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Best of 2006

I’m not quite finished with the December reading/watching recap, but since publishing “best of” lists is the thing to do at the end of the year, I figured I could go ahead and do that. And by “best of 2006” I mean “best that I saw or read in 2006,” because, as usual, I was not proactive enough at theatres and new release bookshelves to give any sort of a best movies or books released in 2006 list.

Top Ten Films I Watched in 2006 (none of the lists are in any particular order…most are chronological of when I saw them, because that’s the order of the records I started from)

Honorable Mentions

Ten Films You Probably Haven’t Seen But Ought To

Some Films I Really Had Gotten to St. Louis Before I Had to Go Back to Waco:

Top Ten Books I Read This Year

Top Five TV Shows (network only; I can’t keep track of cable)

Top Five Guilty Pleasure TV Shows (by this I mean either that they aren’t really GOOD, but I like them, or merely that I enjoy them, but not in a substantial, fannish way)

On the subject of TV shows, 24 will probably be joining the first set of TV shows this spring, and American Idol will certainly be joining the “guilty pleasure” set in LIKE TWO WEEKS! Just so you know, this blog will likely be taken over by American Idol fever after the premiere on January 16th.

Early TV outlook

Not all my shows have premiered yet, but a few have, and I think it’s about time I start obsessing, so here we go.

Premiered shows

Prison Break (Fox, Mondays at 7pm CST) – Prison Break started off a little slow for me this year, but by the third episode, it’s gathering itself a bit. I’m not sure I’m going to keep it on the schedule, but I’ve invested a year in it, so I’m less likely to give it up than some of the newer shows. Plus, I want to make sure Sara doesn’t get in too much trouble.

Vanished (Fox, Mondays at 8pm CST) – We’re three episodes into this new show, and I’m still figuring out what I think. I am getting drawn into the story to some degree, especially the conspiracy theory / secret society angle, because I’m a sucker for that. But I’m not sure the whole structure really works–there’s too many strands at one time, none of which are developed enough for me to really care about them. It’s one thing to keep watching it now, when there are only six shows that have premiered, but when it’s jockeying for my (increasingly limited) free time with 15 to 20 other shows, Vanished may vanish. (Sorry, had to do the easy pun. Series totally ask for it when they name shows like that.)

House (Fox, Tuesdays at 7pm CST) – One episode in, and it’s as good as ever. I think the conflict between what House wants to do and what Cutty will let him do is going to increase this year–and making it even more interesting is Cutty’s growing inability to separate what’s medically sound from House’s hunches. I just hope that it doesn’t devolve into familiar ground regarding House’s vicodin addiction. But it looks like a solid beginning to a good season of a great show.

Standoff (Fox, Tuesdays at 8pm CST) – This one’s been looking good all summer, and it wasn’t a bit disappointing. Hostage negotiating is always a very tense subject, and the suspense was kept up quite well. The only thing is going to be keeping up that intensity over a whole season, but hey. Procedurals do it all the time with crimes, so why not hostage situations? I like the characters, the writing isn’t bad, and I’m definitely keeping this one on my schedule.

Bones (Fox, Wednesdays at 7pm CST) – I have friends who deride Bones all the time, for writing, or poor forensics, or whatever. But you know what, I like it. I don’t care. I enjoy the interplay between Brennan and Booth, I like the goofiness of the team, I’m enjoying the tension that the new boss is bringing to the Jeffersonian. I know nothing about forensics, so I don’t know if it’s accurate or not, but it looks interesting to me, and that’s what TV is about…entertaining the ignorant, right? Just kidding. But it kept my interest all last season, and the first episode of this season was good, too. So I’m not letting it go.

Justice (Fox, Wednesdays at 8pm CST) – I’m not completely convinced by this one yet–high-powered defense lawyers and all that. I do love Victor Garber, though, and the young lawyer is hot hot hot. This week’s episode had Amanda Seyfried (Lilly on Veronica Mars) as the guest star, and she was great. The closing gimmick of showing how the crime really happened (i.e., whether the defendent really did it, independent of the verdict) strikes me as just that…a gimmick. And they’re going to have to lose some cases now and again, too. I hope they handle that well. Overall, I’m not done with it yet, but it’s not top of my “keep watching” list either.

New shows not premiered yet

Kidnapped (NBC, Wednesdays at 9pm CST, premieres 9/20) – I actually saw this premiere from Netflix. And between then and now, I’ve almost completely forgotten it. Even when watching it, now that I think back, it wasn’t terribly memorable. I may give it a shot for a week or two, but I doubt it’ll differentiate itself from the huge pack of new dramas this fall.

Six Degrees (ABC, Thursdays at 9pm CST, premieres 9/20) – I haven’t heard much advance buzz on this, either, but when I was making my fall TV schedule, I saw it on the ABC website and the concept looks interesting. I’m always fascinated by how people and events are connected together in unlikely ways, and ABC has done well on their dramas the last few years, so I’m going to test it out.

Heroes (NBC, Mondays at 8pm CST, premieres 9/25) – Now here we go. One of my two most anticipated new series of the year. Each otherwise ordinary person has some extraordinary power–I’m not sure where it’s going to go from here, but the cast is good (Greg Grunberg, yayness!–he was Agent Weiss on Alias, as well as the doomed pilot on Lost), and NBC’s relentless promotion of the show all summer has me very interested.

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (NBC, Mondays at 9pm CST, premieres 9/25) – And my other most anticipated new series. Aaron Sorkin, Matthew Perry, Amanda Peet, behind-the-scenes at an ailing-but-hopefully-recovering SNL-type show–I’ve seen the premiere, and it’s excellent. Great cast, great writing…if the rest of the series can keep it up, this will be great.

The Nine (ABC, Wednesdays at 9pm CST, premieres 10/4) – I don’t remember what this one was about. But whatever description of it I read interested me enough to throw in on my schedule, so I guess I’ll find out for a few weeks anyway. edit: Okay, reading TV Guide in the checkout line is sometimes helpful–this show is about nine people taken hostage in a bank robbery over the whole season arc. TV Guide was high on it, and it does sound like it might be good. The actress who plays Audrey Raines on 24 is in it, and she’s apparently quite the little firecracker.

30 Rock (NBC, Wednesdays at 7:30 CST, premieres premieres 10/11) – I’ll actually take bets on how long this can make it before being cancelled. I give it…five episodes. But I do like Tina Fey, so despite my overall sense that it’s going to totally suck, I’d like to catch an ep or two to confirm that. edit: TV Guide tagged this Best New Comedy. Heh. I’m still not convinced.

Returning shows yet to premiere

The Amazing Race (CBS, Sundays at 7:30pm CST, premieres 9/17) – I avoided TAR for a long time on the basis of being prejudiced against all reality-type shows. Then I was convinced to try it, and it’s actually quite interesting, if only for the travel aspect.

How I Met Your Mother (CBS, Mondays at 7:30pm CST, premieres 9/18) – One of the very few sitcoms I really like. It’s cute, and funny, and sweet, and GORRAM IT ROBIN AND TED NEED TO GET TOGETHER ALREADY. Sorry. I’m not usually much of a ‘shipper, but Robin and Ted are so awesome.

NCIS (CBS, Tuesdays at 7pm CST, premieres 9/19) – I didn’t watch this one from the beginning (bad me!), but I do enjoy it. But it’s more of a fun procedural now and again rather than an “I have to watch it every week!” kind of show. I intend on watching it all on DVD eventually to get the overall arcs down, but depending on time, NCIS may fall by the wayside.

The Office (NBC, Thursdays at 7:30pm CST, premieres 9/20) – I scoffed off the American version of The Office at first, but enough people have told me that it’s really good, and acclimated itself well to being American instead of British that I think I’ll give it a shot this year.

Grey’s Anatomy (ABC, Thursdays at 8pm CST, premieres 9/20) – My watching or non-watching of Grey’s depends entirely on how quickly I get and watch the S2 discs from Netflix, which should be on their way to me soon. I watched the whole first season in about a week on DVD, and LOVED it, far more than I’d expected. So I’d love to be watching the current season, but I absolutely do not want to watch out of order.

Numb3rs (CBS, Fridays at 9pm CST, premieres 9/21) – Numb3rs is just fun. I do so enjoy good procedurals sometimes, and Numb3rs has characters that I like, even if they aren’t really so much into the relationship side of things. Sometimes that’s refreshing.

Desperate Housewives (ABC, Sundays at 8pm CST, premieres 9/24) – A lot of people thought the second season went so far downhill that they aren’t even planning to watch the current season. I don’t think it was as great as the first season, but it didn’t turn me off so much that I don’t want to keep watching. It’s just such a guilty-type pleasure, you know? They do need to settle down the try-it-and-see-if-it-works style of writing employed last year.

Gilmore Girls (CW, Tuesdays at 7pm CST, premieres 9/26) – Yeah, I probably won’t be watching GG this year either. My brilliant plan of watching seasons 3-5 on DVD and somehow scrounging S6 from somewhere over the summer and thus being caught up for the current season didn’t really work out. And I doubt I’m going to be able to watch four seasons in the next three weeks. No spoilers, okay everyone? Please?

Supernatural (CW, Thursdays at 8pm CST, premieres 9/28) – I know some people who really like Supernatural (because of the hot boys), and I thought I might check it out, but I probably won’t have time. And the one episode I saw last season didn’t really make me want to see more, so I’ll most likely save it for a rainy day on DVD.

Veronica Mars (CW, Tuesdays at 8pm CST, premieres 10/3) – Why, oh why, does Veronica have to premiere so late?! I WANT IT NOW!! Guys, seriously, if I gave up every other show on here, I wouldn’t give up Veronica. That’s how great it is. Watch it, love it, share it, talk to me about it. :)

Lost (ABC, Wednesdays at 8pm CST, premieres 10/4) – Lost isn’t my favorite show, as I know it is for several of y’all, but I’m in it for the long haul. No way am I quitting now, just when the world of the island is starting to open up. I wish I’d kept up with the Lost Experience online stuff better, but I fell so far behind I gave up. I really have to congratulate ABC, though, on the way they’ve handled this show.

And 24 and American Idol, of course, start in January. ;) Oh, and in case it comes up, I have officially given up on The O.C.. I’m really tolerant of my shows, really, and I can put up with a lot of suckitude, but last season was incredibly bad, and I’m so totally over it. The only temptation is that Rachel Bilsson has been excellent all through, and I’m going to miss Summer. But one good character isn’t worth giving up so much of my time to THE SUCK.

Watch Veronica Mars. No really.

This promo played at ComiCon this year…the audio’s a little iffy, but it does a great job of getting across the writing style of the show. Or, at least, half of the writing style. It’s hard to get across the more emotional, tender side of the show in a short promo like this. But the sarcasm is here in spades. “Nobody likes a blonde in a hamster ball.” Kristen Bell is so great. Note: All the clips are from Season 2, but there aren’t really any big spoilers.

The joy of TV relationships

I’m watching Scrubs S1 on DVD (I’ve never watched it when it was on, decided to try it after rediscovering my love of doctor shows with Grey’s Anatomy), and I just finished episode 1×14, and it’s a perfect example of what I was trying to get across an earlier post on TV and movies. The moment when Elliott kissed J.D. created such joy in me, such fulfillment, and you almost never get that with movies. Very rarely you get it in a Garden State-type movie. But it’s because with TV, you know the characters, you’ve known them for hours and weeks and months. You’ve wanted Elliott and J.D. to connect, you wanted it back when they almost did six or seven episodes back, and when they didn’t, it was crushing. Then when they do, it’s a fulfillment not of two hours, but of weeks. You’ve seen them try to connect with other people, and come close, but not quite. You’ve seen how they drive each other crazy and how they keep just missing each other.

You see it in How I Met Your Mother between Robin and Ted (which is really infuriating at times, because COME ON! They’re both so great). You see it in Angel, when you wanted to kill Wesley for messing around with Lilah when Fred was RIGHT THERE. Casey and Dana on Sports Night. Luke and Lorelei on Gilmore Girls (I haven’t actually seen that far in GG yet, but I heard a little about it, no matter how hard I tried to stay away from spoilers). OMG, Logan and Veronica on Veronica Mars, which is the example that ought to have jumped to my mind right off, because I totally hyperventilated when I first saw that episode. John and Aeryn on Farscape, which was almost as wow as Logan and Veronica. And of course The X-Files, when you had to wait for like SIX YEARS before there was anything between Mulder and Scully at all. (And there’s the downside, too…after all that waiting, when Mulder and Scully did get together, it was anticlimactic and ruined their chemistry. But the baseball episode? Perfecto.)

Most of these television relationships may not last, but the moment they start? Heaven.

edit – Yep, next episode, Elliott and J.D. already broken up. But it was a dang good episode. And illustrates my favorite thing about recent television…comedy series can have episodes which aren’t funny at all, and are yet still perfect. The lines between genres are blurring so much lately, and I *love* it.

CW? It’s a done deal.

Veronica Mars renewed for a third season. (The announcement is below the Grey’s Anatomy interview.)


I was fairly confident it would be, but it’s nice to have confirmation. Sorry to any Everwood fans out there…I didn’t watch it, but I know a lot of people really loved it. Okay, now back to VM. If I weren’t at work, I’d be jumping up and down right now.

So. UPN is rerunning Season 2 over the summer, starting TONIGHT at 9/8 central (my bad, I was reading posts from yesterday and didn’t connect the timing). I personally don’t like starting shows in the middle, but it can be done, especially if you’re not obsessive like me. ;) Go ahead and give it a try tonight, if you want. The S1 DVDs are available, as well, if you’d rather start at the beginning. I hear Target has them on sale for $22.99 (which is about 60% off normal price, and about 40% of amazon.com’s current price), but I haven’t been able to locate a set yet. I believe the library system has them as well. And if you’re in St. Louis, I have a set of DVDs burned off TV that I can lend you (of season 1, not season 2). And S2 comes out on DVD in August, which is still a month or so before S3 will start. So there are options both for obsessives and start-in-the-middlers.

If you choose to watch the S2 reruns over the summer and want to get an overview of S1, my friend Cindy has written up a brief synopsis of the season here. Be aware, she does completely spoil the mystery in S1, but she leaves a lot of spoiler space before she does, in case you decide while reading the synopsis that you really don’t want to know. (Of course, if you watch Season 2, you’ll find out anyway.)

Note that I was mistaken about the timing of the rerun…it’s not tonight (Wednesday), it was last night. So you can start watching next week with episode two, but do note that 2×02 was one of the worst episodes of the entire series, so if you do start with that one, DO NOT JUDGE the show by it! Please! (On the other hand, if you watch it and like it, just think how awesome the rest of the show is!)

Now, if I can just keep Katharine McPhee on American Idol after tonight, this will be a completely and unbeatably great day. Yes indeed.

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