CouchTater’s Top 10 Shows of 2008

top 10 shows of 2008

Putting together my annual list of top 10 shows is never easy. Some years, it’s because there are just too darn many choices. Others, too few. So how did 2008 fare? Let’s just say that THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF ATLANTA made the list and leave it at that.
The problem isn’t necessarily that the season was necessarily bad so much as it was mediocre. Shows that have been fantastic in the past were average at best (GREY’S ANATOMY, UGLY BETTY) and nearly unwatchable at worst (HEROES). So this year, I’m going with the 10 shows that gave me the most bang for my buck. In some cases, they might not have been MENSA worthy, but they brought me a whole lot of pleasure. So while you won’t find MAD MEN on my list, it’s mainly because I haven’t seen it yet. (No, not even season one. Hey, I’m only now starting to watch BIG LOVE!) Without further ado — and while fully aware of the slings and arrows sure to be launched my way by the peanut gallery — I present to you, in no particular order, CT’s Top 10 Shows of 2008.
Newsflash, folks: Comedy isn’t dead. And if it were, these guys would probably be able to reanimate it in their lab. Yes, everyone and their mother is heaping praise on Jim Parsons for his role as Sheldon, but take him out of the equation and this cast would still keep me coming back for more. In fact, they might wanna be careful not to become too Sheldon-centric. My hope? That in the coming year, we’ll see a whole lot more of supporting players Howard and Rajesh. 
I was tempted to lump this show and DEXTER together if only because they only give us 12 episodes a season. But each deserves separate recognition because of what they do best. With TRUE BLOOD, it’s a case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. I’m not a particularly huge fan of the show’s supposed root-for couple, Sookie and Bill. But the secondary characters — especially Rutina Wesley’s heartbreaking Tara and Ryan Kwanten’s comically self-destructive Jason — are the true lifeblood of this seductive series.
Although this series is, in essence, a one-man show, the writers have done an amazing job of fleshing out the people in our anti-hero’s life. This season, Dexter’s efforts to achieve normalcy in both his relationship with Rita and his ill-fated-from-the-start “friendship” with Miguel allowed us to see not only much-needed growth on the part of our favorite serial killer, but also, in an ironic and tragic twist, just how difficult it will be for him to expand his universe.

When 2008 began, this show was as lethargic as Victoria, who was slumbering away in an endless coma. Over the next few months, fans became restless as Sabrina and Victor’s blah romance and the ridiculous antics of the Restless Style gang took over. But a funny thing happened on the way back from Sabrina’s funeral: Unlike most soaps, the execs at Y&R actually listened to fans and got the show back on track. Since then, the show has proven that when you have a great story, you don’t need tornados, weekly shootouts or guest psychos. Now if only the other soaps — each slowly limping their way toward cancellation — would take a page from the show that’s been perched atop the ratings for five years and get their acts together!
I’m willing to bet 95 percent of you never caught this VH-1 reality show focused on the search for a young actress who would win a “featured role” in the upcoming flick Saw VI. Sure, we can debate on just how big a break that really is, but what made this limited-run series work was, in part, the fact that it felt like a special event. (Why it wasn’t timed to run around Halloween, I’ll never know.) Plus, the winner — Tanedra — was the girl you actually wanted to see come out on top. If the chops she showed during the course of this series are any indication, this girl’s going to go a whole lot further than just being some random victim of Jigsaw.
This show’s main hook — how did modern-day cop Sam wind up being thrown into the year 1973, and will he be able to find a way back — is actually the least interesting thing about MARS as far as I’m concerned. This is a great ensemble cast on a genre-defying series that deserves to be a lot more popular than it is.
They had me at Crazy-Nanny Carrie. And while I still think Lucas should have picked Brooke, (Am I the only one who wouldn’t be crushed if P. Sawyer was fatally felled by the cancer she may-or-may-not have?) this show seems finally to have come into its own. It ain’t easy balancing drama, laughs, romance and melodrama, but OTH somehow manages to make it look simple. As for that whole 1920′s episode? Let’s just hope Chad now knows that while he character’s a scribe, he is not.
AKA “The Show That Made A Believer Out Of CT”, this series easily could have continued telling Monster-Of-The-Week tales and had a long, successful run. Instead, the show has continued expanding upon its own mythology, introducing the devilishly confounding angel Castiel. While many BUFFY fans thought her round-trip ticket to hell was the beginning of the end for that series, Dean’s sojourn to the underworld gave this show new life.
It’s been a long, long time since television has offered up a great farce. Perhaps not since the days of FRASIER. And it’s easy to see why, given the complexity of this subgenre of comedy: On the one hand, the audience has to be able to see the joke coming a mile away. On the other, when finally it arrives, the moment must still inspire genuine laughter. Thanks to a wildly appealing and talented cast — headed by Kyle Bornheimer, one of the most naturally-gifted comedic talents to hit television in a decade — WORST WEEK manages to pull off this difficult task nine out of 10 times. Week after week, WORST proves itself to be among the best shows on the airwaves.
Look, I warned you right up front this was a list based on quantity of enjoyment as opposed to quality of content. And let’s face it, love it or hate it, this was one wildly entertaining show. From Sheree’s laughable “launch” of her clothing line to Nene’s over-the-top persona, this reality show is about as fake as… um, everything about Kim. Yet somehow, this train wreck was so absorbing that I can’t for next season’s derailment.
The “Close But No Cigar” Awards go to…
THE OFFICE: Sorry, but between axing Holly, that painful intervention and a serious dirth of Pam and Jim, I’m just not feelin’ it.
GREY’S ANATOMY: The second half of the 2007-2008 season was pretty awful. And while so far, the 2008-2009 season has vastly improved, the mishandling of the whole Callie/Erica romance and near back-burnering of Bailey has left me kinda cold.
GOSSIP GIRL: Season two has been much better than season one. But I’m just not feelin’ the whole Aaron Rose thing, and, proving that I’m getting old, I just wanna pull Jenny over my knee and give that twit a spanking.
LIPSTICK JUNGLE: I kid, I kid. Even the ever-naked Robert Buckley (Kirby) couldn’t drag me back after having suffered through the first season.

Missed the TV Addict’s Top 10 of 2008? Click here to check them out.

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  • Josh Emerson

    Great to see Worst Week up there. I thought I was the only one really enjoying the show!

    I can’t agree with most of your list though. Even The Office’s worst episode ever is still way better than Scream Queens. Seriously. I also could never support a list with no mention of 30 Rock or How I Met Your Mother.

  • CT

    30 Rock is wildly uneven for me, much like The Office. And sorry, but I’d much rather have sat through the fun of Scream Queens than that incredibly unfunny intervention Michael held for Meredith.

  • Erick

    1. Mad Men
    2. How I Met Your Mother
    3. LOST
    4. Dexter
    5. Boston Legal
    6. 30 Rock
    7. Big Bang Theory
    8. Life on Mars
    9. One Tree Hill
    10. True Blood
    *11. Entourage, for making no-plot-movement still seem so-fun.

  • Amanda

    LOST? Where is LOST? That’s my top show of all time, let alone this year.

  • Mel

    Yaaay Supernatural!! But where’s Chuck? And my new guilty pleasure Sons of Anarchy?

  • Kaitlin

    FINALLY. Someone else who hates P. Sawyer too!

  • ct

    Kaitlin: I’ve had in in for P. Sawyer for a while now. The only thing I like about her is when she calls Brooke B. Davis. I think my true loathing began back in season 3, when she got that God-awful new do that made her look 20 years older than the others.

  • Erin

    I agree with most of the list, especially Dexter (I doubt this show will ever have a crappy season), Big Bang Theory (Agree with the assessment on Sheldon. He’s easily the best character but its all about the ensemble) and True Blood (Agree particularly about the show as a whole. Sookie and Sookie and Bill, meh. But altogether it rocks. Secondary characters – Jason, Layfayette and Tara are fantastic).

    But OTH? Seriously? It has improved but it still sucks all kinds of ass. It’s good crack tv but that it. And P Sawyer? Aint so bad. The whole bunch on One Tree Hillers and rather hateable at most times. I love to hate them all!

    You’ve got to try out some new shows. NCIS kicked ass this season, Lost improved most awesomely (wins the most improved award) and Damages is purely awesome. I very much recommend them. I’ve got Chuck waiting on my PC to try out but I hear good things about that too.

  • shanna

    I can’t stand P. Sawyer. I hope she has something fatal. I think Lucas should have chosen Brooke too (or Lindsey) I’m so over the two of them. But basically OTH sucked after Q’s death and Brooke’s attack. It picked up right before the hiatus so I’ll be back but it still seems to be sliding downhill.