2010 in Retrospect: TV I’ve Loved

I’ve watched a lot of TV this year.  I’ve been pleasantly surprised (Gwyneth Paltrow, funny? no way!) and disappointed (Lie to Me, I’m looking at you). I’ve been shocked by cancellations (no, not Stargate Universe!) as well as by renewals (really? Human Target? and please put The Office out of its misery).  But mostly I’ve loved.  Here are just 10 TV shows I particularly enjoyed this year.

Glee. Okay, so the Britney episode was kinda disappointing (all dream sequences? lame), but then the show surprised me with an unexpectedly funny turn from Gwyneth Paltrow (whom I was more than ready to hate), the whole Kurt plotline (I don’t care what other people say, I like it), and that GORGEOUS song Rachel sang to Finn (and made me cry buckets). As long they keep surprising me, I’ll keep watching.

Justified. Timothy Olyphant in a cowboy hat. And shirtless. ‘Nuff said.

Fringe. What started as an X-Files rip-off has turned into so much more. Unlike the X-Files, Fringe’s conspiracy theory actually makes sense (within the realm of the show of course). An alternative universe bent on our universe’s destruction is the cause for much of the weirdness – and it’s an alternate universe we actually get to see (and seems to be Vancouver), unlike X-Files‘ murky alien explantation that never really got explained. Plus the whole two Olivias plot line is genius. I’m so disappointed in you, Joshua Jackson! Couldn’t you tell the difference?

But now that Fringe has been moved to the Friday night “death spot” (see the now-gone Dollhouse and the recently axed Good Guys), I’m not sure what’ll become of my beloved show.

Modern Family. Baby cheesus. That is all.

The Walking Dead. I know a show is good if it gives me nightmares.  Also, I’ve learned that I would not survive two seconds in a zombie-infested post-apocalypse. Unless I start martial arts and archery training right now.

Sherlock. A really good modern retelling with excellent acting.  A small thing I love is how they show text messages. Instead of showing a phone with a overly huge screen and a message with overly huge letters that only your grandma would need, they show they text as a sort of thought cloud.  The same with Sherlock’s actual thoughts as he’s doing his deductive reasoning thingie.  Looking forward to more episodes.

Castle. Okay, I know the plotlines are really freaking stupid and convoluted, and I could definitely live without the smarmy father-daughter-family scenes they feel the need to insert into every episode, but I love a) Nathan Fillion, b) that he’s a writer, and c) that they have real-life mystery writers guest on the show as his poker buddies.  Plus I learned something!  That people murder for only three reasons: love, money, or to cover up another crime.

Hoarders. Along with Intervention, My Strange Addiction, and Celebrity Rehab, Hoarders is one of my guilty pleasures.  So what if every episode is basically the same?  Or that the hoarding “experts” always seem annoyed and surprised when the hoarder starts to slow down the un-hoarding process? Or that they don’t seem to have any techniques for the hoarders to deal with their anxiety? (Like instead of talking at them, telling them what they should be doing, maybe at least tell them to take a few deep breaths. Count to ten. Something.) This show never fails to shock me with the amount of stuff people can collect, and to make me very very glad that I’ve no trouble throwing things away.

Next train wreck show I can’t wait to watch: Animal Hoarders.  Meooowwwrrrr!

The Wire. A late discovery on my part, The Wire makes every other cop show look sucky. Detroit 187? Lame. CSI? Can you be any more ridiculous? Unless you have someone like Nathan Fillion or are hilarious like Good Guys, don’t even bother. There’s no way you can live up to The Wire.

Set in post-9/11 Baltimore, the show follows a ragtag group of detectives (or POE-leece, as they say) as they try to take down drug gangs that have infiltrated the inner city as well as deal with their own messy lives. But we get to know a lot more than just the detectives.  There are the drug lords, lieutenants, and muscle, who have awesome names like Avon Barksdale, Stringer Bell, Slim Charles, and Proposition Joe.  There are a group of school age boys who begin as innocent kids and end up very different.  There are the dock workers, and the newspaper women and men.  There’s Omar Little, a shotgun toting Robin Hood, and Bubbles, the homeless addict with a shopping cart full of wares.

We watched all five seasons this year, and so didn’t want it to end, we dragged out the last few episodes. But now it’s over! Boohoo.

Gunslinger Girl. Another late discovery.  This Japanese anime series set in, of all places, Italy, focuses on a group of “cyborg schoolgirls,” pubescent females brought back from the brink of death to be made into, literally, killing machines.  But while they expertly wield machine guns and machetes, they’re still young girls inside.  They’re insecure and want their handlers’ approval.  They get crushes and even get their periods.

By the way, if you think Gunslinger Girl sounds a lot like Dollhouse, you’re not alone. Just to set the record straight, the anime came out several years before Joss Whedon’s ill-fated show, and quite a few Gunslinger fans accused Whedon of ripping off the manga entirely.

There are many similarities: the gunslinger girls are docile and doll-like when not killing, they have handlers, they’re run by a secret agency. But there are just as many differences – the Dollhouse “dolls” are adult males and females, are prostitutes as well as assassins, and aren’t cyborgs – but it’s obvious Dollhouse was heavily inspired by Gunslinger, if not a complete ripoff.

Of course those aren’t all the shows.  I’m also looking forward to the return of House, Community, Archer, The League, Breaking Bad, Dexter, Boardwalk Empire, and more guilty pleasures, Ghost Hunters, Sanctuary, V, and Merlin.

Hmm, maybe a New Year resolution should be to watch less TV.



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