[NOTE: Edited to include 30 Rock.]
A bit late on this, but it's worth discussing regardless. In addition to this list, I've also been catching up on RuPaul's Drag Race, which is maybe the best thing I've seen on TV since The Paper. I wasn't able to fully catch up in time for last night's finale (though I know who the finalists were and who won), but once I do, I should get a post up here. So many wonderful things happening on that show.
Brothers & Sisters (3/22)
It's weird -- I'm still annoyed by it, but I'm more interested now. I think I'm happier following inconsistent writing where Ryan keeps sticking it to Justin and Tommy's a felonious schmuck than inconsistent writing where Holly is demonized and Robert gets to be an asshole with impunity.
I've really enjoyed the first two episodes. Ian McShane is, predictably superb, and he's playing a morally ambivalent character, which is right in his Al Swearengen wheelhouse. I think the operatic tone works for a show like this, and I'm intrigued by Gossip Girl's Sebastian Stan playing, essentially, a gay Chuck Bass. Imagine the implications of that. Here's hoping we can get a full season before NBC pulls the plug.
Big Love (3/22)
Now that it's the last HBO drama standing, is this the year Big Love makes the Emmy leap? It'd totally deserve it. What a fantastic season of television, wrapping up with Nicki's return to the fold (and, equally important, Barb's welcoming her back) and Bill's frankly beautiful decision to start his own church. Sure, there's a good chance next season Bill lets that whole self-made-prophet thing go to his head, but for now, this is where I'd hoped the Henricksons would wind up. With their respective religions failing to meet their needs, they settled into their own. That's exactly right.
Battlestar Galactica (3/20)
I can recognize some of the problems people had with the episode -- often when going for portent, the episode settled for bad writing -- but with action scenes that superior, that awesome shot of the Final Five at the end of the Opera House sequence, Boomer's tragic end, Adama's goodbyes to Kara and Lee, and that Roslin/Cottle scene, I ended up quite satisfied with the show ending on its own terms. God, the angels, and all. The one thing that truly didn't sit well with me was The Bad Death of Tory Foster. An undignified end for an underwritten character, and it played way too much like an applause scene for my taste. For a show that has respected the humanity of such scumbags and mosters as Gaius Baltar, Tom Zarek, and Admiral Cain, it felt ... I don't know, cheap.
30 Rock (3/19)
Best episode of the season, give or take the Oprah one. The "bubble" storyline was Seinfeldian in the way it heightened a very realistic social phenomenon, and Tracy's subplot was super strong, but it was the numerous quotable moments that really pushed it over the top. Liz breaking out the Baldwin voice, Dot Com once again being the smartest person in the room, the true meaning of BFF ("why would you celebrate that?"), Jon Hamm shaking Liz to keep her from choking (nice callback to season 1 there), "My girl has a fat neck," and most especially (see clips below) Kenneth's accent and Tracy's kids. Maybe the funniest half hour all TV season.
The Office (3/19)
Good seeing Michael stand up for himself, even if what he's standing up for is his right to be egregious. Even better seeing Jim get taken down several pegs; I love the character of Jim, but he needs to get checked every few episodes. I like that there's an actually respectable character (Idris "I still haven't seen The Wire but I do realize he played Stringer Bell" Elba, who was excellent) who doesn't like Jim.
Make Me a Supermodel (3/18)
Once again, happy to have Gabe stick around despite his poor performance. Keep walking around in your undies and we'll be cool, pouty-boy. So Jonathan's my favorite because he's the best, Brandon's my favorite because he's so dumb and because they're turning him gay, Salome's my favorite because she doesn't know anything, but actually my real favorite is Kerryn because she is awesome. And because she has very real intentions on taking Colin's virtue.
Even more so than with the last episode, I am shocked by how much I really love the Sawyer character. I never, EVER thought that would happen. Chalk it up to seeing a petty, angry, stupid boy actually mature and evolve into a confident, thoughtful, decent man. I'm going to end up terribly annoyed by it all because clearly he's going to end up back with Kate, but for now? Watching him completely embarrass Jack and show him who's in charge, quietly and without overt bravado? I could watch that twice a day for the rest of my life.