To prove to my readers (and critics) that I don't only like stuff from before 1985, here's the first of my 2010 Top Ten lists...
1) MAD MEN (AMC) - A stellar fourth season that was full of surprises, excellent acting and amazing production design, and just when I thought this show couldn't get any better Randee Heller came along as Ida Blankenship. The best primetime drama ever. Hands down.
2) MOGULS AND MOVIE STARS (TCM) - This ambitious seven-part documentary tells the story of Hollywood's formative years. While some of the history covered is well-known, other lesser known subplots are fascinating and surprisingly riveting. A must-see for any fan of the art of filmmaking.
3) COMMUNITY (NBC) - This under-appreciated Thursday night workhorse has proved itself worthy of its timeslot. With a likable ensemble cast and plotlines that range from the silly to the ridiculous, the show somehow manages to make me laugh out loud every single week. Unfortunately CBS's THE BIG BANG THEORY (which peaked creatively about two years ago) is kicking it's ass in the ratings, but hopefully the gang at Greendale will be around for a few more years.
4) IT'S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA (FX) - It's taken me six years to catch up with this show, but now that I have I'm so glad I did. This SEINFELD-inspired gang comedy goes places that other shows only think about going. With no boundaries, the comedy sometimes is painful to watch but almost always side-splitting. Plus the guys are pretty easy on the eyes, except for Danny Devito.
5) BETTER OFF TED (ABC) - A truly inventive and original comedy that was on the wrong network and at the wrong time. This show will be rediscovered one day, much like Lisa Kudrow's brilliant THE COMEBACK.
6) NURSE JACKIE (Showtime) - I can't stand medical shows, but NURSE JACKIE is different. The writing may be a bit heavy-handed and predictable at times, but the pitch-perfect cast makes it all work.
Edie Falco takes a flawed character and really makes us love her.
7) WEEDS (Showtime) - I almost gave up on this frustrating show last year - but somehow it has managed to redeem and reinvent itself as a "road movie" with top-notch turns by the talented cast.
8) HOT IN CLEVELAND (TV Land) - This old-school sitcom had every reason to turn out a mess, but yet all the ingredients came together to form a show that is both a throwback and a fresh, dirty laughfest. Not sure the quality will keep up, but I'm hoping it will.
9) ARCHER (FX) - It's THE VENTURE BROS. meets JAMES BOND meets MAD MEN. This animated spy spoof is raw, raunchy and randy - but anything with Jessica Walter is worth a look - even it's only her voice.
10) CLIP SHOWS (E!, Style, Current, Comedy Central) - I really hate "reality" TV, but thanks to the folks at THE SOUP, THE DISH, INFOMANIA, TOSH.0, CHELSEA LATELY and FASHION POLICE I don't need to watch that crap to know what's happening or what they are wearing. While the source material may be excruciating and maddening on its own, the hosts and commentators on these shows make it all palatable and entertaining.
So there you have it, let me know if you you agree (or not). I contemplated a "worst 10" list but there wouldn't be enough slots and I'd hate to give those shows the publicity.