I was thinking over this past year, and I figured I have just as much right as Time Magazine or the NYT to weigh in on my likes and dislikes from the last 12 months. You just might not want to take my opinions as seriously.
So let's start with the newfound addiction of my life: television. (I blame you, Mike.)
1) ER. (Or as I like to call it, "starts with an E, ends with an R!") I have spent a LOT of time watching this show. Between the reruns on TNT and the new episodes on NBC, they've got me covered. I first got into this show a year or two ago, but I didn't start watching it religiously until 2004. But I have caught up, and watched most of seasons 8-10 repeatedly. (Highlights: "Four Corners," "On the Beach," "Lockdown," "Chaos Theory," and "Kisangani.") Plus, I do have a soft spot for season 4 too. Season 11 ended poignantly this past spring with the departure of Noah Wyle. (And it commenced to give Michelle nightmares about collapsing balconies.) The earlier part of the season was so-so, but it ended strong. Regardless, the new season (12) on NBC has been super tight this fall. Luka and Abby have had some stellar moments, Morris has become chief res, and despite the loss of longtime cast members like Wyle, the show has continued to have compelling plotlines and characters. And even a wedding!! The big guest stars like John Leguizamo, Danny Glover, and John Stamos have worked without being intrusive. Highly recommended!
2) West Wing. This has been a bit of a shocker. After Mike swore off the show with the departure of Sorkin at the beginning of season 5, WW fell off of my radar. But Mike started watching a marathon of season 6 on Bravo, and the rest, as they say.... Anywho, the current season has been embroiled in the upcoming election, featuring Alan Alda as a surprisingly compelling Republican candidate and Jimmy Smitts as an even more compelling Democratic candidate. The race is close, providing room for tons of drama and an exploration of many issues important to us today (such as abortion rights and economic restructuring, though of course the war in Iraq can't be dealt with). My only quibble is that Toby was fired for leaking confidential information to the press. This just wasn't how I wanted to see my favorite character go. Toby has been sinking into bitterness the past couple years, which saddens me. It makes sense, but I still don't have to like it.
3) Gilmore Girls. Although I didn't like the first episode of the new season that much, nearly every other episode this year has been pitch perfect. Last season, Rory got in trouble with the law for stealing a boat (that sounds way weirder than it actually was) and wound up quitting Yale and moving in with her grandparents. This precipitated a breach between Rory and Lorelai. Because the two have always been so close, this was quite a left field move for the show, but it worked well, allowing for a different exploration of this relationship. Plus the quips and one-liners have been coming as fast as ever. The next step in this season seems to be geared toward creating tension between Luke and Lorelai, courtesey of Luke's long-lost daughter (another "where the hell did that come from?" move.)
4) Judging Amy. Cancelled!! Argh! I finally got to watch most of the last season that ended this spring. It was very compelling, and it did form a fitting end to the show. But there were way too many unresolved bits, vis a vis Amy's relationship with David and with her daughter. CBS is on my Anger List right now.
5) Law and Order: SVU. This is certainly a VERY sensationalist show, and I totally understand why it can turn some people off. But it also has some of the best character developement in a police procedural. Especially if we limit ourselves to police shows that actually take the procedural part to heart. But I wish we got more Detective Munch on the show, as he is such an interesting character, and he has been allowed to fade into the background (though that is hardly the work of only this season; he's been a 2nd-string character for a while now). But the Bensen and Stabler relationship remains sharply portrayed.
6) The Closer. This one was marketed oddly, pretty much as a vehicle for Kyra Sedgwick. The early promotional ads gave zero other substantive information. Therefore, I wasn't really interested. But when mid-summer boredom hit, I tuned in, and was pleasantly surprised. Sedgwick plays Brenda Johnson, a police detective from Atlanta who has moved to LA to head a new special crime division of the LAPD. She's scatterbrained but intelligent, and is known for being able to coax confessions out of criminals. Her new squad immediately distrusts her, but slowly begin to warm to her ways as the season progresses. Meanwhile, some crimes are solved. This is technically a procedural, but the focus is not on the crime solving but rather on the odd quirks of our characters. Brenda is especially zany (witness the time she drives a car up to a brick wall, jumps on the roof, and clambers over the wall after being locked out at the gate). The solutions to the crimes either tend to fall out of thin air or are almost painfully obvious, but the show still packs some charm.
1) Alias. This is painful. Really painful. Mike has gone so far as to swear off the show after the beginning of the current season (5). Let's see where things went wrong. Well, first they wrote off Vaughn and Weiss. The former was accompanied by Vaughn somehow surviving like 23 bullets to the chest long enough to go through surgery and regain conciousness (which is totally unbelievable for an ER watcher), only to later die to the tortured strains of Sarah Mclaughlin (which was more of a disrespect to Sarah than to anything else). Then Weiss gets chucked in the wastebin for good measure. They get replaced by three newcomers, none of whom seem to want to act. Apparently reading your lines by rote works better. Plus Jack only shows up to glower a bit. I really don't understand how this could happen. Aparently JJ Abrams is too busy with Lost. ABC has opted to put the show out of its misery after this season, but that means everthing has to be wrapped up. Rumor has it that this will involve the reintroduction of Vaughn, the man that 23 bullets couldn't kill, which means I will still have to grudgingly watch this. Damn.
2) Bones. Since David Boreanaz was getting back into television, I decided to give this a go. Keep in mind that I only saw two episods before giving up on this one. Frankly, I thought that this show had everything going for it: good concept, good actors, good production staff. But something was just off. Without preamble, they tried to jump straight into what I guess was the conflict at the heart of the show: Brains vs. Emotion. Boreanaz plays an FBI investigator who works to solve murders with the help of a forensic anthropologist played by Emily Deschanel. Boreanaz represents the emotion side of things, since his character goes with his gut feelings in pursuing a case. Deschanel's anthropologist represents the brains side, as she refuses to be led by anything but the facts. The two clash, sparking romantic tension from the get go. The thing is, if you are watching the first episode, this all seems a bit forward. They explore enough material for a whole season in the first 40 minutes. That and I don't see why brains and emotion can't just get along.
PS--I seem to have broken the spell check, so forgive me my odd spellings.