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Hey, Listen! Terry Gross and I Talk TV, for Most of Today's 'Fresh Air'
December 22, 2010  | By David Bianculli  | 1 comment

I didn't want to mention this until it got scheduled for sure -- but on today's (Wednesday's) edition of NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross, Terry spends almost the entire show talking about the year in television with... me.

Listen in, either on air -- or later, on the Fresh Air website, by clicking HERE -- and be prepared to take exception with my choices, or at least my omissions, for the year's Top 10. Terry already did, in a very funny way...




Tausif Khan said:

David, I have a question about your New on DVD This Week section. Caprica hasn't aired its final episodes in America yet the DVD for the entire second half of the first season is coming out this week? Does this mean that Syfy will not air the final episodes of the television series on air?

[No, it will, so far as I know -- just later. -- David B.]

[Diane here: Syfy plans to 'burn off' the remaining 5 episodes of Caprica 6-11 p.m. ET Jan. 4.]

Comment posted on December 22, 2010 2:16 PM

mike villers said:

hi david...nice to hear you on the show. noted your complaint about "having" to watch shows on your computer.

may i suggest getting yourself a big ass monitor?

i'm with you on fallon/springsteen, rivaled only by fallon's "pants on the ground."

have a great holiday!

Comment posted on December 22, 2010 3:48 PM

paul said:

Just heard you on FA..great list...you may have mentioned it elsewhere but now TV watching is costing much more than our investment of time and the cost of a tv set...

I know cable has been around for a long time (my family in the Philly suburbs had cable in 1976--my Dad approved because of the possibility of TV w/out commercials...boy was he wrong)...but now we are paying for cable, internet access, special fees for hd tv boxes, monthly fees for dvrs, premium tv channels, and now probably increased fees for wireless connections for our smart phones...don't you think it will reach a point and people will just say enough (my friend a recent widower decided to remove the HBO/Cinemax combo because he need to reduce monthly fees, but kept the dvr) or will all these fees go the way of long-distance telephone fees. Even purchasing DVDs of series we miss on HBO are getting pricey...so we just take out from the library

Comment posted on December 22, 2010 4:04 PM

Neil said:

Well, you were on with Terry, but then the Prez scheduled a news conference for the same hour Fresh Air runs in some markets (like here in San Francisco), and we got to hear NPR's news team (Paul Brown and Mara Liasson) dissecting it, instead of you dissecting the year in TV.

Ho ho ho!

Comment posted on December 22, 2010 6:30 PM

Omert said:


You neglected Fringe, which has the most imagiantive scripts, filled with intelligence and provocative elements. I suspect the move to Fridays will actually remind us of when "X-Files" first started there on Fox.

I also thought "Justified" with Timothy Oliphant deserved an honorable mention as well. I know it will be back this winter. Any idea when? Thanks for the show.

[Diane here: Justified returns on FX Feb. 9.]

Comment posted on December 22, 2010 7:51 PM

Mark, Philly 'Burbs said:

Great segment, I heard you on air from WHYY-FM in Philadelphia where Fresh Air is produced (unabashed plug!) I was happy to hear you mention Rubicon, then very saddened to hear it has been cancelled! I don't watch that much TV these days, primarily because of the poor quality of the writing and sometimes (as you remarked regarding Jersey Shore) reprehensible messages.

For me, though I don't watch a lot of TV, Rubicon is probably the best new show in twenty years. It's remarkably well written, acted, and directed. If you missed the first season, you've got a second chance! It's a first rate, remarkably intelligent thriller.

AMC is currently rerunning the show's original 13 episodes and VerizonFIOS's Free On-Demand has episodes 2,3, & 4 listed. Also, AMC's site has over 600 protest letters to date and there's been an online petition started which is referenced at the show's site. If you like the show, let them know!

Comment posted on December 22, 2010 8:35 PM

Eileen said:

I'll be laughing at (the Jersey Shore) "makes me want to shower" for the next several days.

I'm with you all the way on your choices, both best and worst. I still think 30 Rock is the funniest, most intelligently written comedy on tv. You almost have to watch it twice to catch everything. Alec Baldwin is a constant amazement.

And I don't recall a new tv season with such a drought. In the past, there were always a few that clicked, but this year I'm at a loss.

As I've said before on the site, Thank God for AMC and their bold moves in programming development. For a network that was so behind the eight ball a few years back, to think they have Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Rubicon and The Walking Dead is really something of a shock. But again, good for them. It's truly a shame the commercial networks just aren't getting the message. Any tv executive worth his paycheck just has to look at the nominations for the Emmys and wonder what his network is doing wrong. It used to be just HBO getting all the accolades, but in recent years you've got TNT, HBO, Showtime and AMC. So hats off to all the cable networks for producing what we the viewers want to see.

Comment posted on December 23, 2010 2:27 AM

Adam said:

Why isn't Justified on anyone's "Best of 2010," list? It's driving me nuts especially in the wake of the "Terriers," and "Rubicon," cancellations. If we can get even a fraction of the people who watch network garbage to watch these shows, we can keep them on the air.

Comment posted on December 23, 2010 4:30 PM

Tausif Khan said:

David, I listened to this piece 3 times! Twice in the car and once online. The only point I will have to disagree with you on is that Jon Stewart to me does not have the same responsibility as journalists. I think he has the same responsibility as Regis Philbin, Jay Leno and David Letterman. As long as he isn't a sycophant and asks intelligent questions he is fine in my opinion.

I am surprised at how political Letterman gets at times. When he has politicians on his show he does not let them get away with their tired old talking points.

Leno on the other hand has recently looked like he has been auditioning to take his show to Fox News.

[I don't think we disagree at all, Tausif. Thanks for listening. And listening. And listening... -- David B.]

Comment posted on December 24, 2010 12:37 PM

jan said:

I'm so glad you listed "The Choir" as one of the best of the year. I just happened on it one evening and was hooked for the duration. I, too, was often in tears watching it (music tends to make me do that anyway, and the transformation of the people as they sang just added to the overall effect), and I was totally surprised by the ending. I would love to know what's happening with Malone now. Just a lovely show.

I was sorry, though, that you didn't list "Terriers," which I thought got better and better each week, and, unfortunately, is now cancelled. Donal Logue just can't get a break. (I'm still waiting and asking for "Knights of Prosperity" to come out on DVD. Something made me laugh every week on that show.) And I also really liked "Justified." Otherwise, I can't argue with most of your choices, although I don't get SHO so didn't see "Dexter" and find "30 Rock" to be inconsistent.

Anyway, thanks for your thoughtful list (although I might have had "Treme" and "Boardwalk Empire" up there instead of "Dexter" -- only because I didn't see it and have no idea how it was - and "30 Rock," for the above listed reason). I found with "Treme" that I just wanted to know more about these people and hated it when each episode ended.

One last comment: I thought "Rescue Me" returned to form this past season after a couple of really rocky ones (not that I ever stopped watching). Maybe having an end in sight helps a show focus.

[Great reactions, and alternatives. Thanks for taking the time to enumerate them. -- David B.]

Comment posted on December 26, 2010 9:50 AM

R. Orr said:

I agree with many of your tv choices (such as Glee, the Good Wife, Jon Stewart) for 2010. However, thinking about my favorite tv shows this year, I found it easier to categorize them by genre, in order not to overlook and leave any out.

Such as in the comedy genre: Somehow both Community and the Ricky Gervais Show became must see tv this past year. I've yet to see either of these shows make a top ten list...but both were extraordinary in generating laughter and in Community's case: having a big heart.

As much as I love Jon Stewart (I'm a huge fan!), in the arena of political/comedic shows - I found drawn this past year to Bill Maher's Real Time. Maybe he doesn't have the influence and weight of the Daily Show - but I thought Bill's guests were amazing...his conversations enlightening and politically charged and right on (for the most part).

In Sci/Fi category: Dr. Who and the Walking Dead both at times took my breath away for different reasons. And of course, I can't forget about the emotional rollercoaster of Lost's final season and the long con of the writers and producers at the end...totally taking us all by surprise and hitting us in the gut and becoming one of the few truly spiritual shows on tv.

Anyway...these are some of my personal favorites of 2010 overlooked on many top ten lists. Thank you for reading Dave...happy New Year!

[Can't argue with ANY of your choices, and have championed most. Nice job! -- David B.]

Comment posted on December 28, 2010 4:00 PM

Sally W. said:

My personal notable tv of 2010 list isn't nearly as exciting as others, but I definitely counted the following (in no particular order):

1. "Lost" final season.

2. "Fringe" (I thought that the pursuit of the alternate universe arc made the season exciting. Anna Torv as two Olivias was quite the acting feat. And, John Noble as two Walters was also amazing).

3. Craig Ferguson and his (didn't make it on tv/but smuggled on YouTube) Doctor Who opening.

4. "Baseball: The Tenth Inning" - the extra inning episode of the Ken Burns' documentary was pretty good for covering the last 20 years of baseball, I thought.

5. Macbeth on PBS - with Patrick Stewart as Macbeth and Kate Fleetwood as Lady Macbeth: that was amazing tv!

6. Hamlet on PBS - with David Tennant (Doctor Who) as Hamlet and Patrick Stewart as Claudius: that was also really amazing tv!

7. new Sherlock on PBS' "Masterpiece Mystery!" (not only was it a great production by the Doctor Who folks, it was a nifty way to re-interpret Holmes and Watson in the modern era; I really thought it was remarkable how some things didn't change, with Watson still being a Army medical doctor returning from Afghanistan!).

8. Jon Stewart and the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear on The Daily Show. (I thought it was pretty fun to watch on tv, anyway).

9. Conan O'Brien's Tonight Show last episode (I really admired Conan's closing remarks that the audience not to give in to cynicism).

10. Community - this is turning into my favorite show this year with the creativity and the way the cast and the writing has been able to show funny and poignant character development. The episodes of Abed's Christmas and Troy's 21st birthday were just solid.

I also considered the following as runners up to my 10 list:

on FX: "Justified" and "Archer" (I think "Archer" is ridiculously sick and funny, since it somehow met my low brow tv needs while I continue to boycott the likes of "Jersey Shore");

the Winter Olympics in Vancouver (I gripe that NBC became almost arbitrary with their coverage, but it was still watchable with all the stories and feats);

and the final season of "Law and Order" (the original/the mothership!).

Oh, and I'd give "Hawaii 5-O" some credit, although I haven't really caught too much of it (I did find that it has a nice look, and I like Scott Caan's charisma on the show, not to mention seeing Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park!).

[Wow. I agree with EVERYTHING you said here. So much TV, so small a Top 10 list. I bow to your passion, and think you've come up with a perfectly appropriate Alternate Universe Top10 TV list -- perfectly appropriate, especially, given the nods to "Fringe." -- David B.]

Comment posted on December 30, 2010 1:35 AM
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