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 V.19 No.52 | December 30 - January 5, 2011 

Idiot Box

Top 10 TV

Best (and worst) of 2010

The Best

“Better Off Ted” (ABC)—Sorry, Ted. You were TV's boldest laugh-getter, but the network screwed you. Just like your bosses at Veridian Dynamics.

“Breaking Bad” (AMC)—Not only is this show constantly awesome, but we get to call it one of our own.

“Community” (NBC)—There were plenty of highlights amid this season’s increasingly self-referential satire (the stop-motion holiday special!). But the epic paintball episode was the single best episode of anything in 2010. Turning a 22-minute sitcom into a rapid-fire (pun intended) parody of every action movie ever made was inspired.

“Cougar Town” (ABC)—Sitcoms are on the rise. But this scrappy underdog has been working its ass off to climb above the pack. The cast has the best timing of any jokers in prime time. Hell, even the lousy title has become a source of much humor. Kudos for making it work, gang!

“Modern Family” (ABC)—This is how you make a traditional sitcom. Great cast, great writing. Simple as that.

“Parks and Recreation” (NBC)—After a rocky, “The Office”-imitating first season, this workplace sitcom gained confidence in its cast, finding great jokes for prime time’s best scene stealers (Nick Offerman, Aziz Ansari, Aubrey Plaza ... hell, even Chris Pratt got funny).

Temple Grandin (HBO)—Best made-for-TV movie of the year. Best Emmy speech of the year.

“Terriers” (FX)—Like “Freaks and Geeks” and “Firefly” before it, this shaggy dog of a detective show is a one-season wonder that will only grow in cult status. Donal Logue and Michael Raymond-James were pitch-perfect as down-on-their-luck crime solvers. Plus, the show’s writing beautifully segued from dark comedy to tightly wound drama over the course of a single-story-arc season. Too bad about the cancellation.

“Treme” (HBO)—It’s tough to choose the best HBO series: “True Blood”? “Boardwalk Empire”? “The Pacific”? All worthy contenders. But this post-Katrina portrait of New Orleans—dismissed by many as too slow—had far and away the most colorful cast of characters and built to some of the most quietly emotional moments of the year. Finally seeing Clarke Peters done up in full Indian chief regalia was cathartic. Kim Dickens’ decision to leave the city was heartbreaking. But Melissa Leo’s stiff-upper-lip in the face of season-long tragedy was Emmy-quality stuff.

“The Walking Dead” (AMC)—With only six episodes to judge, it might be premature to label this one of the best. Even within that short timeframe, the show had its ups and downs. Still, the highlights (Rick killing Bicycle Girl, Glenn wearing guts for garters, Daryl being the world’s best asshole) are enough to give high hopes for the second (full) season. Why hasn't anyone made a zombie survival series before?

The Worst

Fred: The Movie (my definition of Hell); “Skating With the Stars” (save us from “Cooking With the Stars”); “Bridalplasty” (we are a sick, sick nation); “Conveyor Belt of Love” (yes, this was a thing); “The Marriage Ref” (the laziest network show ever assembled); “The Jay Leno Show” (worst idea in the history of TV); “Outsourced” (funny as a rubber crutch); “The Jeff Dunham Show” (proof that 8-year-olds shouldn’t be network execs); “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” (ladies and gentlemen, the next president of the United States); “Kate Plus 8” (somebody make this woman get a job); “The Hasselhoffs” (How bad does a reality show have to be to get canceled after two episodes? This bad).

 
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