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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Best and Worst of 2008

So now the time has come for me to recap the year with my Best and Worst of 2008…

But just like John Madden used to do with his All-Madden Team, all of the winners (and losers) had to be from shows that I actually watched—with some noted exceptions.

Here we go…

Best Drama: “NCIS”
To me, there were few bigger TV stories this fall than the rise of this show in its sixth season. But it just proves that good writing and a great cast will get you everywhere.

Worst Drama: “Heroes”
I almost felt like it was wrong for me to pick on “Heroes” since I only saw one episode in 2008. But as badly as this show has spiraled out of control, I couldn’t not mention it.

Best Comedy: “The Big Bang Theory”
If you’re not watching this show, you’re really missing out. Yes, the humor is geeky, but it’s hilarious. And Jim Parsons (Sheldon) is a comic genius.

Worst Comedy: “Kath & Kim”
I don’t even have the words to describe this comedy starring Molly Shannon and Selma Blair.

Best Reality Show: “Flipping Out”
Reality shows are only good if they’re real; and this one was as real as it gets as Jeff’s hidden camera sting to catch a lazy employee led to the dissolution of a marriage.

Worst Reality Show: “The Moment of Truth”
Do I really even need to explain this one?

Best Reality-Competition Show: “Top Chef”
Unlike “Project Runway,” “Top Chef” was able to pull off two good cycles in the same year. Granted, “Top Chef: New York” isn’t over yet, but it’s off to a good start. However, it will be hard to top “Top Chef: Chicago” and my guy Blais.

Worst Reality Competition Show: “Celebracadabra”
Remember when C. Thomas Howell was a promising young actor with his entire career in front of him? A career that didn’t include competing in (and winning) this ridiculous reality show? From the moment I heard the words “Go forth and magish,” I wanted to cry…

Best New Show: “Leverage”
It only took almost the entire year, but finally the best new show arrived in the form of this Robin Hood meets “The A-Team” drama.

Worst New Show: “Kath & Kim”
I know I’ve already mentioned this one, but it’s that bad.

Best Cancelled Show: “Back To You”
Although I felt at the time that FOX was making a mistake, I didn’t realize how big a mistake until I watched the DVD of the entire season. This was a funny show that FOX could seriously use now.
Runner-Up: “Women’s Murder Club”

Best Guilty Pleasure: “The Two Coreys”
When you talk guilty pleasures, they don’t get much guiltier than this one. Yet somehow I got completely sucked in. There was just something so raw about it that just kept me watching.

Best Show I’m Not Watching: “The Mentalist”
There’s no reason for me not to watch this show, except that I just don’t feel like sitting down and watching it.

Best Actor: Kiefer Sutherland (“24: Redemption”)
I’m just glad “24: Redemption” aired this year so I could get this in.
Runner-Up: Neil Patrick Harris (“How I Met Your Mother”)

Best Actress: Natalie Zea (“Dirty Sexy Money”)
The writers completely destroyed her character, but not her ability to play her.

Best Use of a Guest Star(s): Harry Anderson, Markie Post and Charles Robinson, “30 Rock”
Jennifer Aniston got all the hype for this episode, but it was these three “Night Court” veterans that made the episode as Kenneth the Page finally got what he wanted—the wedding of Harry (Anderson) and Christine (Post).

Worst Use of a Guest Star: Emilio Estevez, “Two and a Half Men”
Finally, after all these years, we got the reunion of Charlie Sheen and his brother Estevez; but for what? Estevez’s character died within moments of being introduced and his only major scene featured a few one-liners about the afterlife. It was a total waste of a golden opportunity.

Best Story: Ted and Stella’s Courtship, “How I Met Your Mother”
Britney Spears got all the headlines but Sarah Chalke (Stella) was the best guest star on “HIMYM” this year. And Ted and Stella’s first date, which was filmed as one continuous scene in real time, was genius. I’m just sorry she wasn’t the mother

Worst Story: Tripp-Wren-Nick Love Triangle
I don’t know what was worse—the fact that Tripp was old enough to be Wren’s father, the fact that Tripp was married or the fact that Tripp thought of Nick as his own son. But any of the three made this story absolutely disgusting. And Donald Sutherland’s strange accented portrayal of Tripp didn’t help.

Worst Story I’m Not Watching: Izzie and Denny’s Love Story, “Grey’s Anatomy”
It’s bad enough that Creator/Head Writer Shonda Rhimes has brought Denny’s ghost back as many times as she has. But Izzie having sex with Denny’s ghost? What the heck?! Of course all would be forgiven if this were just Rhimes’ way of getting back at Katherine Heigl for badmouthing the writers in her famous Emmy non-submission statement.

Best Moment: David Cook Wins “American Idol”
Let’s face it. Season seven of “Idol” was a bit of a disappointment. But when Ryan Seacrest announced David Cook as the winner, it was a beautiful, touching moment—exactly what TV is all about.
Runner-Up: Hurley declares, “I’m one of the Oceanic Six!” on “Lost "

Best Football Broadcast Team: Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson I always loved Danielson with Brent Musberger on ABC, but Lundquist and Danielson, the CBS college football team, are even better. They take shots at people, at network promos and each other and they are genuinely funny doing it.
Runner-Up: Brent Musberger and Kirk Herbstreit (ESPN on ABC College Football)

Worst Football Broadcast Team: Mike Tirico, Ron Jaworski and Tony Kornhiser (“Monday Night Football”)
You want to see and hear what tension looks and sounds like? Watch “Monday Night Football.” Kornhiser is not a football expert and Jaworski never lets him forget it as Jaws clearly resents Kornhiser’s presence. Jaws talks down to him, he snaps at him and basically does everything but calls him a total idiot. Of course, it’s possible he did that too and I just missed it.

Biggest Story of the Year: NBC Retaining Jay Leno
This story wasn’t only big because it meant that Jay wasn’t going to another network. It was also big because it meant the end of primetime TV as we know it. By giving Jay a nightly show at 10 p.m., NBC is basically throwing in the towel on trying to program anything for that time—which means five hours less of programming a week. Oh how the mighty have fallen…
Runner-Up: The Rise of “NCIS”

Worst Network Move: ABC’s Decision to Hold Its Three New Dramas Until This Season
ABC decided to hold the second halves of their three new strike-shortened dramas—“Pushing Daisies,” “Private Practice” and “Dirty Sexy Money”—until this season. And the results have been disastrous. Both “Daisies” and “Money” have been cancelled and “Practice”—which would be cancelled if it weren’t a “Grey’s Anatomy” spin-off—is moving timeslots. Yes, all three have continuing stories, but all three were just starting to gain momentum—especially the Emmy-nominated “Daisies.” Not to mention that “DSM” returned as a shell of its former self.

Biggest Disappointment: “Project Runway” Season 5
This was supposed to be Bravo’s beautiful swan song. But instead it only left a bad taste in our mouths as there were no interesting personalities, the talent was suspect, the challenges were just blah product placements and Kenley—one of the most annoying reality show contestants ever—inexplicably made it all the way to the finale.
Runner-Up: “Dirty Sexy Money” Season Two

Biggest Heartbreak: Tim Russert’s Death
One of these days I’ll make it through a Tim Russert tribute without crying. But that probably won’t be anytime soon.

So what do you think? Feel free to debate my choices and add some of your own by posting a comment or e-mailing me at
While you mull over your choices, I wish you all a Happy New Year!
Photo Credits: Art Streiber/CBS, NBC, Sonja Flemming/CBS, Mitchell Haaseth/NBC, Bravo, Patrick Wymore/FOX, Bravo, VH1, TNT, Fox Home Entertainment, Andrew Eccles/A&E, Randy Tepper/CBS, Kelsey McNeal/FOX, Randee St. Nicholas/ABC, Greg Gayne/Warner Bros., Eric McCandless/FOX, Scott Garfield/ABC, Michael Becker/FOX, Craig Blankenhorn/CBS Sports, ESPN, Bravo