2010 my year in television

I get so annoyed by the TV naysayers.  There is an amazing amount of truly top-notch entertainment being created for television these days.  Sure, there’s a ton of crap, but lots of books are a ton of crap, too.  It’s a rare novel that offers as much in terms of thoughtful story and character development as a series like Mad Men or The Wire.  Anyway, I’ve watched a lot of TV this year (not all of it created this year) and I felt like my favorites deserved a shout-out.  In semi-meaningful order:

  • Mad Men.  Best Christmas present of 2009– my little sister gave me Mad Men Season 1 on DVD, which finally got me to start watching it. Simply brilliant.  I’m up through season 3 now (I’m planning on watching season 4 of my DVR next month).  I’m consistently amazed at just how smart this show is.  For a long time, I was thinking I would place it just below the Wire.  Now I consider it my co all-time favorite.  Bascially, as far as TV dramas go, I’d say there’s Mad Men, the Wire, and The Sopranos and then everything else.
  • 30 Rock.  Damn this show is funny.  Just the other day, David asked me, “how come some TV shows are so much better than the others?” My answer: “the writers.”  And Alec Baldwin :-).  I didn’t start watching this until season 2 and I’ve now caught most of Season 1 on Netflix.  So good.  My favorite TV quote of the year: Jack and Avery’s Christmas card: “Happy Holidays is what terrorists say.  Merry Christmas, Avery and Jack.”
  • Modern Family.  Along with 30 Rock, these two are completely in a class by themselves when it comes to intelligent comedy.  Ty Burrell’s Phil Dunphy ain’t quite Alec Baldwin, but its damn good.
  • Lost.  Didn’t miss an episode in the 6 season run.  Just pure entertainment.  I know the sci-fi aspects lost some, but as I love sci-fi, not an issue for me.  And what a crush I have on Matthew Fox :-).  The surprise ending at the end of Season 3, remains pretty much my personal favorite moment of TV ever.
  • Breaking Bad.  This show is really good and so gets the critical love.  I do really enjoy it, but it is so close to being truly outstanding, that it’s weaknesses really frustrate me.  This show is an amazing character study of a high school chemistry teacher (and his junkie partner) turned drug kingpins, but almost every episode there’s something so lazily written it might have come right out of CSI.  Still, better than 95% of what else is on TV.  Looking forward to hitting season 3 after I make it through Mad Men season 4.
  • HBO Sunday Night.  Loved Boardwalk Empire.  Amazing production values and acting and a fascinating time and place. This is what inspired me to finally learn more about Prohibition.  After a slow start, Bored to Death totally grew on me.  It just needed to embrace itself as absurdist farce.  Eastbound and Down was a bit of a let-down after the brilliant season 1, but still had some terrific moments.
  • Last, some disappointments.  I started out as a big Glee fan, but I feel that this show used up almost all its original creative energy in the first 10 episodes or so.  I had to give up on it early in the 2nd season.  Sure, the musical numbers are great, but that’s not enough.  The plots became silly and redundant.  And, the Office– oh, how the mighty have fallen.  More often than not, just boring.  It’s sad to see a show that was once so good, stick around long after all the creative juices have clearly been used up.


    About Steve Greene
    Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

    3 Responses to 2010 my year in television

    1. JeffBC94 says:

      Totally agree on modern family and the office. I feel like their arcs crossed paths at some point this year.
      Sadly I don’t watch anything else on your list. Do you guys watch parenthood? I feel like you would enjoy it.

    2. Kaye says:

      True Blood. Give it a try. Also, where is my credit for lending you season 2 and 3 of Mad Men?!?!

      • Steve Greene says:

        But Kaye, I would have never borrowed seasons 2 and 3 (thanks– your credit is here in the comments) if not for being jumpstarted with season 1. As for TruBlood… 1) Really not into that whole vampire season, and 2) watched the first episode and found it poorly written.

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