Top 5… TV Moments of 2008

3 Jan

For the next few days, I’m going to be putting together some top five lists from 2008.  Yesterday was Games, today is TV.  Perhaps it goes without saying, but there will be some spoilers here for the shows I watched.  Without further ado:

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5. Lost Finds its Way

I can’t even believe that I’m writing this – the sis and I were SO OVER Lost at the start of the third season.  By the second-season finale, we were on a bunch of other shows – Battlestar, The Wire, Deadwood, etc., and the quality of those shows was so uniformly great that it became impossible to justicy just why the hell we were watching something so stupid every week.  When the third season started, it was more of the same, and then even more of the same – stupid, wandering flashbacks, idiotic characters, a strange no-questions policy, a general air of arrogance around the show’s lack of coherence… it was too much, and we stopped watching.

The fact that I put all of that aside and actually trusted the internet in order to give the show another chance is surprising enough, but the fact that it actually pulled it out is even more shocking.  With the third-season finale flipping things into flash-forward mode, and a whole ton of new information about the island, as well as how exactly to get off of it, revealed in the fourth season premiere, I was ready, hesitantly perhaps, to get back on board.  I’m really glad I did.  The episode “The Constant,” in which we learn about Desmond’s un-stuck-in-timeness, was absolutely great stuff – real emotions, really cool sci-fi, and great characterizations.  It was probably the best episode of Lost ever, and it earned enough credit with me to keep me interested at least four or five episodes past the point when the show inevitably begins to suck again in the upcoming season 5.

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4. Meanwhile, The Crew of The Galactica Finds Earth

I’m so pumped for January 16th, y’all, and here’s why. The most recent season of Battlestar Galactica was just amazing, with killer performances, a wild main story, and the careening sense of momentum that all great shows seem to get when they’ve been given an expiration date for which to aim.  That final tracking shot of the entire cast, standing in what appears to be the wreckage of New York City, was unbelievable – from the score, to the acting, to the fact that, on a show that has been more about 9/11 than just about any other show in the past seven years, Ron Moore and co. finally made the metaphor real, bringing the characters face-to-face with the destruction of America, and the Earth.  The impending finale episodes are going to be epic.

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3. The Wire Ends

It wasn’t the best season of The Wire, or even the second-best, but the fifth and final season was the first and only one that I watched as it was happening, and that was really cool.  The program that I (and ton of others) will, for quite a long time, refer to as “The Best Show In The History of Television,” ended in spectacular fashion, with a simple, short love poem to Baltimore, no frills, just a long shot of the skyline, and then… fin.  After watching every previous season on DVD in huge chunks, it was great to follow this one bit-by-bit, tracking the final arcs of each of these characters who had so endeared themselves to and frustrated me over the past few years.  And Bubbles!  Oh, Bubbles!  Andre Royo, you deserve better than stupid Heroes.  Please, someone, cast this man!

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2. Tina Fey Defeats Sarah Palin

Oh, hell.  What more can be said about Tina Fey’s evisceration of Sarah Palin, week after week, sandblasting her fake persona, her false folksiness, until it was stretched thin, held up as the farce it was for all of America to see?  Nothing, I suppose, but that doesn’t stop it from having been so fucking awesome. Fey’s physical similarities to Palin were like comic-book genetic mutation that resulted in a superpower, and the fact that a woman like Fey, someone so good at what she does, so clearly decent and big-hearted, would take that power and rise up, striking a serious blow to such an unfit and dishonest political candidate, doing what even Jon Stewart and Colbert couldn’t do and actually taking Palin down a peg, well, Tina, I salute you.  If you ran for president, I would consider voting for you.  You could put Al Frankin on your ticket, since he’s totally going to be a senator next year.

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1. Hulu Launches

Over the course of 2008, there were plenty of great things to watch on TV, but nothing came close to the new way in which we were allowed to watch them.  Hulu.com launched early in the year, and to surprisingly little pomp, at that.  I actually felt like, because I read Alan Sepinwall’s blog, I was one of the only people who knew about it – I subbed a french class at the school where I teach and, when I told the kids about the site, they couldn’t even believe it (and these are some pretty savvy kids, too).

And though it was good times when we could watch The Office and 30 Rock whenever we wanted, but the thing that took Hulu from “nice web convienence” to “live-changing web convenience” was when, sometime over the summer, they added both The Daily Show and The Colbert Report.  Oh, how the sun shone down, and the rain abated, and all was good in the world!  Ever since then, I have been able to watch TDS every morning with my coffee, and I’ve caught just about every episode of the show for the rest of the year, something that hasn’t been true, since… well… maybe since ever!  It sounds as though the whole just-barley-resolved Viacom/Time-Warner Kerfuffle was at least in part about how Viacom’s shows are on Hulu – to me, this is but one more nail in the coffin of the middlemnen.  Hulu is here to stay, and God bless it.

That does it for TV.  Tomorrow, the top 5 musical things from 2008.  See you then!

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