J/DB's 12 Days of Lists – Day 1 – Best Shows of the Decade

I thought we needed something suitably big to cap off our 12 Days of Lists, so here you are! My criteria were simple, a) the show needed to have either exemplary quality or an aspect that altered the TV landscape, and b) it had to have started in the past decade. I preferred to put on shows that are now complete, because then there isn’t a chance for surprise suck at the end, but at the same time I didn’t let this be a factor that would keep a show off the list. In the end I came up with seven shows that I felt deserved to be on the list.

decade best venture brosEasily the best animated show of the decade, Venture Bros gives us a surprisingly well developed world, a wonderful cast of dysfunctional characters, and a wonderful style mashing  the fantastic and the mundane, all soaked through with layer upon layer of references and homages. From classic Hanna-Barbera cartoons to Star Wars to early ’90s computer games, this is a pop culture junkie’s dream.

decade best the wireThe Wire puts all those police procedurals that clog the airwaves to shame. There is no black and white, bureaucracy and political aspirations clog up the wheels of the justice system, numbers on paper are more important than solving good cases, and everything is slowly but unavoidably falling apart. On top of this, each season pulls the focus a little further back, giving a more complete picture of Baltimore, as shown to us by David Simon.

decade best spnThe first as-yet-unfinished series on the list, SPN is at first look a standard CW/WB show. But when you start to watch it, you realize how much more it is. Eric Kripke has built a simple, yet amazing world in the show, and has consistently pushed boundaries (a black and white episode on network TV?), taking Whedon-style risks with what many would just disregard as genre television. Add to this the way Kripke and the rest of the cast and crew interact with their fans (both offscreen and on), and you’ve got a show worthy of this list.

decade best firefly fixed

Oh like this list was going to be devoid of Whedon. While I’d argue that Whedon tried to do far more with Dollhouse, how successful he was at it has been argued quite a bit. Not so with Firefly, everything about the show was pitch perfect. The actors, the characters, the setting, it all just clicked to make a show you instantly loved. So much so that with only fourteen episodes in the series, it managed to get a feature length film, with a worldwide theatrical release. So much so that it still has an amazingly devoted fanbase, even now, seven years after it was canceled.

decade best deadwoodDeadwood… will get a write-up from DoubleBitch sometime soon because I still haven’t watched it, but I’m assured it goes on this list.

decade best bsgIt’s amazing to think that BSG began as nothing more than a lame ripoff of Star Wars. That something like that could be reimagined as something as complex as this show is honestly insane. The political, social, and religious commentary shines a light on many topics, and from all sides. This is the kind of metaphor  that science fiction was built for, to hide the actual topic of discussion just enough that people are willing to look at it through unclouded eyes.

decade best 24The situations may be ludicrous at times, and some characters will just flounder around waiting for their next important scene, but these are prices you’re glad to accept for a series that can pull of the seemingly impossible: Making an entire season into one huge action movie, filmed in pseudo-realtime. I’m so impressed that this show managed to catch on, when a) there is no way you can tune in partway through a season (or episode) and know what’s happening, you’re forced to watch right from the beginning, and b) this also limits when and how reruns can be successfully aired. 24 was a huge risk, but the result is a show that feels important, that feels like an event each and every time you get a new episode.

So there you have it, the very best television had to offer this past decade. Now comment! Glaring omissions? Incorrect choices? Let us know!



~ by Jerk on December 25, 2009.

7 Responses to “J/DB's 12 Days of Lists – Day 1 – Best Shows of the Decade”

  1. Easily the biggest fail on this list is your lack of including the best Sitcom ever created on this list. I’m not sure how you could put this list together and not even include a reason for leaving Arrested Development off.

    Also, The Venture brothers is an as-yet-unfinished series.

  2. Sorta forgot Arrested Development was that new, actually. Feels like such a long time since it was on the air, so yeah that should be on the list.

    VB thing comes down to my lack of editing (I rearranged the list to be in reverse alphabetical order partway through).

  3. I would also be tempted to put Invader Zim on that list.

  4. Zim would be behind stuff like VMars and Frisky Dingo, and I didn’t think that they warranted a spot on the list.

  5. Jerva, your home phone is busy. You need to come here before 2 so we can go to Moirs and then to the city, do some shopping and you can see Avatar again.

  6. Firefly wasn’t even Joss Whedon’s best show while it was airing. Season seven of Buffy outdid it, and even Angel’s horrendous fourth season is more entertaining. Really don’t get the Firefly love at all.

  7. I dunno, are you a fan of westerns in general? Because I honestly feel if it had been… let’s say 3 seasons long, Firefly would have beaten out Buffy as my favourite Whedon show.

    Also, I wasn’t really a huge fan of Buffy s7, I thought it was only just better than Angel s4 (4 and 6 are my favourite Buffy seasons, followed closely by 2 and 3).

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