Every year the American Film Institute honours ten movies and ten TV shows (either series, miniseries or made-for-TV movies) as the best of the year. These are selected by a distinguished jury which this year consisted of (for movies) Leonard Maltin, Jeanine Bassinger, Mary Corey, Mark Harris, Jim Hosney, Rick Jewell, Elvis Mitchell, Daniel Petrie Jr., Tom Pollock, Richard Schickel, Vivian Sobchak, Anne Thompson, and Robert Towne; and (for television) Richard Frank, Neal Baer, John Caldwell, Jean Picker Firstenberg, Mary McNamara, Kathleen Nolan, James Poniewozik, Del Reisman, Matt Roush, Ellen Seiter, John Shaffner, Beretta E. Smith-Shomade, Tony To. The criteria for the television awards are as follows:
Narrative fiction format, originated for television as either a series, movie or mini-series.
English language programs with significant creative and/or production elements from the United States.
First-run programs airing for American audiences on network or cable television between January 1, 2008, and December 31, 2008. Only programs broadcast Monday through Saturday, between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. Eastern/Pacific, and Sundays, between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. Eastern/Pacific, are eligible.
The Television winners are:
Breaking Bad (AMC)
In Treatment (HBO)
John Adams (HBO)
Mad Men (AMC)
The Office (NBC)
The Shield (FX)
The Wire (HBO)
In terms of comments, I would suggest that this is a very worthy list even though I have to confess that I've only seen a handful of the shows on it. The four HBO series were only ever available on premium movie channels that I don't subscribe to, while I am unsure of the status of The Shield in Canada although for at least a while it played on one of the broadcast networks here. I never made the effort to try to watch Breaking Bad as the concept didn't really attract me. I have only very rarely watched The Office, and I confess that I gave up on Lost sometime during the third season. The list does include two of my favourite shows. AMC's Mad Men is a pitch perfect presentation of a time, a place, and an attitude that I find absolutely riveting. NBC's Life is a show that is criminally underwatched largely because it has as a lead-in a show that does little to deliver it an audience (as proven by the show's performance out of the Christmas In Rockefeller Center special. Life is a show built around a quirky character and a complex unravelling situation. These two shows are clearly deserving of this award.
The following is a series of clips from the ten award winning movies and TV series prepared by the AFI.