Ah welcome welcome. I'm proud to present my first post on this newly minted blog, so I'm gonna kick it off right with the first segment of my 2006 recap. Let's take a look at the best that TV had to offer last year...
05. Heroes: Part 1 of the 1st Season (NBC)
11 episodes; Sept. 25th – Dec. 4th
Heroes does a lot of things right. First, it moves slowly, giving the audience just enough to keep them coming back, but leaving plenty of time to revel in the real-life details of the characters. Second, it eschews the open-ended multiple storylines of comic books into a viable storytelling style for serialized television, and it manages to populate those stories with mostly interesting and identifiable characters. They haven’t perfected the mix yet – Ali Larter’s split personality narrative is saddled with the weakest three characters and most under-explained superpowers. The rest of the show, however, more than hits the mark. The Petrelli brothers are pitch perfect in their struggle over how to treat the exploration of their powers, while Hiro and Isaac are two of the most interesting new TV presences of the year. Here’s to saving the world.
04. The Shield: 5th Season (FX)
11 episodes; Jan. 10th – March 21st
Forest Whitaker is a great actor that usually flies under the radar, so it might have surprised some people that he got nominated for an Oscar this week, for a movie not too many people have seen. But if they watched season 5 of FX’s The Shield last winter, it wouldn’t be a surprise at all. Whitaker blasted into the show, more than filling the void left by Glenn Close’s departure after the 4th season, and he filled the role of Internal Affairs detective Jon Kavanaugh with overwhelming intensity. The entire season was one long chase, with Vic Mackey and his Strike Team struggling to stay one step ahead of Kavanaugh, and in the end, there had to be casualties. The tragic exit of Lem was by far the most heartbreaking moment on TV in 2006; when you play with fire, you’re going to get burned, but none of the Strike Team expected it to happen literally.
03. The Office: Part 2 of the 2nd Season (NBC)
12 episodes; Jan. 5th – May 11th
It was interesting to see The Office, which started being about an office (duh), return after its holiday break and excel at becoming an interesting comic study of new romances. The show was always funny, what with the struggle between Jim and Dwight, or Michael Scott’s cringe-inducing attempts to be the likable boss. But the second season put the spotlight on the couples; Kelly is the quintessential clingy girlfriend to Ryan, who’d love nothing more than to escape. Michael juggles a secret affair with Jan, his boss, while making a play for happiness with Carol, his real estate agent. Even Dwight woos cold accountant Angela. Of course, it’s really all about Pam & Jim. No really. This stretch of 12 episodes, beginning with the instant classic “Booze Cruise” and ending with the cliffhanging “Casino Night”, was golden all the way through because of the bottomless chemistry and longing of Pam (Jenna Fischer) and Jim (John Krasinski).
02. Lost: Part 2 of the 2nd Season (ABC)
14 episodes; Jan. 11th – May 24th
The best thing about the creative forces behind Lost is that they have no problem killing off main characters. I mean, bodies dropped in the second season, and I think that may be why the show is so addictive. You can have all the nuclear bomb shelters, creepy island natives and smoke monsters in the world, but to make a long-lasting show, you need to get wrapped up in the stories of these characters, because unlike other shows, you feel like there is something actually at stake for them. And the actors play it perfectly, injecting palpable emotion into the true definition of an ensemble, where stars are made from the most unlikely (ie: not pretty) candidates (Hurley? Locke? “Henry Gale”?). It doesn’t hurt that the writers have constructed a massive web of possibly unsolvable mysteries and dozens of hidden clues that take days to sift through, leading to an entire world not even seen on the show.
01. The Wire: 4th Season (HBO)
13 episodes; Sept. 10th – Dec. 10th
The fourth season of The Wire was one of the most superb weekly engagements I’ve ever seen, with layer after layer of deep social commentary spread across Baltimore and the lives of nearly 40 major characters. But it offers even more questions than it does answers. Will there be a place in the Police Department for the nomadic Lester & Kima? Will Prez be able to make the transition from being a cop to a teacher? Once Carcetti wins the mayor’s seat, will he be able to navigate the political landmines as a white man running a black city? How will the tragedy of Bodie affect McNulty’s quest to be a detective again? And what will happen with Omar Little, the notorious gay Robin Hood of the ghetto, robbing from Marlo Stansfield and only shooting people involved in the drug trade (“I don’t put my gun on no citizens!!”)? In the end, though, this season is all about the kids: Namond, Dukie, Michael & Randy walk away with the show, all turning in award-worthy performances, showing us the effect of the hard streets and the mismanaged education system on their fragile adolescence. The best show on TV just got better; hopefully we won't have to wait too long for season 5.