Top 10 TV Shows of 2010 - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

Top 10 TV Shows of 2010

December 31, 2010 by  

Before I start my list, I’m going to reiterate the note I made in my top 10 episodes of 2010 post: I’m behind on FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS and BREAKING BAD. And I’ve never seen MAD MEN. I completely understand that they are all amazing shows and have had some phenomenal episodes this past season, but I haven’t seen them. I promise to try and catch up soon.

That disclaimer being said, here are my top 10 television shows of 2010…

10. PSYCH: As the highlight of USA Network’s quirky shows, PSYCH’s season 4.5 and 5 brought the insanity to new levels. With some of the quirkiest episode titles around (“Chivalry Is Not Dead…But Someone Is,” “We’d Like to Thank the Academy,” “Viagra Falls” to name a few) nothing about this show is ordinary. What other show could go full-force into a TWIN PEAKS homage, and delve into alien abductions, tap dancing, martial arts, drag racing, the spy world and take on the case of a wrongly accused polar bear all in the matter of 12 months?

And yes, Shawn and Juliet have started up a romance in the latest batch of episodes, but for me, the truest and most heartfelt relationship on the show is Shawn and Gus. They continue to be the best co-dependent bromance on television, a relationship that has developed over the decades. The chemistry is so authentic it’s almost hard to believe James Roday (Shawn) and Dule Hill (Gus) haven’t been causing trouble together since they were kids.

9. BONES: The fifth season of BONES was arguably the best and had all of it aired in 2010, it’s probable the series would have been higher on the list. As it is, season five is 90% of the reason it made the top 10. 2010 did bring us “The Proof in the Pudding,” “The Parts in the Sum of the Whole,” “The Boy with the Answer,” and many more. The cases were strong. The series had reached the right balance of humor and seriousness, something that had been a struggle the previous year. Hodgins and Angela found their way back to each other and Cam finally got a boyfriend. 2010 also had Booth go from silently struggling over his feelings for Brennan to having him reveal those feelings, get rejected and then seeing the duo trying to recover their footing in the wake of those changes.

Season six has been incredibly uneven, with “The Doctor in the Photo” being a bright spot in a very shaky season thus far, but it gives hope that things could go back in the right direction.

8. BEING ERICA: Arguably the most grown-up show on television. The SoapNet series (imported from Canada) follows Erica Strange as she goes back in time to relive moments or experiences she regrets. The fantastic second season introduced another time traveller for Erica to bond with as she moved forward with her romantic relationship with her BFF Ethan. No show has tackled adult romantic relationships so realistically as Ethan and Erica dealt with moving in together, jealousy, growing apart, masturbation, sexual discomfort and separating when it’s for the best. It’s life beyond the happily ever after and finding out that your best friend sometimes isn’t the perfect guy for you, which Erica discovered this season.

Dr. Tom, Erica’s therapist, has proven to be the major constant in her life since the series started. He’s been her rock as she’s relieved tragedies, and in turn their shifting dynamic — at times child-parent, other times reluctant friends — has become one of the most enjoyable elements of the series. I’m spoiler-free for the third season (which already aired in Canada), but I’m hoping that relationship continues to grow.

ABC is looking into remaking this series for the US and all I have to ask is please don’t screw it up. The original is quirky in all the right ways and we don’t need a diluted remake.

7. THE BIG BANG THEORY: In a time when traditional sitcoms are looked down upon as being a less than worthy to their single-camera siblings, THE BIG BANG THEORY proves time and time again that a smart show is a smart show, no matter how it’s shot.

While it’s easy to focus on Sheldon (played with ease by new Emmy winner Jim Parsons) whose discomfort over social norms makes everything humorous, the show’s strongest points very often are when the entire group is together. Yes, they’re all nerds and occasionally use scientific language I couldn’t understand without a dictionary, but everyone can relate to this group in some way. Whether it’s Howard’s sci-fi inspired fantasies (Starbuck!) or Raj delighting in antagonizing Sheldon in their shared office, the show continuously delivers the laughs.

6. CASTLE: The show has done so much right in 2010, it’s almost not clear where to start. The series was always an enjoyable hour to watch every week, but everything seemed to click into place this year. The two-parter “Tick, Tick, Tick…” and “Boom!” was when the show really exploded — um, no pun intended — and the series has exploded since. The cases have improved in their complexity and the show constantly finds new freaky, interesting things to explore whether it’s perceived alien abductions, time traveling killers, murder for a late night talk show and more.

As the show has grown this year, we’ve also gotten to explore more of the supporting cast. Ryan is dating Jenny. Martha reconnected with her former flame before he passed away. And while the Castle-Beckett relationship has been more push-pull this year than ever, thanks in part to each of them having a significant other in their lives, there has been no awkward change in their dynamic. They might be the most believable will-they-won’t-they pair on television right now.

5. DEXTER: Between Trinity and Rita’s death in season four, there was so much pressure on season five to be something different. There was no way the “big bad” could make the same impact as Trinity and there could be no way any finale would live up to the spectacular “The Getaway,” so the show switched things up a bit. The addition of Lumen, a victim of a violent attack whom Dexter rescued, was a pleasant surprise. In her, Dexter found a kindred spirit, someone who know his secret and was willing to help kill her attackers. In many ways, she made him human again after Rita’s death, something that was a relief to see. She left when the season ended and I was a little shocked that I found myself wishing she could stay.

I know some people were frustrated that once again Dexter managed to avoid being caught this season both by Quinn — who hired Liddy to track Dexter, but Dex managed to kill him before he revealed the truth — and by Deb, who was separated by a curtain from the truth of what he does, before she told the unknown person to go. While it’s a little baffling that he keeps getting away, it almost feels like there will need to be an end date for the show — however long in the future that may be — before they take that step.

4. COUGAR TOWN: When the show debuted, it was a relatively funny show that focused on Jules (Courteney Cox) and her dating exploits post-divorce. But after that rocky start, the series found itself when it realized what worked best was the non-traditional family of the cul-de-sac gang and has become one of the most consistently hilarious shows on television. They drink too much, often make each other miserable, have an admirable grasp on pop culture (the reenactment of THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, the movie mashup game comes to mind, etc), create songs (can we please get a soundtrack of Grayson’s music already?!) and are still the characters on TV that many of us would love to have as friends. And they love each other.

The producers realized the show’s original title doesn’t fit as much now, so they’ve even turned that into a gag: every episode there’s an addition to the title card from “Titles Are Hard” to “100% Cougar Free.”

3. MODERN FAMILY: For better or worse, you will find some aspect of your family in here. You might not have a “traditional” family like Claire and Phil, gay parents like Cam and Mitchell or an older father with a young, new wife and blended family like Jay and Gloria, but the situations they find themselves in are things we all experience.

One of my favorite things about the show is how well it utilizes its cast. They don’t force the group together if it doesn’t feel natural and while they have indulged in some stunt casting, it has never felt forced. With some of the smartest writing on television, the show knows its strengths and plays to them.

2. LOST: Had LOST not spent so much time in the temple in early season six, it’s possible it would have been higher on the list. There is no denying the impact the show has had on our culture, and the finale will likely be debated for years to come.

I’ve expressed my crazy love for “The End” in the top episodes of the year post, but season six was strong once they moved past the temple subplot. A Desmond episode (“Happily Ever After”) once again brought clarity to the LOST reality when his flashes on the island led to the sideways world we had been visiting all season. “The Candidate” broke my heart when the recently reunited Sun and Jin died. And yes we got some answers.

Was the final season of LOST what everyone was expecting it to be? Of course not. But it was an entirely engaging season and wrapped up the series in a way I loved. I miss the show liked crazy.

1. FRINGE: While I’m not surprised to be putting FRINGE high on my list of best shows, I am slightly surprised it’s my top show of 2010. But this year has exceeded all my expectations of what the show could be and I couldn’t be happier.

When the show started off, it prided itself on being almost procedural-like, not delving too deeply into mythology so viewers could come and go as they pleased. We found out in season one that there was an alternate universe out there, but it wasn’t until this past year that the show full embraced what was out there. As soon as the show became comfortable enough to let its freak flag fly, the show blossomed into what it could be.

The second half of season two flashed back to Walter stealing Peter from the other universe, an action that set a war in motion between the two worlds, a musical episode, diving more into Olivia’s powers, Peter finding out he was from over there and of course, Olivia being trapped on the other universe. Season two was strong, delivering compelling episodes, heartbreaking performances (John Noble’s non-Emmy nomination is still a travesty), and a strong mythology.

But what we’ve seen of season three has blown that all out of the water. Every episode has packed in storylines as we bounced back and forth between the two universes. Peter started a relationship with Olivia, not realizing that it was actually Fauxlivia, a brilliant move on the writers part to realistically keep the real Olivia and Peter apart for the time being. We explored the alternate personalities of our favorite characters, allowing all of them, especially Anna Torv (Olivia) to shine. And they are building up to an epic war between the two universes.

The writers have done a great job of gauging the audience’s patience for reveals and determining the pacing of the show. FRINGE is fantastically acted, brilliantly written and unfortunately underrated. Here’s hoping 2011 brings the show the acknowledgment it deserves.

Agree? Disagree?

What are your top 10 shows of 2010?


Top 10 TV Episodes of 2010

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9 Responses to “Top 10 TV Shows of 2010”

  1. Meg on December 31st, 2010 5:58 pm

    No Community? Seriously??? Bones has been hit-or-miss since Season 4, so I disagree with its place on the list, but I’ve heard all of the other shows on it are great.

    Anyway, IMO, Community is the most consistent show on air right now, and an episode has never failed to make me laugh. The writing’s so clever that sometimes you don’t recognize a joke until ten seconds later. And the paintball episode alone should’ve earned it a place on this list.

    But, just my opinion, of course!

  2. Yvette on December 31st, 2010 6:23 pm

    Great recap. I’m so glad you included Lost. There were so many great episodes in the final season. Fringe is very engaging and Castle is just fun to watch. The only other show I think may deserve a place here is The Vampire Diaries. I’m always impressed at how much action they pack into one episode and they never linger on a story line. The pace is very quick.
    I’ve never seen Being Erica but will try to check it out.

  3. Vlada on December 31st, 2010 7:41 pm

    Yvette, as one of Being Erica’s biggest cheerleaders, I feel I must point out that the entire first two seasons of the show are available on Hulu! 🙂

  4. Kelly on December 31st, 2010 7:41 pm

    I totally agree with your take on Bones and Castle. I have loved both from the start, but I’m finding that I really don’t even look forward to Bones this season. After most episodes i just feel kind of “blah” about it. I used to really look forward to Booth and Brennen getting together, but now I don’t even care. As much as I never thought I would, I’ve finally become part of a growing number of viewers who feel like we’ve been jerked around enough to give up on the show and that makes me sad.

    Ah Castle!!!! I don’t remember the last time I looked forward to and loved a show like I do this one. I’ll never understand why it isn’t more popular than it is. It’s just plain old fun week after week! Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic are amazing together. I agree that they are playing the will-they-won’t-they thing perfectly for now. Although I don’t love the idea of them dating other people, they’re so rarely seen that it doesn’t really bug me. I don’t need Castle and Beckett to be together right now, but I really don’t want to SEE them with others. It also seems like there is even more amazing stuff coming up in the second half of the season! I can’t wait!

    (As a side note, Marisa, I really enjoy reading your opinions. If you can, I’d love to hear your thoughts on getting the leads of a show together. I know that it’s risky business, but do you really think that it’s a certain ratings disaster if a show does it too early? It seems like some shows wait so long (House) that the ratings go down not because of the relationship but because the audience has lost interest in it, and/or the show has been on so long that the ratings are naturally going down anyway.)

  5. Marisa Roffman on December 31st, 2010 9:24 pm

    @Kelly: I understand the reasoning behind keeping couples apart, but I also think there comes a point where it ceases to be realistic. I think it’s almost more risky to keep some couples apart after a certain point than it is to bring them together. Personally, I think a lot of potential couples would be even better once they get together because watching them attempt to work out couplehood would be endlessly amusing. But the networks are afraid of it. It’s unfortunate, really.

  6. Kelly on January 1st, 2011 2:11 pm

    Thanks for answering! It is too bad that networks are afraid of it. I’m holding out hope that Castle will eventually put Castle and Beckett together and let us all enjoy the fun that would no doubt ensue watching them be together.

  7. Kate on January 2nd, 2011 2:56 am

    Thanks for mentioning Being Erica. I thought season 1 was interesting but didn’t think they could manage to keep the level that high. But they did it with season 2. I won’t spoil season 3 for you except to say that I think it’s the best one of all.

    I hope ABC doesn’t mess it up when taking it to a US city. Leads in US shows tend to be more perfect than life — thin, extremely beautiful and with high professional positions. I think Being Erica works (as well as from the acting by Erin Karpluk as Erica and Michael Riley as Dr. Tom) because Erica is like many of us real people — full of regrets, trying to keep going in a job below our skills, unable to break out beyond our own walls. I identify with Erica in a way I can’t with the leads of most shows.

    I love that you love Castle. But while I’ve enjoyed the mysteries this season, I found that the Castle/Beckett dynamic has gone flat ever since they both got other partners. It’s like they’re going through the motions of flirting without the real sparks in there.

    I think Booth and Bones suffered by being kept apart too long (I’ve gone from wanting them together to now hoping Booth stays with Hannah) and I think Castle and Beckett are a couple who will do the same if the writers drag them out much longer. The producers have said they think of them as Nick and Nora Charles of The Thin Man, why drag out the ‘will they/won’t they?’ when they could be having more fun solving crimes as a couple?

  8. BonesForever on January 3rd, 2011 3:35 am

    Firstly, thank you for giving Fringe and Psych some love cos those are among the most underrated shows on TV, especially Fringe……
    But my top shows would be:

    1. BONES ( Simply the best show on television!)
    3.Fringe & Psych ( I really cannot chose between the two, even though I have been a fan of Psych longer than Fringe…)
    4.The Mentalist
    5.Modern Family (Best new show!)

  9. Lacey on January 3rd, 2011 11:34 pm

    I think 24 was the best show on TV. I mean, Jack Bauer is beast! I love the show because it’s never predictable, and sometimes the main characters are killed off because in their fields in real life people actually die! I mean it feels more real to me then any other show.
    24 is followed by Bones, then trailed closely by Burn Notice.