The year 2005 may be remembered less for its shows and more for its news coverage. Sure, there was plenty happening in TV Land: Stars were learning to dance, Danny Bonaduce was breaking, “Lost” finally showed us what was in the hatch and “Desperate Housewives” was sinking into an almost insurmountable second-season slump. But it was the nonstop news events that had us glued to our sets, for better (the empathetic Katrina coverage) or worse (the scandalous Michael Jackson trial).
So, what stood out as 2005's “Five Best” TV shows?
“Arrested Development” (FOX)--Hey, this could be the last season, what with FOX cutting it loose. (FX, HBO, Showtime, where are you?) But any show that can make jokes about its own cancellation gets my vote. At least it goes into the sunset as one of the funniest, most criminally undervalued sitcoms on TV. Four parting words: Best ensemble cast ever.
“Battlestar Galactica” (Sci-Fi)--Who'd have thought Sci-Fi Channel capable of creating a back-to-basics sci-fi series that busts beyond the usual geek appeal and has the courage to tackle timely issues of religion, war, terrorism and politics? This is everything the last three “Star Trek” series should have been, but weren't. Impeccable.
“Entourage” (HBO)--I pretty much just rotate a different HBO Sunday night show into the “best of” list every year. Last year was “Deadwood.” This year is “Entourage.” Don't get me wrong. “Deadwood” was still great. “Rome” was outstanding. But “Entourage” really came into its own this year. Biggest accomplishment: Making us feel sorry for asshole agent extraordinaire Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven).
“My Name is Earl” (ABC)--There are plenty of reasons to love this goodhearted sitcom. First of all, it's funny. Second of all, it doesn't look like every other sitcom on TV. But the best reason I can think of to love this show is that it has actually turned Maxim covergirl emeritus Jamie Pressley into one of TV's best comediennes. Now that's an accomplishment.
“Prison Break” (FOX)--Like the intriguing first season of “24,” this intense FOX drama has got an intangible something going for it. How else to explain the fact that the show has managed to keep viewers riveted amid the absolutely preposterous plot twists? Every time the show seems to dig itself into a corner, the writers tunnel their way out. I have no idea how long this can actually be stretched out, but it sure is fun watching what develops every week.
The Next Five: “The Closer” (TNT), “The Daily Show” (Comedy Central), “Into the West” (TNT), “Lost” (ABC), “Rome” (HBO).
The Worst Five: “But Can They Sing?” (VH1), “Dr. Phil Primetime Special with Pat O'Brien” (CBS), “Kevin & Britney: Chaotic” (UPN), “The War at Home” (FOX), “Who's Your Daddy” (FOX).