I'm not a major TV junkie, but when I find a show I like, I tend to really get into it. Here are my favorite shows of the year and of the decade:
Best TV of 2009:
1. Mad Men (AMC). This gorgeous period drama continued to excel in its third season, with Jon Hamm giving his best performance yet, and a season ender that promises to reinvigorate the show next season.
2. Battlestar Galactica (Sci-Fi). The show reached its lowest point during the first half of season four (aired in 2008), but came back strong with the second half, upping the stakes for the show's surprising yet satisfying conclusion.
3. Glee (Fox). This year's best new show is charming, irreverent, funny and affecting. The characters embody certain archetypes, yet are written with flawed realism. The show can be uproariously campy, yet also presents true human drama. And then there are those song and dance numbers, set to some of my favorite pop songs. Plus several of the guys are really hot. What more could you want?
4. 30 Rock (NBC). Still ridiculous, still funny.
5. Parks and Rec (NBC). At first, I wasn't erally taken with Amy Poehler's new show, but it's grown on me quite a bit, particularly the strong supporting cast.
6. Lost (ABC). Lost has gotten so complicated that it really works best to not think about it too much and just enjoy the show's great actors, action and setting.
7. Project Runway (Bravo). The move to Los Angeles added nothing, in fact it crippled the show to some extent, since several of the judges--employed by New York-based publications or fashion hosues--were frequently absent. So when the show finally returned to New York for the finale, it felt right. Not the greatest season, but still a good show.
8. V (ABC). It aired only four episodes, but this attractive update of the '80s mini-series and show holds promise, particularly in that it prominently features Lost's Elizabeth Mitchell.
The worst: Melrose Place (CW). Who didn't want this reboot to be fun? But it was really just a mess. Heather Locklear sounds like she has marbles in her mouth. And the desperate medical student who became a hooker to pay off her bills seemed a little too skilled as a "pro."
Best TV of the Decade:
1. Battlestar Galactica (Sci-Fi). Science fiction that is so much more than sci-fi. This gripping human drama drew on the post-911 stories of our time and provided new perspectives on the clash of cultures, religious vs. secular leadership and the politics of trust. All of the actors were amazing, particularly Edward James Olmos and Mary McDonnell. Plus it also gave us Helo.
2. The Wire (HBO). The wire was gritty and gripping, showing the underside of urban life, with each season expanding the ring of action to a new sector of society, so that by the time the show ended, it effectively wove stories of detectives, drug dealers, politicians, union workers, educators and students, and journalists.
3. Mad Men (Bravo). Like I said above, sumptuously produced, beautifully shot, brilliantly acted. A true gem of a television show.
4. Sex and the City (HBO). Particularly good were the third and sixth seasons, which showed the depth of the characters while maintaining the show's frothy fun. The series finale was one fo the best ever.
5. Arrested Development (ABC). Jason Bateman and company made this zany comedy deliver surprise after surprise. It lasted only three seasons, but I hear a movie is in the works. Definitely a cult hit.
6. Lost (ABC). An incredible concept that subsequently became even stranger. It concludes next year and I can't wait to see where it's headed. Plus, Michael Emerson's Ben has to be the decade's best TV villain.
7. 30 Rock (NBC). With its blink-and-you'll miss it style, 30 Rock was a whole new type of TV comedy, with a fast, zany style built on nutty but believable characters.
8. Project Runway (Bravo). I find most reality TV quite insipid. This is the notable exception, a show about art, creativity and what it takes to make it in the fashion industry.
9. Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO). Larry David's hilarious spoof of himself was laugh-out-loud funny on frequent occasions.
10. Glee (Fox). A new show, but already quite loved in my household.
Honorable mention: The Sopranos, 24 (1st, 4th and 5th seasons), Six Feet Under and the short-lived Swingtown.