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Faves of Oh-Ten: Television

Since TV has come to a screeching halt for the holidays, I’ve decided to post a few “Faves of Oh-Ten” lists. But you should be warned: these are not “Best of” lists. They can’t be, because I haven’t seen everything. Maybe one day I’ll be able to do a year-end “Best of” list, when I’m rich and famous and lounge around all day doing nothing but watching television, mixing drinks and dictating my blog posts to a meek secretary. But for now I can’t watch everything, and that means I can’t provide a comprehensive list of the best television shows of the year.

Here’s your second warning: I am not an expert on television, and I’m really not an expert on anything else. Take, for example, movies. I love movies. But I don’t see them that often, and this year I hardly saw any good ones. There’s the fact that very few good movies came out this year. There’s the fact that even fewer good movies were playing in Halifax, where I live. There’s the fact that if they did, they would play for short amounts of time or not at the downtown theater, or I just never made it out because I was busy watching television. And don’t even get me started on the music list – I listen to pop music, and my “Faves of Oh-Ten” music list is going to expose me as being incredibly uncool.

All that said, I’m hoping to post lists on movies, music, books, podcasts, things that were overexposed but are still great, and a worst list, all before the clock chimes midnight on the 31st. Without further ado, here are my ten favorite television shows of 2010:


1.       Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains (Aired Feb.11 – May 16)
This was a seriously good season of Survivor, other than the fact that Parvati was robbed in the end. But it’s at the top of the list because every single episode was a great episode. 
Highlights:
  • “Slay Everyone, Trust No One”, the premiere episode with an epic first challenge
  • “Banana Etiquette”, the sixth episode where Tyson pulled an idiotic move and voted himself out – it seriously weakened Boston Rob’s alliance and changed the entire course of the game
  • “Going Down in Flames”, the tenth episode where Parvati famously pulled two immunity idols out of her bag and gave them to people who weren’t even in her core alliance
2.       Mad Men, Season Four (Aired July 25 – October 17)
Mad Men in general was a favorite of 2010 for me, since I started watching the show this summer. I finished just in time to be outraged by the season four finale along with everyone else.
Highlights:
  • “The Suitecase”, the seventh episode of the season that featured a lot of Don and Peggy time that was all kinds of amazing
  • “The Beautiful Girls”, the ninth episode that is commonly referred to as “The Sally Episode”
3.       Friday Night Lights
The fifth and final season of Friday Night Lights began airing this year, but this show also gets the special distinction of being named “Discovery of The Year”. Unlike Mad Men, which I always knew I’d love once I got around to watching it, I had no idea I would like Friday Night Lights. It’s about teenagers who play football in Texas for god’s sake, how could I possibly like it? Now the only question is what I’ll do when it’s gone.
4.       Modern Family, Seasons One & Two
I missed the boat on this show at first too, but once I started watching I couldn’t stop. I have a feeling this show will be a classic that I’ll still be popping into the DVD player years from now.
Highlights:
  • Everyone in the cast. Seriously, everyone.
  • The October 13 episode “Strangers on a Treadmill”
5.       Parenthood, Seasons One & Two
Now here’s a show that I was into from the start. Parenthood started off with average reviews and low ratings, but over the course of 2010 it slowly gained both viewers and acclaim. Which means I get to be all pretentious and tell people I was watching before anyone else was.
Highlights:
  • “Man vs. Possum”, an early episode that dealt a lot with Max’s Asperger’s diagnosis, a storyline so artfully done that it really sets this series apart from other family dramas
  • “Team Braverman”, one of the last episodes in the first season that highlighted one of my favorite characters, Amber
  • “Orange Alert” and “Happy Thanksgiving”, two episodes from the second season that showed holiday episodes don’t have to be gimmicky
6.       Grey’s Anatomy, Season 6 Finale & Season Seven
I was so done with Grey’s Anatomy. At the beginning of the sixth season back in ’09, I was ready to quit. A bunch of new characters had been introduced, too many of my favorites were gone and the storylines felt tired. And then came the season finale. Since then, it’s like Grey’s has been reborn – into a show that I actually look forward to every week.
Highlights:
  • “Sanctuary” and “Death and All His Friends”, the May 20 finale that might have been two of the most gripping hours of television ever
  • “With You I’m Born Again”, the season seven premiere that proved the finale wasn’t a one time success
  • “These Arms of Mine”, the October 28 episode that featured a documentary crew making a film about the Seattle Grace mass murder
7.       Dexter, Season Five (Aired September 26 – December 12)
OK, so it was no season four. But the introduction of Julia Stiles as Lumen brought out a whole new side to our favorite serial killer, and the aftermath of Rita’s death made for a subtle, somber and chilling season.
Highlights:
  • “Beauty and the Beast”, the October 17 episode where Lumen told Dexter “There were others”
  • “Everything is Illumenated”, the October 31 episode had me on the edge of my seat as Dexter tried to juggle both his victim and Lumen’s
  • “Hop a Freighter”, the December 5 penultimate episode that was, for me, the strongest of the season
8.       The Amazing Race, Seasons Sixteen & Seventeen
Season 16 of The Amazing Race ran from February 14 to May 9 this year, and while it seemed like most people were Team Cowboy all the way, I was happy to see superfan Jordan and his brother Dan win. When season 17 aired this fall I was even more excited to see history made when all-female teams placed first and second.
Highlights:
  • Brothers Dan & Jordan, cowboys/cousins Jet & Cord, detectives Louie & Michael and father/daughter team Steve & Allie in season 16
  • Friends Nat & Kat, home shopping network hosts Brook & Claire, father/daughter team Gary & Mallory and father/son team Michael & Kevin in season 17
9.       Huge, Season One (Aired June 28 – August 30)
ABC Family’s show Huge gets the Most Unfair Failure of 2010 award. The show was about teens at a summer weight loss camp, was funny, sweet and original. I watched all ten episodes as they aired this summer and was looking forward to more when I heard it got canceled. If only they’d given it a chance, I think it could have developed into something really strong.
Highlights:
  • Hairspray’s Nikki Blonsky as a sassy, independently-minded teen struggling to decide if she can lose weight without losing her personality
  • Hayley Hasselhoff (yes, David’s daughter) as the thinnest and prettiest girl at camp with a mysterious home life
  • The show’s pop culture spoofs, like “Them” magazine and the Twilight spoof “Phantasma”
10.   The Big C, Season One (Aired August 16 – November 15)
This show gets the Comback Award, since I fell out of love with The Big C during the middle of the season and they pulled me back in with the last several episodes. I’ll definitely be watching when the show, about a woman who gets diagnosed with terminal and inoperable cancer, returns in 2011.
Highlights:
  • Laura Linney as Cathy, a character as kooky as she is heartbreaking
  • The final two episodes “Everything that Rises Must Converge” and “Taking the Plunge”
  • The scene in the season one finale where Cathy’s teenaged son discovers a storage unit containing every birthday, Christmas, graduation and wedding gift his mother would have wanted to give him in the coming years


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