As we enter December and what passes for the 2009 television season draws to a close I’m struck by how awesome some shows have been this year. I’m struck by a number of other things, as well, but that’s another show…
My top picks of 2009, in no particular order…
Sons of Anarchy (FX)
SoA started off strong and only got better right up until the reaper graphic faded in to close out the season with this week’s 90-minute episode. Dramatic, well-acted, well-scripted and superbly well-written. It reminded me of the early episodes of the Shield – but better. The cast was simply electric week in and week out. Henry Rollins and Adam Arkin were great in their recurring guest roles – the play between them and the core cast seemed effortless. The true mark of a top-notch production team and gifted writers. If you haven’t given this show a chance assuming that “some crap about motorcycles” wouldn’t be great TV a) stop being stupid and b) OnDemand/NetFlix/whatever the first season. You won’t be disappointed.
Great writing, great dialog, great guest stars/cameos (that don’t feel contrived and idiotic ala Entourage) and tits. I just don’t know what to do with someone who doesn’t think that would be worth their time.
A staple of Showtime’s series line-up many said that it would be unwatchable once they passed the available source material. I’ve not read Lindsay’s novels, but I have to say that while a true adaptation might have been good, this season has proven to me that the show-runners DO have a solid vision and can make some quality TV without it being pre-fabbed 100% of the way. Julie Benz and Jennifer Carpenter both really stood out this season along with the phantabulous John Lithgow as the Trinity killer. He has a way about him when playing this character that was subtle, yet sinister, and frigthening to see. If he’s not in the running for a supporting/guest statue of some kind next year it will be an absolute crime.
Ocean’s Eleven (not the less good 12 and 13) as a TV series. Yes please? Tim Hutton, Gina Bellman (Coupling/BBC), Christian Kane and the rest of the crew fit together like some insane jigsaw puzzle. The weekly capers are fairly light in subject matter with an eye on excellent storytelling, sharp wit and fun taking the focus rather than suspense, titilation or melodrama.
Think The Mentalist, but funny. James Roday and Dulé Hill are hysterical. Even if the show was JUST them, it’d still be a must-watch. Add Timothy Omundson, Maggie Lawson and Corbin Bernsen to the mix and you may have to pause the DVR to avoid going wee-wee in your pants. Filled to the brim with pop culture references and a writing staff that appears unafraid to go off on a crazy tangent on even the slightest possibility that it will be funny you find yourself, week after week, with comedy gold. Much like Californication I can’t stop myself from smiling the entire length of any given episode. It’s just plain good fun.