TOP 3 SHOWS OF 2007 (THAT I DOUBT ANYONE ELSE IS GOING TO PICK)
1. "Friday Night Lights" (NBC)
Sure, the second season has been a tad on the dark side, but every member of the terrific ensemble cast is so well written that it’s impossible not to pay attention. The new season has been light on the football action and heavy on the drama, but that will probably change as the season wears on. NBC moved the series to Friday nights, which (surprisingly) hasn’t hurt its ratings, so there might be life after all for the little series that could.
2. "The Unit" (CBS)
CBS and “cool” aren’t often used in the same sentence, but creator David Mamet brings his stylish, big screen sensibilities to the tube in this action/drama that follows an anonymous Special Forces unit that executes missions all over the world. The show drags a bit when it spends too much time on the soldiers’ wives, but when the Unit was in jeopardy over the course of the last half of the second season, it was the most exciting show on television.
3. "Dexter" (Showtime)
Dexter Morgan is a blood splatter specialist that works with the Miami Police Department. He’s also a serial killer who only kills serial killers. Michael C. Hall is terrific in the lead role; he has turned Dexter into something of an anti-hero, and has viewers asking themselves about the true meaning of justice. Over the first two seasons, the series has kept viewers on their toes with a series of twists and turns, and the ride has been fun (and intense). Let’s hope it doesn’t stop anytime soon.
THREE MORE REASONS WHY SHOWTIME IS OUT HBO'ING HBO
1. "Weeds" (Showtime)
In this single camera comedy, a newly single mother (Mary-Louise Parker) living in suburban California has to turn to drug dealing to keep her family afloat as they adjust to the death of their patriarch. The show pushes the envelope, and the ensemble cast is deep and talented. Kevin Nealon is especially good in his role as the town’s corrupt, pot-smoking accountant, but everything swirls around Parker’s character, and she shoulders the load without fail.
2. "Californication" (Showtime)
I wasn’t sure what awaited David Duchovny after he decided to leave “The X-Files” in 2002, but here we are five years later and he has successfully morphed into Hank Moody, a talented yet troubled Los Angeles writer who is desperate to repair his fractured relationships with his ex-girlfriend and their teenage daughter. Hank is too witty for his own good, and his giant libido gets him into more trouble than he can handle. Over the course of the first season, Hank grows on you like a fungus, so you may want to have that foot spray handy.
3. "Brotherhood" (Showtime)
“Brotherhood” is Showtime’s answer to “The Sopranos” and “The Wire.” It’s not quite as good as either of those shows, but it is good. The series follows two Irish brothers that work on opposite sides of the law. One is a Rhode Island state congressman and the other is involved in organized crime. While their differences do indeed separate them, the show often finds ways to draw similarities as well. If you find yourself missing either of those HBO stalwarts, give the first season of “Brotherhood” a try.
TOP THREE NEWCOMERS
1. "Journeyman" (NBC)
NBC is dragging its feet in ordering the last nine episodes of the first season, which means that the future of the time-traveling “Journeyman” is in serious doubt. It’s a shame too, because it’s probably the best new show this season. The creators deftly intertwine storylines from the past and present to create a compelling mythology that has a ton of potential. Creatively, it’s miles ahead of “Bionic Woman,” but it only received about a tenth of the preseason publicity. C’mon, NBC, don’t give up on a good thing just yet!
2. "Pushing Daisies" (ABC)
Here’s a fun and lighthearted new show that’s doing just fine in the ratings. It follows a pie maker with a special talent – he can bring the dead back to life, if only for a minute. He uses this talent to help a grouchy private detective (and his recently raised childhood sweetheart) solve murders and, of course, collect the reward. I’m a little worried that the show will regress into “freak of the week” territory, but so far, so good.
3. "John from Cincinnati" (HBO)
I know one of my colleagues isn’t a fan, but I really enjoyed the first season of David Milch’s (“Deadwood”) surf-noir, which show follows the strange events in Imperial Beach following the arrival of an odd visitor. It features a lot of Milch’s dark humor and classic dialogue, and the ensemble cast includes terrific performances from Rebecca DeMornay and Ed O’Neill. I’m not exactly sure what the hell is going on, but I want more.
MAN, I CAN'T WAIT FOR
"The Wire" (HBO)
It’s been called the best show on television, and the fifth (and final) season starts in January. The show is set in Baltimore and each season it has tackled a different topic: drugs, politics, organized crime and the school system. It’s always nice when a series has enough notice to wrap things up properly, so expect big things from “The Wire” in 2008.
"Battlestar Galactica" (Sci-Fi)
In March, “Battlestar Galactica” enters its final season, so loads of questions should be answered: Will the fleet ever find Earth? Who is the 12th Cylon? Can a remake of a cheesy ’70s show get any better? The show is proof pudding that some of the best television is on basic cable, and I for one am going to be sad to see it go.
At the end of last season, news broke that “Lost” would have an expiration date – in 2010. The show is set to air 48 more episodes over three, 16-episode seasons, but the ongoing writers’ strike may force the show to alter those plans. Still, it’s great to know that an end is indeed in sight, a fact that should quiet some of the critics that complain about the show’s serialized, questions-answered-with-questions format. The show returns in February with new episodes.