Best TV season since 2000

There are tons of “best of” lists out there, but this one from Cleveland.com about the 40 best TV seasons since 2000 is pretty good. They nailed it with some great selections like Season 4 of “The Wire” as the top season overall (sorry to spoil the suspense!). Fans will quibble about the best season from that amazing series, but Season 4 is certainly worthy of that honor.

They also focused on some great opening seasons from shows that eventually lost their way, like “Lost,” “House of Cards,” “Boardwalk Empire” and “True Blood.” They could have added season one of “Sons of Anarchy” to that list.

Check out the list and you’ll get some great binge-watching ideas.

  

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It’s quite possibly the last end of the week movie news dump of 2010!

Things are supposed to quiet down as far as big movie news is concerned for the next couple of weeks, so enjoy these little draps and drabs of movie news from the last week while you can…

* It’s not quite on the level of finding a mysterious monolith on the moon but it comes close. AICN has it that EFX pioneer genius Douglas Trumbull has said that 17 minutes of lost outtakes from Stanley Kubrick‘s “2001: A Space Odyssey” have been found in a salt mine in Kansas. It’s important to remember this story, such as it is, originates from a message board and perhaps isn’t the best sourced item to ever hit the ‘nets. But what better place to store outtakes than a salt mine in Kansas? A pepper mill in Encino?

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* Since the story’s been out since the beginning of the week, by now you’ve no doubt heard the news that Jon Favreau has walked away from “Iron Man 3” in what we’re being assured was an entirely amicable split motivated primarily by his desire to make the Disneyland themed “Magic Kingdom.” As a lifelong Southern Californian and a current resident in good standing of the city of Anaheim, I love the Happiest Place on Earth as much as the next guy. However, as the premise for a movie, I’m hugely skeptical and wondering just what it is that is getting people of the caliber of Favreau and Guillermo del Toro on board with this these theme-parked based projects. (I’m much less skeptical of the Fincher “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” because, well, it’s based on a beloved book of my childhood as well as a pretty cool Disney flick, not a ride.)

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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 3.13 – NS

It was another special 90-minute episode of “Sons of Anarchy” tonight, but I honestly didn’t expect any less from the season finale, which opened with the typical montage, this time scored to an upbeat pop song while the club enjoyed a cheerful breakfast feast at the clubhouse. The festivities didn’t last long, however, as Gemma is becoming increasingly worried about Jax’s deal with Stahl after discovering a case file on the IRA council in his cut.

She’s still staying mum on the subject, but after Clay tells her about their expanding business relationship with the Irish, Gemma decides to try and save Jax’s skin before any more harm is done by turning herself in. Not that it will do her any good. Stahl has already exonerated Gemma of all the charges (apart from fleeing custody, which has landed her a few months under house arrest), so there’s really nothing she can do. Nevertheless, Gemma promises Stahl that deals like the one she made with Jax never work out because there’s no trust, and it’s going to end badly for one of the parties involved. If only Gemma knew just how right she would be…

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With the hours ticking away until Jimmy is out of SAMCRO’s reach for good, Clay visits Otto at Stockton to set up a meet between him and Lenny the Pimp. Lenny agrees to reach out to his Russian contacts, but warns Otto that while they’re certainly not loyal to Jimmy, it’s going to take a hefty sum for them to flip on him. And as Clay soon learns, he wasn’t kidding, as the Russians ask for $2 million in exchange for Jimmy – money that the club simply doesn’t have. Thankfully, those boxes that Chucky has been trying to show someone for days just so happens to contain $5 million in counterfeit bills. It’s apparently from his time working for Henry Lin, and though he was supposed to destroy it, he decided to keep it instead.

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Sons of Anarchy 3.12 – June Wedding

Well, the boys are back in town, but they’re not celebrating just yet. In fact, Jax barely has time to unpack before Stahl comes looking for an update on Jimmy. When she learns that he’s been given safe passage to the States in exchange for Abel, she realizes that it means Jimmy is under the protection of the Russians. Luckily, SAMCRO happens to know someone with ties to the Russians – First 9 member Lenny “The Pimp” Janowtiz, who’s currently spending his days in a maximum security prison – so Jax asks Stahl to set up a meeting between Lenny and Otto in order to get some info on Jimmy’s whereabouts. And they better hurry, because Jimmy has already made a deal with the Russians to give them a piece of the IRA gun trade while he heads on a permanent vacation to South America.

Of course, Gemma is still worried that the club is going to catch wind of Jax making deals with Stahl, although he seems pretty confident that it’s all going to work out in the end. She’s not, however, and lets Unser know about her concerns. Unser offers to look into it for her, but Gemma tells him that she would rather he just focus on finding Tara. Plus, Gemma’s never been afraid to get her hands a little dirty, and before you know it, she’s kidnapped Stahl outside the police station and threatened to tell her superiors about the fake statement that was fed to her if she doesn’t put an end to the deal she made with Jax. Yeah, like that’s going to happen.

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And as if anyone needed more problems at the moment, Tara is still missing. Worse yet, the Mayans are planning to kill Salazar as retribution for ordering Alvarez’s assassination, and Jax is worried that Tara might get hurt in the attack. Clay warns Alvarez that they need to capture Salazar alive in order to prove that Jacob Hale is dirty, because if they don’t, Hale will likely be voted the new mayor of Charming and his changes will put an end to the Mayans’ heroin trade. I’m not too sure that Alvarez is even scared of Hale, but he agrees to join SAMCRO in the hunt when they come across some new info about his possible whereabouts. The search comes up empty, but they do find a pair of dead bodies – Salazar’s girlfriend and an innocent bystander. (You didn’t think they’d actually kill Tara, did you?)

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