Loading...

TiVo Top 10 

The year in good TV

Thursday, Apr 27 2006
Comments

I could easily fill this list with returning shows that continued to entertain us with quality TV — Deadwood, Veronica Mars, The Daily Show, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Entourage, Ted Koppel’s last year at Nightline — but that would leave out all the new programs that grabbed my attention in 2005.

Invasion The best of the new alien series. For one thing, it has William Fichtner, who right now is officially TV’s creepiest dude. His uniform says sheriff, but what chills the blood is his secretive role as the soft-spoken “mayor” to his alien-infected Everglades community. In a recent episode, he even persuaded an amputee, who was elated to have his arm restored after an alien encounter, to chain-saw it off so he wouldn’t attract attention. Wow. Nothing that emotionally disturbing or flat-out freaky ever happened on Threshold or Surface.

My Name Is Earl It’s been a pretty good year for new comedy on the networks — and I’m hoping that shows like The Office, How I Met Your Mother and Out of Practice get even better — but this Jason-Lee-with-a-mustache show seemed fully formed right away. Its beer-buzz sunniness and trailer-park farce plots are a joyfully funny antidote to the sarcasm orgies in today’s sitcom world.

Related Stories

  • True Romance Gets Its Own Fan Festival

    True Romance didn't play by the rules. When Quentin Tarantino–penned, Tony Scott–directed, giddy, swoony, bloody trifle opened in 1993, critics adored it and audiences stayed away. "I was really bummed out when the movie came out that it didn't do better," says Patricia Arquette, who starred as the cheery hooker...
  • Creative Town

    Forbes magazine this month put its stamp of approval on on L.A.'s role as one of the world's foremost providers of popular culture. The problem is that the publication didn't give us nearly enough credit.  Forbes ranked the 50 largest American metropolitan areas based on how well locals did with...
  • 2776, a Comedy Space Opera Made By a Crazy Number of Famous People

    At first one thinks it's the shrooms — because only a noise like this can be manufactured psychedelically. Then you think "Nah, I’m just waking up from a weird dream and the radio is on." And before you can pinch yourself into reality, you realize "No, I’m wide awake and...
  • Best Singer Songwriters Ever 50

    There's something about the singer-songwriter, the self-contained musical artist whose compositions succeed largely on the strength of his or her imagination. When determining our top 20, we considered both solo artists, and singers who were the primary songwriters for their bands. -Nicholas Pell 20. Gordon Lightfoot There are two kinds of...
  • Week of July 10th

    It's in the stars.

No Direction Home: Bob Dylan Martin Scorsese’s bio-doc for PBS’s American Masters series is a marvel of found-footage editing and talking-head storytelling. Dylan himself makes a surprisingly lucid guide for this emotional, humorous and wonderfully musical tour through his formative years as an artist and reluctant phenomenon during a period of American history that roiled with belief in political change and personal, artistic power.

Medium Currently, Patricia Arquette — as a Phoenix wife and mother grappling with psychic visions about crimes that inevitably test her more relatably humanlike ability to analyze and reason — is giving the best, most honest and most captivating weekly performance by a woman on television. Hers was an Emmy well-deserved.

Weeds Instead of using suburbia as a familiar framework upon which to graft jokes, this fresh, bracing and decidedly un-P.C. Showtime comedy takes pains to explore the duality that’s inevitable when people try to individuate in a world built on sameness. Mary Louise Parker’s pot-dealing mom is a truly fine sitcom creation: a woman whose empathy, wit, sadness and sexiness are all of a piece.

The Colbert Report The best thing about Stephen Colbert’s Daily Show spinoff is that it’s a different animal from Jon Stewart’s headline riffing and power pricking. It feels closer to alternative comedy theater, with its bespectacled star serving up a grandly weird portrayal of a constantly aggrieved, spitefully boastful opinion maker. It can be the kind of thing you’re not in the mood for night after night, but when you are, and he’s on fire, it’s tear-inducingly funny.

Green Wing/Extras/I Am Not an Animal Smart, tricky, funny British comedies continued to jump the pond more quickly than before, with Ricky Gervais’ latest embarrassment-humor series, Extras — a solid follow-up to The Office — even sharing co-production duties with HBO. Green Wing, on BBC America, presented a consistently nutty, gear-shifting parade of hospital employees in various throes of sexual panic, one-upmanship and pressurized derangement. And Sundance brought over the warped animated series I Am Not an Animal, which features lab-raised talking creatures who think they’re human, and incredible voice work from Steve Coogan and Julia Davis.

Homecoming When a talented director like Joe Dante winds up making his most fully realized film in years via an anthology series for Showtime, it’s time to acknowledge television’s ever-increasing ability to show up the movies. This razor-sharp tale of zombies, dirty politics, an unpopular war and peaceful-then-violent revenge was exhilarating stuff for the Masters of Horror series.

Wonder Showzen MTV2’s virulent strain of parody imagines a children’s show submitting cynical life lessons even Fassbinder might have deemed harsh, but nevertheless is crafted in the best spirit of gonzo comedy. I still can’t get some of the hilarious kid-on-the-street interviews — real-life grade schoolers saying wild-ass shit to grownups — out of my head.

The Staircase This six-hour Sundance Channel documentary by Frenchman Jean-Xavier de Lestrade, who won an Academy Award for the harrowing Murder on a Sunday Morning, kept you pingponging back and forth over the guilt or innocence of its subject: North Carolina widower Michael Peterson, who might have killed his wife and made it look like a fall down the stairs. Between the unusual level of support from his stepkids, the weird secrets in his life and the rigorous defense put on by his lawyer, this was like curling up with a cracking legal thriller. Go rent it.

Related Content

Now Trending

Los Angeles Concert Tickets

Slideshows

  • Here's What Happens When President Obama Comes to L.A.
    President Obama came to town again to rake in some funds and clog some traffic. The only view of his visit you probably saw were the brake lights of the car ahead of you in the traffic jam he caused, but here's what was really going on. All photos by Ted Soqui.
  • 21st Annual Classic Cars "Cruise Night" in Glendale
    On Saturday, spectators of all ages were out in multitudes on a beautiful summer night in Glendale to celebrate the 21st annual Cruise Night. Brand Boulevard, one of the main streets through downtown Glendale, was closed to traffic and lined with over 250 classic, pre-1979 cars. There was plenty of food to be had and many of the businesses on Brand stayed open late for the festivities The evening ended with fireworks and a 50th anniversary concert from The Kingsmen, who performed their ultimate party hit, "Louie, Louie." All photos by Jared Cowan.
  • The World Cup Celebrated And Mourned By Angelenos
    The World Cup has taken Los Angeles by storm. With viewings beginning at 9 a.m., soccer fans have congregated at some of the best bars in the city including The Village Idiot, Goal, The Parlour on Melrose, Big Wang's and more. Whether they're cheering for their native country, favorite players or mourning the USA's loss, Angelenos have paid close attention to the Cup, showing that soccer is becoming more than a fad. All photos by Daniel Kohn.