Friday, November 6

The CDP's Top 10 TV Shows Of The Decade (5-1).

Michael: Come on, face it. You just do all this charity crap just to stroke your ego. You don't even know what the auction's for tonight.

Lindsay: The wetlands.

Michael: To do what with them?

Lindsay: Dry them.

Michael: Save them.

Lindsay: From drying.
-Arrested Development (2003)

Welcome back to the CDP Decade In Review, and my selections for the Top 5 Television Shows Of The Decade. Enjoy.

#5 - The Office (NBC)
Ran From: 2005 to Present

In 2009, it's hard to think back to the first season of The Office, where there was not only talk of a near-instant cancellation, but tons of criticism by the very people who would morph into their biggest fans (usually those that preferred the original series to the remake). But the show did something that very few other comedies did this decade: they stepped up their game. They broke from the original series and carved out their own niche. They did a masterful slow burn for the ages with Jim and Pam. They more or less did everything right, and it paid off in spades.

Sure, it helps that those early years were carried by Steve Carell, arguably the funniest guy on television. But it was the expanding of the Dunder-Mifflin world that really began to draw in audiences and create cult-like fans. Nowadays, when you ask someone who their favorite character is, they almost never say Michael Scott, and that's a testament to the care and precision the writers and producers put into making The Office into something more than an instantly-canceled critical darling. They made TV history.

#4 - 30 Rock (NBC)
Ran From: 2006 to Present

In 2006, I remember all the speculation concerning the debuts of Studio 60 and 30 Rock; two NBC shows about the behind-the-scenes workings of a sketch comedy show. Critics wondered if they could both survive together. As it turns out, these shows couldn't have been further apart on the spectrum, and 30 Rock would go on to become the funniest current show on television.

Ratings-wise, 30 Rock barely cracks the Top 75 some weeks. Their first season averaged under 6 million viewers an episode, which is slightly better than Arrested Development did when they were given up on by FOX. But each of 30 Rock's three seasons have won the Emmy Award for Best Comedy Series. This is what's known as 'Batting a thousand,' and I honestly don't know of any other comedy that has accomplished something like that. Considering how Season 4 has begun, they might as well start clearing off another spot on the mantle already.

Drawing influences from every nook and cranny of the TV Comedy universe, 30 Rock is easily the smartest, most brilliant, most hilarious, cynical, satirical and unrelentingly perfect comedy you'll ever see on network television (currently). The cast is top-to-bottom airtight (the casting of Alec Baldwin will probably go down as one of the smartest decisions ever), Tina Fey gets to shine as an actress and as a very influential female comedy writer (and let's face it, there aren't many of her caliber out there) and Tracy Jordan pretty much acts like the cameras aren't even on. It's an example of a perfect balance of everything you need to make humor work, operating seamlessly into their fourth year.

#3 - Friday Night Lights (NBC)
Ran From: 2006 to Present

I said this a year ago, and I'll say it again today: Season One of Friday Night Lights is the greatest season of television I have ever seen. Better than Season One of Lost. Better than Season Four of MST3K. Better than the final season of The Fugitive. I watched it when nobody around me watched it. When everyone was convinced it was a show about nothing more than football. Slowly but surely, my living room started to fill up on Friday nights, as the deepest, smartest, most emotional, most beautiful, best acted, best shot and best written show on television won people over one at a time. Hell, NBC believed in the show so much, that they released the Season One DVD for $20 with a money-back guarantee.

Okay, maybe not Season 4 of The Simpsons, but that shit was essentially royalty. You get the point, though.

When Friday Night Lights got renewed for a second season, I was shocked. I thought for sure that we'd never see the Taylor family on TV again. But to NBC's credit, they stuck with them in their ratings slump and promoted the hell out of it. When the Writer's Strike struck in the middle of Season 2, only 15 of the 22 scheduled episodes aired, which I once again speculated would spell the end of the line. But NBC did what they could to compromise, and Season 3 aired in conjunction with DirecTV's 101 Network, alleviating some production costs and keeping the show alive.

Now, when Season 3 had ended, I thought that was it (again). I figured NBC was done playing nice with an astounding show that just couldn't seem to make its point and wrangle in more viewers. Again, not the case, as they did the unbelievable and ordered two more 13 episode seasons, guaranteeing a 4th and 5th Season (we're already two episodes into Season 4 by the time you read this) and making certain that Friday Night Lights is allowed to tell the story they want to tell. That is amazing.

Look, I'm not even going to get into the dynamics of the show and explain to you why its impact is clear to anyone that watches it (the music of Explosions In The Sky doesn't hurt, that's for sure). In fact, I've probably turned people off to it in recent years by yammering on about it so much. However, if you ever think you'd be interested in checking it out for yourself, drop the $20 and get the Season 1 DVD, and then you'll know what we've been talking about.

- Arrested Development (FOX)

Ran For: 3 seasons, 53 episodes

Just like I Love Lucy, The Honeymooners or even Seinfeld, Arrested Development deserves to be placed on a pedestal next to these timeless shows, if only for the sole reason that they invented something brand new. I’d also argue that since Arrested Development invented something brand new in 2004, their feat is even more spectacular than all of the shows I just mentioned.

What is there to say about Arrested that hasn’t already been said? There was just absolutely nothing like it, before or since, that has even come close to matching the pacing, depth, acting, characters, writing, spectrum, pop culture knowledge, satire and self-parody displayed in just one episode. Quite frankly, I feel very fortunate that I lived in a moment of TV history where a show like this existed, if only for three short years. It was that good.

The jokes were everywhere. The wordplay and puns were positively Shakespearean in their execution. The taboos were destroyed. The very network that took a chance and almost instantly left them for dead was mocked mercilessly. Guest stars trusted the material enough to play so far outside of their ranges that their careers could have been ruined had it been anything less than perfect.

And that’s what Arrested Development was. 100% perfect, from start to finish.

#1 - Lost (ABC)
Ran From: 2004 to Present

I think I've done enough talking about Lost to last...oh, about five years. Any argument is moot. Any rebuttal is null and void. Lost is the Greatest Television Story Ever Told. Oh, and you better click on that link and get caught up again, because we have one more go-round come January.

Thanks much for checking out Week 1 of the CDP Decade In Review. Sound off in the comments section, share your pick for Show of the Decade and come back on Monday, when we venture onward to the Decade In Film, rattling off our choices for the Top 30 Films Of The Decade.

I don't disagree with your top five at all. I probably would have worked in The Wire or The Shield, I don't know which show I would drop though. I love Curb Your Enthusiasm as well but it is often pretty uneven.

The Office has seemed to turn a corner with me and I can't 100% put my finger on it. (It isn't Jim and Pam getting together.) Like Michael the last two seasons has gone past the clueless but harmless guy into something darker. I think it really hurts the show. Kind of like at a certain point with the Simpsons where Homer had just become so stupid it was annoying. (I think I stopped watching new Episodes about 5 years ago because it just felt worn out.)

It is like they focus on a character trait and it becomes over the top to the point where it isn't very entertaining. I look back to the pot episode last season as a turning point.

Another thing this season is that they seem to have totally focused around Pam, Jim, Andy, Michael, and Dwight without doing anything with rest of the people. At least there is usually a funny cut away and an interview with one of the smaller members but it seems to be happening less and less which is a shame.
KEVIN - I agree with you about The Office; it's commonplace now for a guy like Creed to literally have one line per show, and I think in this week's episode, neither Stanley or Oscar had a single line.

This season of Curb Your Enthusiasm has been absolutely hilarious. I stuck to network shows for my list, but yeah, Curb is the sole reason I have a premium satellite package right now.
Creed is one of my favorite Office characters. He always cracks me up for some reason. Again, there has just been something about it the past two seasons that just feels off. One of my favorite lines ever though was "You crush your wife during sex and your heart sucks. Boom, roasted." That's what The Office really is to me: the ultimate in quotable television.

Your top five is just about perfect. All it needs is some BSG.
I 100% agree with Kevin about the Office. This season it has consistently been the least funny show on Thursday's "Must See" line up. It's still funny, but this season has almost been more of a drama than a comedy (in my humble opinion, anyway.)

Oh, and I'm sorry, but I find Curb Your Enthusiam incredibly irritating. I just want to punch all the characters in the face, and not in a good way.
Wow, I really am out of touch with the world. I have never watched a single episode of any of these...
I'm not too keen on where The Office has been going over these last couple of seasons either. I am really enjoying the ancillary characters on Community (namely, Ahbed and that star-crossed-ish thing they're palying at with Troy & Annie), and that makes me wish The Office would go back to showing us more of the quirky side characters.

I had a feeling AD would end up here. And of course, the #1 was kind of a given. If I were to make such a list, it would contain Firefly, BSG & Lost somewhere in the top five.
Maus, you sound like my kind of a person.
To me, the Office usually has a slow build toward the end. And I do believe the others will get their fair share of time. I did like Toby giving instructions to Pam on how to deck Michael.

Also, the characters are growing and developing like real people, not 2-D sitcom characters. I mean, Michael may be getting darker because the chickens are coming home to roost: First Jan, then the new boss, the aborted paper company, and now the co-managing.

And wouldn't you be pissed if Michael Scott was dating yer ma?

Don't mean to be drinking the Office kool-aid, but it's my favorite (along with Parks and Rec).
HEY! Did I miss a memo, or were you supposed to stop tweeting???
I still like the Office, I just don't think it's as funny as it used to be. What they're doing is fine, but it isn't FUNNY.
Cargirl, I have a soft spot for space westerns, really good science fiction, and anything with a convoluted plot involving possible time/space continuum voodoo.
I remember watching the first couple of eps of the US Office and thought, "Yeah, this won't last long." But it is and you are exactly right why -- because they were brave enough to take the show in a different direction. And it's better for it.

I can't disagree with your Top 5 -- maybe the order. I would have snuck in some Doctor Who or Torchwood, but that's BBC anyway.
I agree w/ MikeHoss. I've just finished Netflixing season 1 of both Torchwood and Doctor Who. Spend way too much time watching BBC to understand regular television lol
I'm curious - what is CDP's position on "The West Wing"?
SMED - After a 5-month absence, I have returned to Facebook and Twitter. Not because I was suffering withdrawals or making any sort of statement, but because my former addiction to Social Networking has been flushed from my system.

ANDREA/HOSS - I watched Children Of Earth!

EPHLAND - When The West Wing was on NBC, I didn't watch it. I'm sure I'd probably dig it a little bit, but I typically don't watch political fiction. I heard good and bad things, though; pretty much the standard on anything that Sorkin does.
this is very good list But. I think that you have forget to Curb your Enthusiasm serial. It is most famous serial. It is my favorite one. and every curb your enthusiasm episodes are very funny and I cannot forget its any episode...

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