29 December 2008

Best of 2008: Television

American Idol (Fox)
It could have easily gotten stale, but thanks to another talented group of contestants, and the most deserving winner in years, I was hooked again.

A Colbert Christmas (Comedy Central)
Featuring all-new songs from Fountains of Wayne's Adam Schlesinger and a slew of guest stars eager to play along, this should be a new holiday tradition.

Elvis Mitchell: Under the Influence (TCM)
With At the Movies a hollow shell of its once great programming, former New York Times critic Mitchell filled the void by chatting about movies with some of Hollywood's best actors and directors.

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FX)
Ditching any remnants of plot, the wackiest show on TV got even wackier. Highlight: "The Gang Solves the Gas Crisis."

The Late Show with David Letterman (CBS)
During the endless Writers' Strike, David Letterman's Worldwide Pants struck their own deal with the scribes, and gave us some much needed guilt-free late-night programming. What's more, Dave gave us one of the year's best moments with his tirade against John McCain, who claimed to have to catch an early fight, only to find out he was down the street talking with Katie Couric.

My Boys (TBS)
While it seemed we were already on Season 3 or 4, the show's second season took some interesting turns, with alleged affairs, book deals, and the funniest wedding scene in TV history.

My Name is Earl (NBC)
Continually proving that it still knows how to remain fresh, even well into its fourth season, the Hickey's misadventures continue to cause uproarious laughter.

Robot Chicken: Star Wars – Episode II (Cartoon Network)
Not quite as good as its predecessor, but still a reverent but biting send-up of the entire saga. Now if only Dr. Ball could be a real series...

The Simpsons (Fox)
While it will never have a season full of brilliance, the longest-running comedy on television still had some flashes of genius, including the episode "E. Pluribus Wiggum," the best political satire on TV.

True Blood (HBO)
Twilight schmilight. This gritty, darkly funny series of vampires living among us provided chills, laughs, and scathing social commentary.

Michael Bunin, Jim Gaffigan, Kyle Howard, Jamie Kaler, and Reid Scott as the Boys on My Boys
Again, all five men are the perfect foil for tomboy PJ, still trying to navigate among the friends, siblings, and suitors.

Elvis Costello as himself on A Colbert Christmas
The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer had no problem dressing in elaborate costumes, getting eaten by a bear, or making a joke (while dressed as a Jack-in-the-Box) about the Jonas Brothers "turning his crank." A good sport indeed.

Mark Cuban as himself on The Simpsons
Gleefully skewering his own oddball billionaire reputation, the Mavericks owner one-upped even Mr. Burns.

Charlie Day, Glenn Howerton, Rob McElhenney, Kaitlin Olsen, and Danny DeVito as the Gang on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Definitely a more obscene version of the crew from Seinfeld, with DeVito the Newman here, the Gang got into situations most people would be arrested for, but escaped incarceration with their hair-brained antics.

Tina Fey as Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live
Going beyond mere imitation, Fey's mockery of the VP candidate belongs in the canon of great real-life performances next to Jamie Foxx and Helen Mirren.

Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová at the Oscars
Their absolutely lovely rendition of "Falling Slowly," as well as their humble acceptance speech, transcended them past musicians--and into genuine role models.

John Michael Higgins as Phil Knight and Mikey Day as Craig on Kath & Kim
While the show was named for their significant others, it was the faithful husbands who really made the show above average.

Elvis Mitchell on Under the Influence
The critic and historian proved an invaluable addition to TCM's already stellar staff, offering insight into the minds of some of the best folks working in Hollywood today.

Anna Paquin as Sookie Stackhouse on True Blood
With a show that goes in as many different directions as Alan Ball's horror series, it needs glue to hold it together. Luckily, the Oscar winner provides it as the Southern belle/victim/mystery woman.

Jerry Van Dyke as Jerry on My Name is Earl
Last year's film Waitress brought us Andy Griffith as a kindly old grouch, and here, Luther from Coach does the same.

2008 presidential acceptance speech
Barack Obama: "If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer. It's the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen, by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different, that their voices could be that difference. It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled. Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue states. We are, and always will be, the United States of America."

2008 presidential concession speech
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ): "I would not -- I would not be an -- an American worthy of the name, should I regret a fate that has allowed me the extraordinary privilege of serving this country for a half a century. Today, I was a candidate for the highest office in the country I love so much. And tonight, I remain her servant. That is blessing enough for anyone..."

A Colbert Christmas
Stephen Colbert: "My guest tonight is Elvis Costello. For our younger viewers, think of him as an older, male Avril Lavigne. But instead of skateboarding, he sings about people dying in shipyards."

Keith Olbermann: "If you voted for this Proposition or support those who did or the sentiment they expressed, I have some questions, because, truly, I do not understand. Why does this matter to you? What is it to you? In a time of impermanence and fly-by-night relationships, these people over here want the same chance at permanence and happiness that is your option. They don't want to deny you yours. They don't want to take anything away from you. They want what you want—a chance to be a little less alone in the world."

The Grammys
Vince Gill: “I got a Grammy handed to me by a Beatle. Did that happen to you, Kanye?”

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Charlie (Charlie Day): "Wild card, bitches!"

My Name is Earl
Buddy (Seth Green): "Have you ever seen a movie without Burt Reynolds in it?"
Earl (Jason Lee): "Not all the way through, no."

Saturday Night Live
Tina Fey: "Bitch is the new black."

The Simpsons
Kent Brockman (Harry Shearer): "With Springfield's primary now first in the nation, our humble city is overrun with candidates, newshounds, spin doctors, hacks, flacks, Russerts, Blitzers and even the occasional voter. Sir, do you have a preference?"
Moe (Hank Azaria): "Yeah, I like girls, fruit loop."
Kent Brockman: "Oh. Are you a registered voter?"
Moe: "I'm a registered… something."

World News Tonight
Sarah Palin: “As Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where do they go? It's Alaska."

30 Rock (NBC)

At the Movies (Syndicated)

Richard Roeper and Roger Ebert (Chicago Sun-Times)


Ben Lyons (E!) and Ben Mankiewicz (Turner Classic Movies)

No comments: