Welcome to The GBU, a weekly column coming every Monday where I look at the Good, the Bad and the Ugly on TV.
I watch more TV than anyone I know, between 60 and 70 hours each week,
every week. Doing the math, that amounts to roughly 3,500 hours, or
nearly 40 percent of my life, spent watching TV in 2010.
I've seen everything from celebrities skating to housewives being desperate. From vampires and werewolves to meth dealers and serial killers. From a mysterious Island to a race around the world.
Looking over the vast landscape of TV, I'm left with the thought that 2010 was a transition year where some shows floated to the top while old favorites went away. It was a year where my list of favorite, must-watch shows changed dramatically and where the future of TV looked both bleak and promising, occasionally simultaneously.
Here's the Good, the Bad and the Ugly of television in 2010.The Good: Sophomore Sensations
It's true that the fall of 2010 was a subpar year for new shows with no breakout sensations. However, 2010 was a very good year for the new shows from the fall of 2009. The Good Wife
, The Vampire Diaries
and Modern Family
all continue to be consistently excellent, proving that the sophomore slump isn't a fast and hard rule.
In addition, comedies like Community
and Cougar Town
found their true voices after uneven starts, slowly becoming two of the absolute funniest things on TV. It's true that Glee
was the big breakout star of the class of 2009, but with all of this quality, it might not be the show from that year that has the longest shelf-life.The Bad: The Decline of HBO
Remember back in the heyday of HBO when the network had The Sopranos
, Six Feet Under
, The Wire
and Sex and the City
? There was no other network on TV that could come close to the excellence HBO provided. But in 2010 I found myself watching the network's new shows more out of obligation than desire.Treme
, David Simon's follow-up to The Wire
, was painfully dull and Boardwalk Empire
is a rather standard an uninspired look at the Prohibition Era. I've come to expect new HBO shows to knock my socks off, yet these two left be firmly socked. And the less said about the painfully pointless How to Make it in America
, the better.
Making matters worse, many rival cable networks are flying past HBO. Showtime and FX both delivered brilliant new comedies this year with The Big C
. AMC continues to dominate in terms of quality with Mad Men, Breaking Bad and now The Walking Dead
. Even lesser networks like USA and TNT have shows that I would rather watch than those on HBO like the hilarious Psych
, the action-packed Burn Notice
or the surprisingly good new drama Rizzoli and Isles
The plain and simple truth is that HBO is no longer the destination for great TV on cable. In fact, it's not even in my top five any more. The Ugly: The Fall 2010 Season
Right away I knew this was a bad year when two of the shows I was most interested in, Lone Star
and My Generation
, were both canceled after just two episodes each. Then they canceled other decent shows like Undercovers
and Running Wilde
. And the best new show on cable, FX's Terriers
, was canceled after one very low-rated season. But even worse than what was canceled was what wasn't.
Generically bland shows like Chase
and The Defenders
got full seasons. Offensively unfunny garbage like Mike and Molly
and $#*! My Dad Says
also hit it big. And The Event
, the show I was most impressed by after one episode, quickly devolved into pure, unadulterated crap.
The biggest hit of the season is Hawaii Five-0
, a harmless and average show where the only reason to watch is to find out what new and creative way the writers will come up with for star Alex O'Loughlin to take his shirt off. He needs to sneak onto an aircraft carrier! He needs to retrieve evidence from a truck that fell into the ocean! Maybe in 2011 a villain will unleash cotton-poly blend-eating bugs or O'Loughlin's character will have to go undercover as a male go-go dancer.
With the notable exception of the delightful Raising Hope
, the fall 2010 season was one of the worst in recent history. I hope TV networks can do better in 2011.(Images courtesy of ABC, NBC, HBO and CBS)