TV had its ups and downs this year -- well, a lot of downs, especially. Here are some of them, in no particular order:
--The WGA strike: No matter which side, union or management, you supported, no one was the winner during a work stoppage in Hollywood that lasted for months. The writers struck over money the studios wanted to keep for themselves over things like DVDs and internet distribution. While the union was ultimately able to gain concessions that the studios could live with, the result (besides the hundreds of millions lost in the California economy) was a truncated TV season where many shows got either shortened runs or didn't launch at all (such as "24.")
--Cable news: I'm sorry, but the big cable three of Fox News, MSNBC and CNN hardly distinguished themselves this year in one of the biggest elections in US history. Not only has cable news become more extreme in its slants -- be it Bill O'Reilly's nightly rants or Keith Olbermann embarrassing performance during the Republican National Convention -- it became downright silly when CNN used holographic reporters during the election night. CNN also gets special demerits for laying off its entire science/tech coverage team, the one area where CNN had previously excelled over all of the other networks.
--ABC axing "Pushing Daisies" and "Eli Stone": Two of the most clever and uplifting shows on TV deserved a better fate than a midseason cancellation by a network that couldn't be bothered to run reruns and build upon a positive word-of-mouth by two small but dedicated fan bases.
--The Emmys: In addition to its usual few idiotic nods in the awards process, using the five reality host nominees to serve as the hosts for the show was among the biggest blunders ever. The telecast was just painful.
--Reality shows: Speaking of reality TV, it hit some pretty new lows this year with the likes of "Moment of Truth" on Fox and "Momma's Boys" on NBC. The WGA strike only allowed more of these shows to pop up on the tube.
--"Grey's Anatomy": OK, not a fan, but when the soap opera behind the scenes is more interesting than the soap opera onscreen, you know something is wrong. Be it the rumors of T.R. Knight wanting to jump ship, Katherine Heigl (correctly) blasting the show's writers, or the inexplicable firing of actress Brooke Smith for simply doing her job, this show is a mess. On screen, the writers have offered us a character who has sex with a ghost.
Finally, last and certainly least...
--NBC: Folks, this was the network that has given us "Hill Street Blues," "St. Elsewhere," "The Cosby Show," "Friends," "Seinfeld," "Cheers," "Frasier," "Homicide: Life on the Street," "ER," and many, many other great shows over the past three decades. But creatively, NBC is just plain lost. Even when it has good ideas, the ratings aren't there. For every good show or concept on the network ("Chuck," "Life,") there are way more bad concepts ("Lipstick Jungle," "Knight Rider"). How the regime of Ben Silverman and Jeff Zucker have stayed in power so long is really beyond me. After all, they had the bright idea of delaying the start of "30 Rock" this season despite its racking up Emmys and having the hottest star on the planet in Tina Fey. Now, by signing Jay Leno to do a talk show at 10 p.m. and eliminating five hours of dramatic programming (not a bad choice, I suppose, if the alternative is "My Own Worst Enemy"), NBC is essentially declaring it doesn't mind being a fourth-place network, apparently. The situation at NBC is just plain sad.
MONDAY'S BEST BETS: OK, well, not a whole lot here, but Turner Classic Movies is running a retrospective on the career of Ron Howard (TCM, 8 p.m.), from child star to top director.