06 March 2011

Good and Bad of 2010: Television

I watch a lot of television, and the following is simply my attempt at giving justly nods to deserving shows.

2011 promises to have plenty of interesting developments in the television world, and I can't wait to tally 'em all up and give the good/bad of this year. Until then, enjoy, and let me know your thoughts on any of the shows below or any that you watch and are not covered here. Cheers!

HOLY CRAP, I LIKE A PROCEDURAL


FX is the channel with some of the most interesting shows on television, and in 2010 they premiered their most recent effort. Based on the short story "Fire in the Hole" by Elmore Leonard, Justified saw the introduction of U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, as playing by Timothy Olyfantastic, an man with some real talent with a gun and not a fan of authority. Thanks to clever scripts and phenomenal screen presence of the principal cast and guest stars, this is a series that can't be missed and refuses to produce even a mediocre episode. There is a Case of the Week, as per any procedural, but it is the actors, the interactions and familiarities with all these characters, and the dialogue that make this show work. With Olyphant in the lead and three dimensional characters, Justified should now be on everyone's radar.

WHY THE FRAK DID YOU CANCEL THIS YOU BLOODY IDIOTS?


Caprica, Syfy Channel, 1 Season, 18 episodes

Further proof that the Syfy Channel is bloody stupid. In 2004, Ronald D. Moore took audiences by surprise with his re-imagining of the 1970s Battlestar Galactica series, making a show that was often considered a poor imitation of Star Wars into a show that tackled rough issues that didn't necessarily have answers against the backdrop of the last of humanity running from their own creations who intend to wipe them out. Bleak stuff. Earlier this year a prequel series aired, set 58 years before the events of the 2004 series, detailing the rise of Cylons, the history of the Adama clan, and the descent into destruction of the human race. This mythic tale boils down to family and loss and grieving. Daniel Graystone can't confront the death of his daughter, so he chooses not to, constantly pushing technology to areas outside its limits. The clear cut idea of what's real and not real, human or digital became blurred, where a digital creation of a person is just as human as the original thing. Caprica boasted truly gifted writers penning truly spectacular scripts, scripts that were majestically brought into reality by stunning cinematography and breathtaking special effects - especially considering its television roots, how the series was executed rivaled the complexities and details of a motion picture. The cancellation of Caprica is perhaps one of the top greatest travesties of 2010, as the show was so expertly produced and written. And as the final minutes of the series roll, we get a glimpse at the things to come in the following season, and it would have been glorious. Epic, intimate, philosophical, thought provoking, beautiful, and a tale that rivals the legendary works of the Greeks in scope of tragedy and drama - believe me when I say that the TV landscape is a sadder place without this series.



THAT WAS EMOTIONAL
Lost, "The End"

Like the character or not, the Lost series finale "The End" featured a last act that I defy anyone in the universe not to become emotionally entangled by. The closing minutes of Jack walking through the bamboo field he began this journey at four years ago (in Lost time, I think), bleeding out, barely able to stand up straight, and Jack and (mostly) everyone in the Sideways world happy and reunited and ready to "move on", becoming engulfed in this white light - I may not have initially agreed with "The End", but that doesn't mean I don't appreciate how damn effective and beautiful these final minutes are. Months after the airing and after multiple repeats, "The End" was a fitting and as near perfect finale as I could ever have hoped. Yes, it's frustrating that certain questions that I feel are absolutely vital are not touched on in the slightest, but as a six-volume story about people, Lost is one hell of a success and deserves as many accolades as can be given.





SHIT GOT GOOD
24, episodes 17-24

The first half of 24's final season was dreadful. It was hardly recognizable as the show I loved, the show I made sure to tune into every Monday at 8 PM. Hell, I was at a point where if I missed an episode, I didn't feel remotely guilty. Please appreciate the magnitude of what I just wrote there. This is a show that was hugely important in my life, and it got to a point where I simply didn't care. If you feel your spine tingling and your skin chilling, I completely understand.

And then something happened. Jack didn't save the President of the Country-We-Don't-Speak-Of, and Jack didn't save his girlfriend, and then Jack got very, very angry. And then President Logan came back into the picture. Season eight, full of redundancies and regurgitated plot elements and boasting the most boring season in years, suddenly became must-watch television, where I was hooked from beginning to end and the fact that it was all coming to an end became an travesty again instead of a saving grace. Perhaps the writers saw the errors of their ways, or maybe they regained their groove, but from episode 17 onward, I don't think there was a more suspenseful television drama on the air at the time. 24 was back on its A-game, and ended the series with absolute respect to Jack Bauer and everything that came before. Coverage of the day can be found in three separate parts: Part 1 chronicles the first ten episodes where I was seriously confused on what the hell happened to the show I loved; Part 2 was more of the same, but then loving the twist at the end of the last episode; and Part 3 is basically one giant joygasm and epitaph on the entire series. 24, I already miss you.


Aftermath

Following season 4 is a toughie, and ultimately, Dexter didn't quite match the success of the previous year. When watched in full, the fifth season feels like one complete story, but week after week the flaws of the series was more apparent: the dreadful subplots, the horrible guest star, the sense that maybe the writers didn't quite know what direction they were going. I get what they set out to achieve this year, but I fail to see why it couldn't have been more...exciting, or emotionally satisfying. Not saying it wasn't a good year, it was indeed, it just wasn't a great one.


Impressive Apocalypse

With shows that deal with demons, Gods and Angels and other supernatural phenomena, the Apocalypse is a frequent plotline. It takes writers of exceptional skill and creativity to craft two entire seasons dedicated to such a cataclysmic event and make it fresh and exciting and emotionally compelling from start to finish. This is why, among many other reasons, Supernatural deserves some major kudos. Aside from being one of the most clever and brilliantly written shows on the air right this second, Supernatural provided audiences with twists and turns nearly every episode and a refreshing take on the end of the world. We were given the opportunity to meet Lucifer and get his side of the story; we were given ample time to interact and study with Angels and how they view the world and God itself. Heck, we arrived at a point where God became a character on the show; not in the flesh and blood sense, but what God wanted, what the overall plan was, and what is God became central aspects of the show. Supernatural turned into a series with complex issues and questions, and the weight of the world seriously rested on the choices of two brothers who would do anything for each other. No longer was the show about demons and ghosts turning the lives of everyday Joe's into a living Hell; Hell was ascending, and only Sam and Dean can stop it. The fifth season culminates the Apocalypse storyline in one of the most emotionally heart-wrenching but most creatively satisfying ways I have ever seen - and I watched plenty. Unforgettable television.

If you don't watch Supernatural take it upon yourself to rent/blind buy seasons 1-5 and do so immediately. You will not be disappointed.
Series I've been meaning to watch: Sons of Anarchy

Series I feel I should try to watch: Glee

Yes, I Like MTV: My Life as Liz

FAVORITE EPISODES OF 2010:
  • "The Eleventh Hour", Doctor Who series 5, episode 1
  • "My Bad", Dexter season 5, episode 1
  • "Hammer of the Gods", Supernatural season 5, episode 19
  • "LA X", Lost season 6, episode 1
  • "Swan Song", Supernatural season 5, episode 22
  • "Sundown", Lost season 6, episode 6
  • "Entrada", Fringe season 3, episode 8
  • "Fire in the Hole", Justified season 1, episode 1
  • "The Pandorica Opens", Doctor Who, series 5 episode 12
  • "1:00 PM - 2:00 PM", 24 season 8, episode 22
  • "The Staircase Implementation", The Big Bang Theory season 3, episode 22
  • "The Lodger", Doctor Who series 5, episode 10
Notice all the Doctor Who's? Hint. Hint.

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And thus The Best and Worst of 2010 concludes here at Ramblings of a Minnesota Geek. I thank all the readers who tuned in and offered their thoughts, and hope to see y'all around this time next year [note: hopefully this last category will be expanded]. At the very lest, I hope these last six days were entertaining. 2010 is now pretty much done with, minus a review here or there I need to finish up. Now onward to 2011 and the many sequels and remakes it promises!

2 comments:

Fletch said...

Halfway through Dexter season 5 right now. Not exactly encouraged by the fact that only episode 1 made your top episodes list. Hmm...

I don't think I'd call Justified a procedural at all! As you mention, it sometimes follows the structure of one, but this is a straight-up character drama. We learned more about the 4 or 5 main characters of Justified in three episodes of the first season than we did in 8 seasons of Law and Order.

Andy the Time Lord said...

"My Bad", I feel, is the only episode of the season that is really damn good, where the writing, acting, directing, and editing all came together to make a great episode. Frankly, the rest of season 5 was just...meh (at least from a week by week standpoint; maybe my opinion would be different if I did a marathon screening of S5).

You're right about JUSTIFIED, was just at a loss for a better word. A great example of the uniqueness of JUSTIFIED was, ironically, this week's episode, with Raylan and Winona going mental to cover her tracks. Truer words were never spoken about LAW & ORDER, lol. Y'know, that's a pretty damn good tagline for the series, that last sentence.