TV

Best of 2008

Here are the best things about TV in 2008, at least in my opinion.

10. Tina Fey: TV's most talked about actress and writer in 2008 created a cultural icon with her Sarah Palin impression and cleaned up at the Emmys for "30 Rock." Though "30 Rock" has struggled creatively this season, it'd be hard to argue that any actress was talked about more than Fey.

9. The election: It's hard to imagine TV having a bigger impact on any election in history, be it Barack Obama's half-hour infomercial on the networks before the World Series, or Palin herself actually showing up on "Saturday Night Live."

8. "Burn Notice:" This is just a fun show on USA, about an ex-spy who uses his skills to help people in need while trying to figure out who got him kicked out of his agency. Really, more shows should have this mix of fun, cool and adventure to them.

7. "How I Met Your Mother:" This is still TV's best sitcom, extending beyond its own half-hour time frame on CBS and bleeding into the pop culture. Though Neil Patrick Harris (deservedly) draws a lot of attention, this is a great all-around cast.

6. "Battlestar Galactica": Still TV's best written show, the current webisodes remind me of just how much I miss it and how much I will miss it after the final 10 episodes air. It's a shame that people never got on board because they thought it was too sci-fi or associated it with the original TV series from the 1970s, because I can't think of a show on TV that challenges the viewers more or is a better commentary on society.

5. Sci-fi/fantasy genre: This year alone, we had: "Battlestar Galactica," "Moonlight," "Life On Mars," "Lost," "Fringe," "The Sarah Connor Chronicles," "Smallville," "Supernatural," "Chuck," "Sanctuary," "True Blood," and the upcoming "Dollhouse" to name just a few, not to mention BBC imports "Doctor Who," "The Sarah Jane Adventures," "Torchwood" and "Primeval." There really hasn't been a better time on TV for fans of the genre than now.

4. "Lost": Speaking of that genre, "Lost" deserves its own category for constantly changing its game and keeping its viewers hooked. No show is a better water-cooler show.

3. Showtime: It has surpassed HBO as the best TV on pay cable. With shows like "Dexter," "Brotherhood" and "The Tudors" on the dial, as well as popular fare like "Californication," Showtime has created a unique and entertaining brand, which should only get better when it launches Diablo Cody's "United States of Tara" next month.

2. "The Shield": I've written this many times, but few series in the history of TV have maintained their quality so thoroughly as "The Shield." It shocked us from the very first episode, and was still a punch in the gut at the bitter end. The final two episodes were one of the best endings to a series ever.

1. AMC: AMC would get the top spot on the strength alone of either "Mad Men" or "Breaking Bad." Having both on at the same time makes the network No. 1 in terms of original quality programming, bar none. "Mad Men" deserves all of the praise it has gotten with its look at the 1960s, through the prism of today, and has TV's next great star in Jon Hamm, not to mention the best supporting cast on TV. "Bad" was simply breathtaking in its daring, and Bryan Cranston proved himself worthy of his surprise Emmy with the role of a lifetime as a dying teacher who turns to producing meth in order to support his family.

TUESDAY'S BEST BETS: Proving ABC is trying to kill off one of its best shows, there's a brand new "Eli Stone" tonight (ABC, 10 p.m.) during the worst week of the year to air new shows.

CBS presents "The Kennedy Center Honors" (CBS, 9 p.m.), honoring Morgan Freeman, Barbra Streisand, Twyla Tharp, George Jones and The Who.

Finally, something that make next year's list is the stylish and clever "Leverage," (TNT, 10 p.m.) Remember when I said TV needs more shows like "Burn Notice?" Well, here is one of them.

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