I'm not calling this my "best of 2010" list. It's just my favorites. I'm not a TV critic and no one's paying me, so I do my own thing. And there's 11, not 10. It's just how I do!!
In terms of pure quality, I think this really was the best show this year. The thing I admire most about Mad Men is how every scene seems necessary and integral. I rarely find myself thinking, "well, they handled that badly." It's just pure quality and I think this last season was some of the finest television EVER. So much of the interactions were pure payoff from what they've been setting up from the beginning. I mean, think of that little scene with Peggy and Joan, smoking and chatting. Such a small thing, yet such a big moment for those two characters, and for us watching who love them both and know they could be besties if they just got over how different they sometimes are.
Favorite episode: "The Suitcase"
Breaking Bad is one of the best character studies I've ever seen. And it's a show that isn't afraid to take its characters into extremely dark places and it rarely, if ever, takes the easy way out. Just a fantastic show. And Bryan Cranston is fucking amazing. And so is Aaron Paul.
Favorite episode: "One Minute"
I knew I would like this show because I absolutely adore Louis C.K. He is probably the best stand-up comedian currently working. He is pretty fearless and he's not afraid to say things that might make him look bad. But what I couldn't have known is just how GOOD this show would be. It's funny, it's dark, it's honest, it's painful...it's just everything. I never knew exactly what I'd be watching when I sat down to watch an episode and I liked that. Even the bits I didn't like as much I at least admired for the sheer audacity and willingness to just go for it. I'm very happy this show will get a second season and I can't wait to see what he'll come up with next.
Favorite episode: "Dr. Ben" for the laughs; "God" for the gamut of emotions I felt watching it
I knew that if nothing else, I would love Donal Logue in this. He's one of my favorite actors. So I knew he would be good, and the show would be funny. What I didn't know was how dark the show could get and how good Logue could be at the whole dramatic thing. So, yeah, I loved this show right from the first episode, which didn't feel like a first episode. And the guys took an amazing emotional journey from beginning to end, and came out different people. On another show, such an emotional journey could take 3, 4 seasons to manifest. This show? One season.
And while it's sad that there won't be another season with Hank and Britt, these 13 episodes are a complete package. All the episodes were aired, all the major season-long questions were answered, and the characters emerged better and stronger than they were in the beginning.
Favorite episode: "Change Partners" This was the third episode. The first two episodes were a bit lighter, and this one got pretty dark. It was the first real glimpse of just how fucking awesome this show was going to be.
Right now, this is the show I most look forward to watching. I've re-watched quite a few episodes, something I don't usually do. I love the characters, I love the setting...I love almost everything about this show. I only say almost because occasionally I don't LOVE an episode. But I've LIKED all of them. It's a show that can be incredibly silly, and also incredibly emotional. I care about these people and I want to see what happens next. And I want to see what other colors of underwear that Joel McHale will wear. Please??
Favorite episode: "Physical Education" OR "Modern Warfare" OR "Epidemiology" OR "Cooperative Calligraphy" OR "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas" (DON'T MAKE ME PICK JUST ONE!!)
Parks and Recreation
Everyone talks about the huge turnaround this show made between its first and second seasons. I watched the pilot and wasn't really enamored of it, so I bailed. Then when everyone said it got better towards the end and then the second season was even better, I caught up on it and it quickly became a show I really looked forward to every week. Ron Fucking Swanson is a big part of that love. He's one of the best characters on television.
BONUS: Louis C.K. played a love interest of Leslie Knope in early episodes, and damn, was he good. Sweet and funny.
Favorite episode: Well, my favorite is "Ron and Tammy" but it aired in 2009. So for 2010, it'd be "94 Meetings" or "Telethon."
I refused to watch this show at first. I mean, Cougar Town??? Really??? And I wasn't that big a fan of Courtney Cox. But then hubbie watched some episodes and laughed his ass off and told me I should watch, so I broke down. And it was a bit painful at first. But aside from the awful cougar-y jokes, there was a core of something I quite liked. And as the show went on, it just got better. And it got rid of the awful cougar stuff. Now it's just a show that I almost always enjoy, and I look forward to it more than I do Modern Family. The characters are awesome and funny, and I like spending time with them. Penny Can!!
Favorite episode: "Everything Man"
I love Timothy Olyphant. And I love this show. It didn't always work, but when it did, it was on fire. Olyphant plays an almost familiar figure, looking much like he did as when he played Sheriff Bullock in Deadwood. But Raylan Givens is definitely NOT Seth Bullock. Raylan has much less of a stick up his ass, for one thing. And somehow this show just works. It brings in excellent guest stars and it boasts Shane Vendrell in a meaty role. Sorry, Walton Goggins. I'm quite looking forward to this show's return in 2011.
Favorite line (not sure what episode it's from):
Bad guy #1: "Where is he?"
Bad guy #2: "He's the guy in the hat over there."
#1: "The tall one?"
#2: . . . "The one with the HAT."
Favorite episode: "Hatless"
The sixth season of this show started out a bit rocky. Eric Kripke, the showrunner since the beginning of the show, left and it was uncertain if he would take all of the magic with him. Well, he didn't. After a few rocky episodes, the show was back to form. I just love watching these guys fight demons and I even love when they get all sappy.
Favorite episode: "Swan Song" OR "Clap Your Hands If You Believe"
The Vampire Diaries
I caught up with the first season of this show via Netflix. I watched one disc (5 eps) and I liked it enough to watch the second disc. By the end of the second disc, I was HOOKED. This show does an amazing job of keeping a lot of things going on and yet not feeling too busy. It's one of the shows I most look forward to watching every week. And I'm not even embarrassed to say that anymore. Hey, at least it isn't Twilight. These vamps are SEXY! No purity rings to be found!!
Favorite episode: "Masquerade"
I've watched Fringe from the very beginning. I mostly liked it, but I wasn't quite feeling it for a while. But I kept watching because, hello! Walter!! One of the best characters on television. And after a while, I did start feeling it. And I liked it quite a bit. But this season, something happened. The show got so much better, it's hard to fathom. Stakes were higher. And I dunno, it just got awesome. The final episode of the year, "Marionette", was so good on so many levels.
Favorite episode: "Marionette"