I'm probably ten days late for this post. Considering that July 1st marks the half way point of the year. But that date also coincided with the July 4th weekend which is a pretty busy time for my household. Over the next week, we will be seeing the premieres of the final season of Rescue Me and the return (finally!) of Breaking Bad, aka the Best Show of 2010. So this is probably the best time to look at the best of this year's best new and old programs.
1. Parks and Recreation (NBC). Honestly, every time I think about making a list of the best TV shows I usually bypass the comedies. Since the debut of The Sopranos, we have experienced a golden age for dramatic television. However, during that same time we have entered into a new age for the more sophisticated comedy. And while the mockumentary style that Parks N Rec. uses may seem ubiquitous and even a cheat (see The Office and Modern Family), it is still the funniest and deepest comedy on the air right now.
Sometimes I feel that I know Pawnee better than my own town. And if a show can get me to like a libertarian as much as I like Ron Swanson, then you know their are some talented writers involved.
The only negative of this past season came at the very end. The secrecy of Leslie and Ben's relationship seemed ingenuous. Would those two characters really be so scared of Rob Lowe's giddy and always optimistic Chris. I really hope they don't drag that arc out too much next season.
2. Downton Abbey(PBS). Again, not a show that I would ever dream of being on a top list of mine. In fact, I didn't even know about this show until a couple of weeks before it aired. Even then, I thought it was going to be a one and done miniseries. Thankfully, this British produced gem is extremely popular in its home country and will returning to American airwaves next winter.
Many critics compared the show to the '70s PBS program Upstairs, Downstairs. And many of those same critics thought the new version of Upstairs, Downstairs that aired on PBS in April was inferior to Abbey. I haven't seen either version of Upstairs, Downstairs, but I know Downton Abbey, a show set nearly 100 years ago when the world was on the brink of War to end all Wars, is the English costume drama for people who don't like English costume dramas.
For those interested in giving it a look, it is available via Netflix Instant Streaming.
3. Justified (FX). This Kentucky-set show got much more serialized in its second season. While most TV junkies love their serialization, there was a part of me that sort of missed the procedural cases of the first season. Still, along with Friday Night Lights, Justified gives us a blue-collar/red state characters that Hollywood is usually scared of.
4. Game of Thrones (HBO). I'll be posting a longer review on this show later this week.
5. Archer (FX). Not only a comedy. But an animated comedy. It's hard to believe that less than 25 episodes of this show actually exist. It's hard to write about Archer right now since so much time as passed since it last aired. However, I will go back and watch it again before the years. I will give a longer review of this show sometime in the near future.
The first season is also available through Netflix Instant Streaming (as of July 11, 2011).
Tomorrow I'll list some shows that almost made the Top 5. And in December, I'll be posting a Top 10 that may or may not include some of the above shows. Time will tell.