Best TV Shows of 2008 - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Best TV Shows of 2008

Not only is this the best TV program of 2008, it ranks as the best dramatic series of the decade. Not only is this the best TV program of 2008, it ranks as the best dramatic series of the decade.

12/24/2008

This was a pretty lame year for television. Not a whole lot of new great shows, partly due to the writer's strike last winter. Of all the established shows, the really good stuff didn't come till September, if you discount the reality show garbage, and I do.

Thanks to my friends at Entertainment Weekly, we know that Knight Rider and Heroes can be counted as two of the worst series of the year. One is an empty remake, all style and no substance. The other tries to give tribute to comic book adventures but as an adventure itself just is continually a letdown.

Maybe it's just me, but a lot of shows to which I used to be dedicated are now ones I could care less about. Shows like House and The Office are programs I'd sooner brush off than save on my TiVo. But, it wasn't all a wash. There are some shows that I really couldn't get enough of this past season. For all of you who might be interested, here they are:

Best TV Shows

  1. THE SHIELD (FX)- Not only is this the best TV program of 2008, it ranks as the best dramatic series of the decade. In this, its long-delayed, seventh and final season, the makers prove how purposeful and satisfying a show can be from week to week. There was not a single episode that aired that did not having me salivating for what was to come next. The ending to which was perfect in more ways than I could have ever imagined. The show was gritty and brutal, the travails of a corrupt Los Angeles police officer, but it was so moving, so emotional that it gives me chills just thinking about it. The show was groundbreaking. It broke all the rules and established some new ones. This is a show that will be studied in years to come. I guarantee it.
  2. BROTHERS & SISTERS (ABC) - Led by one of the best actresses alive today, Sally Field is the matriarch of a family of constantly squabbling siblings. Almost every episode finds the lot of them coming together for various events, be it birthdays or weddings or holidays, but, it also finds the lot of them coming at each other. Arguments are a staple of the Walker family. But, with all the battles the family has without, in the end it only makes them stronger within, and in a TV landscape that's populated with murder and death, it's nice to have such a touching and powerful family drama.
  3. CHOCOLATE NEWS (Comedy Central) - David Alan Grier is like Keenan Ivory Wayans meets Jon Stewart. The show is really like In Living Color blended with The Daily Show. The show is completely outrageous, but it is the most hilarious thing you will ever see in your life. There really aren't that many shows that actually criticize and challenge black culture in such a direct way. Some might call it this year's The Dave Chappelle Show, but this is so much better.
  4. IT'S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA (FX) - Speaking of really funny shows. This over-the-top sitcom, so many far steps ahead of How I Met Your Mother is one of the shows you can just veg out for. The show is about a small group of friends who work at an Irish bar in Philly. Yes, they are totally ridiculous, but trust me they'll make you laugh. With guest star Danny Devito, this show certainly delivers.
  5. DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES (ABC) - The show hit a slump, but this season it made a strong comeback. It did something that was certainly unexpected. It jumped five years into the future. As gimmicky as that may sound, it was actually kind of brilliant. Regardless, this show is great and it always has been because of five main reasons. The five women who anchor this show are in a word, juicy. Even though her pratfalls aren't as numerous as they were, Teri Hatcher remains a kind of modern-day Lucille Ball. I love her!
  6. LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT (NBC) - This remains the only of the Dick Wolf franchises that I watch regularly. This show has been on for ten years. I really didn't start watching it until year 8, despite my parents' obsession over it. I didn't get it at first but now I do. The two lead characters on this show are really great, really intense, but really great, and this latest season that's been dealing more with their personal lives, including the aftermath of Olivia's rape, has made for some great moments. The really great moments also include the mini-debates in the police stations and the always-shocking twists in the courtrooms. It really is addictive.
  7. 30 ROCK (NBC) - No question. Tina Fey is the standout performer of the year, and luckily, the producers of her show were able to spin her breakout role as Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live into a serious ratings boast for her show, which in many ways spoofs the long-running sketch comedy show. She's first and foremost a great writer. She's smart and an unlikely star, and it's all because she churns out a great product.
  8. DEXTER (Showtime) - Who would have thought that a series about a serial killer could be so much fun? I was weary about this show at first, but now it's undeniably one of the best. It's not easy making a murderer likeable but somehow Michael C. Hall, who came off another great show Six Feet Under, pulls it off. He is some kind of genius.
  9. THE MENTALIST (CBS) - It's not just your run-of-the-mill cop show. It has the same appeal as House. You have a cock-sure investigator who's constantly annoying the people he works with when he does not impress them with his deductive abilities. Simon Baker stars as the mentalist, but just so you know, he's not a psychic.
  10. ELI STONE (ABC) - A lawyer has visions of George Michael and believes he may be a prophet. Sound strange? I thought so too, but this show is actually a great romance, while at the same time a great forum for tackling interesting and relevant social issues. Plus Loretta Divine and Victor Garber co-star, and they're always fantastic.

Best TV Movies

  1. RECOUNT (HBO) - One of the craziest presidental elections ever. Bush v. Gore in 2000 came to a head in the state of Florida where a massive recounting of the votes took place. This amazing film details the people and the events involved in the ground battle. Kevin Spacey stars in this eye-opener.
  2. AN AMERICAN CRIME (Showtime) - The real life court case is revealed in this story of domestic abuse and torture. Catherine Keener plays a mother who takes in a young girl who she feels like she has to punish, but that punishment goes way over the line.
  3. AUTISM: THE MUSICAL (HBO) - One of the best documentaries I've seen, this is a great and insightful look at parents dealing with autistic children.
  4. AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: WALT WHITMAN (PBS) - Another great documentary about the life and times of the poet who wrote one of my favorite books, "Leaves of Grass."
  5. DANTE'S INFERNO (Ovation) - This animated film features a great vocal cast and an interesting style of stop-motion animation. It focuses on a young man who visits the various layers of Hell, on a sort of bizarre walking tour. It's really funny.

Honorary Mention

  • THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW (MSNBC) - Finally, on Sept. 8, Rachel Maddow went from radio personality to bonafide TV star. Maddow is a liberal pundit who offers smart, funny, savvy analysis of daily news and political events every weeknight. She has a doctorate from Oxford University and is one sassy lesbian. I was anticipating her TV debut and then missed it. However, I watched and re-watched endlessly her campaign coverage, specifically her taking McCain's camp to task over bashing Obama for the "Lipstick on a pig" comment. Her lame duck watch of President Bush puts Jon Stewart's work to shame. Her coverage of the Blagojevich scandal has been stellar, when not hilarious. Her daily segment of "Ms. Information" on the under-reported, Holy Mackerel news stories is not to be missed, as well as the nifty pop culture contributions from her friend and former Air America co-worker, Kent Jones. This is great television!
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