Whether you get it online, off air, or via cable and satellite, the assortment of TV programming has to be sorted. I have my particular tastes. I'm not a fan of the CSI-type shows and many sitcoms have become stale for me. Interesting and complicated stories with equally interesting and complicated characters are what fascinate me the most. Smart and snappy writing are really what turn me on. If those are things you like, here's a list you might enjoy.
Best TV Drama or Comedy Series
IN TREATMENT (HBO) - After seeing just a few episodes of Season Two by accident, I had to go back and watch all of Season One, which convinced me without question that this is currently the best drama series on TV. Irish actor Gabriel Byrne stars as Dr. Paul Weston, a psychotherapist who himself needs psychotherapy. Each episode focuses on one of Paul's patients; the entire series becoming a very probing character study. Season Two picks up with Paul practicing in Brooklyn after he lost his home office during the divorce. Paul has also been slapped with a lawsuit following the suicide of one of his patients. With co-stars Dianne Wiest, Glynn Turman, Hope Davis and John Mahoney, this is brilliant stuff!
DEXTER (SHOW) - This year's season doesn't start until October but Season Three, which aired late in 2008, was so remarkable that I had to include it on my list. Guest star Jimmy Smits played a corrupt prosecutor and the Robin to Dexter's Batman. The disappearance of a drug-dealer leads to the rampage of a new serial killer known as the Skinner, as well as new revelations in Dexter's private life. Since the cancellation of The Shield, this series stands as the best cop show on TV.
TRUE BLOOD (HBO) - Season Two just began this June but it's not too late to get into this vampire series that is so highly sexual. Based on a series of books much like Twilight, this show outpaces any other vampire story you've seen by making vampires not a secret but a part of everyday society. The writers cleverly use the notion of vampires to satirize in many ways bigotries and prejudices in our own world. Creator Alan Ball becomes a type of Alexander Swift making this Six Feet Under meets Interview with a Vampire the best guilty pleasure you'll see.
RESCUE ME (FX) - Season Five was delayed but fans were rewarded with a total of 22 episodes instead of the usual 13 of this comedic and part-dramatic look into the lives of a group of New York firefighters. A French journalist doing a book about 9/11 unearths some uneasy feelings within the firehouse. Denis Leary's Tommy Gavin falls off the wagon in his struggle with sobriety. Steven Pasquale who plays Sean Garrity is particularly outstanding this season as he deals with a serious disease. Also notable is Michael J. Fox who returns to TV playing a paraplegic with a capacity for long erections.
LOST (ABC) - Season Five of the mystery drama amped up the action, as well as the quasi-religious and sci-fi weirdness with a time travel paradox on top of a Jesus-like resurrection. We witnessed the Oceanic Six return to the island to learn their destiny or possibly destroy it.
THE OFFICE (NBC)- I wasn't that impressed with Season Five when it first started, but the storyline involving the Michael Scott Paper Company towards the end was so flipping fantastic that it proves why it's probably the funniest and most fun series on broadcast airwaves.
DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES (ABC) - Season Five jumped five years into the future, which gave the writers more room to play and experiment with new things, and in a sense make a new start. Needless to say, it worked! Yet, the appeal of the show still remained. Five strong women dealing with life, love and some crazy situations, it's just funny!
SCRUBS (ABC)- Season Eight felt like it was the final season, and if it was, the series would have ended on a high note. Now, there's word the show might not be cancelled. But, I defy anyone to watch the last episode of this season and think anything but goodbye.
BROTHERS & SISTERS (ABC)- Season Three saw the Walker family still dealing with the aftermath of its patriarch's infidelity. The writers were thrown a curveball when the trouble surrounding Balthazar Getty had to be handled. He was in effect written out of the show, banished to Mexico. Best moment of the year would have to be when Sally Field slapped him in the middle of dinner.
SMALLVILLE (CW) - I wondered how Season Eight would be, following the death of Lex Luthor. Luthor, as portrayed here, was by far the best TV villain one could ever hope for. He was evil but the way he was played never truly made you hate him, not until the bitter end and still at that point I was rooting for him. Post-Lex, however, has been fine. The show continues to be fun, clever, action-packed and emotionally on point.
Best TV Movie or Documentary
GREY GARDENS (HBO)
THE ORDER OF MYTHS (PBS)
GIFTED HANDS (TNT)
U PEOPLE (LOGO)
REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER (HBO) - Maher's episode on June 12, which included guest Larry King and an amazing diatribe bashing President Barack Obama was by far his best yet. The past month and a half have seen Maher criticizing Obama, but this episode saw a breaking point. He still retains his smart, libertarian views, but is only a step below Sean Hannity on his hammering of the President. His sketch about David Carradine's death may have been too soon but it was freakin' hilarious!
KATHY GRIFFIN: MY LIFE ON THE D-LIST (BRAVO) - Season Five of the now two-time Emmy winning series kicked off with Kathy spending the evening with Bette Midler. Besides being a fan, Kathy is campaigning for a Grammy after recording a comedy album. Kathy's like the female version of Johnny Drama. Her whole show is like Entourage, only gayer and with way more belly laughs.