Before we begin today, I just want to announce a couple of things.
* The winner of the December contest on my main site is Marcia Luongo! Congrats, Marcia, and I hope the prizes provide lots of amusement. :)
* Over at Gena Showalter's blog, she gives a shout out to NIGHT RISING. She provided an advanced quote for it, and she's telling people to read my book. How cool is that? I'm looking forward to her upcoming THE NYMPH KING since she writes such hot, creative fantasies. If you haven't tried Gena's work (and you might be able to since I'm giving away one of her books this month), you'll want to grab a copy.
Now, for the main event: I told you all that I'd get to this soon enough, and here it is--not that the fate of the world rests on my opinion or anything, but it's just fun to make these lists. And I'm telling you, once I got down to it, it was tough to keep this list to ten shows. Feel free to chime in with your own favorites!
Top 10 TV Shows of 2006 According to Me, Me, Me
10. 24 (Fox)
Being stressed out while watching a show has never been so fun. It's true that some of the action is contrived at times, but I can't say that this bothers me much--I'm too busy being entertained while watching Jack Bauer pull his balls-out save-the-world heroics. I love that even my most cherished characters might not make it out of any given episode alive. And Jean Smart? Was awesome.
9. ENTOURAGE (HBO)
The first season, I wasn't that into it. The second? Ah, that's where my love for Vincent and his posse flowered, and it went from there. The Hollywood in-jokes are hilarious (Jake Gyllenhaal is tapped to replace Vinnie in AQUAMAN--how great was that?) and the boys have not only developed a real bond with each other, but with their audience, as well. Johnny Drama kills me.
8. ROME (HBO)
This program started out as an interesting historical curiosity for me. But when it picked up steam--oooo, damn--it picked up steam. The assassination finale was some of the finest TV I've experienced, with a heartwrenching take on the famous "Et tu, Brute?" line. The subplots were equally tragic, giving the brilliant actors plenty to chew on. And who knew I'd be so into two mismatched Roman soldiers, the C3P0 and R2D2 of Caesarean times? Can't wait for this one to start up again.
7. DEADWOOD (HBO)
This is not a show to casually pick up every once in a while or to watch while you're doing anything more taxing than eating dinner. It takes that much concentration and loyalty, because the plots are thick with details and gilded-yet-gritty dialogue. This year--as George Hearst attempted his takeover--we saw some of the most intense and oddly beautiful moments of the series, complete with scenes like the children walking down the thoroughfare hand in hand while a war simmered on the sidelines. Also, this season gave most characters a chance to connect with the audience while Deadwood finally gelled into a true community. Too bad there'll only be a couple of movies to tie up the season's loose ends, and that's all we'll get. Sad but true.
6. HEROES (NBC)
The sixth position on my list seems low for this one, but there are so many other programs I love that this was a brutal competition. The only reason this isn't higher is that I'm too anxious for the heroes to finally come together, and that's frustrating, even though the anticipation itself is quite fun. But the characters (Hiro, Peter, Jessica!) are really compelling, and we've got the best cliffhangers on TV right now, followed only by LOST. My only concern is that HEROES is going the X-FILES route and setting us up for a mythology crash because the writers have no idea what the heck is coming next. But I'll keep the faith, friends, and I'll watch them save that cheerleader.
5. ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT (Fox)
I just might cry right here....
Okay, better now, but still bitter. It's too bad that this series either didn't appeal to the masses or was so buried by Fox's ever-changing scheduling that it never got the ratings it deserved. Each episode guaranteed at least seven belly laughs for me. Motherboy? Good heavens, even that word sends me into fits of giggles.
RIP, ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT. You lightened up many a half hour for me.
4. VERONICA MARS (The CW)
Here's another show that's floating somewhere in the ether of "fine unwatched TV." Luckily, I hear the ratings have been up recently, and that The CW put in an order for the full twenty episodes. Sweet! You've seen my blogs about VM before, so you know the basics: smarty girl detective graduates and goes to college, cracking her way through mysteries and life. VM's writing is twisty and clever, and the "beach noir" vibe is appealing. Please watch.
3. THE OFFICE (NBC)
Holy moly. So, first of all, there was last season's finale and THAT KISS. I am still swooning from Jim and Pam's liplock. But leave it to THE OFFICE to present a new season in which there's not only a barrier to Jim and Pam's soulmate-ness, but you actually have to like that barrier! Karen is fun and warm and smart--she's Pam in better outfits and you can't despise her for being Jim's reason for not getting hurt by Pam again. And lest I forget about everything else going on in Dunder and Mifflin... Like ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT, this show provides constant crack ups. It's at its best when Michael is being wildly, cluelessly politically incorrect, but how can you possibly dislike a guy who wore a sad business suit as a child?
2. DEXTER (Showtime)
Unless you've watched this show about a sympathetic serial killer, you wouldn't get its appeal. Dexter is a complex sociopath who, long ago, learned to divert his homicidal tendencies--instead of killing good people, he goes after bad ones. He "takes out the trash," and this series is all about his struggles to cope in a world that demands more humanity out of a person, even as it demeans them. Lots of twists and turns satisfy the viewers' popcorn urges, too, but even the revelation of the Ice Truck Killer's identity led to more questions for Dexter himself. Season two can't come fast enough.
1. BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (Sci-Fi Channel)
This program has everything: action and adventure, romance, otherworldly encounters as our "heroes"--the last surviving humans--search for a new home in Earth. All the while, the "evil" Cylons are racing to get there, too, while wreaking destruction on the humans. The thing is, BG does all of this on a deeper level, making the audience consider philosophical and moral questions at the same moment. There's a lot of dark ambiguity because, at times, the Cylons have more human qualities than the humans themselves. Characters make some very bad choices, and it's fascinating to watch the fallout. And this is the show that made me cry at least twice so far this season. If you watch it, you know exactly what I'm talking about (hint: Tigh's last moments with Ellen, Starbuck and Apollo's boxing match). BG more often than not absolutely blows me away in every respect.
So there it is. Again, it was a challenge to put this list together, because I had many other shows I wanted to mention. Here are some runners up:
LOST, SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE, GREY'S ANATOMY, TOP CHEF, DANCING WITH THE STARS, UGLY BETTY, PROJECT RUNWAY. Including all of these would be cheating, because the point is to make hard choices.
Here's to a new year of great entertainment, you all. :)