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Top TV Shows of 2005



To say that 2005 was perhaps the best year of television in the last decade would not be an understatement. Unlike in years past, where the networks seemed to be relying on overused reality concepts (like how many times can there be a riff on the “Who Wants to Marry a …” concept?) this year comedies and dramas were back in top form. It seemed as if the networks finally “got” that they had to put as much emphasis on writing than on the just overall concept.

But it already seems as if the networks are starting to forget what they learned in 2005. Rather than taking chances with shows like Lost or Scrubs, networks seem to be trying to clone hits wherever they can. And when was the last time a cloned hit was anything worth watching?

Still, if the 2004 television season was like a fine meal, then the 2005 season was like an even finer meal with desert, a movie, dancing and a nightcap…

The best show of 2005 – Battlestar Galactica: On one level, Battlestar Galactica works as a traditional sci-fi yarn of “large space-ships” blasting other “large space-ships.” But where Battlestar Galactica excels is that it works on a whole other level. Correction, other levels. Like it or not, Battlestar Galactica is a mirror of our times. Good (like the best bits of humanity shining through in times of crisis) or bad (paranoia existing at an almost cellular level) we are them and they are us.

The rest, in alphabetical order:

Arrested Development: Twenty minutes of Arrested Development is sheer bliss. At times watching the show, I would literally laugh to the point of almost choking. But choking in a good way. Now, it looks as if the current season of Arrested Development will be the last. Depressing? Yes. Then again, the best way to cure this type of depression is watching more Arrested Development! (A conundrum – I know.)

Deadwood: Deadwood is the perfect pragmatic drama on television these days. Characters act and behave as they seemingly would and do in real life. I think that’s the real strength of Deadwood – it breaks all the rules of the “traditional” Western genera by having the characters behave in a realistic manner rather than a wishful one.

Doctor Who: (Doctor Who has not yet aired in the U.S.) Every bit a reinvention of the Doctor Who franchise as the remake of Battlestar Galactica was to that one, the new Doctor Who took a series that had low production values and decent story and gave it great production values and excellent story. It’s the “perfect storm” of a show with writer/creator Russell T. Davies overseeing an excellent writing staff and he himself delivering excellent script after script and new Doctor Christopher Eccleston redefining the character.

Extras: Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant had a hard road to travel with Extras, their follow-up one of the best comedies ever, The Office. Somehow, Gervais and Merchant hit yet another homerun with Extras. Never relying on simple sight gags or jokes, the comedy of Extras comes from the life of the characters. In typical Gervais/Merchant style, one season of Extras consists of just six shows, three hours of television. But what fun spending those three hours with Extras is.

Lost: Has Lost redefined the face of modern television? At least in the short term it has. This season there were no less than four new dramas to “borrow” the technique used in Lost where the story unfolds over the course of the entire season. And one of those shows, Prison Break, is a certified hit. (No comment on the other three.)

Thick of It: (Thick of It has not yet aired in the U.S.) A child to The Office, Thick of It roams the halls of the British government and all that happens there. Sometimes I think we feel that politicians and people with power in general are flawless. But Thick of It reveals that politicians are people too with all the flaws that go along with being human.

Veronica Mars: Blending the typical teen drama (boyfriends and cars) with a hint of reality (being burned alive in a gasoline soaked refrigerator) Veronica Mars bends our expectations of what the teen is and transforms it into what it should be. Somehow, Veronica Mars survived cancellation and is currently airing in its second season on UPN.

Honorable mentions:

Scrubs – Still one of the funniest comedy series even after five seasons.

Justice League Unlimited: Adult themes in a kids cartoon. Paranoia so thick it puts The X-Files to shame.

Mythbusters: Any show where the hosts blow up automobiles for fun is a show for me!

Survivorman: Living off the land can be hard work. Very hard work!