f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n: The Year in Review – Day 1 – Television/DVDs

f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n

Monday, December 20, 2004

The Year in Review – Day 1 – Television/DVDs

This isn’t a “Best Of” column, because frankly I don’t watch enough television to know whether these shows are actually the best stuff on. Also, I don’t have cable, so there’s a good deal I can’t watch. When all is said and done though, these have entertained me over the past year. Feel free to agree or disagree or stump for your own.

1. Arrested Development – Reinventing the sit-com in the wake of Friends and Frasier ending, this show packs in the most laughs and gags per 30 minutes of any show since the hey-day of The Simpsons. And they do it trusting that their audience will get it. Season 2 has been a little uneven so far, but Season 1, on DVD, rocked.

2. The Amazing Race – My humble offering to the gods of reality television. Never has standing in line for airline tickets or trying to pay for a taxi seemed so invigorating. This show, unlike most reality TV, isn’t about stripping people of their dignity on purpose nor necessarily about lying or cheating. Mostly it’s about going cool places, keeping calm under pressure and fatigue, and the fickle finger of fate.

3. Scrubs – ITWS. (“It’s the Writing, Stupid.”) Like Arrested Development, this sit-com soars because of way-above-par writing. Here, it’s not only laughs but poignancy as well.

4. Lost – I am not a Lost fanatic, but I’ve been keeping track of the story. The narrative-style (lots o’flashbacks) is killing me and the writers have let more plot threads drop than most shows use in a year, but each show usually ends with a strong pull for next week.

5. Monk – Someone tapes this for us. I never have any idea when it’s going to be on. My wife could care less. Still, Tony Shaloub rocks in this character. He’s a darn fine actor.

1. The Office – Best thing I watched on my television this year. David Brent needs to enter the common parlance as, say, Scrooge has.

2. Freaks and Geeks – Now on DVD. I wish I could buy it for all of you.

3. The Simpsons – Easily one of the top 5 shows of all time. Seasons 3 and 4 should be in the Smithsonian. And if you need your fill of literary allusions watch “A Streetcar Named Marge” which manages to base two separate plots around Tennessee Williams and Ayn Rand.

4. Looney Tunes – My daughter likes “Duck Amuck,” “Feed the Kitty,” “The Scarlet Pumpernickel” and “Hare-Raising Hare.” Chuck Jones and Mel Blanc rock.