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Final Notes for 2010: Best and Worst Lists, and One Final Thanks
December 29, 2010  | By David Bianculli  | 2 comments
mad-men-10-Jy25-who-is-don-.jpgIt's the end of the year --and though I've already revealed my year's best and worst on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross (you can hear my lengthy conversation with her HERE), I'm reprinting it here, with additional comments. And, after that, with one final 2010 thank-you, to both the writers and readers of TV WORTH WATCHING...


Breaking Bad, AMC. The continued long-term ramifications of bad short-term decisions. Unpredictable, cryptic and alternately funny and tense.


The Choir, BBC America. Gareth Malone, a young British choirmaster, brings the gift of music to schools and communities like a modern Pied Piper -- without the rats. The year's most inspirational reality series.

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Comedy Central. Just by interviewing President Obama and mounting the Rally to Restore Sanity, Stewart kept himself uber-relevant this year. And he did a lot, lot more than that.

Dexter, SHO. Last season's cliffhanger finale was impossible to top, but, as it turned out, amazing to follow. Julia Stiles and Peter Weller gave appropriately off-kilter performances, and Michael C. Hall, this season, stole his own show.

Friday Night Lights, DirecTV/NBC NBC should be championing this as its best show, not presenting it after satellite TV as an afterthought. Kyle Chandler? Connie Britton? Still utterly brilliant, and amazingly, refreshingly real.

Glee, Fox. This year, its reach may have exceeded its grasp a few times, but even so, the originality, talent, and all-inclusiveness of this show make it both inspirational and, to me at least, endearing. Plus, it provided the best-ever cover version of "I Want to Hold Your Hand." Hand(s) down.
The Good Wife, CBS. Yes, broadcast networks CAN make 'em like they used to. This show, with its captivating characters, clever plots and subtle twists, is proof positive.

Mad Men, AMC. Love it. Evokes an era, and an attitude, completely, while proving to its characters, and viewers, that the era was neither precisely what we remember nor destined to last long. The surprise proposal of marriage in the season finale? A totally understandable, probably futile grasp at a chance for stability and calm.

Modern Family, ABC. So many clearly delineated characters, all rolled into one hilarious, fast-paced, embarrassingly relatable comedy. It's like watching Annie Hall on a weekly basis.

Rescue Me, FX. The women on this show -- especially Andrea Roth and Calie Thorne -- did an amazing job this year. The men may fight fires, but the female characters are ON fire.

30 Rock, NBC. For two reasons alone, this show defends its spot in the Top 10. One, the live show, an ambitious and successful experiment. Two, mirroring Comcast's takeover of NBC-Universal by having Jack's NBC network bought by "Kabletown." Which, by the way, has its own website, whih you can visit by clicking HERE.


True Blood, HBO. Every bit as sexy, gory, funny and exciting as this sort of show can and should be. It'd be my number one TV Guilty Pleasure, except it's so good, I don't feel guilty at all.

This list, just barely, leaves out such gems as ABC's Lost, AMC's The Walking Dead and Rubicon, FX's Damages and Justified, and many, many others, including a lot of shows I never missed and you readers wrote in to praise (HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher and The Ricky Gervais Show, for example).


Temple Grandin, HBO. Claire Danes was a revelation in this tasteful, unforgettable docudrama -- and so was its writing and direction, which sought to have us experience its heroine's view of the world from the inside out. And, in so doing, gave us the best such biographical drama since Sybil.


The Pacific, HBO. Equalling its companion miniseries, HBO's Band of Brothers, and telling the story of the same war from a different part of the world, was a tall order, much more likely to fail than succeed. Sort of like the Pacific campaign itself -- and yet, as in real life, The Pacific prevailed.



1) Jersey Shore, MTV. It is a blight upon all our houses, and a stain that will take decades to fully cleanse from our Snooki-polluted psyches.

2) ---- My Dad Says, CBS. This also could be summarized as ---- William Shatner Stars In. Not the worst TV show of the year, but certainly the worst one with the biggest star and profile.

3) Outlaw, NBC. Jimmy Smits plays a man who quits the Supreme Court to make a difference? This series was doomed from that supremely idiotic premise alone.


To all the writers on the masthead here at TV WORTH WATCHING, to managing editor Diane Werts, to the behind-the-scene guys who make the site look good and work well (that would be Eric Gould and Rich Baniewicz), many thanks for a successful expansion in 2010, and even bigger plans for 2011.

And, most of all, thank you who are reading this. The Internet is damned near infinite, and your time, like mine, is anything but. To have you here, today and any day, is an honor -- and a gift I'lll never take for granted.

Happy New Year.


Ken Rehfield said: You are so right David, there is so much out there but only a few worthwhile sites. I'm glad to give part of my time every day to you. Thanks for all the hard work and diligence and recommendations. Nudge, nudge... I'm still looking in my mailbox every day for the prize I won in a guess-the-gate contest earlier this year!

[Dear Ken -- It's next on my to-do list, honest. Right after the Christmas cards and letters go out this week. From 2009 AND 2010. So I'm nothing if not consistent. Be patient... I pay with interest, so when you DO get a box from me, it'll be a big one. Thanks for your remarkable patience. -- David B.]

Comment posted on December 29, 2010 11:27 AM

Dana said: How about Terriers on FX? Great show and should be on your list too. Also, Doctor Who.....
Comment posted on December 29, 2010 3:34 PM

Sally W. said: Happy New Year to you and everyone of TWW! Thank you for TWW! (and may we have worthy tv in 2011)...
Comment posted on December 30, 2010 1:37 AM

Ken said: What about FRINGE? I'm putting in my plug. It needs some more viewers.
Comment posted on December 30, 2010 3:44 PM

Rich T said: My Dad Says is one of my wife's favorite show. It is a show that improved as the season went on. The first three episodes if felt like the actors had no timing together. Now it seems like they really click. It might be worth a second look. It is at least not bad enough to be on this list.

[Okay, I'll try, try again. But this time, just in case, I'm watching through a pinprick in a piece of cardboard... Don't want to risk blindness from direct exposure. -- DB.]

Comment posted on January 4, 2011 5:00 PM
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