Thursday, May 26, 2005

The Best Season That Was: TV 2004-2005

In the season of 2004-2005, there were many great shows. Television certainly trumped film in that same period of time. Great shows kicked off the 2004 season with HBO�s Entourage and the third season of The Wire, and ABC�s Lost became an instant obsession. Fox, after the World Series, finally unleashed the 16th season of The Simpsons and the 2nd of Arrested Development, and then snuck in House, which could have been a disaster had it continued performing like it had in November and December, but got a great American Idol lead-in in January and became Tuesday�s must-watch program. 24 and Alias benefited greatly from non-stop, rerun-free seasons, and their return made watching TV even more fun�and difficult. Mixed into all that was the fine NBC comedies Scrubs and the American The Office, the 9th (yes 9th) season of South Park, Adult Swim�s Robot Chicken, Sealab 2021, and Aqua Teen Hunger Force, and an actual Friday hit in CBS�s Numbers. And heck, I�m missing tons of shows that should probably make the list�but this is what I watched.

By the way, I am prone to miss some things and misquote, but I hope I got the spirit down. So, I won't be needing correction. Just know, I'm sorry in advance if I didn't get it perfect.

BEST CHARACTERS/ACTORS

In this, obviously, the best have to be both great characters and great actors. If I don�t mention someone here, it�s not a knock, it�s just that these are the true standouts. Here are the ones that stand out:

Dr. Gregory House, Hugh Laurie, (House). There isn�t a better character on television. His wit, his mystery, and outrageousness form one character you can�t miss. I smile every time I see Laurie�s name on the opening�s credits, and generally any time I see his name, period.

John Locke, Terry O�Quinn, (Lost). You want someone who can help you cope with the island? Well�perhaps you won�t get an answer. His backstories formed the two most emotional episodes of the season, and his purpose and actions on the island make for most of the intriguing mystery that surrounds the show.

Gob, Will Arnett, (Arrested Development). His deep voice adds more hilarity to his delusional character. Almost everything he says is funny. In a show surrounded by great characters and actors, his presence always lights up a scene even more.

Ari Gold, Jeremy Piven, (Entourage). The true sleazeball, but ultimately the anger and wit of the show. His tirade on another agent at the end of the 1st season is legendary.

Jack Bauer, Kiefer Sutherland. Habib Marwan, Arnold Vosloo, (24). Both were smart, and they ran against each other in 24�s best season. Jack Bauer gets �balls points� for sticking a gun in a CTU doctor�s face to have him save the life of a man who has information instead of another man who took a bullet for him and just happens to be his girlfriend�s formerly estranged husband. Marwan masterminded a SoD kidnapping, Air Force One�s attack, the stealing of a nuclear weapon, and the successful launch of it, and was always a step ahead.

Jack Bristow, Victor Garber, (Alias). The man is as mysterious as ever. His cold-blooded ways are always a draw. Maybe if Jennifer Garner is pregnant and can�t do her usual stuff for next season, he�ll step in as the number one badass on the show.

HOT CHICKS (OK, they�re talented too)

Rachel Bilson, Summer, (The O.C.). She was perhaps the best reason to watch this year, even beating out Adam Brody�s Seth Cohen. Through all the crazy stuff that happens on this soap, she maintains a level head. And she�s friggin� hot.

Jennifer Morrison, Dr. Cameron, (House). I remember seeing this hottie in Urban Legends: Final Cut. And even though she was �legal� in that picture, she�s become one of the hottest women on TV. The sensible one in the room, she showed some different colors towards the end of the 1st season, some punch. And she�s friggin� hot.

Evangeline Lilly, Kate. Maggie Grace, Shannon. Yunjin Kim, Sun. Emilie de Ravin, Claire. (Lost). These friggin� hot chicks answer the question, �If you were stranded on an island��

Olivia Wilde, Alex, (The O.C.). Bisexual Alex started a fling with Seth, then fell for Marissa (Mischa Barton). With long, blonde hair and cold-as-ice blue eyes, Wilde burned up the TV screen. Her jealous rage at Marissa�s ex-boyfriend Ryan (Benjamin McKenzie) was great. She�s friggin� hot, too.

Reiko Aylesworth, Michelle Dessler, (24). I�d follow this CTU director anywhere. A tough chick with exotic looks (she�s a quarter Japanese). I�d like to see her in the field again, although not handicapped by a killer virus like in the 3rd season. Friggin� hot.

Aisha Tyler, Marianne, (24). Another fine female 24 villain. Did you know the show actually gets flack for that? Please. I�ll take a whole army of badass, friggin� hot villains if that�s the case.

Carrie Underwood, (American Idol). When she sang, I listened. And she�s friggin� hot. Can�t wait to bump into her in Nashville, her likely destination after all the hoopla.

Jennifer Garner, Sydney Bristow, (Alias). OK, so she�s having a baby with Ben Affleck. She�s still friggin� hot. And kicks ass.

Mia Kirshner, Mandy, (24). She wasn�t in very many episodes, but as a recurring villain in all seasons, she�s always been a smokin� addition to the show. I�d like her to play Jennifer Connelly�s sister in something. And I hope they are in a movie where they beat a lot of ass. I�d buy a ticket. So friggin� hot my TV screen lost pixels.

PEOPLE WHO SEEM TO BE EVERYWHERE

Navi Rawat. She was on Project Greenlight, and she made regular guest appearances on Numbers, and she had made several appearances on The O.C. last year that were reduced to a couple of episodes this year (her character basically got written out). She once played on 24, too, in season 1.

Logan Marshall-Green. He played SoD Heller�s son Richard on 24, and he played Ryan�s brother Trey on The O.C.

Aisha Tyler. She played Marianne on 24 and showed up on CSI as well.

Several characters from other shows who had been killed off returned for guest spots�notably Sarah Clarke (Nina from 24) who became a patient on House, and the same can be said for Leslie Hope, long-dead Bauer wife on 24.

BEST TV SERIES, 2004-2005

24

No show moved faster than 24 this year, no episode of this show�s 4th season ended leaving you wanting to see the next episode right then and there more than this show, and no show pushed broadcast television farther.

24 was one of the best seasons one show has ever had�and for me, for an hour-long drama, no series in television history has had this good of a year (but continue reading, there�s a rival).

The previous three seasons may very well have been handicapped by its long breaks between episodes during certain parts of the year and a lot of excessive subplotting that bogged down the main story. Stuff like Bauer�s ever-in-peril daughter Kim (Elisha Cuthbert) was axed, and so there were no crappy diversions from the main plot. This year, the subplots were kept to a minimum, and they actually had a bearing on the outcome�an early subplot involving a psycho daughter was kind of scary for the series: I actually wished for her death, I�m sorry to say. But the aftermath allowed Reiko Aylesworth, �Michelle,� to return as CTU director, and that�s a good thing.

Another great thing�a real smart villain played by Arnold Vosloo, who is always thinking and plotting, a worthy adversary to Jack Bauer. This is a guy, that even though you know it�s not going to happen, you let some doubt creep in that he might be able to pull off what he says he will. Moments:

When Secretary of Defense James Heller (William Devane) and daughter Audrey (Kim Raver) go to meet Heller�s son Richard (Logan Marshall-Green), a missile comes screaming through the background, completely unexpected, beginning the James Heller kidnapping.

Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) assaults a terrorist base in the first ten minutes of one show, taking on one guy at a time, eventually freeing Heller, who gets a gun, too�it was the defining moment of the entire season.

James Heller talking to his son Richard, who has a big anti-government stance and is suspected in possibly being involved somehow with his own father�s kidnapping, after throwing his anti-government conspiracy and corruption theories at him, says, �Don�t give me your Michael Moore 6th grade logic!�

Dina Araz (Shohreh Aghdashloo) tells Bauer after making a deal by which she saves her son from trial in return for information, �If my son dies, I will be more than happy to see your cities burn down.�

More Dina Araz, as Bauer needs to work with her and actually put himself in a precarious position as he gives her a gun: You must know that I want to kill you.

Air Force One gets attacked.

Bauer, trying to infiltrate a building but there�s a guy in perfect position in a tower guarding the entrance, rigs up a device by which he puts bullets into a small container along with some paper, sets it on fire, and distracts the guard with gunfire while he runs over to the tower, says, �Hey,� and caps the guard�s ass when he looks down.

A nuclear missile launches into the air, heading towards some unknown American location, ending the episode.

Bauer enters the Chinese Embassy, and with help from heat signatures, is able to avoid a number of guards in the building as he runs to kidnap a Chinese citizen who knows something about the attacks. The subsequent firefight that occurs later, that kills the consulate of the Embassy, throws another crazy dire consequence into the mix�a potential war scare with China.

Habib Marwan�s (Arnold Vosloo) speech to America, knowing a nuclear missile will be striking in the morning, �Today, you wake up to a new dawn.�

The 2-Hour Finale had something you don�t see on television, ever, a grand step up from regular cop and spy shows�a fighter jet tracking down the nuclear missile and blowing it up.

Lost

If 24 is the best show of the season, Lost is certainly very close, rubbing shoulders with it, pretty much tied. The show is full of rich character development and sci-fi geek details, added to a compelling drama. Its 2-hour finale was the best finale, the best 2 hours, of television all year�and that�s an achievement. Highlights:

Locke (Terry O�Quinn), in his first backstory early in the season, is revealed to have been handicapped before the plane crash. It�s a devastating episode, with Locke first striking out with a woman he wants to take to the Aboriginal Walkabout, then when he goes to Australia he�s told he can�t go because of his condition (�Don�t tell me what I can�t do!�). On the fateful plane back to the States, it crashes on the island, and in the middle of all the confusion, he finds himself able to run. The episode ends with the resonant image of Locke looking at a bonfire and seeing his wheelchair burned.

In another Locke story, in which we find out that his life is actually worse than we originally thought�a man posing as his long-lost father takes him out and does some great father-son activities, a relationship is forged, and then Locke donates a kidney to him. When Locke wakes up, he discovers it was all a scam, and when he drives to the man�s secluded mansion, he won�t talk to him.

Sawyer (Josh Holloway), in his backstory, is in a bar in Australia and runs into fellow castaway Jack�s (Matthew Fox) father Christian (John Terry). Christian says the line, �That�s why the Red Sox will never win the World Series,� which is later repeated by Jack to Sawyer when the story shifts back to the island. Sawyer says, �What did you say?� and Jack repeats it, tells him what it means and that his father used to say it, and then asks Sawyer why he�s curious. Sawyer, after considering, answers, �No reason.�

Locke gives Charlie (Dominic Monaghan) three chances to kick his drug habit by confiscating the last bit of heroin he has on him. If Charlie asks for the drugs back three times, Locke will give it back to him. On the third chance, Charlie demands it, and you think, �Oh no�� but then he burns it.

Playing backgammon, Locke asks little boy Walt (Malcolm David Kelley) the tantalizing question, �Do you wanna know a secret?� and we never hear it.

After Sawyer shoots a polar bear, everyone asks him where he got a gun and why he should have one. He reasons it out, and then finishes, �And guess what? I just shot a bear!�

A census is conducted on the island by Hurley (Jorge Garcia), and he discovers they have one person too many, and with a chilling look, the camera focuses on Ethan (William Mapother), who later kidnaps Claire (Emilie de Ravin).

Hurley, in the finale, makes a mad dash through an airport to get to that fateful plane. It�s a hilarious sequence, and it ends with the ticket woman making concessions to get him onboard, and with the ironic line, �This is your lucky day.�

By the way, speaking of the finale�no series of events promised more for a successful new season than that one did.

In the next-to-last episode, the raft sets sail in an emotional sendoff. Everyone cheers, and Walt�s dog Vincent tries to swim after his master, only to have to go back.

The numbers Hurley uses to win the lottery in his backstory are also on the mysterious hatch, another great episode-ending reveal.

Sawyer will only give up information about inhalers if Kate (Evangeline Lilly) gives him a kiss. Later, when Jack asks him what she gave him, he replies, �Nothing she wasn�t willing to part with.�

At the end of the episode entitled, �Deus ex Machina,� which is the episode where we find out Locke gets duped by someone posing as his father, Locke painfully wonders what he needs to do to get the mysterious hatch open. As he cries aloud on top of the hatch, a light gradually illuminates in the window of the hatch. One of the chill-bumpiest events of the season.

Just like any TV show that spans 20+ episodes, I�m sure I�m missing more. The whole series has been friggin� great.

House

Following 24 and Lost is House. Medical dramas are difficult to make original anymore, and this one put a nice twist on the genre. At first, everyone wanted to say this was CSI crossed with ER, and while it�s got the in-depth investigation theme, the joy of watching House comes from Hugh Laurie, who plays the title character, and his interactions with his staff (Jennifer Morrison, Omar Epps, Jesse Spencer) and friend James (Robert Sean Leonard). The biting witticisms in this show are too numerous to count. Moments I most remember:

House tells black Presidential hopeful Senator Tom Wright (Joe Morton), �They don�t call it the White House because of the paint job.�

House says, �Why do I watch �The O.C.?� It makes me happy.�

In a case where they are just trying to prevent a lame (read: crippled) patient from dying, they discover the cause of what�s killing him and what�s causing his lame leg. House remarks, �If we remove this tumor, he�ll be able to walk again.�

House remarks to his staff, something like, �When you need 80 yards at the end of the 4th quarter, you don�t run it down the middle�� and with a completely sour demeanor adds, �Unless you�re the Jets.�

House makes a remark to Dr. Chase (Spencer) about British people being so high and mighty. Chase replies, �I�m Australian,� and House shoots back, �You put the Queen on your money�you�re British.�

When asked angrily, �What is your problem?� House replies, �Bum leg, what�s yours?�

In the finale, former flame Stacy Warner (Sela Ward) asks House to ignore her husband�s wishes not to be tested for whatever his problem is. House, not exactly wanting the man to live but professionally obligated to treat him to the best of his abilities, but at the same time also professionally obligated to obey her husband�s wishes�in the next scene comes in with a syringe that his staff blocks him from using, citing the law. House remarks, �I can�t do this,� and walks off, dejected, and then in a flash turns around and stabs the man in the leg with the syringe. He remarks, �See that? See what I did there?� Of course, it was the right thing to do.

I�m not really doing this show justice, because there are many more.

BEST COMEDY

Arrested Development


A show that is painfully unwatched. You will not hear greater play-on-words outside of Shakespeare than in this show. I can�t really do this show justice, either, but I�ll take on some of the memorable lines and moments:

Buster (Tony Hale) starts an affair with the maid Lupe (B.W. Gonzalez), who gets fired by his mother Lucille (Jessica Walter) upon discovering it. Later on in the episode, Buster�s sister Lindsay (Portia de Rossi), not knowing about the firing, sees Lupe on a bench and asks, �Can�t you come over and dustbuster or something?� and she replies, �I no does Buster anymore!�

A picture of an extreme closeup of Tobias� testicles becomes, to the government, a picture depicting Iraq.

A video of George Michael (Michael Cera) playing by himself with a fake light saber becomes a source of embarrassment, comes up unexpectedly on his class president advertisement, and becomes a terrorist training video all in one season.

Speaking of his political ad, his uncle Gob (Will Arnett) helps him with it, does a voiceover, and it contains this opening political salvo against his opponent Steve Holt (Justin Grant Wade): Steve Holt is a bastard. He doesn�t even know his own father.

Ben Stiller, in his appearance as magician Tony Wonder, tells Gob that his next video would have been called �Use Your Illusion,� but �some band� has rights to it, so �I guess we�ll call it �Use Your Illusion II.�� Later in the episode, it becomes �Use Your Allusion.�

Tobias (David Cross) apparently gets personal license plates made of characters he gets to play�with the unfortunate failing of every show he�s ever been a part. We see stuff like �MAN #1� and all that, but the final one reads, �DRHOUSE.�

Gob, helping Michael (Jason Bateman) to break their mother out of a rehab center, says, �Who�d have thought the only girl I�d be checking out at spring break would be mom?�

Gob, holding giant scissors at the grand opening of a house, engages in combat with Michael, who has a giant rock. Narrator Ron Howard says, �And all of this was covered by the paper.�

Maeme (Alia Shawkat) and lovestruck cousin George Michael, in a trembling house, accidentally kiss in the finale as the house starts to collapse. Gob walks in, sees this, and remarks, �Dad will be crushed.� Next scene, we find out Gob has stored his fugitive dad George Sr. (Jeffrey Tambor) in the basement.

Narrator Howard, in the plot where Tobias tries to win back the affection of his wife Lindsay: Tobias had gained entry to the studio's wardrobe and makeup department. He then disguised himself to fool his wife Lindsay, see Maebe, and prove that he was a good actor. It was the exact plot of the movie Mrs. Doubtfire.

When Stan Sitwell (Ed Begley, Jr.) wants to buy shares of the Bluth Company from Lucille 2 (Liza Minnelli), someone says, �He�s going to lowball her,� and Gob, who has recently started an affair with Lucille 2, says, �Not while I�m around.�

When Buster gets his hand eaten by a seal, someone remarks, �It�s a loose seal!� and Buster says, �Lucille? I don�t care about Lucille! She lies!�

BEST REALITY SERIES

Project Greenlight

The behind-the-scenes of making a low budget movie easily trumps any reality series. Past seasons have been great, but with winner John Gulager, we had an intriguing person. The guy is so introverted and uncomfortable around people, I thought for sure he was going to get fired, or make a disaster of the picture (and we still haven�t seen Feast, but it looks like everyone involved likes it) Highlights:

After Gulager threatens to fly to New York and meet Harvey and Bob Weinstein in order to convince them to put his family members in his film, a powwow with producers Mike Leahy, Joel Soisson, and executive producer Chris Moore happens. �The director flipping out and filming this little piece with his family in it, and trying to fly to New York, is not a good use of money,� and Leahy says, �Well, there�s nothing we can do about that,� and Moore replies, �Yes we can, he�s fired!�

Gulager, after the film is presented to a test audience and it seems everyone likes it, only to see low test scores afterwards, says, �It was like Season 2 of Greenlight, where you�re sure everyone in the theatre loves it�then the scores come out.�

The Maloof Brothers, who eventually become executive producers, are on the radio and Mike Leahy, who is looking for more money from another source, calls into the radio station to talk to them. �Hey, I�m with Project Greenlight�you know Project Greenlight right?� and they say they do. �Hey, you wouldn�t be interested in financing a film would you?� and Leahy gets kicked off the air. The DJ says, �I guess you guys get that a lot, don�t you? People always asking for money?�

Casting director Michelle Gertz sends an agreed list of names for the part of �Heroine,� and she slips Navi Rawat on it without anyone�s knowledge. Dimension picks Navi, and a sort of uneasy storm develops between she, the producers, and John. �You made Navi happen,� Leahy says, �And that bothers me.�

An assistant sets up a special screening of Feast for Ben Affleck, who asks Chris Moore, �Are you going to that?� and he replies, �I didn�t even know that was going on.� Then a phone call is made, and Moore goes on a tirade. �I just want to know whose idea it was to give Ben his own special f****** screening.�

When director of photography Thomas Callaway and 1st assistant Stephen Maloney give Gulager a hard time about his ideas and how his methods are putting them behind, Gulager tells them, �Alright, you just fuckin� do it.� Callaway says, �We don�t know what you want,� and Gulager replies, sipping coffee and utterly defeated, �Yes you do.� Then they do the scene in the way they claimed they couldn�t.

THE BEST OF THE REST

In The Simpsons, after Bart tells Homer he can�t do a school project with his parents� help, Homer says, �Bart, that�s orphan talk!�

Also, the episode where Ray Romano makes a guest-voice appearance, he walks down a ladder with a case of roof shingles that say �SHINGLES� on them. He says, �Homer, I�m coming down with a case of shingles!� and Homer laughs as if he gets the joke and replies, �No, seriously, what�s in the box?�

In the same episode, after everyone believes Homer is making up the existence of his new friend, a series of explanations takes place as to why no one ever saw him. Then, when there seems to be no explanation for why Bart didn�t see him, Stephen Hawking comes in and explains something about the universe and some sort of phenomenon decided to take place at that exact location whereby Bart couldn�t see Homer�s new friend.

On The Wire, Major Colvin (Robert Wisdom), pressured to reduce crime in his district, and since he feels like it�s a lost cause, pushes all drug dealers to a �safe zone� (eventually slanged-up as �Hamsterdam�) where there are no residents to complain, and no hassles with cops.

Later on, the wire team gets a peek at the operation, and Detective Greggs (Sonja Sohn) says, �You�ve legalized drugs.�

On The O.C., a geek fanboy�s dream comes true when Summer (Rachel Bilson) leaves her current boyfriend Zach Stevens (Michael Cassidy) to get back with old boyfriend Seth (Adam Brody) when Seth, dressed as Spider-Man, slips off his roof, hangs upside down, and she gives him the upside-down kiss.

Seth makes a comic book with people he knows drawn up as heroes, especially Summer. Summer comes in holding a drawing of her likeness and says, �I like it, Cohen�but don�t you think the boobs are too big?� and looking down at her own she says, �I mean�aren�t they?�

Seth gets drunk and makes a fool of himself, and then fighting a hangover, he asks Ryan what happened. �You vomited,� he says, and Seth asks, �Vomit? Like the little girl in The Sixth Sense or the fat guy from �Monty Python?� Of course, the little girl from The Sixth Sense is Mischa Barton, who plays Marissa.

In Alias, Sydney (Jennifer Garner) and Vaughn (Michael Vartan), while on a mission argue about who�s the �rougher� of the two in bed when attempting to get into their characters. Sydney then asks, �Are we on COM?� and her father Jack (Victor Garber) back at CIA says in a most annoyed fashion, �Yes, you�re on COM.�

In the same episode, a Rambaldi artifact, the strange ball that grows in size and causes humans to become out-of-control monsters, hovers over a Russian city.

In an earlier episode, the evil Sloane (Ron Rifkin), who has been good the whole season, shows signs of becoming evil again as that mysterious ball inspires him to beat the crap out of some bad guy. Blood all over him, he tells his daughter Nadia (Mia Maestro), who has just run in after the fact, that he�s become a changed man, all for her.

In the first episode of the season, the APO is formed. It is announced that it will be headed by classic Alias villain Arvin Sloane, and everyone whom he has ever hurt has made their objections. Marshall (Kevin Weisman) walks into the room. He hasn�t been told yet, and he comes up to Sydney and whispers, �Sydney�Sloane is here.�

In the Alias finale, we get the traditional car crash cliffhanger. It�s what is said before the car crash that is stunning. 4 seasons of this show ride on it.

When Roberts (Michael K. Williams, who played Omar on The Wire), a man who works for the Sloane clone (Joel Grey), gets caught, he is asked to try and identify the actual Sloane. After talking about their similarities, Roberts says, �They don�t really look exactly alike, but�both those guys creep me out.�

On The Office, Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson) tries to form an alliance, a la Survivor, with co-worker Jim (John Krasinski) in order to avoid getting fired. At one point, he gets the idea of hiding out and spying on another group of people he thinks has an alliance (by the way, he�s the only one who thinks these actions are necessary, smart, or important). His line to the camera: I�m a really good hider. When my father took me out hunting I found out that deer have really good vision. But then I realized that I was better at hiding than the deer were at vision.

Schrute again, about a woman who has come by to sell bags: I really like the bag girl. She has great breasts. That�s not for me, but for the children. The Schrutes traditionally produce very thirsty babies.

In South Park, Kyle gets a �negroplasty,� that will help him become taller so he can play on the basketball team, which leads to Kyle�s dad Gerald getting a �dolphinplasty.� This is all after Mr. Garrison gets a sex change. Ridiculous at its best.

Same episode, after Garrison finds out that there�s no way he can get pregnant, calls out, �Who wants to pound my vaj?�

In one episode, Cartman warns about the proliferation of hippies in South Park, that they will start a �big hippie jamfest the likes of which we�ve never seen.� Eventually, he�s proved right, and he has to lead a tactical team a la The Core to drill through the huge crowd.

Kenny�s dominance of a PSP game brings him to Heaven where he must play the PSP to fight Satan�s hordes�the reason why the PSP was invented in the first place, according to Heaven�s angels. Hell becomes frightened that Heaven has a �Keanu Reeves.�

Same episode, with Kenny on life support in a big Terry Schiavo spoof, different sides war over whether he should stay alive or stay on life support. Kenny has one wish should he ever be in this state, but the request bleeds over onto a missing second page. Eventually, the request is that if he ever were in this state that, for the love of God, he not be shown on national television.

In another episode, the boys are on a baseball team, and they win the Little League Championship, but are distressed to learn that the season continues on after that, onto different levels of play. They try to lose, but the teams they play want to lose too, and they�re better at losing�which becomes a funny trash-talk segment: �We totally suck worse than you guys, we�ll show you.� One team is so good at losing they know how to hit to people�s gloves.

When Cartman believes that he is dead because all of his friends start ignoring him, he runs into Butters, who isn�t in on the plan to ignore him, and Cartman latches onto him to figure out what he needs to do to go to Heaven. Once he believes he has achieved those goals, Cartman tells Butters, "Don't be sad, Butters. What awaits each person in Heaven is eternal bliss, divine rest, and ten thousand dollars cash."

Family Guy made its historic return this year, and with three episodes before the end of the regular TV season, it began with a bang when Peter runs in to tell his family, �We�ve been cancelled.� Then there�s a question of whether there�s any hope of coming back, and Peter says, �Fox has to make room for fantastic shows like Dark Angel, Titus, Undeclared, Action, That 80's Show, Wonderfalls, Fastlane, Andy Richter Controls The Universe, Skin, Girls Club, Cracking Up, The Pits, Firefly, Get Real, Freaky Links, Wanda At Large, Costello, The Lone Gunmen, A Minute With Stan Hooper, Normal Ohio, Pasadena, Harsh Realm, Keen Eddy, The Street, American Embassy, Cedric The Entertainer, The Tick, Louis, and Greg The Bunny.� Lois says, �Is there really no hope?� and Peter answers, �Well I suppose if all those shows go down the tubes we might have a shot.�

Also, the man in the chicken costume that gave Peter a bad coupon in the early episode about the Apocalypse, returns for another marathon fight in the middle of Peter�s pleading with his wife, and after the fight is over, Peter continues the plea as if nothing happened.

Adult Swim staple Sealab 2021 got cancelled this year, or it ended, or whatever. But some of the funniest stuff happened in this final season. The show that went backwards like �Seinfeld� did long ago was the highlight. Women in a pool surround Dr. Quinn and one asks, �Would you like a blowjob?� and Quinn says, �Well, yeah, sure,� as the girl�s head goes underwater. Then a narrator comes on in a sort of booming pseudo-Superfriends voice, �Fellatio, indeed�earlier.� And then the episode moves back in time. There is another in that same episode where an ad to save starving children comes on, and a boy the spokeswoman is carrying dies. The narrator says, �Dead African children indeed�� and in something that sounds ad-libbed but kept in, �Oh my God this is so f***** up�earlier.�

Another Adult Swim staple, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, gave me a hearty laugh when Shake gets an e-Helmet. It does all sorts of things, but he keeps getting tons of attachments to it, to the point he�s weighed down by a ridiculous amount of hardware and can�t move. Standing outside, a box arrives for Meatwad. Shake asks what it is, and Meatwad opens the box and yells, �Bees, bitch!� as a bunch of bees swarm over Shake.

Another fine animated (claymation) show, Robot Chicken, premiered this year. Co-created and mostly voiced by Seth Green, it fits snugly into the Adult Swim lineup. Highlights: World�s Most One-Sided Fist Fights, where a boxer and a man in a wheelchair get into a car accident and the boxer starts pounding away, and a man taking a sucker from a baby in a carriage and giving it continuous left-straights. The Transformers do a show where they preach about prostate exams. A series of sketches shows different scenarios with a tucked-in daughter where her mother dies, her father dies, and everyone dies, and then there�s a celebration about the �Darkest Sketch Ever.� Rachel Leigh Cook, in clay form, re-enacts her famous �Brain on Drugs� commercial where she destroys the room with pots and pans�but it goes way over the top (including a poor dog that is hit over the roof of a house), several well-known 80s cartoon villains (including Skeletor) get stuck in traffic, in a Dawn of the Dead spoof, the Ving Rhames character is blowing away zombies, and in the middle of it, a zombie takes his rifle, but blows his own head off, and well, there�s much, much more.

ON THE DOWNSIDE

TV is different from movies in another way: a movie has one shot to be good, a TV show may have several. But usually, you just don�t watch a bad show enough to know the entire season like you might a good show. I have stayed with a couple of shows that either have been bad or are not as good as they once were:

American Idol, although it was for yet another season the number one show in America, became completely boring. The singers seemingly always played it safe with slow ballads, and you could easily not watch them and not feel like you missed anything. The finale was pretty good, emotionally, but not as resonant as past seasons.

Tom Goes to the Mayor is an Adult Swim regular on Cartoon Network, executive produced by Bob Odenkirk. It may be the unfunniest thing I have ever seen. With don�t-call-it-animation that basically draws a blueprint of a real actor on a regular cartoon background, almost all lines are spouted out with one facial expression�this would be OK if it were funny at all.

American Dad, by Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane, has a chance to be funny, but so far it hasn�t been. It opened with a decent pilot after the Super Bowl, then premiered with a tank job, an equally bad second episode, and then finally the 3rd was pretty good.

CSI and Law & Order. I watched a few episodes of CSI this year and I�m not going to complain about their quality (As of this writing, I haven't seen the Tarantino-directed finale). The problem comes from all the damn spinoffs. NBC brought a quick axe to the 4th Law & Order: Trial By Jury. TV was not the only medium this year suffering from some lapses in creativity.

But 2004-2005, guys�Best Television Season Ever. I mean, imagine, actually missing out on other shows because the others were so good. I can only hope that next season will continue greatness. It�s what Tivo was made for, I guess.

4 Comments:

At 5/26/2005 02:04:00 PM, Blogger Kennelworthy said...

Wow. I thought my Star Wars post was long.

I copied and pasted your post into word and it came out at a whopping 17 pages!

Fortunately, every word was good. Great read, man, good writing.

And I agree...this was the best year in television I have ever experienced. I just wish there were more hours in the day to watch all of the good stuff.

 
At 5/26/2005 04:08:00 PM, Blogger Jonathan said...

Great post, Chris. I agree that there just isn't enough time to watch everything you want to see. I look forward to O.C.'s second season and "House" coming on DVD so I can catch up. And with new seasons of "Nip/Tuck" and "Battlestar Galatica" plus good word on Fox's new summer series, "The Inside," the fun shouldn't be letting us down anytime soon.

I do have to gripe a bit about your comments on "CSI" not being as good. Granted "Miami" and "New York" are pretty bad, but the original had one of its best season's yet, and the Tarantino finale was probably the best season finale this year next to "24"'s. Granted, you only watched a few episodes, but you might want to give the reruns a try in the summer. As far as "Law and Order" goes, I only watch "SVU," and it really is a hell of a show. If you don't watch anything else on Tuesday's at Nine, you should really check it out. Talk about hot chicks on T.V., Mariska Hargitay is one fine lady.

 
At 6/01/2005 02:34:00 PM, Blogger MaraJade said...

I'm finding it increasingly hard to justify paying a cable bill nowadays. Granted, I've never watched half the shows you mentioned (well, I've watched at least one episode), but I just don't see anything really worthy on lately.

ER had declined, I surprised myself by loving a reality series (the apprentice) which has declined as well, Friends is over, Star Trek's over (that sucked anyway) and the worst of all. . .Star Trek:TNG has been over for years. That one still gets me a bit.

Anyway, it's a good review whether I watch the shows or not and whether I agree or not. It at least sparks interest and though it's long it's a good read. Nice.

 
At 6/02/2005 03:15:00 PM, Blogger Jonathan said...

Never really got into TNG as much as other Trekkies. DS9 was always the most powerful for me, and also the original is fun and campy. "Voyager" was a lot better than most people gave it credit for while still sucking pretty hard. And "Enterprise" kind of went either way for me most of the time, but overall I found it more satisfying than TNG which probably should have ended after it's strong fifth season.

 

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