Thursday, January 08, 2009

2008: The Year that Was

And only a week after everyone else has done it, here is my best of list for 2008. What a crazy year. On the international stage, the United States finally has a president who can complete a sentence without a non sequitur and dodged the Alaskan bullet, while at home, it was a difficult year for many of my friends. Just the other day I was thinking about how last Christmas was a certain way for many people I love, and this year it was entirely different, marked by absences. I hope they made it through OK.

On the television front, it was a year of strikes, disappointments, endings, beginnings, and more endings.

Saddest Cancellation of a Television Show: Pushing Daisies. I don't know if I'll ever get over that one, to be honest. It was colourful, funny, kitchy, and awesome. The Writers' Strike cut its first season short, and ABC attempted to roll it out a second time this past fall, but new viewers were nowhere to be seen. I guarantee you this show will go down as a massive cult classic like Freaks and Geeks, with people like me whining 10 years from now into our chips and dip that it ended too soon.

Funniest Jack Donaghy Line on 30 Rock: In the Christmas episode, Liz asks Jack if he knows the Postmaster-General. He says yes, but they haven't spoken for a while because they had a fallout over the Jerry Garcia stamp. "If I wanted to lick a hippie," he says, "I'd return Joan Baez's phone calls." My husband and I were screaming with laughter.

Funniest Moment, Period: I already blogged on this, but when Jan shows up for a baby shower on The Office, she describes having a tub birth, and Creed's response is still something that makes me laugh just thinking about it (especially because a friend of mine had a tub birth in her home, and her husband once explained rather graphically to us what it was like for him cleaning it up afterward):
Kelly: Uh, so you're in the tub with everything?
Jan: Oh yeah, the afterbirth floats.
Creed: Must be like the tide at Omaha Beach.

Biggest Reality TV Disappointment: After a gabillion seasons, America's Next Top Model finally went off the rails when Tyra Banks lost her mind. In the opening episode she emerged from some futuristic time machine thing like that vessel Jeff Goldblum stepped into in The Fly, appearing completely whacked-out and robot-like, while her cohorts stood nearby, all silver-haired and insane. I quit watching at that very moment, only to be pulled back in by a friend who assured me the next episode wasn't nearly as crazy. So back I came, only to see the makeovers with Fairy Godmother Tyra in a little box in the corner talking in a weird high-pitched voice about what magical things she was going to do with their hair and makeup. I hit Stop on the PVR, deleted the episode, and never watched again. You used to be a funny kind of crazy, Tyra, and now you're just CRAZY.

Best New Reality TV Obsession: So You Think You Can Dance. This show is freakin' fantastic, and I've never had a dance class in my life. This series doesn't spend the first 2 months highlighting the "hilarious" Clydesdales who show up for the auditions like another reality talent show that shall remain nameless, but instead celebrates dance and its many forms. From Bollywood numbers to some contemporary routines that brought me to the edge of tears, I can't get enough of this show. Next installment doesn't start until the spring (curses!) but I cannot WAIT. The Canadian version was in the fall and I'll admit I only caught the last half. It was good, and by the end it was excellent, but I need my screechy Mary week after week.

Series that Returned to its Former Glory: Friday Night Lights. Most people haven't seen it and are waiting for the January start on NBC after season 3 aired on DirecTV in the US, but it is SO worth the wait. Season 3 is glorious: I realized I care about these people like family, and when they're hurting, I'm hurting. Two major characters make their exits from the show, both wrapping up their storylines beautifully, but able to return if the show makes it to a fourth season, which it probably won't. A new character showed up with his family and started off as a bit of a disaster, but by the end I cared about him, too. God, I love this show.

Top 8 Lost Moments of Season 4 (check out THAT use of the numbers!):
8. The Oceanic 6 reuniting with their families as they get off the cargo plane.
7. Ben referring to Alex as his daughter in the first episode and Rousseau cracking him in the face with her elbow.
6. The return of Old Smokey as he flies into New Otherton and takes out the freighter folk.
5. Sawyer racing through the compound amidst a hail of gunfire to save Claire. :::swoon:::
4. Hurley and Ben sharing the chocolate bar while Locke went into the cabin to talk to Jacob's cohort. It was funny for its silence, and seemed like such a banal thing to do while the world was being changed inside that cabin, while at the same time suggesting that Hurley accepts Ben now.
3. The look on Ben's face when Keamy shoots Alex in the back of the head.
2. Desmond calling Penny and her picking up on the 15th ring, and the lovely way they begin to finish each other's sentences in delight.
1. Sayid blinking his eyes hard when he sees Nadia at the airport hangar, as if he can't believe his own eyes and is trying to convince himself he's not dreaming. It's wonderfully done. Yeah, I'm a sucker for reunited love.

Favourite New Show: Mad Men. Okay, I know it's in its second season, but I just caught on this year because it was not easily available in Canada. I started watching the show from the beginning as the second season and was piling up on my PVR, and I ADORE it. Jon Hamm is magnificent, and Betty Draper is one of the most complex characters on television, hidden inside a very uncomplex package.

Most Shocking Series Finale: The Shield. Without giving any spoilers, something happens in the finale that made my hand fly to my face, I gasped aloud, and immediately started weeping. I don't think I've ever had such a sudden and visceral reaction to something like that before.

Most Expected Series Finale: The Shield. Because Globe and Mail reviewer John Doyle, in his year-end column, GAVE AWAY the very ending that made me weep, despite the fact the season hasn't yet aired in Canada (yeah, I'm downloading it, but I've bought every season on DVD and will buy this one, too, so they'll get their money out of me). AGAIN making me wonder, why the HELL does anyone want to KNOW spoilers in advance?! I think my immediate reaction was because I knew what was about to happen in the next scene (though, because he didn't give specifics, I didn't know the nature of it), and my heart leapt into my mouth a moment earlier than it normally would have (this was only, of course, after watching about six episodes leading up to it where I thought, "Will it happen now? Now?"). After 7 years of watching that show, I really wish the guy had kept his mouth shut and allowed this loyal fan to watch it spoiler-free. Sigh.

Most Amazing Series Finale: Ok, it's a tie between my two favourite cop shows, now done: The Shield and The Wire. The Wire, which killed off a very important character a couple of episodes from the end in a completely unexpected way (thank you, John Doyle, for not mentioning THAT in your column), ended beautifully, showing that the world will go on, the sun will continue to rise and set, and things will get better, then worse. It didn't pretend to have the answers or wrap up everything in a lovely little bow, but instead showed us the world as it really is: dark, angry, depressing, hopeful, funny, loving, confusing, and difficult. WATCH. THIS. SHOW. The Shield wrapped up years of Vic Mackey in a way that was more satisfying than the way Tony Soprano's storyline ended up. Mackey's always told himself that everything he did was for his family, but it wasn't. It was for himself. And at the end of the series, what happens to him runs counter to everything he'd been working (and stealing and killing and silencing) for. Amazing.

Favourite SNL digital short: This one:

I actually watched it the next morning on my PVR before it became a viral phenom and was howling with laughter. I've seen it a million times since then. This is the first single of The Lonely Island's new CD, and the faces that Samberg and Akiva Schaffer make in the video (the DJ, Jorma Taccone, is the third member of the group) are worth the entire thing.

Easiest (and Most Fun) Target: Sarah Palin. It used to be Rebecca Eckler, but Ecky isn't nearly as interesting as Palin. I just wish the woman wouldn't make it SO freakin' easy. Her campaigning — which actually made George Bush look like a Rhodes Scholar — was legendary. The only thing that outshone her was Tina Fey's inspired impression of her. She refuses to believe it had anything to do with the campaign's outcome. I respectfully (and happily) disagree.

Favourite Fan Experience: The Buffy conference in Arkansas. I loved the people I met there, made new friendships that continue through blogging and emails (and postcards with Buffy stick figures -- thank you, Cedar!) and now 2010 seems SO far away. We need to find an excuse to all get together again and hang out. How about a weekend conference in my living room? It will involve Buffy viewings and we could even write papers if we want. I'll put up a sign-up sheet soon. :) Ian posted on his blog that Parade Magazine also included the Buffy conference in its year-end wrap-up, calling it one of the quirkiest events of the year. Ha!

Biggest Anticipation for 2009: Lost season 5 and Dollhouse. Joss Whedon back on my telly... I don't have words for what this means to me. And Lost's season 4 was just too fabulous, so season 5 is HUGE for me.

My New Boyfriend: I am sorry to tell you this, Desmond, but I have found another. It's been a lot of fun, and I thank you for keeping that blue shirt slightly open for most of season 4, but... I've met someone else. His name is Chuck Bass. Oh Chuck. You join a long list of fantasies that begin with Luke Skywalker and include Bo Duke and Spike, but you are the first one who is younger than I am. Sigh... but that is OK. I'm willing to let that one go if you are. You are so wrong for me, but when you gave in to your mourning over your father and curled up in bed with Blair, that was it: I was yours.

Worst Boyfriend: Henry on Ugly Betty. I mean, come ON, Betty, Gio is RIGHT THERE and he is SO superior. Henry, on the other hand, got a girl pregnant and decided to stay with her during the pregnancy with her understanding that he will dump her like a ton of bricks the moment that baby rears its head. Yeah, that's some prime manhood, there, Bets. Sigh. Thank god he hasn't shown up yet this season. Gio's only made a cameo. And super-cute dude across the hall turned out to be a dud. I want Gio back.

Best Comedy that No One Watched Until It Was Too Late: Aliens in America. This show killed me week after week, but NO ONE seemed to watch it. I blogged on it, no one commented. None of my friends turned on to it. It was risky and had its hugely politically incorrect moments, and I loved every minute of it.

Most Graphic Thing I Saw on Television: On Dexter, the other serial killer on the loose this season was "The Skinner," who would gouge out large sections of people's skin until they died. Near the end of the season, we saw the skinner at work. I wasn't watching the screen after about 5 seconds of the scene. Gnarl on Buffy was bad enough. :::shudder::: Dexter, by the way, continued to be fantastic, and somebody PLEASE give Michael C. Hall that Emmy!

Most Inspiring Thing I Saw on Television: CTV's W-Five aired a documentary called Peace Warrior, about soldier Trevor Greene, a Canadian who was stationed in Afghanistan when he was hit in the back of the head with an axe. I've talked about him on this blog before (here and here) because I worked with Trevor on his amazing book about the missing women in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. When I heard the news, I was shattered. I was interviewed early on for the documentary and offered them some background, but I was unprepared for what I would see in the show. I hadn't seen him since the "accident" and the images of him being taken onto the aircraft with his head bandaged and half his skull gone were very difficult for me to handle (I think I started sobbing at the beginning of the episode and didn't stop until the end... though it was for a very different reason I was crying at the end). He has recovered his speech, some of his upper body motor skills, and is determined to walk despite so many experts telling him he won't (they don't know Trevor). At one point the interviewer asks Trevor what he would say to his attacker if he could see him again, and he says he'd say sorry, because he walked into his village with a gun, and his colleague shot and killed him, but Trevor is still alive. Wow. Keep an eye out for this show to re-air.

Favourite Jon Stewart Moment: Describing Dick Cheney's completely unsurprising support of John McCain, Stewart shows a clip of Cheney announcing his backing, and Cheney coughs at the end of it. Stewart then imitates him, doing his own version of the announcement where he's coughing and hacking so hard and so loudly he can't get a word out. I was laughing so hard I stopped breathing. I kept that on my PVR and watched it about a half million times before finally erasing it.

Favourite Thing About My Blog: The commenters, good and bad. I was at first surprised, then baffled, then amused by the people who came onto my blog during the election campaign and used it as their personal sounding board for Why the Republican Party Is Awesome, and while some of them made me want to pluck my eyes out with a fork so I wouldn't have to read the drivel anymore, I miss them and almost wish there was some Republican stuff happening in the media so I could spark the debates again. But I'm not the sort of person to goad just to bring them back. I actually had a lot of respect for the ones who used a name or reasonable facsimile to argue, knowing this was a blog written by a non-conservative and read by a lot of non-conservatives, but sadly, the anonymouses ruled the roost. But then again, if you were a member of the Republican Party, wouldn't YOU remain anonymous, too? (KIDDING... I'm not goading. Really.) But I also wanted to take this opportunity to thank all of you who come and read my posts and comment on them (or not), whether it's because you like what I say or hate it. Some of the comments on here throughout the year have been some of the most insightful writing I've read, and after going to other boards and seeing some of the dumbass things people write, I'm constantly grateful that I have such an intelligent readership. Keep the comments coming... you guys make my day.


Ian said...

Fantastic list! Makes me excited to relive-and discover-all those pop culture experiences, especially Slayage. After I finish my Firefly paper for the SW/TX Pop Culture Conference in February, I'm totally going to start thinking about 2010!

Anonymous said...

Your blog is much better when you stick to TV and don't talk about politics. You aren't even American, so stop the preaching on our politics. I love reading your TV content, but please, leave the politics for another blog.

Nikki Stafford said...

Oops, I forgot one!

Comment that most sounds like a broken record:

Anonymous said... please stop writing about politics and get back to television.

It never ceases to amaze me that I can write 50,000 words on TV and add in one sentence on politics and the anonymous peeps come out of the woodwork to tell me to get back to television. Seriously... what is the deal? If you read my blog regularly, you'd see I've already addressed this comment numerous times. I even devoted an entire post to what a moronic comment it is to say because I'm Canadian I can't mention American politics. Go back and find it. You might learn more by reading that than by my TV reviews.

Nikki Stafford said...

On second thought, I just realized this must be a joke. I just made a comment about how anonymous people hide behind their fake identities and tell me to get back to writing about TV and if I'm Canadian I have no right to talk about it anyway, so there's no way someone is that stupid to leave this post and mean it.

Then again, I've had to deal with my share of dull knives this year, so that's why I took it to be real. ;)

Anonymous said...

Not a joke. A good blog should be focused. TV is your thing. Not politics. It pisses off 47% of your readers when you make broad statements like "Palin is an idiot." But it's your blog, not mine, and I'll keep reading for the LOST content.

Jonathan said...

Actually Anonymous, you are a joke, as are 100% of your posts. 72.8% of Nikki's readers think anonymous posts are all written by complete morons who don't have the courage to admit who they are, because they know they don't have the intelligence to argue with 84% of the people who comment on here. 95% of the posters think your specific post is completely ridiculous and moronic, since you seem to separate Nikki's posts into TV and Politics. The remaining 5% abstained from voting, so don’t assume that they support you.

If you can actually read (17% question this point, believing that you are instead relying on the services of a 9 year old democratic child to read through all of Nikki's posts), then you would know that she posts about music, concerts, live events, movies, and other things. Interestingly, an idiot like you (approximately 12.6%) doesn’t get that talking about Tina Fey’s Palin impression is TALKING ABOUT TV (and an idiot named Palin)!!!

And while most of us (98.7%) expect that Nikki's Lost posts are the major draw for her blog, given the amount of detail she puts into those posts, I'm sure that the regulars, approximately 89.3%, are reading through all of her posts because they are insightful and intelligently written. In fact, Nikki's blog is extremely well written, so it’s impossible for me to accept that 47% of her readers are idiots.

Anonymous said...

Jonathon, I love your wit.

Much love from New Orleans,

Cedar said...

I've only just caught up on your posts. I'm laughing at your comments on the Slayage conference & Buffy postcard. Yes, I agree, 2010 is too far away!

Anonymous said...

Just a correction: for Best SNL video, Jorma Taccone is not the dj, Akiva Schaffer is. :)

Amillennialist said...

Your usurper-in-chief spent his time in office shredding the First, Fourth, Ninth, and Tenth Amendments; socializing one-sixth of the American economy; mocking Christians and those who want to be able to defend themselves against tyrants and other criminals; funneling large quantities of cash to and green-lighting the nuclear genocide program of the world's largest state sponsor of jihad; ignoring Hamas's drug running in the United States; arming Mexican drug cartels; fomenting racial division, hatred, and dependence; facilitating the literal burning, poisoning, crushing, and tearing apart of the unborn; imposing depravity as "marriage"; and using the power of the federal government to punish his political opponents, including a president-elect.

And without his teleprompter, he was just about as inarticulate as the previous president.