25 December 2007

Best of 2007: Television

Revisions since original publication date in bold.

The Colbert Report (Comedy Central)
From the "Wristrong" saga to his unsuccessful bid for president, the leader of the Colbert nation continued his reign of cable news, and that's the truthiness.

Flight of the Conchords
Like a Christopher Guest mockumentary every week, this brilliantly deadpan series gets it all right. This is what The Office started out as before it got too self-absorbed.

Despite a somewhat anti-climactic season ender, the ever-present twists kept you on the edge of your seat and blew all the other big-screen comic book adaptations out of the water.

King of the Hill
I may have been the only one who was excited about the return of Hank and the boys, but the season opener, in which Hank inadvertently screws the Longhorns over, was as brilliant as any in the show's spectacular run.

My Boys (TBS)
Going beyond simple sitcom silliness, basic cable's best sitcom cut right to the heart of real-life issues, examining the mistakes we all make in relationships under a comedic microscope.

My Name is Earl (NBC)
The "Earl does a good deed" plot could have gotten dull, but moving him to prison was inspired, and gave the show another life and entire season's worth of new humor.

Robot Chicken (Cartoon Network) AND Family Guy (Fox): the Star Wars specials
In two respectful but hilarious send-ups, Seths Green and McFarlane took down plenty of sacred cows for their fanbases, and made two of the funniest episodes of any comedy in recent years.

Scrubs (NBC)
Despite getting a bit maudlin during Elizabeth Banks's pregnancy story arc, it rebounded with a musical and more laughs that ring surprisingly true.

The Simpsons
Any naysayers about the show's quality were swiftly rescinded after the one-two punch of the season finale (a spot-on 24 parody) and the 400th episode (tackling censorship).

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (NBC)
Viewers just weren't ready for this ultra-sharp comedy from the great Aaron Sorkin, which added an extra layer of drama with a hostage crisis and pregnancy complications. Go buy the series on DVD immediately.

Elizabeth Banks as Dr. Kim Briggs on Scrubs
The show grew a little sappy in her story arc, but Banks went beyond the standard girlfriend role, showing the mind of a character who breaks the hearts of those she loves in order to save them.

Michael Bunin, Jim Gaffigan, Jamie Kaler, Kyle Howard, and Reid Scott as "The Boys" on My Boys
A fantastic ensemble cast that are always at home, whether doling out advice, playing baseball, joking around the poker table, or having a "douchebag intervention."

Frank Caliendo as himself on Frank TV
His show is terribly hit-or-miss, but there's no denying the Mad TV alum's impersonation chops. From Pacino to de Niro to John Madden, Caliendo's impressions are always spot-on.

Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie as Flight of the Conchords on Flight of the Conchords
OK, so they're playing themselves, but in doing so created a comic duo worthy of comparisons to Abbott and Costello.

Nate Corddry as Tom Jeter on Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip
While older brother Rob left for his own sitcom (bad move, Rob), Nate proved himself the better actor, showing real emotion while his character's brother was at the mercy of terrorists.

Craig Ferguson as himself on The Late Late Show
No other host is as ludicrous, consistently hilarious, or out-of-control as this Scotsman, proving there is some spontaneity left on late-night TV.

Mariska Hargitay as Det. Olivia Benson on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Always a powerhouse, Hargitay returned from maternity leave to school every actress on TV, especially in her story arc as an undercover FBI agent.

Zachary Levi as Chuck Bartowski on Chuck
More than just a master of sarcasm, Levi shows us a truly lonely individual, desperate to be part of something beyond his job at the electronics superstore.

Craig T. Nelson as Warden on My Name is Earl
Really, any of the regular cast could be on this list, but his guest turn as a bumbling prison warden is a piece of comic genius.

Zachary Quinto as Sylar on Heroes
A villain for the ages, his Sylar was absolutely terrifying and menacing. This is what made the show so gripping.

CNN Republican Debate in New Hampshire
Mike Huckabee: "I'm Mike Huckabee. For ten and a half years I was governor of Arkansas. I'm from the small town of Hope. You may have heard of it. All I ask is: Give us one more chance."

The Colbert Report
Stephen Colbert: "I don't see color...People tell me I'm white and I believe them, because police officers call me Sir."

Flight of the Conchords

Murray (Rhys Darby): "You get a love triangle, you know, a Fleetwood Mac situation. Although there was four of them, so more of a love square. But you know, no one gets on."
Jemaine (Jemaine Clement): "OK, I see."
Murray: "Mind you, they did make some of their best music back then."
Bret (Bret McKenzie): "Rumours?"
Murray: "No, it's all true."

King of the Hill

Hank Hill (Mike Judge): "We [the Longhorns] could still get a spot at the Gator Bowl or the Peach Bowl or, may God forbid, the PacificLife Holiday Bowl."

Miss Teen USA
Caitlin Upton: "I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because, uh, some, people out there in our nation don't have maps and, uh, I believe that our, uh, education like such as, uh, South Africa and, uh, the Iraq, everywhere like such as, and, I believe that they should, our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S., uh, or, uh, should help South Africa and should help the Iraq and the Asian countries, so we will be able to build up our future, for our [children]."

My Name is Earl
Earl (Jason Lee): "Doctor always said you were borderline artistic."

J.D. (Zach Braff): "You're the only man who's ever been inside of me!"
Turk (Donald Faison): "Whoa, whoa! I just took out his appendix!"

The Simpsons
Editor (J.K. Simmons): "This has got page one written all over it! What the hell'd ya do that for?"
Homer Simpson (Dan Castellaneta): "I wanted to remember what page I was on in my book."

The World Series of Pop Culture

Pat Kiernan: "Tanya got a big ol' butt/Theresa got a big ol' butt/Irene got a big ol' butt/Melissa got a big ol' butt now/And Sonya got a big ol' butt/And Shirley got a big ol' butt/Ol' Tammy got a bubble butt"
Contestant: "Could you repeat the question?"

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