I guess this is the third annual. Once again, I'll just go through my posts, chronologically, for 2005 and see what the hell I thought was interesting.
The L Word. Season Two, while erratic, was at times marginally better than Season One. On the other hand, Betty. And Gloria Steinem. And a rather shameless use of the late Ossie Davis.
Huff. Another Showtime series, this one won Emmys but nobody watched it. It had a great supporting cast, highlighted by Oliver Platt and Blythe Danner (Robert Forster and Swoosie Kurtz also showed up). They made the show worth watching.
The Shield. Glenn Close seemed like stunt casting. Then it turned out she was the perfect foil for Michael Chiklis' Vic Mackey. And, after one season, she's gone.
24. Season Four saw the complete absence of Kim Bauer (good), and the emergence of Chloe as an important character (v.good, especially when she started blasting her guns). Oddly enough, I wrote in my first 24 post of 2005 that "Outside of killing off ... Jack Bauer, there's nothing left for 24 to do that will be new." So how did the season end? Well, OK, he's not dead, but he's pretending to be dead, which is almost as good.
Late-night talk shows. I didn't actually post much about this topic, but I did have thoughts. Johnny Carson died, of course, and Dave finally got Oprah on his show. But the under-the-radar event here is the gradual emergence of Craig Ferguson, who's on after Dave when no one is awake and those who are awake are watching Conan.
DVRs. We got a second one early in the year. We like them.
Tim Goodman. Still the best television critic we've got.
Polly Walker, David Morrissey, Kelly Macdonald. They were all in the BBC drama State of Play that we watched early in the year, and all showed up later in the year in other productions. Macdonald took her too-charming-for-words Scottish accent to the HBO movie The Girl in the Cafe, which wasn't much except for Macdonald and Bill Nigby, who coincidentally was one of the best things about State of Play. Morrissey was the star of Viva Blackpool, a quirky mini-series that was worth watching. But it was Polly Walker who was the breakout figure, showing off her scenery-chewing chops (and a gorgeous behind) in Rome, which was never as good as you hoped, but (for us anyway) good enough to enjoy.
NYPD Blue. It's finally over. We watched pretty much every episode over the years, but I don't even think about it now that it's gone.
Deadwood. I thought about making this the only comment in history about Deadwood that didn't include the word "cocksucker," but why bother? Perhaps the single most entertaining piece of writing about television in 2005 came when Heather Havrilesky did an entire column in Deadwood-speak.
Six Feet Under. I thought the final scene was perfect.
The Office. The U.S. version, that is. Remarkably, it's good.
Joan of Arcadia. It got canceled. It deserved it.
Steven Johnson. He wrote a book called Everything Bad Is Good for You that made a case for television making us smarter, not dumber. I wrote an essay that dealt with some of the issues Johnson brought up ... someday it might even see the light of day, at which time I'll link to it.
House. Hugh Laurie roolz.
Desperate Housewives. Not all that good.
Queer As Folk. Well, it's gone now, several years too late for many people. Robin and I never got tired of it, though, and Brian Kinney was a fascinating character.
Lost. This IS all that good. And now Adebisi's a regular.
Penn and Teller. Their Showtime series, Bullshit!, was erratic once again, good when they played the skeptic, bad when they let their libertarianism run wild (wonder if they'll continue to rely on the Cato Institute after recent revelations about that joint). They also had a prime-time magic special that was too long but fun nonetheless, with a tricky final stunt that I suspect fooled almost everyone.
Entourage/The Comeback. Entourage has the great Jeremy Piven, but is otherwise only fair. The Comeback was excruciating to watch, because Lisa Kudrow did such a terrific job playing a person being treated poorly by life. Apparently, viewers thought "excruciating" meant "I'm not gonna watch that show." Can't say I blame them, but it was probably better than Entourage. Guess which one got canceled?
Rescue Me. Getting better all the time.
30 Days. I forgot this show was on. The guy who did Super Size Me made a crappy teevee show.
Battlestar Galactica. Far and away the biggest surprise of the season for yours truly. I'm not a big fan of space operas, never watched the original Galactica, never watched any of the Star Trek series, and so ignored this new BSG when it arrived last year. The buzz was too much for me to ignore, though, so I downloaded the entire first season, got hooked, and now I'm a regular viewer. It's a terrific, complex show.
Over There. The worst theme music that wasn't performed by Betty. When it was over there, it was fine. When it was over here, it sucked. Doesn't matter anymore, it's been canceled.
Rome. See Polly Walker, above. "You fucked your sister, you little pervert!"
My Name Is Earl. For some reason, I'm still watching. Oh, it's a good show, but I rarely last past the first few episodes of a sitcom, no matter how good it is (this year's casualties? Everybody Hates Chris and The Boondocks, both good shows I've already quit watching). Earl is no better than the shows I give up on ... I think I still watch it because I record it when I record The Office.
Curb Your Enthusiasm. Pretty, pretty good. Biggest laugh I got all season was the punchline to the episode where the woman stole the cell phone.
Extras. Ricky Gervais's new series is also pretty good, if not up to The Office, and he's got as a co-star yet another cute girl with a Scottish accent, so you know I love it. Kate "My Fanny" Winslet should get an Emmy for her guest appearance.
Weeds. Next to Galactica, the biggest surprise of the year, and the best series Showtime has ever produced.
"Once More With Feeling." It was gonna be so much fun: Robin, Sara and I attending a live performance of the Buffy musical, put on by a small theatre outfit in the City. Then the Fox copyright lawyers stepped in. Goodbye, musical, goodbye fun.
Trio. Every year I have to deal with shows I like being canceled. This is the first time an entire network I like is being canceled.
"Homecoming." The Joe Dante episode on Masters of Horror that had zombie soldiers rising from the dead to complain about George Bush. Seemed to have a lot of buzz, but it's only a few weeks since it aired and already people have forgotten about it.
Five Six TV Events of 2005:
6. Al Swearengen gets a kidney stone
5. Action Chloe
3. Battlestar Galactica
2. "You fucked your sister, you little pervert!"
1. The Wire got renewed