Monday, March 29, 2010

Keeping this Up ---- Next 5

40. Party of Five ---- The Wedding Day
Probably the most undervalued show in the 90's was this teen drama. The Salinger's suffered a lot of blows during the series six year run, but watching Charlie and Kirstin's wedding implode has always made my heart ache (even though eventually they would make it to the altar). Matthew Fox for the first time demonstrated that he would become an acting force unseen in my lifetime. I hope this finds syndication somewhere so a new generation can discover it.

39. Scrubs ---- His Story
Yes, Zach Braff is a comedic genius who made Scrubs work for eight years. But the real force of nature on this show was John C. McGinley as Perry Cox, and getting a chance to look inside his head for the first time, and seeing the mixture of anger and endless, gleeful sarcasm to find that there is a heart there. The factor he never even saw a nomination from the Emmy's over the shows eight year run in reason 784 I can't take them seriously.

38. The Shield --- Family Meeting
Next to The Wire, this was the most riveting police drama on TV, and the last episode was perhaps the most brilliant capper of any series. While I'll never forget the pentultimate episode where Vic Mackey finally confessed his sins (and I'll never forget that long pause he took as he prepared to give his confession to the government that just hired him), this episode may have been better. Some may have thought Vic never received thorough punishment, but I think his fate--- all of his former friends and colleagues either dead or in prison, his family out of his reach, taken off the streets he spent so much time cleaning up--- might have been the perfect punishment. Death by bureauacracy was fitting punishment, even if Shawn Ryan and company never intended it.

37. Glee --- Pilot
There's no reason that this show should work so well. Teenagers who burst into song in a high-school hierarchy. Never in a million years. But like the club itself, this show defies the odds. This is one of the most wonderful casts I've ever seen, and it mixes comedy, drama and music in ways that Broadway should do so well. And the last five minutes where the cast Journey's Small Town Girl away from The Sopranos and makes it their own--- that is magic. I see a lot of Emmys in this shows future, even if they don't win regionals.

36. Deadwood --- A Two Headed Beast
This was that rarest of things --- an underrated HBO program. Get past the fact that cowboys and miners were using ten and twelve letter obscentities, and what you had was a show that rewrote the idea of what a western could be. There were many superlative moments in this shows (too brief) run, but this episode may have been the best. Featuring a brutal five-minute fight sequence between Al Swearengen's Dan Dority and George Hearst's Captain Turner that did what the people on Buffy wished they could do, this show featured Ian MacShane doing what he did best --- drinking and engaging in a dialogue with a dead Indian's head. How I wish David Milich could've found a way to end this series properly.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

First Ten ---- Part 2

45. Curb Your Enthusiasm ---- Opening Night
All right, I never liked Seinfeld. But this show has a tart acidicness that show missed. Watching Larry David make endless faux pas could be very entertaing, and they didn't have the seasons last too long. So it was interesting to see him acquit himself in The Producers. Until he can't. And then makes it work for him. Funny enough--- until we see Mel Brooks scheming with Anne Bancroft before they learn that Larry can even screw up screwing up. (And the scene where they play Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder? TV dynamite.)

44. Battlestar Galactica --- Kobol's Last Gleaming, Part II
Yes, 'Blood on the Scales' was gutwrenching, but I prefer the first mutiny that took place on the Galactica A wrenching episode that literally placed President against military leaders, soldier against commander, son against father. The fleet appears to shatter, and you can't see how they'll ever rebuild. And we watch Boomer, who has struggled against her Cylon nature all season, finally seem to choose humanity --- until she doesn't, and commits one of the biggest surprises in TV history

43. Chicago Hope --- The Quarantine
I'm definitely in the minority here, but I thought Chicago Hope's first season was better than ER's, and often muse if Kelley and Mandy Patinkin had stayed with it, could it have acheived greatness? This episode was the clearest sign that it could've, as the tensions that have brewed between these doctors and nurses for ten episodes boil over--- leading to some of the most brilliant monologues I've ever heard out of any hospital drama. Chicago Hope was all about the characters, and this demonstrated why it deserves to be remembered. Hint, hint Paramount DVDs? Anyone?

42. OZ --- Escape From Oz
Beneath the copious male nudity and mindless slaughter, there were some truly great moments on this series. Season finales would become almost mindlessly violent, but for this the brutality is positively muted. The Beecher-Keller love story has it's first major twist (lieterally) Alvarez finally gives into pressure, Ryan O'Reilly finds himself in a situation he can't outmaneuver, and Kareem Said is in the same room with Governor Devlin, who despite the fact we were surrounded my murderers, rapists and pedophiles always seemed scummier than all of them. Everything that was right about this show clicked here. Shame they couldn't maintain it all the way.

41. Brotherhood --- Matthew 22:10
I may have been the only person watching this series, so I'll probably get called out for it, but that doesn't change the fact that this series proved, after years in the wilderness, that Showtime could created Brilliant TV. Watching the Caffee brothers attend a wedding where marriages will be wrecked, frailities will be revealed, and a good cop, crippled by his conscience will litrerally beat a mans brains out--- this show reached levels that The Sopranos never dreamed off. I'm just sorry it died in obscurity. It deserved far better. (And no, I don't know what the title refers to.)

Still there? First Ten

50. Sports Night----- The Quality of Mercy at 29K
I've never truly forgiven ABC for canceling this brilliant show in 2000, even after it's ratings went up despite a killer time slot. Almost every episode was filled with Aaron Sorkin's personal energy, but few had the wit and majesty that this episode did. The romance between Natalie and Jeremy finally starts firing sparks after just a few episodes, Dana's efforts to get tickets to The Lion King and her awe and wonder when she sees it, Dan's desire to try and figure out what to be charitable --- all gems. But the two minutes, when three major storylines converge--- that was done in a way that I've rarely seen any show match. Priceless.

49. Angel--- Reunion
My personal candidate for best spinoff ever starts with this show, which started as Buffy wannabe, and then in season 2 kicked into high. After episodes trying to get the recently human Darla out of his head, Angel has to watch as his own vampire child Drusilla revamped her. The chance to see Julie Benz and Juliet Landau at the top of their game is worth watching this episode, but it becomes a masterpiece when Wolfram & Hart, the evil law firm responsible finds itself at the mercy of these two vampiric legends. Angel returns, and just when we think he's going to save them--- he locks them in with his evil children. The show would go to some truly dark places, but few were as majestic as the ones we saw here.

48. Twin Peaks --- Episode 3 (Cooper's Dreams)
I'm in the minority in thinking this series actually made a certain amount of sense all the way through. Don't get me wrong, the Pilot was one of the best first episodes of a series ever created. But I've always felt that this episode (curse Lynch and Frost for not titling them) had one of the most astonishing five minute wrap up ever. The dream sequence will haunt your nightmares, and believe it or not, all of the dialogue we got in it did help make sense of the mystery.We may not have learned who killed Laura Palmer, but it did tell us that maybe knowing wouldn't give us all the answers.

47. The Practice--- Betrayal
Before David E. Kelley lost his mind during the Bush Administration (I loved Boston Legal, but despite the rantings, not because of them) he had a gift for creating mesmerizing villain and corkscrew plots. The Practice was a little seen show in 1997, but this episode demonstrated that there was gold in these hills. Featuring an Emmy winning performance by John Laroquette as Joey Herric as a man who manages to manipulate the legal system to get out of committing a murder, this show was dark, witty and mesmerizing. When it ended, I knew this was a show with a future.

46. Grey's Anatomy --- The End of the World/ As We Know It
My love affair with this show didn't last very long, but there was a period where I thought Shonda Rhimes was a genius. With the overwhelming sex drives sublimated (but not gone) it was hard not to be impressed by the professionalism of the 'code black' that seized Seattle Grace. Featuring some of Chandra Wilson, Ellen Pompeo and T.R. Knight's best work on the series, as well as the always reliable Christina Ricci and Kyle Chandle in memorable guest turns -- this show made you think that this was a worthy successor to ER and St. Elsewhere. Then Izzy fell in love with Denny. Oh well.

The Best Television I've Ever Seen

Earlier this year, TV Guide posted the second edition of their list of the 100 greatest episodes of television history. As someone who remembers pretty clearly their first edition June of 1997, it seemed that they rejected some of the true great moments in TV for some newer models, while still ignoring some of the great moments I've seen. This makes some sense (there've been some truly remakable television in the past decade) but does a disservice to some of the older ones.

I've watched a lot of TV over the last fifteen years,, and have seen some truly remarkable shows, which makes me as qualified as some to post on what I think are some of the most remarkable things I've seen on TV. Plus I feel that creating debate is what these blogs are for.

So here are some of my choices for the fifty greatest episodes of the last two decades. (I've seen a lot of great television from the eighties recently, but for the most part I will refrain from commenting on those, because they may not be my greatest judgment) I'm not going to try and rank them until I've finished listing them, mainly because I don't believe in that sort of thing. Besides, do you really want to try and argue over whether something is 43rd rather than 36th. Even I'm not that anal retentive

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Before I continue---

Is it me or has Ben's behavior so far in Season 6 strike you as someone whose been completely castrated? For years, he's thought that he was this horrible villain, master manipulator, but as soon as he realizes that he's been used by by something even greater, and that all of his actions to protect the island may have just led to it's destruction, he just sort of went pfff! Now he's letting Ilana lead him around because he's finally been defeated, and when it's eventually revealed that he killed Jacob (what'll you bet that unLocke is the one who tells on him) I'm betting Ilana will shoot him fast? There would be a certain irony in that, to--- the king being taken out by a pawn.