Wow, this place is dusty. Here’s hoping 2009 brings 2009 blog posts (or at least more than the handful 2008 brought).
But, with new beginnings brings a look back at what has passed. Without my usual preamble, and just cuz I feel like it, the top 10 new scripted pieces I saw in 2008 (will feature mostly hour-long and half-hour TV, with a sprinkling of movies, since I didn’t see many, and possibly a video game, since they totally count).
10: House – 4×16 – “Wilson’s Heart”
Because it doesn’t hurt here.
Normally House is great because Beth and I can shout derisively at the screen – “House is always right!” – whenever a character decides to second-guess the amazing Hugh Laurie’s ascerbic diagnostitian, as they try to ratchet out conflict by having others doubt his crazy theories could be right. They always are, and the mystery is always solved with nearly universally positive results. Last season’s finale got solved relatively quickly and easily, but it was the aftermath (the death of Wilson’s girlfriend due to House’s needing a lift from the bar) that revealed some of the most genuine and touching moments yet for the good doctor.
9. Mad Men – 2×11 – “The Jet Set”
I make love with the men, not the women.
An out there moment, to be sure, but one that kind of sums up perfectly what this show does best: take the morays of the 60s and throw them into question, oftentimes leaving its characters behind in what is going to be a huge social and cultural upheaval. And that doesn’t even touch on the fact that this was the episode where Don just took off from his conference in LA to join the crazy beach house and ended the week by calling someone as Dick Whitman, his long-buried secret identity. I almost lost these moments between the Decemberists intro and the Marti Noxon mandated rape plotline, but this show is still amazing.
8. Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles – 1×09 – “What He Beheld”
He said very little, and then he was quiet.
This show snuck up on me. I’m not big on the Terminator movies, but it is a damn fine hour of weekly sci-fi. It even made Brian Austen Green compelling! I know! And the image in the first season finale of bodies of armored FBI agents raining into an apartment complex pool to the tune of Johnny Cash made for a long summer of waiting.
7. 30 Rock – 2×12 – “Subway Hero”
I wandered around the building all night. I didn’t run into another living soul… except one gigantic lesbian. Who is Conan O’Brien, and why is she so sad?
This could just as easily have gone to “The One With The Cast of Night Court” for including, well, the cast of Night Court, or “Cooter” for the line “No it’s not. We’ve looked into it, and it’s not.”, but Tim Conway and the triumphant return of Liz Lemon’s delightfully sleazy ex-boyfriend Dennis (Dean Winters, also great as a polar opposite character on Terminator) took it.
Eeeee … vah?.
Amazing that they can do so much with so little. A touching, whimsical, hopeful story.
A man chooses, a slave obeys.
Yes, it first came out in 2007, but I didn’t have my 360 until 2008. Plus, the PS3 version was new in 2008, so I still technically didn’t break my rules. A gripping piece of work, I dare anyone playing through this not to be completely compelled and not just a little horrified. It’s very few movies even nowadays that can do such interesting work with ideas of free will, destiny and power, let alone go for 40 hours and let you shoot stuff the whole time.
4. Supernatural (Tie) – 4×01/4×08 – “Lazarus Rising”/”Wishful Thinking” (Honourable Mention to 3×13, “Ghostfacers”)
I’m really sorry to have to break this to you, but your bear is sick…
I knew there had to be a Supernatural on this list, I just didn’t realize how high it would be, or how many I had to weed through to pick just one. And even then I chickened out and took three. Could have been its own category. I like this show too much for my own good. But when it can wage an all-out war between heaven and hell one week, then have the boys hunt down a wishing-well animated, man-sized, stuffed (and clinically depressed) teddy bear the next, I simply must watch.
3. Pushing Daisies – 2×06 – “Oh Oh Oh, It’s Magic”
It’s a magic show.
Not quite yet gone but already greatly missed. Ned finally started to get some movement on tracking down and coming to terms with his father, and Lonely Tourist Charlotte Charles’ murder/undeadening kerfuffle started to really complicate. Plus Fred Willard showed up. Possibly the best Daisies of all.
2. Lost – 4×05 – “The Constant”
I love you Penny. I’ve always loved you.
It seems trite and simple, but seeing what is easily the most affecting personal story on Lost actually reach (at least at this point) a satisfying conclusion, one that is earned and rooted for, in what was also one of the most satisfying myth episodes of the series so far, with enough time bending and island-hopping to get any purist riled up, was nothing short of magnificent. I tried to find another, less obvious Lost for the list, but “The Constant” was just too good.
1. Battlestar Galactica – 4×07 – “Guess What’s Coming to Dinner”
I’m not even really sure this is fully number one, as a whole, but for the biggest sheer oh-my-God moment I can remember from the last 12 months, it deserves pause. That little girl at the edge of her mom’s bed, saying goodbye, ready to go to Rebel Six (for reasons we’ve yet to really find out) before Athena goes ahead and kills said Six, not to mention the basestar jumping away and Gaeta’s creepy-ass singing before getting his leg amputated … man, that was a great hour.