Bullz-Eye's TV Power Rankings, Winter 2006 Edition, best TV shows

Bullz-Eye's TV Power Rankings: Winter 2006 Edition

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Six months doesn’t seem like a long period of time, but man, what a difference it makes in the life of a television show. Where some shows gloriously rode off into the sunset (“Six Feet Under”), and others suddenly and mysteriously vanished from our TV screens (“Chappelle's Show”), still others simply eroded from within (“Desperate Housewives”), making room for a whole new bunch of upstarts that sport everything from TV’s greatest mustache to full frontal nudity, appointment viewing if ever there was such a thing.

And so, we snuck away from our TiVos just long enough to assemble an updated list of our favorite shows. Six newbies found their way into our latest TV Power Rankings, led by NBC's Thursday-night tandem of "The Office" and "My Name Is Earl." Meanwhile, HBO once again littered our rankings despite the loss of staff favorite "Six Feet Under," but it's Jack Bauer who again reigns supreme this time around.

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1. 24 Fox Last: 1

We see dead people, and it’s a beautiful thing. We’ll be the first to admit that last season’s finale was not the show’s finest, um, hour, but they sure as hell made up for it in the first four hours of this season. Both David Palmer and Michelle Dessler where whacked within seconds of each other, and while you can argue that Dessler was disposable, the killing of Palmer, the most likable character on the show, was ballsy. The stakes seem to have been raised all around this season, with none of the former seasons’ bait-and-switch plot devices in sight. President Buck Buck Brawwwwwwk Logan is turning into an interesting foil for all concerned. He seems to want to do the right thing, but as Walt the Weasel has shown, Logan can be very easily seduced into doing evil deeds, so long as he comes out looking good in the eyes of the public.

Of course, it looks as though Kim Bauer (the fetching Elisha Cuthbert) is returning just long enough to get stuck in a bear trap while being held hostage in a Kwik-E-Mart, but here’s hoping that the producers have better plans for her this time around…like having her killed. You think Jack has suffered enough? Take away his daughter too, and see how mental he goes. Now that would make a great show even better. ~David Medsker

Season one DVD review l Season two l Season three l Season four l 24 Blog

2. "The Office"

I’ll be the first one to admit that I wasn’t very keen on the idea of NBC remaking the classic BBC series “The Office,” and even more so after an average first season run of only six episodes. Things can change quite rapidly, however, and it hasn’t taken very long for the comedy series to climb to the top of the television rankings, or to get shuffled into the coveted Must See Thursday night spot. This is a direct reflection of the show’s brilliant writing team, which has managed to create a unique show they can call their own, and the amazing ensemble cast, without whom the series would not have survived.

Taking place in a small Philadelphia-based paper company, “The Office” is very much a show about the day-to-day grievances that make working in an office comparable to living underneath Satan’s armpit. The office manager, Michael Scott ( Steve Carell), is obsessed with everyone being his friend, while Assistant to the Regional Manager Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson) is the strangest person you’ll ever meet. These two characters alone are enough reason to watch the show, but perhaps the most intriguing element of the series is the secret office crush between nice guy Jim (John Krasinksi) and girl-next-door secretary Pam (Jenna Fischer), a relationship that the BBC series played out perfectly, and one that the NBC version will no doubt do as well. And while the rest of the characters that make up “The Office” aren’t exactly pertinent to the main story at hand, they’re the funniest group of nobodies on television today. ~Jason Zingale

3. "Scrubs"

The fall TV season officially began in September, but when “Scrubs” wasn’t on NBC’s upcoming schedule, many thought that the series had gotten the axe. Were the show’s less-than-impressive ratings finally proving too depressing for the network, or had Zach Braff’s instant film success gone to his head? Neither, actually. In fact, the show was very much alive and in production, and by January, “Scrubs” returned in full form. After last season left many fans dreading Elliot’s (Sarah Chalke) decision to leave Sacred Heart for a fellowship at another hospital, it took only two episodes before it was clear that she would return, and return she did. Meanwhile, J.D. (Braff) continues his reign as one of television’s funniest characters, a title that would be impossible to hold if it wasn’t for Braff’s complete disregard for making a fool of himself.

In just one short month on the air, the series has delivered more classic cutaways (including ninja surgeons), hilarious guest stars (like Jason Bateman), and a hundredth episode that was perhaps the best of the entire series, a “Wizard of Oz”-themed half-hour whose multi-layered jokes required multiple viewings. Oh, and Mandy Moore (Braff’s real life girlfriend) is set to guest star as J.D.’s girlfriend in upcoming episodes; we saw what Moore did for a little show called “Entourage” last season. “Scrubs” is still one of the funniest comedies on television, and while it may not get the same love as other NBC shows (see above), its loyal fan base remains. ~JZ

DON'T MISS: Season one DVD review

4. "The Shield"

After four years on the air, “The Shield” may have lost some fans, but it hasn’t lost any of its edge - a detail the writers appear keen on embracing throughout the show’s fifth season. And although Glenn Close’s short stint on the series last year helped to bring the series back to prominence, it’s the work by the principal cast that makes “The Shield” such a compelling drama year in and year out. Creator Shawn Ryan gets back to the basics this time around with the Strike Team reforming while Detective Billings (David Marciano) fills the empty captain’s chair. More important is the ongoing investigation into the Strike Team, spearheaded by an unorthodox IAD agent played with masterful creepiness by Forest Whitaker, and when he tries to get Lem (Kenneth Johnson) to turn on his friends, Vic Mackey ( Michael Chiklis) barks back.

The decision to move “The Shield” up the list was a tough one, but we simply can’t get enough of the same sharp writing that has made this season one of the best ever. Even more impressive is the enhanced role that Johnson has been given since the start of the show. The relatively unknown actor has proven himself worthy of the spotlight on many accounts, but this year’s main story arc has given him the range he needs to perform alongside his more popular costars. And while we’re still not sure if the producers are planning to bring in a big name (first Close, now Whitaker) every season from here on out, it would certainly make it all the more worthwhile. ~JZ

DON'T MISS: Season one DVD review l Season two l Season three l Season four l The Shield Blog

5. "Entourage"

If it wasn't for Jeremy Piven, "Entourage" could've tumbled right out of our top 10. The show's sophomore season started out strong, with super agent Ari Gold (Piven) pushing Vinnie Chase to take the lead role in the upcoming "Aqua Man" film, Vinnie (Adrian Grenier) flat out refusing after seeing the costume (“No way I’m gonna be on a 70-foot screen looking like an underwater Elton John”), and Eric (Kevin Connolly) finally ditching his girl and bagging a Perfect 10 model. The producers even took the time to give Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) and Drama (Kevin Dillon) some depth, with Turtle taking rapper Saigon on as a client and Drama landing a Movie of the Week role opposite Brooke Shields. But then Mandy Moore shows up and Vince, desperate to rekindle a past relationship with Moore, spends half the season as an insufferable pussy and damn near blows his mega million-dollar deal with Warner Bros. in the process. Fortunately, just when all seemed lost for the hit HBO comedy, Ari gets canned after organizing a failed coup in his agency and, in vintage "Jerry Maguire" form, he scrambles to retain whatever clients he can. In short, it could've been a better second season for "Entourage," but it could've been much worse. And for that, HBO can thank Piven. ~Jamey Codding

DON'T MISS: Season one DVD review l Entourage Blog

6. "Arrested Development"

Even if this is indeed the end for one of Fox’s all time greatest shows, it is better to have loved and lost…oh, the hell with that, Fox is freaking nuts if they cancel this show. The staff had an axe swinging over their heads the entire season and, God love ‘em, they didn’t change a thing. If anything, they went even further off the deep end, turning Charlize Theron into the most adorable retard the world has ever seen, and coming up with attorney Bob Loblaw (Scott Baio), the best character name since Ratso Rizzo. They even lampooned their own fate, and their search for a new network, in the main story arc, as the Bluth family saw their empire crumble. When Michael asks his father, “What about Home Buyers Organization” as a possible buyer, George Sr. deadpans, “No, HBO doesn’t want us.”

In the end, Michael (Jason Bateman, who deserves an Emmy) tells the few people they were able to corral into attending a fundraiser that the Bluths don’t deserve their money, or their pity, or their respect, and tells them all to leave. How very “Arrested Development”; if they’re going to die, they’ll die with their boots on, instead of standing on the side of the road holding a sign that says ‘Will act for food.’ We’re not ones to buy into the whole dumbing-down-of-society thing, but if this show gets canned while “According to Jim” lives on, maybe there’s something to it after all. ~DM

DON'T MISS: Season one DVD review l Season two

7. "Deadwood"

It’s been nine months since the last new episode of “Deadwood,” but the series is holding steady in our Top 10. A lot happened in season two, but the show still revolves around Al Swearengen (Ian McShane) and his curse-filled vision for the future of Deadwood. He shrugged off an extremely painful kidney stone early in the season to eventually finalize a profitable annexation deal with the Yankton Territory. The other major player is Sheriff Seth Bullock, who tries his damndest to keep Swearengen (relatively) honest. But he’s got his own baggage to deal with; just as his romance with the widow Alma Garret (Molly Parker) started to heat up, his wife and young step-son/nephew show up in town. This loveless marriage wears on Alma and the Sheriff throughout the entire season until the kid is tragically trampled by a horse. That’s right, a lot of people died in the Old West, and some of them were innocent kids. But just when you think that Seth and Alma can finally be together, she decides to wed the grimy but honorable Ellsworth (Jim Beaver). The series is set up nicely for season three, which should premiere sometime this year. ~John Paulsen

8. "The Sopranos"

We couldn't even tell you the last time we saw a new episode of "The Sopranos." Honestly. We want to say it was in 2004, but at this point we can't be really sure. What is it about HBO? Why do they think it's okay to keep their viewers waiting...and waiting...and waiting? Obviously, they know we'll keep coming back (four HBO shows landed in our top-10 and a total of six made the list) but that doesn't justify the obscenely long hiatuses "The Sopranos" is notorious for. Thankfully, the wait is nearly over, with season six set to debut on March 9. But wait...there's more. In fact, eight more, as in the eight "bonus" episodesHBO announced it would run beginning next January. Why not just lump those eight episodes into a "seventh season"? Well, for starters, we'd have to wait another two years to see them, so we're not complaining. In fact, we're anxiously awaiting the final 20 episodes of one of the best shows in TV history, a run that should vault "The Sopranos" back near the top of this list. Now if only we could remember what the hell happened during the last season.... ~JC

DON'T MISS: Season one DVD review l Season two l Season three l Season four l Season five

9. "Extras"

Move over, Larry David; there’s a new fool in town and his name is Andy Millman (Ricky Gervais). Much like the aforementioned character, Andy has a knack for creations that alienate those around him, but it’s a really a two-man show. Without best friend Maggie (Ashley Jensen) around to stir the pot, many of these situations wouldn’t even take place. Co-produced by BBC and HBO, and created by the men behind the original “Office” (Gervais and Stephen Merchant), “Extras” is a hilarious new comedy that follows two “background artists” around the London film scene working on various projects.

While the first season of the series ran only six episodes, “Extras” is still one of the funniest shows on television. Gervais is hilarious as usual, as is relative newcomer Jensen (whose Scottish accent is to die for), but a majority of the laughs come from the show’s guest stars. In the first episode of the series, Kate Winslet reveals her belief that only controversial roles (like “handicaps and mentals”) win Oscars, while Ben Stiller appears later in the season as a narcissistic Hollywood asshole. The best cameo by far, however, was Patrick Stewart as a sex-obsessed actor with an interesting idea for a movie: “For instance, I might be walking along and see a beautiful girl and think 'I wish I could see her naked'... and so her clothes fall off." That, my television viewing friends, is comedy gold. Now if only somebody can convince Gervais to produce more than six episodes a season. ~JZ

10. "South Park"
Comedy Central

We must confess: we haven't seen much of the new season of "South Park," but one episode, “Trapped in the Closet,” is one of the funniest things we’ve ever seen on television. Only Trey Parker and Matt Stone could find a way to weave R. Kelly’s song, Tom Cruise’s tabloid gossip, and the tenets of the Church of Scientology into one hilarious, highly inflammatory story. Nicole Kidman, no doubt, instantly put Parker and Stone on her Christmas card list after watching it.

“Trapped in the Closet” crystallizes the one aspect of “South Park” that has contributed to its continued success: they’re utterly fearless. Not in a Will Ferrell, I’ll-touch-tongues-with-Tom-Green kind of way, but in that they are absolutely unafraid to skewer anyone who rubs them the wrong way - leave it to them to be the only show on TV that makes fun of liberals, which is done less out of spite than it is out of a desire to be contrary to what is expected of them as Hollywood entertainers - and the Scientology episode shows that they are just as willing to go after the big dogs as they are to lampoon lowlifes like O.J. Simpson. Give ‘em hell, Trey. We’re behind you all the way. ~DM

DON'T MISS: Best Cartoon Characters l Season one DVD review l Season 2 l Season 5 l Season 6

11. "Prison Break"

If your brother is on death row for a crime he didn’t commit, what’s the best way to help him? If your answer is to provide credible evidence of his innocence and get him released through the appellate courts…you’d be wrong. The correct answer is to tattoo your body with the blueprints of the prison, rob a bank so you’ll (hopefully) be thrown in the same lockup and then arrange an unlikely prison break with your brother and a few new friends. Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller) anchors the show as the former engineer trying to save his brother, Lincoln Burrows (Dominic Purcell). The show also features two of television’s best villains, prison Captian Brad Bellick (Wade Williams) and fellow inmate “T-Bag” (Robert Knepper). “Prison Break” definitely has a “24” feel to it, and like our #1 show, the viewer must suspend disbelief at times to fully enjoy the series. It’s been on hiatus since last November, but will return on March 20 for the second half of the breakout. ~JP

12. "Lost"
LAST: 10

Those hoping for a few more answers during the second season of “Lost” have been sorely disappointed thus far…but that is very much to the show’s credit. Why should the producers do what’s expected of them? Why should they not, instead, further complicate their story with new characters, new storylines, and a whole new level of conflict for our favorite band of castaways? Why should they not, in other words, raise as many new questions as they answer?

Charlie is struggling to resist the temptations of heroin. Michael has wandered off into the jungle seeking his son, following directions from a computer that isn’t supposed to work. Jack and Locke are at odds over the leadership of their group. And Hurley is “wookin’ pa nub” with sexy psychologist Libby.

The tension is mounting, the questions bubbling up and boiling over, creating an intoxicating brew. ~Buffybot

DON'T MISS: Season one DVD review l Lost Blog

13. "My Name Is Earl"

Prior to 2004, Jason Lee’s name was mud, practically; after leaving Kevin Smith behind, the best comedic work on Lee’s résumé was a three-way tie between “Stealing Harvard,” “A Guy Thing,” and “Big Trouble”…and, baby, that ain’t good. Thank God he found “My Name Is Earl.” Earl Hickey, is...well, let’s not mince words: he’s a loser. He doesn’t have a job, his wife (Jaime Pressly) is cheating on him, and his only real consolation in life is that he’s not the stupidest person in his family. (That honor belongs to his brother, Randy, played by Ethan Suplee.) His life changes when he buys a winning lottery ticket…and is promptly hit by a car, losing the ticket. Earl decides that his piss-poor excuse for a life is the reason why…and no sooner does he decide to go on a quest to right every wrong he’s done in his life than the ticket literally blows back into his hands, giving him the money to fund his journey and the material to keep this hilarious show going for several seasons. Let’s not damn “My Name Is Earl” with the faint praise that it’s the best new sitcom of 2005; let’s just say that Jason Lee is back, baby! ~Will Harris

14. "Family Guy"
LAST: 12

And the hits just keep on coming! After defying the nay-sayers and returning from cancellation, “Family Guy” has resumed carving its niche on the teeter-totter of highbrow and lowbrow humor. New episodes continue to appear on Fox’s Sunday night lineup even as Cartoon Network runs all of the old episodes into the ground by re-running them ad nauseum. 2005 brought us the show’s third box set, as well as the straight-to-DVD full-length movie, “Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story,” which sold beaucoups copies; meanwhile, 2006 finds a report that Stewie will be the virtual host of a talk show being developed strictly for the Internet later this year. No, “Family Guy” isn’t “The Simpsons,” but, lately, lord knows it’s consistently funnier (see “Simpsons” note below), and by going with less obvious guest stars - this season has found appearances by Tom Bosley and Marion Ross (Mr. and Mrs. Cunningham), Sherman Hemsley (George Jefferson), and Frank Sinatra, Jr. - creator Seth MacFarlane reminds us that “Family Guy” is less about stunt casting and more about comedy. What a concept! ~WH

DON'T MISS: Best Cartoon Characters l Volume one DVD Review l Volume two l Volume three

15. "House"
LAST: 11

To anyone who worried that TV’s smartest curmudgeon might go soft on us during this season: relax. So far this year, Dr. Gregory House has denounced the lionization of cancer-stricken children, insisting that “they can’t all be heroic” and that most of them are probably whiny crybabies. He has thrown a noted philanthropist’s cell phone into the toilet and accused him of grandstanding. And he has broken into a therapist’s office to read his ex-girlfriend’s psychiatric evaluation, in hopes of using the information to win her back.

No, House himself won’t be winning any popularity contests, but Hugh Laurie deservedly won the Golden Globe for his work in the series. That he was robbed of the Emmy by James Spader, of all people, is an oversight that should soon be rectified. Make no mistake about it: Gregory House is, was, and always will be the most likable unlikable character on television. ~Buffybot

16. "Curb Your Enthusiasm"
LAST: 14

Scan through our list - there isn’t a single sitcom filmed in front of a studio audience. The new wave of comedy is the single-camera format, and one of the reasons for the format’s success is Larry David’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” Each season of “CYE” has a long story arc, and this season it was Larry’s decision whether or not to give a kidney to his friend, Richard Lewis. The once groundbreaking show is now in cruise control, but still provides laughs on a regular basis. This season, Larry forced a girl off of a ski lift, was attacked by a former Kamikaze pilot now confined to a wheelchair, and accused Hugh Hefner of stealing his dad’s smoking jacket. How exactly Larry gets himself into all these situations is unclear, but the way he handles them is usually hilarious. ~JP

DON'T MISS: Season four DVD review

17. "Rome"

It’s not a history lesson. It’s HBO. That should be the tagline for the network’s most recent success. The series takes place in ancient Rome around the time of Julius Caesar’s ascension and assassination, but revolves around two middle class heroes, the noble Lucius Vorenus (Kevin McKidd) and the brutish Titus Pullo (Ray Stevenson). Ancient Romans weren’t exactly prudish, so sex is a big part of the storyline, from pillowtalk politicking to full-on pagan orgies. The ensemble cast is terrific and the show looks great, which is usually a big hurdle to overcome when filming a period piece for television. Although Rome was a male dominated society, women play a huge role in the twists and turns of the series, and a few of them are so involved in the cities’ politics that they are considered the “shadow rulers” of Rome. Since the first season ended with Caesar’s assassination, the series is set up beautifully for its second run. We’ll have to wait until 2007, but there should be plenty of fornicating and power grabbing to go around. ~JP

18. "Rescue Me"
LAST: 17

There was a time when Tommy Gavin (Denis Leary) was the most interesting character on television - a bold statement considering all of the other men he’s up against: Jack Bauer, Vic Mackey, Ari Gold, or even Tony Soprano. Lately, though, the guys behind “Rescue Me” seem so desperate for good ideas that they had no problem killing Tommy’s son at the end of the second season. Now, there are obvious reasons as to why an event like this would help the show climb back up the charts. For one, Tommy had become incredibly soft since getting hooked on the happy pills, and now that his son is dead and his wife has left him (again), there’s no doubting he’ll be drowning his sorrows in whiskey by the start of the third season. Still, some of the best moments in the show were between Tommy and Roommate Jesus, a relationship that is sure to end if Tommy picks up the bottle again. This doesn’t mean that “Rescue Me” has declined in any way, but our expectations have certainly been raised. FX, it’s your move. ~JZ

DON'T MISS: Season one DVD review l Rescue Me Blog

19. "Invasion"

In an effort by the three majors to replicate the tone and success of last year’s chapter-driven, sci-fi hit, “Lost,” “Surface” has been renewed another year while “Threshold,” despite its fine cast, went the way of the dodo. But the best of the bunch came from the very same network that originally brought us “Lost.” “Invasion” started slowly, but has steadily ramped up the creepiness, giving its audience more questions than answers. The show is set in a once-sleepy town near the Everglades in Florida, which appears to be the site of - you guessed it - an alien invasion. Sheriff Tom Underlay (played by the always menacing William Fichtner) appears to be the leader of the new breed, but even he doesn’t have all the answers. A park ranger, Russell Varon (Eddie Cibrian), is the Sheriff’s main opposition. To make things even more interesting, the Sheriff is now married to Russell’s ex-wife, Mariel (Kari Matchett), and is a step-father to his two kids. Unlike “Lost,” “Invasion” has provided a few solid answers, but there are still some big unknowns. The best thing is - it just keeps getting better every week. ~JP

20. "Reno 911"
Comedy Central
LAST: 20

This could very well be the last time "Reno 911" finds itself on our list. It still has its moments, but those moments aren't as frequent nor as funny as they were during its first two seasons. Maybe we're expecting too much from a show that would seem to have limited potential; after all, how many times do we need to be reminded that Garcia (Carlos Alazraqui) is a racist, Clem (Wendi McLendon-Covey) is a tramp, Trudy (Kerri Kenney) is a full-blown nutjob, and Dangle (Thomas Lennon) is a raging homosexual? They tried injecting some new blood into the show by introducing Cheresa Kimball (Mary Birdsong) as the newest member of the force, but they couldn't hide the fact that she's basically just a female version of Junior (Ben Garant). The two-part season premiere last year was lackluster and the episodes that followed just didn't stack up to the show's past work. We're hoping "Reno 911" rebounds during its fourth season but, sadly, we're not holding our breath. ~JC

DON'T MISS: Season one DVD review l Season two

Off the List

"Six Feet Under" (#8), "Chappelle's Show" (#13), "The Simpsons" (#15), "Da Ali G Show" (#16), "The Daily Show" (#18), "Desperate Housewives" (#19)

Honorable Mentions

Four Kings” (NBC)
As a part of NBC’s attempt to reclaim Thursday nights, the new comedy “Four Kings” isn’t necessarily the best choice for the job (we would have gone with “Scrubs”), but it’s a refreshing opening act to the network’s stronger series. Centered on four best friends living together under one roof, “Four Kings” is a sort-of straight guy’s “Will & Grace,” which isn’t very surprising considering that both shows were created by the same people. Modeled after the other live-audience, laugh-track sitcoms that made NBC’s Must See Thursday’s such a hit in the 90’s, “Four Kings” doesn’t have nearly the same potential, but it’s a worthy quick-fix until NBC finds a better alternative. ~JZ

"Battlestar Galactica" (Sci-Fi)
At first glance, it looks like another unnecessary Hollywood remake. But as cheesy as the original might have been, the Sci-Fi channel’s “re-imagining” of the ‘70s series has quietly become one of the best shows on television. The original premise is solid. A fleet of human ships escapes the 12 colonies after being attacked by the Cylons - a race of mechanical beings originally created by the humans. The ragtag band of ships goes out in search of the fabled thirteenth colony, Earth, only they don’t have any idea where it is or if it really exists. Creator Ronald Moore (who previously worked on “Star Trek: TNG,” “Star Trek: DS9” and “Roswell”) has done a fine job on a shoestring budget, focusing on story and dialogue, while the acting by the fine ensemble cast, anchored by veteran thespians Edward James Olmos and Mary McDonnell, continues to improve as the series progresses. The first season and the first half of the second season are now available on DVD. ~JP

Extra Comments

Chappelle's Show” ...we've got our fingers crossed.
Yeah, I watched "Oprah" last week, but I had a good reason: Dave Chappelle was on. He said some interesting things while finally detailing the events that forced him to walk away from shooting mid-way through his show's third season. (No, he wasn't crazy and no, he wasn't battling a drug problem.) The most interesting bit of info from Chappelle's interview with Oprah, though, was his assertion that, if certain requirements were met, he'd be open to returning to Comedy Central and filming the rest of the third season. I'm not sure where that leaves the long-term future of the show but, at this point, I'd take whatever Chappelle was willing to give. Then again, if he doesn't return to Comedy Central, Chappelle would no doubt surface somewhere else (HBO, perhaps?). Either way, I'm tuning in to whatever he's doing, but I wouldn't mind checking in with Tyrone Biggums and Lil' Jon once more, just for old time's sake. ~JC

The Simpsons” must die.
Earlier this year, Fox released “The Simpsons: The Complete Seventh Season” on DVD. It covers the show’s 1995-1996 season, which was as bulletproof as seasons of television come. Compare that to the junk they’re airing this season, which looks like it was written by people who have never watched the show (it’s also getting insufferably preachy with its politics), and it’s clear that it is finally time for “The Simpsons” to walk away. Fox, of course, doesn’t want to kill its cash cow, but what they don’t realize is that the beef is tainted, and they’re all slowly dying of Mad Cow disease. Perhaps Matt Groening’s recent announcement that he’s resurrecting “Futurama” is a sign that even he knows that the clock is ticking on this once-great show. ~DM

Desperate Housewives” falls flat.
What a difference a year makes. Last February, the gals of Wisteria Lane were riding high, their show a breakout hit. Their only worry was what to wear to that upcoming Vanity Fair photo shoot, and who would get the coveted position in the middle of the picture.

It all went downhill from there. The VF shoot was a PR disaster, and although the housewives delivered a satisfying end to season one, season two was a different story. Between Lynette’s baffling inconsistency of character, Susan’s off-putting romantic ineptitude, and Gabrielle’s ridiculous battle with the Hot Nun Who Isn’t Hot, the “Desperate” writers lost the thread. Recent developments with Tom, Lynette and Bree are encouraging…but erasing half a season’s ill will is going to take some effort. ~Buffybot

" Alias" goes dark.
We could go on and on about how happy we are that Jennifer Garner has found true love with overrated actor Ben Affleck, and how it was not at all inappropriate for her to have her onscreen (and former offscreen) love Michael Vartan thrown off the show, but really we just have two words to say:

Pregnant. Spy.

There is nothing wrong with either of these two words on their own, but we do not advise combining them in a television program if any last remaining shred of credibility is to be retained.

That is all. ~Buffybot

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