OK, I admit it: I watch network TV. In fact, I watch a lot of it. And I have gotten completely hooked on several shows. If I miss them, it ruins my day. Thank goodness for Tivo, or I’d never keep up with the plot perambulations!
I have to say my favorite shows are the ones that have running storylines – lots of them. I love the ones with lots of imaginative twists and turns, even though it’s time-consuming to keep up with them. If you miss an episode of “Lost,” for instance, it greatly affects your ability to understand what’s happening in the episode after that.
Even so, I’m hooked.
Here are my seven favorite can’t-miss network TV shows of 2008. And I’ll also mention two that greatly disappointed me this year.
“Lost” (ABC) – Still the champ of the year, as far as I’m concerned. The show about survivors on a mysterious island has gotten more intricate, perplexing, and wonderful. “Lost” lost its way last season and then came roaring back this year with episodes that were absolutely stunning and heartbreaking. I love it because I can’t even guess at what’s going to happen next. And I’m intrigued to see how the show’s creators are going to resolve all the weird and metaphysical oddities of the island. Fabulous! abc.go.com/primetime/lost
“Fringe” (FOX) – Introduced in 2008, and a worthy successor to “The X Files,” which I dearly loved in its first few seasons. It’s about weird things happening to ordinary people that are then investigated by a special secret government team. And behind it all is some vast conspiracy which the agents must uncover. I’m anxious to see what they find. www.fox.com/fringe
“House” (FOX) – Crabby but brilliant doctor looks into weird medical cases and solves them. Some of it is a bit far-fetched, but always interesting. I also like the relationships between House (, Cuddy, Wilson and the rest of House’s crew. Coming from a medical family, I can appreciate some of the humor and the competitiveness and politics that is part of any hospital. I’ve really liked the storylines this season, with the conflict between Wilson and House, and the budding romance between House and Cuddy. www.fox.com/house
“Desperate Housewives” (ABC) – Another show with a million storylines to keep track of, as the ladies of Wisteria Lane plot, scheme, love, protect, squabble and ultimately, support each other. The leap forward this season, five years into the future, was risky but brilliant. It really gave some new life and spirit to the show. Also quite interesting is former beauty queen Gabrielle’s transformation into a dumpy hausfrau, but I’m ready to see a glamorous Gabby (Eva Longoria) again. At any rate, a wonderful, watch-worthy show. abc.go.com/primetime/desperate
“30 Rock” (NBC) – This is the one show on television that consistently makes me laugh out loud. It’s a show about what happens behind the scenes at a comedy TV show, and the interplay between the characters – Liz Lemon (Tina Fey), her insufferable boss (Alec Baldwin), and Lemon’s show’s crazy star (Tracy Morgan) is absolutely priceless. Some of the situations are pretty silly, but there is so much wit to the whole enterprise that they carry it off. There’s nothing else like it on TV. www.nbc.com/30rock
“Chuck” (NBC) – A show that has had a rocky start because of the writer’s strike last year, but it’s hanging in there. This is a great blend of action and comedy, with the hapless, geeky Chuck becoming a spy after his brain becomes a repository for a vast reservoir of top-secret information. This is another show that makes it on the strength of the relationships between the characters – Chuck (Zachary Levi) and his sister, her boyfriend, Chuck’s best friend, his fellow employees at the Buy More store, and of course, Chuck’s secret crush/cover girlfriend/fellow spy (Yvonne Strahovski). I think it’s a great show … just plain fun. www.nbc.com/chuck
“Ugly Betty” (ABC) – I love this show, with fashion-challenged Betty (America Ferrera) trying to make her mark at a posh NYC magazine. She has her crazy magazine family to manage as well as her real family in Queens. The fish-out-of-water concept works beautifully, and Ferrera is adorable. It’s kind of a comedy soap opera, with everything from a transgender character to wicked plots to a surrogate pregnancy. Bubbly and effervescent. abc.go.com/primetime/uglybetty
And I did want to mention two shows that have greatly disappointed me in 2008. I was a stalwart fan until they started to go down the tubes.
“Heroes” (NBC) – This is one show that’s totally fallen off the rails. I was blown away by its first season, but it’s never been quite as good since then. Some episodes are really difficult to follow, with all the time-shifting between past, present, future, and possible futures – c’mon, writers, give our poor little TV brains a break! I’m willing to give it another chance, but I’m waiting for some really great episodes to come along.
“My Name is Earl” (NBC) – I was a big fan of “Earl” when it began, and I still like it, but not quite as much as in the beginning. The episodes have kind of a sameness to them now. I liked the storyline about Earl getting married, but that ended, and now the episodes have a kind of sameness to them. Some fresh ideas, please!