2009 Favorites — Television

I have to say, that I think 2009 was a very good year for television.  There were numerous quality shows that kept our DVR full around the year.  Enough so, that I felt badly that we didn't go through as many movies as I thought we would via Netflix.  Not enough hours in the day – or evening, I suppose as the case may be.
As for coming out of the blue, nothing surprised me more than Fox's Glee.  I didn't even watch the first couple of episodes of this wonderfully snarky musical comedy, but found myself drawn to it as I crossed through the living room a couple of times when the Beloved was tuning in.

I really love how the show is so self-knowingly smug with its non-PC-ness.  The glee club itself is a  mirror of a perfectly integrated 21st century American cast: nice jock, mean jock, dumb cheerleader, conniving cheerleader, gay kid, black girl, Jewish girl, wheelchair kid, Asian girl and a guy who always seems to be called “other Asian”.  Blend its' over-the-top schlockiness soap opera plots with rip-roaring musical numbers (of both contemporary popular songs and classic hits*), and you have a recipe for fun.  Some of the performances have been really fantastic (especially those from Lea Michelle, Matthew Morrison and Amber Riley).  And the claims that it's anti-Christian seem just as silly as those worrying that Harry Potter being anti-Christian.  In Glee, there are good people and bad and true people and hypocrites, conflict and bad choices, forgiveness and redemption – and in the end, you get the sense that the good will win and bad elements will get there just desserts (what's more Christian than that?).  I also have a nagging hunch that this show may “jump the shark” fairly early (like “Heroes”), but this half-season has been just about note-perfect.
Also on the “must-watch-now” list for me were two shows by Bravo: Top Chef and Top Chef Masters.  This most recent installment of Top Chef was easily the strongest – both in the quality of the contestants and the show's focus on the competition.  Gone were stupid-hat-guy and in-your-face-anti-social-girl, and snide-Euro-guy which had marred some otherwise excellent seasons.  With increased exposure and larger amounts of prize money, these guys were here to cook.  And win.

The show started with 17 contestants, but it was pretty clear that barring a big upset that the winner would come from a group of four that was a cut above the others: Jen, Kevin, and a pair of brothers, Michael and Bryan Voltaggio.  I think any of them would have pretty easily beaten any of the previous winners and I really hated to see it come to an end.
Top Chef Masters was a summer series that pitted very famous (like world famous) chefs against one another for charity (and no doubt for bragging rights).  The amazing thing to me was how many incredibly well known (amongst foodies) people they got to participate.  Across the board, the contestants were classy and really seemed to embrace the fun and good-natured competition.  And to see these guys create really did give you a sense of the gulf between the pros and the “young bucks” that are just getting started in “regular” Top Chef.  We were very excited that the top two were two of our favorites Hubert Keller and super-food-nerd Rick Bayless.  Bayless won, but Hubert has become a house favorite – espeically after we ate at his restaurant Fleur-de-Lys in the Mandalay Bay last fall.

Don't think that I wasn't on the JJ Abrams bandwagon though — Fringe and LOST both have had excellent seasons, but the above were the shows that I wasn't willing to let sit on the DVR very long.
*classics, meaning they were popular when I was in high school

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11 thoughts on “2009 Favorites — Television

  1. I too adore Glee. The two soundtracks they have released are featured very heavily in my running mix, along with Queen of course. Can't sit still while listening to Rachel (Lea Michelle) sing "Don't Rain On My Parade."
    We downgraded to what Cox calls "Limited Basic Cable" after moving into our house so no Top Chef for me (or anything but network TV and PBS). I thought it would be a hard adjustment, but I find that I like not having so many choices. It limits how long I can sit watching TV since there's no Food Network, HGTV, or Travel Channel to suck me in. Dan and I do a lot more reading in the evenings now.

  2. Steve and I discovered Top Chef this past season. We were hooked. Helped that 2 of the chefs have restaurants close enough for us to try them out. We actually tried Mike Isabella's restaurant Zaytanya recently. Divine! My brother in law and his wife went a couple of days before us and Mike actually came out and talked to them. He wasn't there the night we went, still fun to go see and experience it. I really want to go and try Volt (can't remember which Voltaggio brother runs it). It's not too far, but I'm guessing it might be a bit harder to get into.

  3. J — this season was really really good. I think it was their best. Bryan Voltaggio's restaurant (Volt) is in Frederick MD — that's right near where my sister lives. Definitely have to go there the next time that we visit her — and you! :D

  4. Loved the final 4 on top chef. Nice to be free of the childish games and have cooks who take their jobs seriously. Although I do think Season 2 was brilliant, just because the camera people managed to capture some subtle body language and expressions that made the contestants a real study in human interaction.

  5. I agree with you, and I enjoyed 2008 shows when I was back Stateside. Thankfully, I can watch some of my favourites over here. We get True Blood, Dexter, Chuck, the Closer, Law and Order, CSI, Pushing Daisies, and more now. (such a bloody theme to some of those!)

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