Countdown to the Future: Best of 2009

Category: , , , By Rev/Views

It's hard to believe that in just a few short days we'll be in the year twenty-ten (2010), I can't think of a year which sounds more futuristic until we hit twenty-twenty (2020). Of course, many things aren't that different from previous years, hardly surprising as most major inventions we rely on in modern society are generally things which were in truth thought of long before - those Greeks seem to have come up with a lot of it and we still haven't escaped their shadow.

But one thing which is clear, the past decade has been just astronomical with regards to television. It's come on in leaps and bounds when you compare it to the decades before it. That's something I'll take a look at later this week, but today the focus is on the last year - which for myself was the first year without any major shows I adored. Without The Wire and The Shield on our screens I've been a little anchorless to say the least, nothing yet has come to fill the void - but some shows have come close.

Best New Sitcom of 2009

This is probably the hottest category for myself, as I encountered a lot of new sitcoms over this year. Some of which, like Cougar Town, I dabbled in before deciding I couldn't be bothered watching them each week. I might pick them up later in the sales. I briefly entertained giving this one to Parks & Recreation, but the first season is pretty weak and the show has only just started to gain it's legs.

Better Off Ted was the front runner for a long while; the combination of cynical observations, amusing future tech, sharp writing and great acting made it hard to beat. This is the show that gave us racist motion sensors for cripes sake! Unfortunately it looks like BOT might be getting the chop, which makes it difficult for me to be completely enthusiastic about it anymore, I've fallen for too many shows that have been cancelled before their time - as such I'm cautious about giving my heart to any show which looks like it's having a rocky future.

So what managed to usurp Ted from the top slot? It's a sitcom which was brought to my attention by fellow (and better) blogger Rob Buckley, who tweeted about it and piqued my interest. It is of course NBC's Community - a show which I've compared to comedy giants Arrested Development and Seinfeld, a show which has gone from strength to strength and I predict will become huge within two years (or get cancelled because I like it - I seem to be the curse of death for shows).

Best Old Sitcom New to Me in 2009

As I also spend a fair amount of time looking backwards at great old shows from the past I also encountered a lot of sitcoms from years gone by. King of Queens was a strong contender for this slot for a long time, while it is most certainly a formulaic sitcom born right out of the previous decade it's got a lot of heart and remains consistently funny. Big Bang has hovered on the radar as well, but as I've only seen the first season at this point I'm holding back judgement.

The winner is a show I reviewed a while back; a brash, rude and hilarious show which really needs more recognition for it's genius. That show is "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia." Go watch it, seriously.

Best New Drama in 2009

What to say here? Most of the drama I've enjoyed this year has either been from previous years, in film format or as a mini-series. I haven't seen much in the way of brilliant new drama. But a large part of this comes from the hole left by 2008 - a year which saw the end of two of my favourite shows. Nothing that came out this year has come close to filling it, actually in truth I can't think of a new drama I started watching this year which was released in 2009. So I'm going to have to give this to Dollhouse, which I haven't even managed to watch a single full episode of yet - but I know it deserves the props.

Best Old Drama that's New to Me in 2009

On the other hand, this category is bursting to the seams with amazing television, a lot of which started in 2008. This includes shows like Legend of the Seeker, Fringe and more besides. Still there are two shows which have stood up ahead of the pack and it's been difficult picking between them to decide. Both had a solid - but not jaw dropping - first season in 2008, then lifted the bar up and punted into the stratosphere for their second season.

I am, of course, writing about Sons of Anarchy and Breaking Bad - two shows which have the potential to become my favourite shows over the coming years, it depends how they settle down in the future. As such, right now they're sharing the props.

Best Existing Drama in 2009

Mad Men - next!

Best DVD Set out in 2009

On the whole the DVD sets I've purchased this year have been solid but not inspiring when you're dealing with the production values. I personally feel it's important for a DVD set to not just contain great television, but it also needs to look good and take up as little space on the shelf as possible.

Some candidates are easily scratched off the list - every single DVD from the King of Queens series for example has the most horrible photo shopping on the covers of the boxes (a subject return to as I get annoyed with poor production values quite often).

The 4400's complete set came close to winning this, as did Deadwood and The Shield's respective complete sets. The Shield lost out because the packaging is stylish, but completely impractical for conventional storage. The other two shows lost out because they don't contain complete stories, both The 4400 and Deadwood ended up being cancelled as incomplete.

The newly released Complete Arrested Development was also a major contender, but it was pipped at the post by the re-designed complete box set for The Sopranos. It's an amazing show in a boxed set which is as small as it possibly can be, I don't think it's possible for it to take up less room without a completely new format for storage being created. It's nothing short of amazing.

Loveliest Woman of 2009

So who stole my heart this year on the small screen? Well Katey Sagal is always a solid choice in this category, certainly her performances in Futurama and Sons of Anarchy have cemented her as my top older woman. Likewise perennial favourites Jenna Fisher and Tina Fey have been wonderful in their respective sitcoms.

Other favourites like Tara Summers (Boston Legal) haven't really been present on my screens since their shows ended, so unfortunately they've not been eligible. But one lovely lass has been, Alison Brie (Community, Mad Men) and as such she's getting the prize.

Well, I think that's enough for one year. Later this week I'll take a proper look at the decade as a whole, an amazing decade filled with the best television we've ever had on our screens (and the worst also).


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