Monday, April 26, 2010

The Best TV Shows of 2010

As the second season of 2010 is coming to a close (there are now three seasons per year), I'm adding several shows. If you’ve missed many of the episodes, you can download them, buy the CDs, or watch them online at various sites like

  • The Good Wife: With a stellar cast that includes Julianna Margulies, Josh Charles, Christine Baranski, Matt Czuchry, and the wonderful Archie Panjabi, as well as recurring guest roles by the likes of Chris Noth, Joe Morton, Alan Cumming, Gary Cole, Peter Riegert, David Paymer, Martha Plimpton, Joanna Gleason, and Dennis O’Hare, this new CBS series may be the best thing on television, combining long-term character development and episodic intensity.
  • Parenthood: Based on the excellent movie of the same name, Jason Katims has produced and written an outstanding family dramedy that is simultaneously real and entertaining. Add to that an outstanding ensemble including Laren Graham, Peter Krause, Monica Potter, Craig T. Nelson, Dax Shepard, Bonnie Bedelia, Erika Christensen and Mae Whitman, and you have an NBC show that will win a lot of hearts.
  • The Pacific: First, Spielberg and Hanks gave us “Saving Private Ryan,” then “Band of Brothers.” I can’t believe I’m writing this, but I think “The Pacific” on HBO is better than either of those efforts. Each riveting weekly episode starts with actual US WWII combatants recounting their experiences with regard to that episode’s subject, followed by a superbly filmed and acted story tracing the 1st Marine Division’s trek across the islands of the Pacific. The individual marines’ stories combined with the intense majesty of war make this miniseries unforgettable. Now that it has ended, it will doubtless pop up on commercial TV. If you missed it the first time, be sure to catch it.
  • Supernatural: Each episode is a weekly horror show wrapped around the larger story of two brothers, played by Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles, as they confronted issues related to good and evil. It was supposed to come to a stirring conclusion this season, but it has been extended, which could account for the somewhat tepid season finale and the strange twist at the end.
  • Modern Family: Reinventing the half-hour comedy series is not easy, but by combining a sitcom with a mockumentary and making it about a multi-dimensional family, this ABC show has accomplished that task. The beauty is that it portrays its characters as stereotypes while skewering the concept of stereotypical characters. Although it occasionally overreaches, it has fast become TV's best comedy.
  • In Plain Site: This is starting to look like a West Wing reunion, with star Mary McCormack being joined for extended guest appearances by Josh Malina and Alison Janney, to go with an already accomplished cast that includes Lesley Ann Warren and Broadway standout Frederick Weller. The USA Network show revolves around two marshals with the Witness Protection program, but sparkles with McCormack’s prickly performances.
  • V: Vastly better than the 1983 miniseries on which it is based, this ABC series about seemingly friendly aliens with a hidden agenda features Morena Baccarin, Morris Chestnut, Joel Gretsch, Elizabeth Mitchell, and Scott Wolf. It is an enjoyable modern riff on the old alien attack genre.
  • Human Target: Maybe it’s a guy thing, but I enjoy an action show that doesn’t take itself too seriously. That’s how I describe this Fox show about a do-gooder with a checkered past, played by Mark Valley. While he is good in the lead role, the supporting performances by Chi McBride and Jackie Earle Haley are outstanding.
  • House: Yes, the lead character, played by Hugh Laurie, each week crosses lines that no actual doctor would be allowed to cross, but it is still entertaining to see how this unpleasant, albeit funny, character will solve the Fox series’ weekly illness while pissing off everyone with whom he comes into contact.
  • Medium: I always enjoyed this show about the crime fighter, played by Patricia Arquette, who communicates with the dead, but moving to CBS seems to have given it new life, particularly with regard to her children, who also share her gift/curse.
  • Caprica: While it is the prequel to Battlestar Gallactica, this Syfy series goes places where its parent show never imagined, particularly a virtual world where some characters have taken on lives of their own. Occasionally slow and convoluted, this show is intellectually captivating.
  • True Blood: Despite the addition of several cast members including Dennis O'Hare, this season of the HBO supernatural and erotic series has not been as good as Season 2. However, it remains one of the more intriguing shows on TV.
  • Madmen: Now in its third year, this AMC show keeps getting more interesting, and the character of Don Draper/Dick Whitman, as played by John Hamm, is among the most complex that TV has ever seen. The show is simultaneously uncomfortable and irresistable.
  • Entourage: With the addition of several new reality characters, including Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and real-life porn star Sasha Grey, this HBO show has gotten edgier, although not necessarily better. This season focused more on the characters around Vince--Eric, Turtle, Ari, and Johnny, with mixerd results, although still worth watching.
  • Weeds: I know many of you stopped watching this show years ago, but let me tell you--it has gotten better. Now, the Botwin family is on the run from Nancy's Mexican druglord husband whose campaign manager was killed by her youngest son. Assuming new identities and shedding some old characters has rejuvenated this Showtime series.
  • Lie to Me: Sure, the gimmick of reading faces to learn the truth gets old at times, but the exploration of the complex lead character, played by Tim Roth, is fascinating. His performance is overlooked by Emmy voters, but it is riveting on a weekly basis, making this Fox show a gem.
  • Royal Pains: While the premise is light--kind of like Marcus Welby for the new century--the lead character, played by Mark Feuerstein, is believable. Add in a supporting cast that include Campbell Scott, Marcia Gay Harden, and Henry Winkler, and you have a USA Network series that's worth a look.
  • Covert Affairs: Also on the USA Network is this highly enjoyable spy series. Featuring Piper Perabo, Kari Matchett, Peter Gallagher, Anne Dudek (formerly Amber on "House"), and a scene-stealing supporting role by Christopher Gorham, I would view this series as a guilty pleasure if it wasn't actually so good.

So, that's where we are at so far this year, as some shows return and some other "third season" shows make an appearance. I will update this list again by year's end.


  1. Welcome to the challenge of creating content regularly! Did you consider "Reid-Write" as your title? You should. Yes. Go on, do it. REID!!!

  2. Fun idea. I will figure out how to follow.
    Can't believe however that you missed "The Big Bang Theory" as one of the great TV shows. Once you get to know the characters it is especially funny.
    Agree on The Good Wife and In Plain Sight as two excellent shows.

  3. I want to complain about the paucity of four letter words, or truly filthy content, on your blog. With a content warning like that, you had my hopes up;-)

    I'm loving "The Pacific", with one quibble: the credits take up like 5 minutes of a 45 minute show.

    No "Treme" on your list? Check it!