2010 Year End TV Review: Jason Zingale

It was an especially transformative year of television, at least for me, as my TV viewing diet underwent a bit of restructuring. Once-favorite shows began collecting dust on the DVR (sorry “Burn Notice,” but you’re losing your sizzle), and in the case of a few (like “Chuck”), were deleted altogether. Consequently, NBC’s “Community,” which spent most of its freshman season on the fringe of receiving similar treatment, is now the highlight of my Thursday nights. That’s because while shows like “Burn Notice” and “Chuck” are pretty much running on dead fumes at this point, “Community” has just begun to hit its groove. “How I Met Your Mother” also bounced back from an off-year with some of its funniest episodes to date, “Glee” and “Castle” continue to be as guilty as they are pleasurable, and the new season of “Top Chef” might just be the best yet. But none were able to crack my Top 5, which goes to prove that while there might have been a few misses this year, the hits were a lot more memorable.

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1. Terriers

Clever, funny, dark and provocative, “Terriers” may have wowed critics with its flawed characters and rich storytelling, but that didn’t change John Landgraf’s recent decision not to renew it for a second season. I don’t blame the FX President for the low ratings (most networks would have given up after only a few weeks), but I do blame the rest of America for failing to tune in to the best new show of the season. Yes, you heard right. Although I enjoyed “The Walking Dead” and the overrated “Boardwalk Empire,” the buddy detective drama delivered better acting and writing week in and week out. Donal Logue and Michael Raymond-James had unparalleled chemistry as the scrappy private investigators (the titular terriers, if you will) caught in the middle of the case of a lifetime, so it’s a shame that we won’t get to tag along on any of their further adventures – especially since the season finale left things wide open. Another brilliant but cancelled television show that, ten years from now, will still be missed.

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2. Modern Family

It hasn’t even completed its second season, but “Modern Family” already seems destined to become a comedy classic. It’s that good, and anyone who says otherwise should get an X-ray to see if their funny bone is broken. Of course, considering that it’s one of the most-watched shows on TV, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn’t agree. But for those who still haven’t experienced the funniest half-hour of television, it’s about time that you do, because there isn’t a single show that even comes close to matching the number of laughs in an average episode. And although the writing staff certainly deserves some credit, it’s cast members like Ty Burrell, Ed O’Neill and Sofia Vergara who make every joke that much funnier. Even the kids are funny, and that’s saying a lot from someone who isn’t particularly fond of child actors. It’s almost unbelievable the way the show fires on all cylinders so consistently, but that’s what separates a great show from a good one, and “Modern Family” is nothing if not that.

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3. Sons of Anarchy

The third season of FX’s outlaw biker drama may not have been its best, but after a sluggish start, the series redeemed itself by getting back to the kind of top-notch storytelling that fans have come to expect. Many of those fans were quick to criticize the ambitious Ireland subplot that dominated most of the season, but along with fleshing out some of the club’s back story, it also set the stage for what turned out to be a killer finale. Many of the supporting players got lost in the background this year, but Charlie Hunnam gave the performance of his career, guest stars Paula Malcomson and James Cosmo proved themselves worthy additions to the cast, and Ally Walker put the finishing touches on what might just be the best TV villain in quite some time. The show may have stumbled a bit along the way, but no matter how you felt about the season as a whole, those who stuck around for the long haul were given plenty of incentive to come back next fall.

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Sons of Anarchy: Season Three Preview

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Anyone that’s read my “Sons of Anarchy” blog or followed our bi-annual TV Power Rankings on Bullz-Eye knows that I’m a massive fan of the FX biker drama, so it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that I’m beyond excited for the start of the new season. Last December, creator Kurt Sutter delivered a heart-wrenching finale that resulted in the death of several characters (including one of the Sons’ own), and found Ethan Zobelle getting away scot-free, Gemma on the lam for murder, and Jax’s son kidnapped by IRA gunrunner Cameron Hayes.

Season Three picks up only a few days later, with SAMCRO still reeling over Abel’s kidnapping and Gemma finding refuge with her father, played by Academy Award nominee Hal Holbrook, who might just be the show’s golden ticket to the Emmys next year. Holbrook isn’t the only new actor joining the cast, either, as the Sons’ will be heading to Ireland in search of Abel, placing them smack dab in the middle of IRA country. Among the new faces include “Deadwood” alum Paula Malcomson as the old lady to a member of the Belfast charter and cousin of Cameron Hayes, and James Cosmo (“Braveheart”) as her priestly brother. Kenny Johnson, who briefly appeared last season as a nameless member of the Tacoma charter, will also have a recurring role this season (and now with a name, Kozik), which means we’ll probably learn more about his mysterious history with Tig.

While flipping through the Season Three press kit that FX provided critics, I also found it a bit suspicious that Tayler Sheridan, the actor who plays Deputy Chief David Hale, was missing from the cast and crew bio section, despite the inclusion of much smaller supporting characters. Although it’s pretty much a given that Hale will be taking over the role of Chief now that Unser has left Charming with Gemma, I’ve heard rumors over the last few weeks that the first episode features a bombshell of a surprise involving his character. I’m not sure what that means, exactly, but I’ll be blogging the season as it progresses, so be sure to come back on Tuesday nights to read my recaps and join the conversation. To help tide you over until then, check out this sneak peek of the new season courtesy of FX:

  

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