The “Best of…” Lists are Starting Early This Year

By bonnie, 12 November, 2009

And that is because everyone who loves to list is taking some extra time and consideration for their “Best of the Decade” lists.

(I know!  Can that even be correct?  The END of the decade?  Holy Crap!)

The legion of culture geeks over at the Onion, The A.V. Club, has kicked off their decade list-a-thon with a slew of television related lists this week.

I was pleased to several of my favorites included in the A.V. Clubs’ best TV shows of the decade, amongst many that I have not actually seen and know that I should (mainly The Wire and Arrested Development).

These are my favorites on the list and excerpts from the descriptions (which are thoughtful, lengthy and offer great support for each selection as a “best”, btw):

5. Mad Men (AMC, 2007-present)

Matthew Weiner’s series apes films of the period, offering shots held for ages, moments of supreme quiet, and a glacial pace, even as the characters roil with emotions they barely knew how to express. Mad Men is about hanging out in a meticulously recreated bygone world with the handsome rogue Don Draper (played by the great Jon Hamm) and company, but it’s also about using our knowledge against us, and making us realize that the people who lived in the mythical ’60s were real individuals, struggling to comprehend just how thoroughly the world could be upended.

8. Lost (ABC, 2004-present)

Showrunners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse have presided over a story that’s spanned continents and genres, all while crafting a dense mythology with a human core. Lost is a show about unexpected connections and the search for meaning in our shared cultural arcana. It’s also been a showcase for a sprawling cast of memorable characters, each learning the lesson that if they’re patient enough to wait out the changes, their tragic life stories just might have a happy ending.

15. Veronica Mars (UPN/The CW, 2004-07)

The first season of the Rob Thomas-created Veronica Mars is one of the singular achievements of ‘00s television: a season-long murder mystery that doubles as an inquiry into the class divisions in and around a Southern California high school. The second season upped the ambition level, adding a denser plot that was often hard to follow, but which paid off brilliantly. And then the third season—set at college—aimed for shorter stories and a lighter tone, and suffered significantly from the creative compromise.

(That might be the *best* description of Veronica Mars that I’ve ever read.  That nails the whole series.)

17. Firefly (Fox, 2002-2003)

Like Joss Whedon’s other shows, Firefly sported some serious flaws. And like Whedon’s other shows, it fought to stay on the air long enough to address them. But unlike Whedon’s other shows, Firefly failed, and given how good it was apart from those flaws, it seems churlish now to focus on what could’ve been.
Instead, let’s stick with what was: a clever, funny, exciting, original outer-space Western with an unforgettable cast of characters and a palpable sense of fun. Whedon assembled what may be his best-ever group of actors, created a compelling (albeit unfinished) fictional universe, and wore his heart on his sleeve in creating one of the best science-fiction shows in a decade crammed with them.

25. Buffy The Vampire Slayer (The WB/UPN, 1997-2003)

Heading into the decade in the middle of its fourth season, Buffy The Vampire Slayer was one of TV’s most acclaimed series, even after it left the high-school setting of its earlier seasons behind.
In the first few years of the ’00s, though, Buffy and her friends wandered through dreamscapes, battled a god, lost people dear to them, and sang and danced. While more uneven in those seasons than it had been in high school, Joss Whedon’s series would still get at truths about the pain of growing up, the sheer struggle of mere living, and the formation of ad hoc families. And in its willingness to innovate stylistically, the series also proved itself a surprisingly adept chameleon: a ribald comedy one week, a musical the next, and a quiet art film the week after.

Truth be told, I’m not really sure I would have included Buffy in a list from this decade.  I feel that even though some episodes were solidly excellent into the few first years, it’s vastly a series that “belongs” to the 90’s.   However, I really like how they addressed this in their list and focused specifically on the standout episodes of the decade, which admittedly were some of the best of the entire series, even if I prefer the earlier seasons as complete arcs.

As you all know, there is nothing I love more than lists like this.  Making them and reading them.  So stay tuned for all kinds of round-ups as I keep a look out for more and more “Best of” Decade lists that I am sure will be emerging over the next month.

I have considering making my own, but mostly I just agree with others I enjoy reading too much.  And that’s boring.  Maybe I will make a massive “my favorite everything from this decade” list.   This post already covers what would be added to that list from television!

What do you think?

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