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My 15 Favorite TV Shows of the Decade


I thought the first season of Big Love was spotty and slightly better than mediocre.  I thought the second season was okay, but worth watching.  But I thought season three was classic television – and the show is on this list for that reason.  If I was rating these shows based on single seasons alone, the show would rate much higher.

Best Season: Season Three


When I first heard about Dexter, I thought it was bound for failure. I was very excited to see a TV show about a serial killer, but how could an audience possibly feel empathy for an all-out murderer from week to week?  Little did I know that Dexter was fucking Batman! Sometimes the show can drag, but it usually keeps me on the edge of my seat, and there have been enough plot twists to keep me interested from season to season, pretty much equally.  And the best plot twist yet just happened at the end of season four – I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Best Season: Season Two

13. 24

I found the first three seasons of 24 incredibly addictive and exciting. Yes, there were huge plot holes, but I was able to let go of them because it was just so damn fun. By the fourth season, however, the plot holes became so incredibly ridiculous it became difficult to watch. By the middle of the fifth season, I stopped watching.  That said, I enjoyed those first few seasons so much it seemed worth putting on the list.

Best Season: Season Three


I know a lot of people on The Office; obviously, my ex-wife/current friend is on the show, and my friend Rainn Wilson just starred in my film SUPER, and I love a lot of the other folks involved.   I was able to be with them in the audience when they won the Emmy for Best Comedy after the second season, and it was an absolutely thrilling moment.  That said, I can’t accurately judge the show, so I’m trying to take it into account.  But considering there are around 25 episodes of the show a year, I think the quality has kept up amazingly well.  They have their weak moments, but they consistently make me laugh out loud three or four times an episode, and I get as weepy as anyone else by the sweet and romantic moments on the show.  I knew in my heart that this show was going to be enormous from the moment I heard about it – that it was going to do for the single-camera situation comedy in the U.S. what Sports Night and others of their ilk were unable to do.  I continue to watch it every week.

Best Season: Season Two


All right, it may seen like heresy for a member of the Writer’s Guild to put a reality show on his favorite TV shows list (I actually have more below, depending on what you consider “reality’).  But Survivor, at its height, was one of the shows I most looked forward to watching every week.  At its best – and its best was unquestionably its second season in the Australian Outback, with future “fuckable Limbaugh” Elisabeth Hasselbeck seemingly going to actually die of starvation, and the best twist ever in the game with Colby and Tina.  But the great moments continued to come in other seasons.  In all honesty, I have not been watching this show the last few seasons, and there are two reasons for this: I did find it getting repetitive, but, more importantly, because they change the name of the series from season to season my DVR doesn’t automatically pick it up!

Best Season: Season Two.


Deadwood is like having really awesome sex with a girl for a couple hours, followed by one of the most disappointing orgasms of your life.  The ending of Deadwood was awful – I understand this was in part because the creators of the show thought they were going to make more episodes.  Whatever the case, for a few years it had some of the best acting on TV, especially Ian McShane as Swearengen, Brad Dourif as Doc Cochran, John Hawkes as Sol Star, and Robin Weigert as Calamity Jane.  The nearly Shakespearean dialogue littered liberally with “motherfuckers” and “cunts” was novel and fun (and supposedly accurate).  The show ended far too early.

Best Season: Season One


I don’t know anyone else who has seen this show – it was a BBC limited series which was essentially the TV show Cops shot in Karachi, Paskistan.  I caught it by chance on Worldlink, a network I never even knew I had, and was hooked.  There was nothing funny about this reality show, it was instead a pretty straightforward documentary with an inside look at another culture and their nearly hopeless justice system where torture was commonplace.


This one barely made it into this decade. Like so many of these shows, I somehow ended up watching the pilot when it first aired, expecting a 90210 type deal, and couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It was far too smart and funny to be on network TV.  And, of course, I was right, as it lasted for barely more than a season.  On a side note – I loved Linda Cardellini on this show, which is one of the reasons I fought so hard for her to be in Scooby-Doo.

Best Season: Everything.


I actually saw Da Ali G Show for the first time in Australia, when it was a BBC show.  No offense to those Australians out there, but most of the stuff on Australian TV was fairly unbearable.  I couldn’t believe how funny this guy was.  The American HBO series was just as good, if not better, the ultimate moment being Borat’s cringey performance of “Throw the Jew in the Well” in a Tucson bar, complete with rednecks happily clapping along.  I did like the Borat movie – but my biggest complaint was that the hour and a half movie didn’t contain as many laughs as three episodes of Da Ali G Show.

Best Season: Season One


Like so many others, I fall on the “it sucks” side of the fence when it comes to the final episode, but that didn’t kill the entire show for me.  Actually, I was more off put by the episodes written by Michael Imperioli, or the one directed by Peter Bogdanovich, which were terrible.  However, most of the series was great, even though I felt like it lost its way a bit, and never lived up to the genius of its first season, which was, undoubtedly, one of the best seasons of any TV show ever – perhaps the very best.

Best Season: Season One


Everyone but the guy in the upper left corner is a liar.

The Joe Schmo Show was a reality show created by Rhett Reese (who later went on to co-write Zombieland) where they took a guy and put him on a fake reality show and, essentially, fucked with him.  In the first season they took the jaw-droppingly gullible Matt Kennedy Gould, and put him in the house on a supposed show called Lap of Luxury with a bunch of improv actors pretending to be an asshole, a flaming Cuban homosexual, a bitch, and so on (Kristen Wiig played a psychiatrist, “Dr. Pat”.)  The actors then proceeded to vote people off one by one, which never went the way Gould expected.  Part of what made it work so well was the casting of Gould, who was an extremely likable (and, as I mentioned a moment ago, gullible) guy.  Perhaps my favorite moment in the history of television is when they had a contest for all the housemates.  It was a gross food eating contest, and if all of the remaining housemates would eat what was set down in front of them, they would all win a widescreen TV.  They went around in a circle, eating the usual things people on these shows eat, whale blubber, etc, and then they got to Gould, the only one left, and they set a tray of dog shit down in front of him!  I laughed until I cried then, as I do every time I watch the scene on my Joe Shcmo DVD set.  It fucked anything the Honeymooners ever did in the ass.  And the best thing about the show was the first season finale, that played out like an Elizabethan tragedy.  There was a second season of Joe Schmo in which they had a fake dating show, which was well-worth watching, but lacked the magic of Matt Kennedy Gould – the best reality TV show star ever.

Best season: Season four.


Let’s clear up any Office Vs. Office confusion.  Yes, I think the original Office is better, but it has a huge advantage – it’s only thirteen episodes long!  That’s more than a hundred less than the US Office.  That said, Ricky Gervais was unbeatable as David Brent.  And the Christmas episode is not only a moving TV episode, but one of the most touching works of art I’ve ever seen. It was a wonderful, wonderful show, and was, essentially, perfect from start to finish.

Best Season: The Christmas Special finale


From the show with a lot of heart, to a show almost certainly in the service of Satan. Wonder Showzen is South Park for people with balls and a brain.  It is completely anarchistic, offensive, and absolute genius.  From a kid interviewing a senior citizen at a casino where the kid says: ”I do an impression of you… ‘Gamble, gamble, gamble, die,” to homeless people getting so angry at the blue puppet-on-the-street Clarence that they start to tear out his eyes – even though the puppeteer is right there, Wonder Showzen is the Hieronymous Bosch of the tube.

Best Season: Season One


The Wire was a show you actually had to concentrate on, and it lasted for five whole seasons.  I don’t think any show you’ve had to concentrate to watch has ever lasted more than two.  The show balanced 64 primary characters.  More importantly, it never had a weak episode – another thing I don’t think any other show lasting that long has been able to do.  The acting ranged from mediocre to amazing (including Andre Royo as Bubbles, who I cast in my movie SUPER because of his role in this show), but it was always real. It is, without a doubt, the best cop show of all time.

Best Season: Season One


I had a hard time deciding between this and The Wire as my favorite show of the decade.  Lost is definitely spottier – the first half of the second season was weak (I almost quit watching), and season five was uneven as well.  That said, I put LOST at number one because its highs are so incredibly fucking high.  The flash-forward reveal at the end of season three was heartbreaking and the best twist I’ve ever seen anywhere: even the recent episodes featuring Sayid and Ben blow my fucking mind.  I have never been so attached to the characters in any show ever. There’s an addendum, however: the season finale is coming up.  If it sucks, you can automatically move The Wire into the top slot.  Either all this shit is worth it, or it isn’t.  We the fans are hoping for a finale as good as Six Feet Under or Newhart, not as disappointing as Sopranos or St. Elsewhere.  I must admit: I’m very hopeful. The creators of LOST have only rarely let me down.

Best Season: Season Three

They Came Close!Scare Tactics, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Eastbound & Down, Everybody Loves Raymond, Arrested Development, Flight of the Conchords (Season 1 only), Extras , Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Big Brother (Seasons 4-6), The Mole (Season 1), Firefly, The Jamie Kennedy Experiment.

And, a disclaimer: I have only seen the first season of Battlestar Galactica. I loved it, and it maybe belongs on this list, but I feel stupid not having seen the other seasons yet. I rarely watch shows on DVD – the only series I watched that way from this list are 24, Wonder Showzen, and I’ve watched Lost a second time on DVD.  I also have never seen an episode of Breaking Bad or Friday Night Lights, shows that a lot of people I know respect. I’ll get to them.  As for anything else that’s often proclaimed as great – yes, I have probably seen it, and no, I probably don’t think it’s as good as you do.  But that doesn’t mean I don’t love you.

‘What is heaven?’

‘That’s where Whiskers went when he died! My brother, Whiskers.’

–      Wonder Showzen

PS I am sorry I am HBO’s whore.

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