Sunday, January 2, 2005

Happy 2005 to all. I can't believe we're halfway through this decade and it still doesn't really have a name (i.e., "The 90s," "The 70s," etc.). What are we in? The "Aughts?" "The Thousands"? My petty annoyance at this knows no bounds.

In any case, being as it's a whole new year I really need to wind up my Nik's Picks, so without further ado, here's my Top 10 Television Shows of the year -- the shows I'll try to make time to catch, 'cause I honestly don't watch a ton of TV in my life, as there's babies to play with, books and comics to read and movies to watch galore.

1. Lost, ABC
From the dramatic first 10 minutes of this show's first episode, I was hooked. "Survivor" meets "Gilligan's Island" meets "X-Files," in the strongest new TV drama in some time, with a huge cast and infinite potential. I only hope it doesn't prove to be another "Twin Peaks," that gets tangled up in its own mythology and never satisfies. But so far, it's the only true "Must See TV" on the air for me.

2. Scrubs, NBC
The best sitcom on TV, full of quirk, heart and invention. Zach Braff and the gang make that tired TV setting, a hospital, a launch pad for the zaniest half-hour on TV, a woefully underrated comic treat.

3. The Daily Show, Comedy Central
Jon Stewart, the only television newsman I can stand to watch in a wasteland of yammering, pompous talking heads. And sadly, I'm a journalist for a living. The Comedy Central team's election coverage nearly made the deflating results worthwhile.

4. The Office, BBC America
Only a few episodes of this so-dry-it-hurts British comedy aired this year, but the farewell "Christmas Special" alone merits inclusion on this list. Starring David Brent as the most watchable pathetic character since Basil Fawlty.

5. Arrested Development
This show is far too smart for network television, so seeing it get a second season was a great pleasure. Surreal, complex, utterly hilarious and at long last the role Jason Bateman's deserved ever since "Silver Spoons." Will it last? Probably not, so enjoy it while it does.

6. Justice League Unlimited, Cartoon Network
I admired but didn't love Cartoon Network's "Justice League" series, but this revamp is pure comic book fanboy gold, tossing in every single DC character and then some as the League "goes global" and expands. Animated Atom, Dr. Fate and The Question? As Stimpy would say, Joy!

7. Reno 911!, Comedy Central
This "mockumentary" "COPS" homage featuring the inept policemen and women of Reno is mostly improvised and often fall-down funny. The best "reality" show on TV.

8. The Simpsons, FOX
In its 232nd season, this chestnut is still better than most shows on the boob tube, even if age and stiffness is starting to set in.

9. Frasier, NBC
Another fond favorite rallied for a nice farewell last spring. Despite the hype another departing NBC show got, this one is the one I'll miss more, and I suspect it will age better than "Friends." A great final season full of farcial classics.

10. Survivor All-Stars, CBS
Urk - guilty pleasure. Like most Americans I got sucked into watching "Survivor" years ago, but lost interest after Season 2. This "All-Stars" one I caught an episode of, then got hooked right through to the end. Still the best of the way overexposed genre, although after "All-Stars" ended I went right back to "Survivor" ignorance again.

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