Tuesday, January 01, 2008

On The Seventh Day Of Christmas

On the seventh day of Christmas my true love (Television) gave to me – seven year end lists (or at least year end lists from seven favourites of mine).

I don't feel particularly like writing today, so I'll let other people do the writing while you lot do the clicking. The year-end list is one of the great traditions in which smart people tell people like us what the best and the worst of the past year was, frequently contradicting our own feelings about things. So this post gives you the links to seven different year end lists related to Television and created by smart people. Let's just see how often they agree with each other let alone us.

Let's start off with a favourite writer at this blog, Allan Sepinwall. His list of the 10 (or 11) best shows on TV starts with The Sopranos (which really shouldn't come as a surprise given how much he's written about the show over the years).

Next, let's look at the 10 best prime-time series as determined by Ed Bark, formerly of the Dallas Morning News. His best series of the year is FX's Damages starring Glenn Close and Ted Danson. One interesting inclusion on his list is Dan Rather Reports on HDNet. Nice if you can get it I suppose.

Brian Stetler, who used to run the TVNewser blog and is now gainfully employed by the New York Times has this list which he calls Eleven Television Trends In 2007's Top Ten Lists, which is in fact a compilation of information from various lists. Of note is that either The Sopranos or Mad Men is considered the best show on TV in 2007 in most lists, and that it is depressingly easy to pick a worst series of the year. While he notes the series that were cancelled quickly (like Viva Laughlin and Anchorwoman) he adds "perhaps even worse are the shows still on the schedule." I think he means the truly bad shows that are still on the schedule.

We have two lists from the Boston Globe. One comes from Joanna Weiss and the Viewer Discretion blog with the other is from the paper's TV critic Matthew Gilbert and comes as a "pretty" slide show. Me, I'd rather have text. For the record they both picked Dexter as the best show on TV though there's some disagreement further down the list.

Maureen Ryan of the Chicago Tribune had a veritable flurry of lists: Best Shows (Mad Men was number one; the rest are in alphabetical order), Worst Shows (to make it a show had to be "...somehow spectacularly, memorably awful. It had to offend the universe and/or make me question my will to carry on as a critic."), Best Documentaries (all but three of them on PBS), Memorable Moments (not covered in her 10 Best list), and finally 2007's Low Points (It included Sanjaya and Melanie Griffith singing – mercifully not together – and the fact that "The CW showed very little class by pulling "Veronica Mars" in favor of "The Pussycat Dolls Present: The Search for the Next Doll," then canceling "Mars" entirely.")

Tim Goodman of the San Francisco Chronicle declares The War to have been the best thing on TV in 2007. The rest of his list is split into dramas and comedies and as he puts it, "I don't confine my lists to a tidy 10. There's always far more greatness than an all-inclusive list of 10 would allow. So even if such a catchall would be easier and do away with the need for a special Program of the Year category, it just wouldn't be fair.

And finally, I was able to find a Canadian TV critic with a top 10 list (bearing in mind that it's getting damned difficult to find Canadian TV critics at all, and our friend Jaime J. Weinman didn't do a top 10 list). It's Rob Salem of the Toronto Star and he not only provides us with a top 10 (Mad Men is number one, followed by Jekyll and Life; The Sopranos doesn't even make the list) but also a bottom five in which Viva Laughlin is number one...but does that means that it's the worst of the worst or the best of the worst. With a list that also includes Cavemen, Carpoolers, Big Shots, and John From Cincinnati it's not entirely obvious.

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