“Battlestar Galactica” (Sci-Fi) They ended one season with a storyline about a stolen election and picked up the next season with most of the human race devolved into suicide bombers under an inhuman occupation force. The miracle of this series is not that it discusses hot-button political issues, but that it does so while still being one of the most exciting, action-packed shows on TV. (That battle for the freedom of New Caprica just about gave me a coronary!)
“Big Love” (HBO) Basically every Sunday night show HBO has belongs on this list (“The Wire,” “Deadwood,” “Rome,” “Entourage,” “The Sopranos”). But this year, I’m gonna go with this freshman series about multiple marriage in Mormon country--mostly because its three female leads (Jeanne Tripplehorn, Chloë Sevigny, Ginnifer Goodwin) are the most intriguing trio of characters on TV right now.
“The Colbert Report” (Comedy Central) That this show now produces more consistently biting humor than its predecessor “The Daily Show” says something.
“Heroes” (NBC) Taking the continuing-mythology storytelling of “Lost” and “Prison Break” and placing it in a highly accessible real-world setting makes this ordinary-
The Lost Room (Sci-Fi) It’s still hard to believe this miniseries aired on the same network that gave us Boa vs. Python. Just shows what you can do with an original script, a solid cast (no Dean Cain!) and some credible production values. Here’s hoping it gets picked up as a series, because there’s plenty in this universe to explore.
“Project Runway” (Bravo) I hate reality TV. So why was I glued to the set for this weekly fashion parade?
“Thief” (FX) Like Lost Room, this addictive six-episode crime drama is the sort of thing TV should be doing more of: high-quality, well-scripted, star-driven, limited-run projects. Stop milking shows for all they’re worth. (“Lost” and “Prison Break,” this is going to start applying to you very soon.) Dump the old paradigms and give us more experiments like this!
Thursday Night Comedy (NBC) NBC still faces an uphill battle on Thursday nights, but in November programming executives finally brought back an all-comedy lineup that is the surest successor to “Must See TV.” “My Name Is Earl” (best sitcom going), “The Office” (finally emerging from its Britcom predecessor’s shadow), “Scrubs” (always welcome) and “30 Rock” (uneven, but increasingly worth the effort) are as solid a block as any network can boast.
“24” (FOX) Stripping away wives, daughters and all that tangential crap, “24” exploded into its fifth season with its best, most twist-filled storyline to date. Adding to the perfection were Jean Smart and Gregory Itzin, this year’s power couple: She looking like a First Lady Macbeth, he acting like a clueless Commander in Chief. But, oh, how the tables turned when she became the whistleblower and he revealed himself as the devious villain behind it all!
When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts (HBO) Spike Lee had a hell of a year. After directing his biggest theatrical hit (Inside Man), he released this shattering documentary. Plunging into New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Lee captured the most harrowing footage yet of that disaster. But this quietly outraged film’s strength came most from the simmering-