It is the end of the year and the end of the decade. For some of you, it will be a time of sitting down to family dinners, exchanging gifts, and creating memories for the photo album. For the rest of us -- you know who you are -- it means that the top ten list of 2009 and the '00s is coming out.
Being an ever faithful follower to "Best And Worst Of Lists", I present my offering to the top-ten gods and hope that the top ten shows of the decade and of 2009 are to their, er, your liking. It's been a hell of a year and a crazy decade, but it was never dull.
This is what the static put before your eyes.
Best Television Of 2009
It had a strong start, then dipped a little, only to bring itself back on track. Each week the episodes get better and more creative, as well as produced more out loud laughs rather than internal chuckles. Joel McHale proved his snark is applicable to much more than reality television analysis.
It has already been lamented that this series had its head chopped off too soon, but for those of us who watched, the 13 episodes live on as a great one-season wonder. When is the next time Deadwood, Oz, and The Wire will combined their cast and get such great results? Remains to be seen.
8) The Office, Season Five, Spring
By far, this has been the American version's strongest, most creative season since it gained popularity almost four years ago. The double-episode story arch of "Lecture Circuit, Part I and Part II" reminded us that the work environment is still a funny, frustrating, and an ultimately redeemable place to spend your 9-5.
Nothing like a major change up to really get the blood flowing. Can we all agree to forget about season six and just let Jack Bauer move on as if nothing happened? Taking the show to Washington, D.C., bringing on new characters (including Cherry Jones, the best President since David Palmer), and including an old villain, the power-hour felt as fresh as ever.
6) Modern Family
Who would have thought it could be so funny? So unique? So touching? From the pilot where we learn about the family ties that bond to the moment where every member, sans Lily the baby, jump into a pool, this show has been a pleasure for the eyes and the ears. It knows just how to balance physical and thoughtful humor with the right amount of poignancy. Gotta love your family.
5) Parks and Recreation
Most improved show of the year? That's an understatement. What Amy Pohler's mockumentary proved was that you can tweek an old formula and still make it awesome. Bravo, too, for the casting, which seems to have no weak link and only continues to make us laugh at the absurdity of local government.
4) Mad Men
Yes, it was bi-polar there for a little while, but after a few episodes, the Emmy favorite proved it finally had chops that could live up to the hype. Don Draper changed more times than Peter Sellers in Dr. Strangelove and it is a good thing -- the strong silent type could only go so far. Aside from the episode where Betty gave birth, the ad execs from Sterling-Cooper and their long suffering families gave us some of their finest moments yet.
3) Big Love
It was the year that everything changed and the polygamist favorite took risks like never before. Killing off the long-time antagonist, ex-communitcating the good wife, and a trip to Navoo, IL. barely scratches the surface of how good the Henrickson clan were this year. Oh, and what about that fourth wife drama? Stellar.
2) Battlestar Galactica
Frak you, to all those who still laugh at us! Try as you might, it is hard not to adore a show that took us to the farthest, emotional depths of the galaxy, only to bring us full circle in one of the best series finales in the history of television. From the Cylon rebellion to the discovery of Earth, the crew of the Galactica pulled on our heart strings and made us cry. Name another toaster that can do that.
1) Friday Night Lights
The football drama that's not about football reinvented itself episode after episode, yet never felt like it was reaching to give us the goods. Coach and Principal Taylor remain the best married couple on television and don't even get started about Jason Streak and Smash William's exits because it will just bring a flood of tears to our eyes (and tough guys don't cry). For the town of Dillion, bravo on a season well done. Clear eyes, full heart, and they did not lose.
Best Television Of 2000-2009
10) Six Feet Under
The Fischer clan might have not always made a lot of sense in their actions and the stories might have gotten a little jumbled, but when it was dead-on, it was brilliant. A beautiful mix of family drama, black comedy, and what exactly happens after life. Also, to date, it is the best series finale ever.
9) Veronica Mars
Kristen Bell's teenage detective in Neptune, CA was a different take on not only the teen drama, but a twist on the noir genre as well. With each episode there was this looming tension that was never forced, yet always effective. Combined with a great cast and overarching plot themes for each season, Veronica Mars was the best sleuth on television who didn't hang out in the dingy bars, drinking her troubles away.
8) Rescue Me
Could there be a more defining moment of the past ten years than the September 11, 2001 attacks? For Tommy Gavin and his crew of firefighters, the answer was "no, and pass the whiskey." Call it "PTSD -- The Television Show" with the darkest humor seen on the tube. Denis Leary's pitch black comedy often made us laugh, but when the chuckles died down, all we could do was feel haunted.
7) The Chappelle Show
Two great seasons and a heaping of leftovers produced some of the most original and daring sketch comedy for an audience that didn't know what hit them. Nor did Dave. The stand-up artist didn't quite know exactly what to do when everyone in the world was quoting Rick James and Lil' John -- it was too brilliant even for the comedy genius who invented it in the first place.
6) The Shield
Good cop, bad cop? How about bad cop, worst cop. Vic Mackey and the Strike Team got deeper and deeper into trouble with each passing season and with their sins of the past came nail-biting tension as the streets of Los Angeles eventually turned on one man. Violent and complex only touch the surface of this character study about good intensions gone a rye with power.
It might not cut perfectly every episode and the voice-over still slows it down, but the serial killer you can't help but root for remains one of the most entertaining and unpredictable shows out there. Honestly, can you see any of the twists and turns that have come to Dexter Morgan and Co. over the last four seasons? With each plot's reversal, the Miami slasher peeled back layers of himself to reveal his humanity and we got to be he dark passenger for it all.
4) Flight Of The Conchords
One season of nearly perfect episodes followed by a so-so follow-up season, but it was great while it lasted. Bret and Jermaine nearly perfected deadpan comedy combined with r&b/rock/rap/pop/reggae send ups that are still hilarious after a thousand listens. We all get one suga lump to call our own and for me, it is New Zealand's fourth most popular folk-parody duo.
3) Arrested Development
They Bluths were the funniest and most original family of the decade. You've probably heard it enough by now where it all just sounds like Bob Loblaw, but it is the truth. If you missed it, you made a huge mistake, but luckily for you, all of us who did watch the three brilliant seasons will make sure that your Featherbottom is glued to the couch until you pass out from laughing.
2) The Sopranos
It started in 1999, yes, however Tony and the Family came alive to pretty much define a decade of television. It was now a good thing to be smart, complex, original, dark, and funny all in the same show, as well as take creative risks with real characters. Despite what you thought of the final curtain call, both families showed that no matter who you are -- mafioso don or suburban father -- the line between good and bad will be fascinating to watch.
1) The Wire
Another broken record that 'Bubs would sell you, but it spit the truth: all five seasons of Baltimore's cityscape of drugs made television important. Nobody watched it, which only added to the fact that the issues explored on the Dickensian-esque series are further being ignored by our country and its leaders. Yet, among all the ugliness, a few good souls are doing what they can, even though they are aware that defeat will be the most likely of all outcomes. From the projects to the docks to the streets to the classroom and finally to the newspaper, David Simon's love/hate song to a dying American City was the best thing on television in the last ten years.