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.


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.


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.


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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The Walking Dead 1.2 – Guts

In case you were wondering whether Lori and Shane were having any regrets about their secret relationship, well, you pretty much got your answer at the top of tonight’s episode. We still don’t know whether the romance is new (like in the comics) or if it’s been going on for some time, but one thing is certain: they don’t seem too conflicted now that they think Rick is dead. Granted, Lori did look a little remorseful when Shane unbuttoned her shirt to reveal her wedding ring hanging from a necklace, but the ease in which she just tossed it aside definitely didn’t help her case. In any event, you can bet that both of them will be feeling pretty shitty about themselves when Rick comes waltzing into camp next week.

For the time being, though, he just needs to stay alive – something that’s easier said than done considering we last left him surrounded by hundreds of zombies. The voice over the radio tells him that his best bet is to make a run for it while the horde is preoccupied with their latest meal, but not before grabbing a grenade that he discovers on the dead soldier. (I can’t imagine this won’t come back into play in the future, though I was actually waiting for him to use it all episode.) And after shooting his way to safety, Rick meets Glenn (the voice on the radio) in the alley, and the pair hightails it through one of the buildings to meet up with the rest of Glenn’s group.


Though Glenn is the go-to scavenger of the bunch, he’s agreed to bring some of the other people from the survivor camp with him on his latest trip in order to gather more supplies. And they’re not too impressed by Rick’s cowboy heroics, which have attracted every zombie in the area, making it virtually impossible for them to get out alive. Of course, they’re not saints either, and within minutes of arriving, Rick witnesses a power struggle between racist redneck Merle (the great Michael Rooker) and the rest of the group. Luckily for them, Rick steps in to take care of Merle before he can do any more damage to the unfortunately named T-Dog’s face, handcuffing him to a pipe on the roof while they devise a plan for escape.

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