Tuesday 30 December 2008

Serien des Jahres

There are spoilers all over this place so if you haven't seen the most recent seasons, don't read on.

Overall Best Show and only real Drama Series:


In 2008, Dexter found a friend. He stopped following his Dad's rules. He got engaged. And mostly everything went wrong, until it went right again.
Dexter is the single most disturbing and likeable show on television right now.

Season 3, 2006-, created by James Manos, Jr., with Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter, Julie Benz, Lauren Vélez, David Zayas, James Remar, C.S. Lee, Jimmy Smits, Anne Ramsay.
Airs Sundays, season 3 (12 episodes) ended in December.

Best Comedy:

30 Rock

It seems that Tina Fey can do no wrong. 30 Rock is still incredibly funny after three seasons. The cast is excellent and just keeps on growing (Will Arnett returned, the guest stars are getting bigger and bigger).

Season 3, 2006-, created by Tina Fey, with Tina Fey, Tracy Morgan, Jane Krakowski, Alec Baldwin, Jack McBrayer, Scott Adsit, Josh Friedlander.
Airs Thursdays, season 3 is currently airing.

The Sarah Silverman Program

Disturbing. Gross. Occasionally surprisingly smart. Love it or hate it.

Season 2, 2007-, created by Sarah Silverman, Dan Harmon, Rob Schrab, with Sarah Silverman, Laura Silverman, Brian Posehn, Steve Agee, Jay Johnston.
Airs Thursdays, season 2 is currently airing, yet to be renewed for a third season.


I got into "Weeds" late, always cutting it some slack for being the way smarter "Desperate Housewives", but never quite getting into it. But the cast is genius, even the smallest characters have a way of growing consistently. And in its fourth season, it has finally reached the full potential of being an existential drama comedy - thanks to the incredibly talented Mary-Louise Parker, who located her family to not-so-suburban Mexican border.

Season 4, 2005-, created by Jenji Kohan, with Mary-Louise Parker, Elizabeth Perkins, Hunter Parrish, Kevin Nealon, Alexander Gould, Justin Kirk, Andy Milder, Allie Grant.
Airs Mondays, season 4 (13 episodes) ended in September.

How I Met Your Mother

Sitcoms are annoying. They tell you when to laugh. Good comedy shows over the past years have never been sitcoms. But it only takes you a couple of minutes to forget about the boxed laughters in "HIMYM". The show is so emotionally true and works on a great idea without ever getting annoying about it (a Dad in the year 2030 tells his kids how he met their mother - we don't know who it will be yet). It relies on five actors and actresses who work together better than most other casts this year, the comedic timing is awesome, and so is Neil Patrick Harris. There is a reason why geeks are taking over the world.

Season 4, 2005-, created by Carter Bays & Craig Thomas, with Josh Radnor, Jason Segel, Cobie Smulders, Alyson Hannigan, Neil Patrick Harris, Bob Saget.
Airs Mondays, season 4 is currently airing.

Best Science-Fiction or Fantasy:

Battlestar Galactica

My single-most-favourite TV shows in many, many years: a show that works as a playground for todays problems and has so many different layers it is sometimes unbelievable how much actually can be put in so few hours. This year, as the two-part fourth and final season started airing, we still haven't found out who the fifth model of the final five is but we all have expectations. Starbuck returned to lead the way to earth but might just be the harbinger of death, and Cylons die now.

Season 4, 2005-, created by Ron D. Moore, with Edward James Olmos, Mary McDonnell, Jamie Bamber, James Callis, Katee Sackhoff, Tricia Helfer, Grace Park, Tahmoh Penikett, Aaron Douglas, Michael Hogan, Michael Trucco, Alessandro Juliani, Kandyse McClure, Nicki Clyne.
Airs Fridays, the first part of season 4 (10 episodes) ended in June, season 4 will resume on Janury 16th, 2009.

Terminator - The Sarah Connor Chronicles

In my review I already mentioned that this show can been seen in combination with BSG, working on the same territory and talking about identity, what it means to be human, and how you can lead a life if you find yourself caught up in some bigger mystery or destiny that you can't quite explain. This show started in 2008 with only a handful of episodes but was renewed for a new season. It has a very strong dynamic between the three main characters and offers well-embedded action scenes. Season 2 added Garbage-leadsinger Shirley Manson to the cast.

Season 2, 2008-, created by Josh Friedman, with Lena Headey, Thomas Dekker, Summer Glau, Brian Austin Green, Richard T. Jones, Garret Dillahunt, Shirley Manson, Leven Rambin.
Airs Mondays, season 2 is currently airing and will resume on February 13, 2009.


Fringe, Lost-creator JJ Abrams' new show, is the only fresh material I've added to my already way too long list this year. To be perfectly honest, it is like a modern revamping of "X-Files" before it jumped the shark: relying on the dynamics between the two leads, but with exchanged roles (she the more willing believer than the son of the mad scientist), with a mystery painfully slowly evolving - but good and interesting self-contained one-episode arcs that work out in only 45 minutes. It is too early to tell what's going to become of this, but let's hope it doesn't take the same path as "Lost".

Season 1, 2008-, created by J.J. Abrams, with Anna Torv, Joshua Jackson, Lance Reddick, Lance Reddick, Blair Brown, Jasika Nicole, Mark Valley, John Noble.
Airs Tuesday, season 1 (13 episodes planned) is currently airing.

Jumped the Shark:

Actually, it is kind of a compliment to say that a show has jumped the shark, even if it's heartbreaking. It means: I once cared for you but you just trailed off, did everything wrong, and now I am possibly seconds away from not watching your new episodes and if I still do, it's just because I care about those people so much. The horrible and mean thing about this year's candidates for this category is that these shows don't fail because their cast isn't good, and it's not even because they have taken all the old good people and replaced them with shiny robots (like "ER" used to do, or the eerily creepy "7th Heaven"). These shows were once perfectly good, had potential, and then something awful happened and the people writing the storylines lost their head. I have to admit that there is not one show on the list that I have really stopped watching, but some came awfully close and I might just take New Year as a chance to quit them like a bad addiction.

The L Word

Putting Ilene Chaiken's show on this list is kind of a joke: The L Word has possibly jumped the shark years ago, already in the second, Betty-theme-song ridden season in which a beloved character died and everything became wacky. But the cast is still so good, it is still the only show that is "about women" and not about women in that awful, "Desperate Housewives" kind of way. This year, Jenny got haunted by a Frankenstein-monster she had created herself (and naturally for an egomaniac, the Frankenstein-monster was her very own copy), in an evil insider kind of joke Jenny's book about the previous seasons of The L Word was turned into a film (meta much?), The Evil Monster left Tina and the two got back together (The Evil Monster has previously haunted characters as diverse as Helena, Alice and Jenny. Alice hooked up for real. Shane got weirder and Daniela Sea still hasn't run away from the sinking ship as she should have the first time they suggested a beard. Lauren Lee Smith still hasn't returned. And Elizabeth Keener was like, "It's ON!!!!!". Season 6, starting January 18th, already has promising episode titles like "Lactose Intolerant".

Season 5, 2004-, created by Ilene Chaiken, with Jennifer Beals, Laurel Holloman, Mia Kirshner, Leisha Hailey, Pam Grier, Katherine Moennig, Rose Rollins, Daniela Sea, Rachel Shelley.
Airs Sundays, season 5 finished in March, the sixth and final season will start airing in January 2009.


Oh "Heroes", how beloved you were by the ever-growing geek community. Back in season one, everybody was psyched about having an actual superhero as nerdy as Hiro. Masi Oka became the crush of oh-so-many fangirls while the boys wrote fanfic that featured Hayden Pannettiere. And then, something happened. Season two was, I give you as much, struggling against the Writer's Strike. But still... The only thing keeping us over complaining about the huge plot holes was the cast and the way it was hkandled (like, you got a guy who can travel through time and somebody who can't die? That's the ultimate deus ex machina, right?). I was willing to trust that season three would return to the old glory. After all, the show had this great comic book aesthetic. Fan culture was incorporated into the idea from the beginning. YOU HAD actual original Star Trek legend George Takei as Hiro's father and STILL... after only a few episodes of season three, all hope was lost. People died and returned. People lost their power, and got them back. The whole idea of right and wrong was muddled, but not in the good, grey area kind of way. Sylar was good and then he was bad and then he was good and now he is something else (and it took a very good actor like Zachary Quinto to pull this of in a way that still kept Sylar the most interesting character). Hiro, who we had seen all cool and turned dark and mystic by the future, turned into a little boy, in the most annoyingly geek kind of way, not the good kind. We thought Jessica already has enough evil twins inside her head, but it turned out there were some more out of it. The very unwell written love stories of everybody who wasn't WASPY had remotely racist undertones that will certainly be discussed more in the future. It was all so bad that not even a Seth Green as comic book guy or a Michael Dorn (Worf in Star Trek) as President of the United States gives us any hope. The only way to save the show: pretend the last two years never happened. Kill half of your cast. Bring in new writers (and while you're at it, repent for killing the only really cool new character, Elle, cause nothing brings you the wraths of the fans more than writing Kristen Bell out of your show. And bring back Clea DuVall, it's always nice to have her around.)

Season 3, 2006-, created by Tim Kring, with Sendhil Ramamurthy, Masi Oka, Hayden Penettiere, James Kyson Lee, Jack Coleman, Milo Ventimiglia, Adrian Pasdar, Greg Grunberg, Ali Larter, Zachary Quinto, Christine Rose, Jimmy Jean-Louis, Kristen Bell, Brea Grant.
Airs Mondays, season 3 is currently airing.

The Office

The Office used to be one of the best television comedies around. It was so dead-beat funny, you sometimes didn't believe such a thing actually existed (not unlike Sarah Silverman, for that matter). And it even made the move of turning the characters that would normally be so unlikeable and gross into damaged human beings that you actually cared for. But now, something is wrong. Jim isn't who he used to be since he's engaged to Pam. Pam isn't much more than Jim's fiancé which betrays Jenna Fischer's acting talent. They don't know what to do with Dwight and Michael anymore, and all the other characters get the same storyline all over again, although they were the strenght of the show. Probably, there just are no new stories to tell anymore with those people, no matter how much we love them.

Season 5, 2005-, created by Greg Daniels, Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant, with Steve Carell, Rainn Wilson, John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer, Ed Helms, B.J. Novak, Leslie David Baker, Brian Baumgartner, Angela Kinsey, Kate Flannery, Phyllis Smith, Mindy Kaling, Creed Bratton, Paul Lieberstein, Oscar Nunez, Amy Ryan.
Airs Thursdays, season five is currently running.


Lost doesn't really belong in that category. I've had trouble with this show since the beginning, but still whenever I do actually watch it, I enjoy it more than ever expected. But then, a couple of hours pass and I realize what bothers me: that I have no trust in the creator of the show that all this huge mythology is finally going to come together in the promised big picture. I am afraid that "Lost" is going to turn into the same half-finished puzzle of "The X-Files", were you started to suspect that there was no greater plan about halfway through. And seriously, if that happens, all these hours of suspense were kind of...wasted (also, once they start telling a story backwards with the potential of time travel, it all starts to fall apart automatically). I still enjoy the great discourse on leadership and political theory though.

Season 4, 2004-, created by J.J. Abrams, Damon Lindelof, Jeffrey Lieber, with Naveen Andrews, Matthew Fox, Jorge Garcia, Josh Holloway, Daniel Dae Kim, Yunjin Kim, Evangeline Lilly, Terry O'Quinn, Emilie de Ravin, Dominic Monaghan, Michael Emerson, Elizabeth Mitchell, Henry Ian Cusick, Jeremy Davies.
Airs Tuesdays, season 4 finished airing in May, season 5 starts on January 21, 2009.

I might watch:

The Wire

Seriously, I've never seen a single episode. And now that it's finished I might just start to get into it. Waiting for November 4th before starting on "The West Wing" paid off well too.

5 seasons, 2002-2008, created by David Simon, with Dominic West, John Doman, Wendell Pierce, Lance Raddick.

Mad Men

What everybody talked about this year: a show set in the New York of the 1960s in an office environment (an advertising agency). It's about history and society and all that. A modern costume drama and features actors and actresses known from other shows ("Angel", "The West Wing", "Firefly").

Season 2, 2007-, created by Matthew Weiner, with Jon Hamm, Elisabeth Moss, Vincent Kartheiser, January Jones, Christina Hendricks, Bryan Batt, Michael Gladis, Aaron Staton.
Airs Sundays, season 2 finished in October.

The Big Bang Theory

A Sitcom of geek intellect versus common sense? That has a theoretical physicist and an experimental one as the main characters? And has episode titles like "The Lizard-Spock Expansion"? How did I even miss this?

Season 2, 2007-, created by Chuck Lorre, Bill Prady, with Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons, Kaley Cuoco, Simon Helberg, Kunal Nayyar, Sara Gilbert.
Airs Mondays. Season 2 is currently running.

Biggest Expectation and Hope for the Future:


If Fox screws with another Joss Whedon show, it shall be forever doomed.

Starting Febrary 13, 2009, created by Joss Whedon with Eliza Dushku, Amy Acker, Reed Diamond, Enver Gjokaj, Fran Kranz, Dichen Lachman, Harry Lennox, Tahmoh Penikett, Olivia Williams, Miracle Laurie, Mark Sheppard.

Stuff on the net:

The Daily Show & The Colbert Report

Even for people who don't have CNN or the wildest clue about when this actually airs, like, really: You can watch the newest episodes of Jon Stewarts leftwing not-news-but-more-factual-than-real-news show and Stephen Colberts rightwing propaganda online now, and you don't even have to pretend to be American to do that. Which you have to do if you want to use Hulu to watch the shows available there or the NBC-Website for Conan O' Brien and Saturday Night Live.

The Rachel Maddow Show

As a vidcast. For your tiny, tiny teeny music listening device with screen. With the most awesome and smart woman currently on TV.

Clips of Tina Fey as the next-Vice President of the United States

But remember that we didn't think it was quite so funny when that woman actually seemed to be one heartbeat away from the presidency.

Dr Horrible's Sing-Along Blog

Should "Dollhouse" not make it, we'll still have the prospect of a sequel to this greatest of all made for the internets villain-musical featuring Neil Patrick Harris, Felicia Day and Nathan Fillion. Oh, you really did stop the world for a moment there with your freeze-ray.

Proposition 8 - The Musical

At some point in the next years we are going to wonder what exactly happened in 2008 that made it the year of Neil Patrick Harris singing and acting in musicals. It only takes Marc Shaiman (among many other things, he produced "Hairspray" on Broadway) 3 minute to destroy any argument against gay marriage. In the wake of the shocking passing of Proposition 8 in California on the same night that Barack Obama was elected President, this wasn't meant to calm the anger but to focus the protest. And it did so well, with fantastic contributions by Allison Janney, John C. Reilly, Margaret Cho, Sarah Chalke and Jack Black as Jesus. Pick and Choose much, Evangelical Christians?

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