Monday, December 28, 2009

Ten Years on TV: The 50 Best Seasons #50-41

Low Resolution celebrates the end of the Double-Oh decade with an enthusiastically biased take on the last ten years on TV. I've limited myself to one season per series, tried very hard to keep it to seasons that began and ended in the Aughts, and haven't included mini-series and TV movies, but for two extremely worthy exceptions. Enjoy!

Honorable Mention: Dollhouse, Seasons 1-2 (FOX, 2008-09). It didn't seem fair to flaunt the rules and combine two seasons into one, but considering all the administrative hoo-hah involved in dragging twenty-six episodes across the finish line -- and more importantly, how insanely into the show I am, at present -- I figure I can make an exception.

#50. Campus Ladies, Season 1 (Oxygen, 2006)
This totally overlooked comedy from Grounlings alums Christen Sussin and Carrie Aizley held it down on Oxygen back when that channel was just Oprah: After the Show running several times a day. I have no idea why this didn't get more love -- it's not even on DVD!
Top Episode: "All Nighter," where adult college students Joan and Barrie join their friends on a chemically-induced study binge.

#49. Everwood, Season 3 (WB, 2004-05)
Few shows this decade have been easier to love than this show about big-city surgeon Treat Williams, who lost his wife, moved his family to a mountain town in Colorado, and grew an awesome beard. Greg Berlanti earned a lifetime of love, and Ephram Brown and Amy Abbott became the teen romance to which all others will be compared. Season 3 beat out the other seasons mostly because it successfully integrated two new characters (nerdy Hannah and played-by-Scott-Wolf Jake) and because it didn't feature Amy Abbott's Bangs of Sadness nor eyebrowsy boyfriend.
Top Episode: "Foreverwood" (it's not Season 3, but it's one of the best series finales ever, so I'm cheating)

#48. The Mole, Season 1 (ABC, 2001)
I maintain that Anderson Cooper would not have become the darling of America the way he is today if not for his superb job hosting The Mole. Watching this show was the total inverse of watching other reality shows, where you always know better than the idiots onscreen and can judge them accordingly. With The Mole, we were as in the dark as anyone.
Top Episode: The finale, in which the one person I KNEW wasn't the Mole turned out to be the Mole.

#47. Big Brother, Season 3 (CBS, 2002)
Choosing which season of this summer guilty pleasure was incredibly easy. The third season was packed with heroes and villains (Jason! Josh!), the odd Southern sewing circle that was Marcellas and Amy, and the bulldozing strategy of Danielle, my favorite BB player of ever.

Click below for #s 46-41...

#46. Kings, Season 1 (NBC, 2009)
A total one-season wonder that was dead by the time the second episode even aired. Props to NBC for at least airing the full first season, I guess, but damned if I wouldn't have loved to see this get a chance to catch on. Ian McShane gave a performance that, while it didn't make us forget Al Swearengen, it stood on its own. And I maintain that Sebastian Stan gave a total breakthrough performance as Prince Jack.
Top Episode: "The Sabbath Queen" -- a citywide blackout brings secrets to light

#45. Top Chef, Season 1 (Bravo, 2006)
Watched the whole thing in one day when I was laid up with the flu. I was immediately hooked and possessed with the desire to smack Stephen, cook a scallop, and wave my hand in front of Katie Lee Joel's face to see if it registered.
Top Episode: "Restaurant Wars," which started a tradition, and with good reason; it also produced Dave's "I'm not your bitch, bitch!" which: a) not as great of a catch phrase as Bravo wanted it to be, and b) Dave was most definitely Tiffani's bitch.

#44. John From Cincinnati, Season 1 (HBO, 2007)
Few people watched this impenetrable series from David Milch, and even fewer enjoyed it, but while I couldn't really explain what it was all about, I can tell you the dialogue was gorgeous and the performances from actors like Ed O'Neill, Brian Van Holt, Austin Nichols, and Rebecca DeMornay burned brightly.
Top Episode: "His Visit, Day Five," which included John's Great Speech About His Father, which was the closest I ever came to seeing the whole board.

#43. Grey's Anatomy, Season 2 (ABC, 2005-06)
The show's caught a lot of shit since this season, partly due to a drop in quality and partly due to how much fun it is to knock down pop culture that's wildly popular with women. But even while backstage scandals were blowing up, Grey's was on fire, with affecting contained plots bolstered by strong, interconnected characters, and the propulsive performances of Chandra Wilson, Sandra Oh, and Sara Ramirez.
Top Episode: "It's the End of the World," the Super Bowl episode where Christina Ricci showed up as a paramedic with her hand on a bomb.

#42. Carnivale, Season 1 (HBO, 2003)
Critics got caught up in the weirdness and the opaque master plot, but it boiled down to the same thing Lost keeps circling around to: a creature of light and a creature of darkness, marshaling forces for a clash many long years in the making. That Carnivale built on that with a story of Depression-era freaks and geeks (literally), and one frighteningly driven preacher just speaks more in its favor.
Top Episode: "Babylon," where carny justice was meted out in a ghostly shell of a town.

#41. 24, Season 2 (FOX, 2002-03)
I know everybody hated the cougar storyline, but I was really into the various tangents in Season 2, including the Sarah Wynter "My brother-in-law is probs a terrorist" arc, and Sherry Palmer's weird connection to it all. S2 gets the edge, ultimately, because it traded the lull at the center of Season 1 for a series of unfolding twists and turns (and, yes, Kevin Dillon and a cougar).
Top Episode: "Day 2: 10:00 p.m. - 11:00 p.m." which saw George Mason (the underrated Xander Berkeley) heroically ride a nuclear bomb safely out to the desert.

Tomorrow, seasons 40-31


Brook Brooks said...

A hundred YES' to Season 2 of Grey's Anatomy. The season where Sandra Oh deserved an Emmy. (I like to pretend her moment at the end of Season 3 was at the end of this season.) And even Katherine Heigl, who I'm off and on about, had a few great moments near the end.

Stephanie said...

Oh, Everwood! I wish that show would hurry up and get into syndication - or at the very least a full DVD release. "Foreverwood" made me cry like a little girl - c'mon, Delia finally got her horse!

Lester Freamon said...

WTF on 24 Season 2? Or any even season for that matter? That season sucked after they blew up the bomb. I'd go with Season 1. The midseason lull only lasted three or four episodes, not the entire back half of the season.

Jeff Long said...

Season 3 Big Brother-- I was in Bye, Bye Birdie in high school with Jason. Nothing to see here.

Joe Reid said...

Jeff, how long have we known each other? And I'm hearing about this now?

Jen said...

Thanks for mentioning John From Cincinnati. I loved it dearly, and every time I say so in public I get stared at like I'm levitating.

Sasha said...

Good golly moses, I am so happy to see Campus Ladies on here - I loved that show. Meestair Drew!