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Best TV Series of 2007? Best TV Ad? Same Winner...
December 28, 2007  | By David Bianculli
I've been ranking the year's best TV for more than 30 years now, and haven't seen this happen before. But here it is: The best TV series of the year, and the best commercial of the year, come from (and star) the same person.

The winner, in both categories: Tina Fey.

On NBC this year, her 30 Rock - already blossoming by midseason - finished the season brilliantly, and overcame a summer public-relations nightmare (Alec Baldwin's vitriolic answering-machine message to his daughter) to begin its sophomore season even stronger, with a guest appearance by Jerry Seinfeld. Before the writers went on strike, the show also had gotten great comedy work out of David Schwimmer, Paul Reubens, Elaine Stritch, Andy Richter, Buck Henry, even Al Gore.

But elsewhere on TV, and even sometimes during a commercial break for her own series, Fey also hit a home run shilling for America Express. Her ad - which, like 30 Rock, alludes to her Saturday Night Live days as head writer for a live TV sketch series - has her bombarded with one decision or disaster after another.


My favorite sight gag: One staffer asks her to approve the imported sheepherders gathered for one sketch, and Fey explains, with only slight exasperation, that she meant the other German shepherds.

But there are so many visual and verbal jokes in that commercial, and so many truly funny ones, that Fey's AmEx ad beats out most sitcoms when it comes to laughs. Her ad's a lot shorter - but also a lot better.

So if 30 Rock is on top, what is the rest of my Top 10 of 2007?

Let's save that until Monday, the last day of the year. Meanwhile, here are my five favorite movies, specials and miniseries of the year:
1) The War, PBS. Brilliant - the best yet by Ken Burns and company.
2) Planet Earth, Discovery Channel. Also brilliant, and just as ambitious.
3) Longford, HBO. Fabulous performances, in an intimate, intelligent docudrama.
4) Tin Man, Sci Fi Channel. An imaginative new take on The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
5) Masters of Science Fiction, ABC. The closest genre show in 40 years to the feeling and quality of the original Twilight Zone.

And the worst TV series of 2007? That's easy. ABC's Cavemen.




Eileen said:

I couldn't agree with you more regarding Tina Fey and "30 Rock". Tina is a national treasure, and "30 Rock" just keeps on getting better. It's the most brilliantly entertaining ensemble since Seinfeld.

As to your picks for tonite's tv, I think "Mississippi Burning" should be mandatory viewing for every history class in the US. I grew up during the 1960's, and vividly remember this case. It's amazing that it wasn't all that long ago that such horror existed. When it ran on tv a few years back, I made my then middle school aged son watch it; having been born & raised in NYC he was aghast that such brutality and ignorance were ever tolerated in this country. He couldn't believe there was a time in the US when he and his friends couldn't have sat together on a bus, or used the same water fountain. Again, not so long ago....

Comment posted on December 28, 2007 8:58 AM

Joyce said:


When I first heard that they were going to make a series based on Geico's caveman commercials, I rolled my eyes and figured it was going to be so bad. Having remembered the "Baby Bob" attempt at a series, I thought for sure this would not last more than two episodes. YET...for some unknown reason, I had decided to put this on my list of shows to give a chance. Anyone who knows me, knows I have a personal three episode rule. I commit myself to watching a new show for three episodes and then I decide if it's not really for me or if I have to start shuffling my other shows around to accommodate it. That being said...I watched the first episode of "Cavemen". While I wasn't on the floor writhing in pain from the laughter, I thought it was OK. Enough so that I was watching the next episode...again, not LOL funny but still enough chuckle out of me to not dread watching the third and final commitment episode the following week.
"Cavemen" is not genius comedy...it's not brilliant writing that gets your brain working; it's a show that you watch and you know people like them. Nick, the one who BSs his way through everything...He hates whatever is popular and he thinks he knows everything. Joel is the good guy of the group. He's the voice of reason...he works hard and seems to get nowhere, he's got the pretty girl and is constantly taunted by Nick. Then Andy, Joel's younger brother; the poor kid who is obsessed with his ex-girlfriend (which only lasted like 2 episodes?) Andy is the tag along, he doesn't do much but play video games. My favorite is Nick. He's such an ass from beginning to end...I love obnoxious people who annoy others merely because they love to do so. He's got a superiority complex to boot.

"Cavemen" is the type of show you want to watch when you're weary from the day and all you need is some show to watch where you don't have to think about it. For example, I have a friend that loves L&O:CI (as do I). Actually, we both love the episodes with Vincent D'Onofrio because he's just brilliant. I watch the show, I follow what's going on and when it's over, I'm done. My friend takes it to a deeper level. She reads so much into the things that I just overlooked but after talking to her and thinking about it, I realize she's right. To me, it's just a show. There's a crime, Goren and Eames solve it and then here come the credits. I never stop to think and realize the hidden meanings behind Goren's actions or how a simple conversation between Goren and Eames means much more because of their body language. I'm envious of her that she's so insightful and perceptive while I just sit like a couch potato and take it all at face value. She says I need to WATCH the show not just watch. I told her I'll leave the deep thoughts to her.
In a nutshell, I thought Cavemen was going to suck royally but I was wrong. It's not really that bad a show.
(That's a pretty big nutshell... but I thought I'd give you the space to make your case, especially since my take -- "Worst show of 2007" -- didn't take up much. -- David B)

Comment posted on January 5, 2008 2:32 PM

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