough that you can wade through the cheese to get to the funny stuff. I just wish they had not spent so much time early in the show's run on the frame story that is now feeling more and more like a blockage to the good stuff as we wonder when the Ted story will go anywhere.

  • 4. 30 Rock: A year ago, I'd put this at a strong #2, but it had a very rough season. The "real America" jokes at the beginning of the year went on too long with the same punchlines and it never quite found its rhythm until the fantastic season finale. I can't tell which was my favorite line: Matt Damon's "Sure, I'm a doorman... to the sky!"; Matt Damon's description of "Sky Law;" or the "' There's only one Wesley Snipes!' 'You know there isn't!'" exchange. Probably Sky Law.

  • 3. Community: A freshman show that hit the right notes for me and my love of pop culture. Tons of random references and good character interplay that set up the great last scene. Of course, the fact that it essentially had dual season finales didn't quite work, but the third to last episode with the paintball battle was classic.

  • 2. Party Down: What if I told you there was a show brought to you by a collaboration of the groups that did The State, Freaks and Geeks, and the Christopher Guest movies? Is that something you might be interested in? I'm on this way late, having finished the first season last night (it's on the second season now), but it is really freaking funny. This gets #2 on the strength of the theory that uncensored is inherently funnier than censored and Party Down being on cable (you can watch any episode if you have Netflix, though) lets them play with curse words and drug/sexual situations. I'm thinking about watching Parks and Recreation since this show's star, Adam Scott, is joining that cast. I've also heard that Parks and Recreation is really good to begin with, so we'll see.

  • 1. Curb Your Enthusiasm: The undisputed champion. Someone asked TV critic Alan Sepinwall how, with a new season on the way, Larry David could top the Seinfeld reunion. Sepinwall's response: "How could he top Larry and the Blacks?" Larry will find a way.

Top 5 Most Compelling Dramas:

  • 5. 90210: Yep, #5 because Human Target isn't exceptionally compelling (it's just good) and I'm not confident that Grey's Anatomy can live up to it's great finale. The 90210 finale was devestating, with revelations of manslaughter and robbery, drunk driving, and a student being raped by a teacher in the final scene. And it's developed by the same guy who co-developed Party Down? Weird.

  • 4. House: Great season finale, continues to be a great show with one of the three most intriguing characters on TV (the other two being in shows #3 and #1).

  • 3. Dexter: Last year's season finale was just about the biggest shocker ever and it has a lot of room to grow from there. Some of the side actors have come into their own, but it's all about the centerpiece of the show.

  • 2. Treme: Already at #2. Yes, David Simon is that good. It's not The Wire -- nothing is -- but it's tragic and funny and beautiful, and the music is sick.

  • 1. Mad Men: The season premiere is July 25. Shouldn't be a surprise that my top three shows are on cable, considering the leeway they have in terms of building theme and a slower, more artistic structure. No other show does it better than this one.

Top 5 Favorite Current Shows:

  • 5. Dexter

  • 4. Treme

  • 3. Mad Men

  • 2. Curb Your Enthusiasm

  • 1. Survivor: I've written about the other ones and I don't think I need to write much about this one. It premiered on TV ten years ago yesterday. How much has TV changed in that decade? I'd trace most of those changes to two shows: The Sopranos and Survivor.

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