Yes, it's that time again! Time for Gloria to make pointless lists about what sort of books, tv, and movies she was into this past year. I know I'm running a bit late, but bear with me; I've been dealing with end of semester stuff.
Let's get the ball rolling with TV.
1) ER. This has been at the top of my list now for two years in a row. This is probably because it is my favorite show ever. I realize that this makes me a little biased. However, this show has also been surprisingly successful for NBC during it's 13th (!) season, so much so that they decided not to put it on mid-season hiatus. Season 12 ended strongly, with a massive shoot-out in the ER and with Abby going into labor. Season 13 has been even tighter, with effective guest appearances by Sally Field and Forest Whitaker. But now Laura Innes is leaving! She made Dr. Weaver an interesting and compelling character for 11.5 seasons. Yet, I have faith in the show's continued strength. Even John Stamos is working for me (I got over the Full House connotations).
2) The Closer. This show just keeps getting better. The second season had more zany moments, which really endeared it to me. Even the mysteries are getting less stupid. Kyra Sedgwick is doing a wonderful job, and the entire cast meshes incredibly well. This is the series that will restore faith in the police procedural.
3) The West Wing. It's over! The show ended after 7 years. I was very impressed by their ability to rewrite things after the untimely death of John Spencer. They managed to honor his work while still carrying on with the plot. I'm still a little miffed at the way in which things ended for Toby, but at least he didn't go to prison. And Bradley Whitford finally got me to love Josh, despite the fact that he's a self-righteous bastard. Somehow I like John Wells' softer Josh better than Aaron Sorkin's crazy "I know what I'm doing so just do what I say" Josh. I know, that's blasphemy, but I respect John Wells and Aaron Sorkin. It was a fitting end to a great show.
4) Veronica Mars. I started in on this show just this season. Then Mike and I watched the DVDs of seasons 1 and 2 in about a week. Suffice it to say that I am now obsessed with this show. Kristen Bell and Jason Dohring are phenomenal. Plus the mysteries are compelling (if a little oddly plotted and paced--I hate how they sometimes drop things for episodes at a time). I do think that the Lily Kane case is the best arc the show will ever have, and that it suffers now because of it. But I'll still watch for the Logan and Veronica scenes alone. It seems unlikely that this show will get another season (they only got a 20 episode order for this one). I just hope Logan and Veronica end up together in some suitably happy relationship.
5) Heroes. This show creeps me out. The gore in the indestructible cheerleader scenes is a bit much for me. But so far it has been really well constructed, with tight cliffhangers. And it balances a lot of characters effectively. I've been a fan of Adrian Pasdar since he had a recurring role on Judging Amy, so I'm pleased to see him, even if he is playing a horrible person (though I am sure he will be redeemed somehow). It is also great to see Milo Ventimiglia and Greg Grunberg (of Gilmore Girls and Alias, respectively). Plus the Tim Sale artwork is beautiful, as always.
6) Scrubs and 30 Rock. All hail the return of Must See TV Thursdays! I am not normally a sitcom person, but these two are just too much fun to pass up. Plus, they're on right before ER, so it's no big deal to turn on the TV a little early. At first I was puzzled by 30 Rock, but Alec Baldwin kept me coming back. But now the show is genuinely hilarious. Scrubs has always been strong, and it is just rolling through what looks to be another great season (apparently its last, as Zack Braff is not coming back).
7) Gilmore Girls. It's weird without Amy Sherman Palladino, but Gilmore Girls is still trucking along. At first I was afraid that the dialogue was going to get just fake enough to become annoying (it's not as if it has ever been that natural). But the new show runners seem to have ironed that out. I really hope Lorelai can just settle down and be happy. Christopher is trying so hard to make their relationship work. The Rory/Logan storyline is getting a bit boring though. Somehow Rory is just not as cute as she used to be. I did love the knitting episode. Lorelai even had a shirt from Craftster!
8) Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. This show has SO much promise. Great cast, great director, great writer...but somehow it's not quite right yet. Bradley Whitford and Matthew Perry are really working it, as are Amanda Peet and Steven Webber, but the plots and dialogue aren't really singing. Many of the situations feel stilted (after having watched West Wing and some Sports Night, I keep thinking, "...and here is where we get the patented Aaron Sorkin touchy feely scene...and here is the classic freak out scene...etc."). But Nevada Day was nice, and I still have faith that this many talented people will make something of this show.
Honorable mention to Without a Trace. There is just something about Anthony LaPaglia that is watchable.
1) Alias. Arrrrrrrgh! At least they brought Michael Vartan back. That and the fact that Victor Garber's Jack ended the show credibly are really the only saving graces. I would prefer to forget that seasons 4 and 5 ever existed.
2) CBS for canceling Smith after only a few episodes. I was very intrigued to see John Wells working on a show that had such unlikeable characters. And the first episode was so well made that I thought it could be a feature film. A good feature film. Ah well, better luck next time.