2008 Year End TV Review: Jason Thompson
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You love TV, I love TV, we all love TV! Actually, I am going to start calling it “tee-wee” like my main man Chuck Barris used to on “The Gong Show.” And while I found some groovy stuff for you all to enjoy on the idiot box, the ones I couldn’t take anymore are certainly worth a triple, simultaneous gonging from Arte Johnson, J.P. Morgan, and Jamie Farr. So sit back and tune in to my top three selections for ’08.
1. “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” FX
I may be late to this particular party, but as the saying goes, better late than never. This season found the gang at Paddy’s Pub tackling the serious, groundbreaking issues that they never shied away from in the past. Cannibalism, killing one’s father, and rewriting the history of the Liberty Bell itself were just a few of the topics explored this year. Charlie Day may be the funniest comedic actor on TV currently, and Danny DeVito excels as greasy schemer Frank Reynolds to the point where he may even outshine his stint as Louie DePalma on “Taxi.” This is undoubtedly the funniest show on TV these days, and certainly belongs next to other cult faves like “Arrested Development” and “Flight of the Conchords.”
2. “Burn Notice,” USA
This show climbs its way up a notch from third place on my list from last year. Jeffrey Donovan returned as Michael Westen, former spy who has been burned by an unknown operative. This season found Michael getting even closer to the truth while continuing to help out his old buddy Sam (Bruce Campbell) on his never-ending side missions to right the wrongs brought upon other innocent people. The lovely Gabrielle Anwar also returned as Michael’s former love interest/ass-kicker Fiona, and Sharon Gless also reprised her role as Michael’s mother, perhaps one of the best characters she’s ever played. For seriously exciting action scenes filled with plenty of examples of how you, too, can create your own spy gadgets out of everyday things, plus just the right amount of comedy thrown on top, “Burn Notice” is tops. And the best part of all is that the third season will actually debut this winter, so fans won’t have to wait for its usual summer slot.
3. “Chuck,” NBC
This show got an honorable mention from me last year, but this time out it proudly sits in the number three position. The second season of this hit series proved the first was no fluke. “Chuck” has top notch writers working behind it, making every week’s episode some classic NBC Must See fare. Like “Burn Notice,” “Chuck” mixes tasty action with laughs, and Zachary Levi as the title character is an even more likable schlub than Jim on “The Office.” But it wouldn’t be “Chuck” without Adam Baldwin and Yvonne Strahovsky as special agents John Casey and Sarah Walker. Baldwin’s tough guy act is as laugh out loud funny as Levi’s performance as an average Joe mixed up in crazy caper routines, while Strahovsky proves time and again that she’s not just a gorgeous face but a rock solid actress as well. May Chuck have the Intersect embedded in his brain for a few more seasons to come.
1. “The Tyra Show,” syndicated
Seriously, why is this show still on? More than that, why does Tyra have two shows to lord over? Tyra’s daytime talk show is the epitome of self-serving, egocentric bullshit. She wants to tackle those serious issues, but she can’t help but making everything about her at the end of the day. Listening to her clueless yammering makes me regret I ever found her attractive. Sorry, Tyra. The world actually doesn’t revolve around silly twits such as yourself. Do us all a favor and get back to doing what you did best: looking good and being a complete mute in front of the camera.
2. “Ghost Hunters,” SciFi
OK, maybe this is truly a geeky pick, but the outright fraud that has been perpetrated on this show as of late is just getting ridiculous. Back when this show started, Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson (founders of The Atlantic Paranormal Society, or “TAPS”) seemed like they were genuinely smart guys who hunted ghosts as debunkers first and believers second. Unfortunately, that facade has all but been flushed away thanks to their infamous live Halloween episode this year, where a silly, obviously fake disembodied voice was piped over the speakers during the seven-hour investigation. More than that, though, Grant rigged an apparatus in his jacket that made it look like his collar was being tugged by an invisible force. His first reaction to it was unintentionally hilarious enough, but it was the final tug that happened after Jason patted Grant’s jacket down to see what was going on that proved this was all just a big hoax. Whoops. The big money calls these days, though, and speaks louder than any “real” ghost might. Shame on you, guys. Now go away.
3. “Survivor,” CBS
How in God’s name is this show still on, and does anyone actually care anymore? It ultimately doesn’t matter, as reality TV shows are cheap to produce, so even if something like this is pulling a small percentage of viewers in, it’s not considered a failure. But haven’t we all gotten over the whole reality craze by now? This stuff has become “regular” TV, sadly. Watching a bunch of bozos try to score some cash while acting like complete tools is much more enjoyable in a format like “Tic Tac Dough,” “Joker’s Wild,” or “Press Your Luck.” Sadly, those days seem to be long gone. Where’s Jack Barry when you need him?
After only one airing, NBC’s “Rosie Live,” featuring everyone’s favorite also-ran Rosie O’Donnell, was canceled. Damn, didn’t “Viva Laughlin” at least make it to two episodes? That’s just cold, kids. But unsurprising, showing that the majority of viewers sometimes do in fact have good taste. Now if we could only get that same crowd to feel the same way about “The View.”
Annie from “Little Einsteins” (Disney Channel) and Ming Ming from “The Wonder Pets” (Nick Jr.). Look, no offense to the kid who voices Annie, but the nasally out-of-tune singing has got to stop. Take a lesson from the kids over on “The Backyardigans” who really can carry a tune, but not so much that they become grating. As for Ming Ming, well, all I can say is that it must really suck to have originally been a kid with a genuine speech impediment who then overcame that obstacle and was then told to keep doing it anyway because it was such a hit. OK, I get that kids with similar problems can relate to Ming Ming, but at the same time, it also just makes the character come off as a cheap stereotype that would make even Elmer Fudd blush.
“The Backyardigans,” Nick Jr.
Speaking of “The Backyardigans”, those kooky animated animal kids sure know how to have a good time with their imaginations. But my favorite part is often the songs that are featured in the show, which run the gamut from classic rock to hip hop to everything in between, although the “Giant Problem” episode featuring insanely catchy early ’80s New Wave-esque tunes may just be the most enjoyable for the music geek in me. (“The Great Dolphin Race” runs a close second.) Also, the animations of the characters seriously run to the almost unnervingly lifelike when it comes to their dances. Lots of fun for any kid and parent who loves good music, as well as stories that will entertain and teach the viewers something good.