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December 9th, 2009

EW's 10 Best TV Shows of the Decade [Dec. 9th, 2009|11:47 am]
International Bon Vivant and Raconteur
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Over at EW.com, Entertainment Weekly is doing their "best of the decade" shtik, covering the best entertainers, movies, music, books, etc., of 1999-2009. Of course, me being the TV Nerd, I immediately went to see what their picks for the ten best TV shows were. Here is EW's list, with my own commentary thrown in:

10. The Comeback (2005) I was never a huge fan of this Lisa Kudrow comedy on HBO, but I did enjoy it on a social-satire level, the way it poked fun at the idea of celebrity and reality TV shows. Kudrow showed a great deal of chops, though, proving definitively that she's capable of much more than flighty Phoebe on Friends.

9. Gilmore Girls (2000-2007) Never saw it.

8. The Shield (2002-2008) I didn't watched this one either, but it's been recommended to me by just about everyone I know. Maybe someday, when I have the time, I'll sit down for a Shield marathon.

7. The Office (UK version, 2001-2003) Absolutely brilliant television. Ricky Gervais is a genius (I also liked his short-lived HBO series Extras). However, I've said it before and I'll say it again: the US version of The Office has surpassed the UK original in my estimation. Half of this is because it's had time to grow and form its own identity independent of the seed Gervais planted. And half of this is entirely due to Rainn Wilson's Dwight Schrute, a sitcom character so brilliantly conceived and portrayed that I believe he belongs in the annals of history alongside Kramer, Mork and Archie Bunker.

6. The Wire (2002-2008) I'm actually tempted to move The Wire all the way up to the #1 slot. It was that powerful, that well written and acted, and that iconic. There had never been anything quite like it before, and I doubt we'll ever see anything quite like it again.

5. Arrested Development (2003-2006) The best comedy of the decade, in my opinion. Maybe even the best comedy ever shown on television, not to mention being the series we can thank for introducing Michael Cera to the world. I'm only sorry it didn't catch on until after it was canceled and became a DVD phenom. I still can't hear the opening notes of Europe's "The Final Countdown" without thinking of Will Arnett's Gob.

4. American Idol (2002-present) Never watched it, it's just not my thing, but even I can't deny how immensely popular and influential this show is.

3. The Daily Show (1996-present) Absolutely! I never miss The Daily Show, even if it means I have to DVR it. Though, to be fair, I didn't actually start watching it until Jon Stewart took over for Craig Kilborn in 1999.

2. Lost (2004-present) There was a time when I would have scoffed at the inclusion of Lost on any best-of list--oh, around the time of seasons two and three, let's say--but now? Now I freaking love this show again, even more than I did when I first saw season one. I can't wait for this winter's final season!

1. The Sopranos (1999-2007) Oh my goodness, yes. One of the best dramas ever produced, in my opinion, and another series I never missed when it aired. Full of rich, complex characterization and emotional depth, this was hardly the TV version of Analyze This that so many, myself included, initially feared it would be. Instead, it gave us a whole new iconography, a veritable new cultural mythology. When you said Tony Soprano, everyone knew who you were talking about. Even the people who didn't watch the show.

EW's list isn't a bad one, actually (I fully expected it to be chock full of reality show nonsense). As it turns out, I regularly watched and enjoyed seven out of the ten shows they highlighted, and that's not a bad ratio. Still, there are a few omissions I would add to my own list, shows I'm surprised EW glossed over. Deadwood, Six Feet Under and Dexter spring to mind immediately. I would throw 30 Rock on there too, since I consider it the best TV comedy since Arrested Development, and the new Doctor Who, of course, but you knew I was going to say that.

What about you? Any TV shows you would add to the list?
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