Archive for the ‘Programs of the Year’ Category

Glenn Beck and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

In Programs of the Year on December 31, 2010 at 7:30 pm

Beck and Stewart at their rallies. (Beck was photographed by Alex Wong/Getty Images; Stewart, Drew Angerer/The New York Times)

It would be all too easy to dismiss Glenn Beck and Jon Stewart as the Goofus and Gallant of basic cable television.

In a world that prizes simple narratives, both men fit neatly into familiar archetypes: Beck is the conservative blowhard whose weepy tirades against President Obama make him seem a little loony; Stewart is the sly satirist whose nightly critiques of Bush administration foibles made him a liberal darling.

Beck and Stewart don’t just occupy opposite ends of the political spectrum, either; they also operate on the fringes of prime time (read: mainstream) homogeneity: Fox News Channel shows Beck’s eponymous program weekday afternoons at 5, shortly before Brian, Diane and Katie deliver their straight-down-the-middle take on the day’s events; Comedy Central offers Stewart’s Daily Show weeknights at 11, after the crowds have dispersed from Dancing With the Stars and How I Met Your Mother.

Despite these differences – or maybe because of them – no two series did more in 2010 to demonstrate television’s enduring ability to influence the national agenda.

That’s why Glenn Beck and The Daily Show are TV Columnist’s first Programs of the Year. Read the rest of this entry »


Rest of the Best (and the Absolute Worst)

In Programs of the Year on December 31, 2010 at 7:00 pm

Watson and Holmes (Martin Freeman, Benedict Cumberbatch) in “Sherlock.” (Photographer unknown; courtesy BBC)

I’ll announce my Programs of the Year later tonight, but first, here are my TV favorites in 2010:

Sherlock. The Sherlock Holmes update – part of PBS’s Masterpiece series – was wonderfully imaginative, thanks to its Bourne-style production values and sly performances from Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as Holmes and Watson.

Modern Family. The ABC comedy boasts television’s best ensemble – and whether or not Ed O’Neill actually said it, Sofia Vergara is funnier than Jane Lynch. So is O’Neill, whose omission from this year’s Emmy race was unforgivable.

Mad Men. For years, I merely liked AMC’s signature drama; in 2010, I fell in love with it. This was the season that the storytelling on Mad Men rose to the level of the show’s gorgeous aesthetics – although I’ll always believe Randee Heller’s crass Miss Blankenship was offed prematurely. Read the rest of this entry »