2008 Bests: Television

With the advent of DVR and seeming death of a specific “season” for new television the amount of new content available is rather daunting. With DVR my willingness to try new shows that I might not otherwise waste me time with was increased exponentially which was a good thing otherwise I might never have watched ABC Family’s The Middleman!.

I had noticed the promos but written it off as some silly, campy family based affair that would be far from worth my time. The first episode premiered during a dearth of new things to watch so I recorded it…and was subsequently hooked! Oh I was right, it was silly and a little campy and family friendly but it was also smart, well-written, and chock full of references to comics, science fiction, and other assorted geeky things. It didn’t hurt that Natale Morales and Brit Morgan are pretty damn easy on the eyes. Few shows on television have captured my imagination or served quite so much pure fun in my experience than The Middleman.

Series creator Javier Grillo-Marxuach (it was originally a graphic novel) describes the show as:

…AN OVER-THE-TOP, SIXTEEN-CAR-PILEUP-SUGAR-POPPED-CEREAL-BOWL OF A SERIES THATS NOT AFRAID TO BE EVERYTHING YOUR MOTHER WARNED YOU ABOUT TELEVISION: A CARTOONISHLY EXTREME, RANDOMLY FANTASTIC, SPECIAL-EFFECTS LADEN, THREE-FISTED WALKING-AND-TALKING TOY-LINE ADVERTISEMENT OF AN ACTION-ADVENTURE-SCI-FI COMIC BOOK IN WHICH THE FABRIC OF REALITY BARELY SURVIVES IN THE END, AND THE JOURNEY INVARIABLY REVEALS A COMPLETELY SURREAL STRANGENESS BEHIND EVERYTHING WE HOLD TO BE TRUE.

It is hard to describe the show as anything other than that. It’s a lot of everything rolled up into one shiny, delicious package. Unfortunately, while loved by critics, the show’s poor ratings have left it limbo and signs appear grim. I hope ABC Family gives it another chance at was some of the most original television I’ve seen in a long time. You can visit the Middle Blog for more information, and see lists of the inside jokes/references made in every episode.  Here’s hoping for a stellar DVD release.

Runner-up(s):  Lost‘s previous season was damned fine affair almost equal to the stellar 1st season in twists, turns and sheer awesomeness.  Terminator: the Sarah Connor Chronicles manages to turn out some entertaining and mind-bending sci-fi stories but still has a few kinks in terms of pacing and plotting (more Ellison, less Riley!).  Fringe is still too new to be sure about but with powerhouse producer J. J. Abrams behind it is shaping up quite nicely.  Last but not least How I Met You’re Mother still manages to be consistantly entertaining in the sitcom world.  An honorable mention is deserved by Supernatural which I had initially written off as not worth watching but has proved to provide consistantly entertaining and occaisonally creepy material in the under-utilized supernatural horror genre.

’09 Outlook:  Dollhouse, Joss Whedon’s mind-wiped human dolls sci-fi drama starts on Fridays, on Fox, the same channel and night that killed Firefly; ominous.  New episodes of Reaper are starting up again.   Lost premeirs this month.  New Psych, new Burn Notice though we do lose Stargate: Atlantis.  Supernatural and Smallville also make returns with more new episodes.

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