Raked’s TV Top Ten List of the Decade

We’re signing off 2009 tonight, and we’re bringing in a new user: 2010. We’re not just ending a year but a decade this time (though some of you historian/mathematician types might disagree), so in honor of that, I’m posting this blog in honor of the best things about TV of the decade.

I’ve sorted my thoughts out as general ideas that seemed to have grown in the past ten years (though, to be fair, more so in the last five since my memory is rusty). So here goes:

Raked’s TV Top Ten List of 2000s (in no particular order):

1. Creativity: Sure, all our hopes and dreams get dashed when our favorite shows get canceled, but you’ve got to give it up for the creators of series that truly incorporate a distinctive idea in the show, moving beyond the normal ER drama or procedural. Think Pushing Daisies, Eli Stone, and even our favorite sci-fi shows.

2. Music: Note: This is music, not montages. I don’t know the exact year that the WB started the trend of showing which songs were played in the episode, but it’s certainly grown since then. Now music plays a huge part of television. There are certainly times that I think of a show when a song plays on the radio. I attribute most of this to Scrubs, as that show certainly brings a lot of fantastic music to plot.

3. Musicals: Ok, so most of you hated them. But some were fun! Look at Buffy and Scrubs. They’re kinda weird, but they’re rather funky. I enjoyed. And this naturally brings me to…

4. Web Series: One of the newer innovations to television, and all resting on the wonderful series that is Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. Plus, you’ve got The Guild, which I was introduced to over Christmas and thoroughly enjoyed, and it’s a whole new way to watch TV. All because of…

5. The Writers’ Strike: I’m sure most of you hate me for putting this on the top ten list, but honestly, it was a defining time for TV. Viewers finally noticed that TV goes beyond the pretty faces on the screen and there were smart people behind it. Plus, I got to meet Joss Whedon at one of the rallies.

6. The Middle Tier: Ok, I know that most of you see the cancellations of the series in the 2000s, but what about the middle shows that stuck around? I’m always impressed with this story of One Tree Hill, where it was never really huge, but it got enough viewers to have the freedom to stay on-air and do what it wants. Now it’s a wacky, popular show that for some reason I’m still watching. And you know it’s not the only one.

7. Cable Series: First, it was the HBO and Showtime series, and now we’ve got TNT, TBS, and USA. Don’t even forget the cable network that brings you Mad Men. These award-winning shows are coming from somewhere beyond our typical networks, which has really caused a shift in recent years. And some damn good television!

8. Neil Patrick Harris: Is it fair to put a person on the top ten list? Honestly, somehow in the past few years, he’s gone from long-gone child actor to one of the most entertaining. Heck, he’s even made us like musicals. I could say that he’s lengen–wait for it…

9. Fun Add-Ons: Dary. In the fun tribute to NPH, let’s think of the web add-ons to series. I’m not thinking merchandise, but instead, the viral things on the web that are in conjunction with shows. Can anyone say How I Met Your Mother? I don’t know how many external websites that show has now. Plus, think Big Bang and the Penny Blossoms website. Oh yeah, it’s out there.

10. Fan Support: I did leave this one for last because it did seem like a big one. But if you start with Jericho move through Chuck and land in the Dollhouse, you know what I mean. Fans just don’t give up anymore–and that’s a good thing.

So there’s my list. What did I miss? Let me know in the comments.

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Someone call a doctor

SCRUBS: 8.03 “My Saving Grace”
SCRUBS: 8.04 “My Happy Place”

I’m struggling with Scrubs this year. I’m not sure why. I mean, it’s funny. I’m laughing. But there’s something missing.

Say, for example, Courteney Cox. We really didn’t get that much time to really hate her and at the end of the first episode, she said that she’d been around for three months. Not that I need three months of Courteney Cox time (love the joke about Dr. Cox’s stupid name, by the way), but three episodes certainly didn’t do much for me.

And then there’s JD and Elliot. Where was that buildup? I mean, we had a little bit of buildup at the end of the sixth season–where they almost kiss and Elliot then calls off her wedding in the seventh season opener. But then it went nowhere and the season got all disjointed because of the Writer’s Strike and adding an eighth season that any buildup is lost. So now, suddenly they’re considering getting back together.

I just feel like something’s missing. Maybe something’s missing in the sequence of events, I’m not sure. Maybe it’s because every main character isn’t appearing in every episode anymore (Janitor and Elliot were missing in the second episode of the season, Turk was missing in the third). Yet still, a recurring message they seem to want to relay is that nothing ever changes. It’s been repeated in a couple episodes now when, clearly, they’ve been proving us wrong.

But I still laugh. I’m enjoying this softer side of Kelso. I’m not sure if he’s acting or if it’s real, but man, he’s sounding old. And I did appreciate how the Janitor got his job back. It seemed very much like the old Scrubs where things just happen. I preferred the second episode to the first because of the Turk/Cox conflict, but then again, I felt like they were also trying a little bit to make it deeper than it was, mentioning that no one gave either family a reason to distrust them.

Oh, and still, I hate the interns. The little blonde bippy, I was sure they were going to tease Elliot about. Afterall, she looks like a mini-Elliot and was acting like her–that is, until Carla had the sit-down chat, which just seemed forced. Maybe if she had that speech with the heartless one of previous episodes, I’m not sure.

Anyway, it wasn’t bad, but I guess I’m just having trouble really getting into this season. I feel like there’s this side plot to make the interns into their own show (PLEASE DON’T), and it’s overshadowing other things. It’s almost like the show is trying too hard and making up for lost ground because of the prep for last season to be its last. I don’t know. I might just be too picky.

SAG, don’t go breaking our hearts

I just came across this post on TV Squad: The SAG Strikes Back. No, the Screen Actor’s Guild has not yet decided whether or not to strike, but things really aren’t looking good. You all know my opinion: I will kick them in the face. But it still worries me.

TV Squad got their info here, which was just posted yesterday. Looks like they might be taking a vote on January 2. Of course, this doesn’t mean we’ll know then. Votes will be counted and then we’ll know their yes or no responses on the 23rd. Again, this won’t mean strike, but it won’t mean good things either.

A strike could mean the stopping of our favorite shows…again. What irritates me is that a strike could basically lead to the end of creative programming as we know it.

It sounds like a leap, but think about it. Because of the Writers’ Strike last year, a lot of sophomore favorites got cut short this fall: Pushing Daisies and Eli Stone are two shows deserving of more seasons. Ironically, two shows that show more writer creativity than many others out there.

And if you think about it, what do you put on the air if the actors won’t show up? Reality TV. You can bet a lot of those contestants aren’t SAG members, even if the hosts are.

Can shows go on without actors? Probably not. No one’s going to watch The Office without Michael, Dwight, and Jim. So why not start new shows?

Who’s going to write them? No one. With the Writers’ Strike, you can bet that the actors were there supporting the writers, hauling picket signs through the trenches (and in our Cambridge rally, there were slushy snow trenches). What would the actors think if the writers turned their backs now?

That’s right, it’s a close-knit community, and writers would get put in the middle. They wouldn’t be at work either.

So if we can’t write new shows and shows now don’t survive–and there’s additional reality television–where is television going? Down the crapper. The art is being taken away from it. There’s nowhere left to go.

So, actors, if you ever want to deserve those awards you get, don’t strike. Let the art of the performance remain.

I’ll leave you with this, actors. Just to show you the lack of support around you right now. the beginning of TV Squad’s great post:

Remember the good old days when dock workers, air traffic controllers, teachers, and strike placard makers went on strike? Good, hard-working people who didn’t make much money but put their bodies and well-being on the line every day to improve themselves and their community. In exchange, they received measly little things like health insurance, safe work conditions, and a vending machine in the break room that didn’t eat quarters, dollars or fingers.

Those Norma Rae days are long gone.

I will kick you in the face

I love our actors. I really do. I love the casts of our favorite shows: Bones, The Office, Eli Stone

But, actors, if you strike, I will kick you in your perfectly made up faces.

If you haven’t heard, the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) might be going on strike. It’s true. I read about it here and here. Apparently, like the writers’ strike last year, actors are looking for similar benefits/compensation for their work on the Internet.

Ok, it’s fair. People should be compensated for their work–especially in new mediums. But, actors, if you strike, you’re stupid.

Let’s relay the facts. Last year’s writers’ strike went on a long time. It stopped the shooting of our shows–some of which, didn’t recover (in fact, I think the only one that did was Heroes because it gave the show a chance to stop and restart after its crappy season 2). We’re actually still seeing the fallout of the strike today with low ratings to our favorite shows and cancellations of sophomore favorites like Pushing Daisies.

The writers did eventually get their deal–not an ideal, perfect compromise, but one that they could work with. And in the meantime, I got to go to a pretty cool rally.

(Sorry, off topic there.)

But people were out of work for a long time. Non-union employees really got hurt.

The great part was that the SAG was behind the WGA the entire time. Of course they were! How could they not support their writers? Without the writers, where would they be?

But here’s the issue: An actors’ strike would not be the same. First, they’re looking for even better compensation than the writers for Internet us. In an already terrible economy, I can’t imagine that this is going to work.

Second, I don’t think actors carry as much weight sometimes.

I really hate to say this because I love actors. I really do. But in a time when TV is growing each night by reality television, actors on TV are really getting scarce. Of course, this doesn’t mean that the strike would only affect TV, but it certainly wouldn’t help it. And as much as you all don’t want to believe it, yes, reality TV is scripted–at least to a degree. Which means that writers still needed to be there; actors don’t.

Third, I just don’t think they’ll get the public behind them. Actors have a bad rap. They aren’t all like this, but the sad part is, most of the population sees actors as Brad Pitts and Angelina Jolies. They’re people who are paid tons for the work that they do.

Again, most actors aren’t paid tons, but the fact that people think they are generally makes them less inclined to go with the actors when actors want more money. I feel like they were much more likely to look at the writers–individuals that are only honored at the Oscars and Emmys–but actors are shown all the time.

Plus, my first memory of entertainment strikes is when the cast of Friends left the set because they weren’t getting a million each per episode. A past like this isn’t going to get people happy.

And people LOVE TV and movies! They want to see more, not less. Seeing the actors strike might just get them frustrated.

Last, I think actors might be missing the issue of cancellation. Did we not learn from Pushing Daisies and many other shows on or close to the chopping block? A strike has ramifications, and if you’re going to do it, take into account that your show might not be there when you get back. Which means you won’t be paid at all.

So anyway, actors, please don’t strike. You’ll make me a very unhappy Raked. I really don’t want to kick you in the faces. I just bought new boots.

More moves and new shows for ABC

Very rarely are we usually excited about midseason shows. It’s more exciting now than it used to be for some. I, however, don’t watch American Idol, Lost, or 24, so it’s never meant that much for me.

But this year it’s rather exciting for me. With Dollhouse on its way in–the newest show from Joss Whedon with Eliza Dushku as the leading lady–this midseason should be rather exciting…as long as the show’s as good as the hype (I’m sure it is) and it sticks around (please, FOX?).

But what about the other networks. Say, ABC? Instead of going with the new, I’m excited that ABC is bringing back the old. Scrubs is back on deck for the ABC midseason, and I’m looking forward to it.

ABC recently announced their schedule for January and beyond. Scrubs will be given a full hour on Wednesday at 8:00–that’s two new episodes each week. Which is nice since they got shoved into the midseason.

I’m still wondering about this season. From what I heard last year, it was supposed to be its final season. When the writer’s strike kicked into high gear and stopped some of its episodes, the creator wasn’t sure how to continue the series. He has an entire plan as to how it was going to end and he didn’t want to truncate it, considering releasing the entire season as planned on DVD only.

With the new ABC adoption policy (you know, where ABC buys all old shows, whether from 1998 or 2008), I wonder how this is going to turn out. You could tell last season that some episodes were shown out of order now that the show wasn’t ending. For example, the season finale has Kelso still working at the hospital when earlier in the season he clearly retired. At least with the move to ABC, the creator gets to finish out his plot (which was really revving up, in my opinion).

The question, though, is whether it will actually end. I hear rumors–nothing confirmed–around the blogs about a ninth season: Will there be one? Will Zach Braff be involved? Why can’t I spell Zach Braff anymore without wanting to type Zac Efron? Why has my world plummeted due to the Disney Channel?

(Ok, the last two questions weren’t asked in the blog world.)

I hear that with the new season, we’ll be getting some new interns–new interns that could be used for a ninth season. Again, this is all blogosphere speculation. I don’t know what I think about this. Why can’t, if a creator sees a natural end, we just let a show end?

I think it’s time after this season. I’m thrilled we’ll be able to see how the creator wanted it to be, though annoyed that episodes are already out of order and it might be changed because ABC wants it longer. I guess I’m looking negatively already, when the season hasn’t even started, but the show’s been around for a while, the actors want to do other things, and I think it should be time after this midseason finishes up.

In other news, ABC’s announcement mentioned some spring shows in the works, including The Unusuals and the remake of Cupid. Good to see Amber Tamblyn’s show really is on deck, though I’m still skeptical of our reincarnation of Cupid.

Oh, and Life on Mars will be moving to Wednesday–a good move in my opinion.

No dates yet, but at least we know what they’re thinking. Well, except about some unanswered Scrubs questions.

Six degrees of…Zac Efron?

The Jonas Brothers aren’t the only ones with the movie buzz. Zac Efron is movin’ on up. And killing the classics on the way.

Guess what Paramount Pictures now wants to remake: Footloose. That’s right. The Kevin Bacon classic will now be put on the big screen again for a new generation. And guess who they want as the new Kevin Bacon. That’s right. Zac Efron.

Now, I’m not 100% opposed to Zac Efron. I think he has a decent amount of talent as compared to some of the other stars of High School Musical (can anyone say Corbin Bleu?). I saw him in Hairspray and didn’t find him half bad, and to be honest, of all the HSM people to grow, I’d root for him. He did turn down the CD offers after all.

But to remake Footloose. It just seems…too soon and unnecessary. Why can’t we come up with new premises? And what is going to make this original from the original? I hear they’re signing on Kenny Ortega of HSM fame to direct as well.

Now, don’t get me wrong. This isn’t for sure yet, but Paramount sure is trying. I just don’t understand WHY we need to remake and why we can’t find new things to write, film, and create. It’s just like the new news that the CW is looking to do a new version of Melrose Place, probably in the same light as the new 90210.

Is this payback for the writers’ strike or is it just fallout? I’m hoping neither. I should be more excited that they’re falling onto remakes and not more reality television. But going back to the classics? Footloose? What’s next? Recreating the brat pack with Miley Cyrus, Ashley Tisdale, and the regulars from Wizards of Waverly Place?

Get a pic, do a blog (tell them it’s Horrible)

WARNING: SPOILERS INCLUDED!!

DR. HORRIBLE’S SING-ALONG BLOG: Parts I-III

First, I must say that I’ve had these songs in my head for days now. Joss Whedon and his cohorts has done yet another good job of coming up with various catchy and diverse songs to put together an entertaining show. Well done. If I had to choose, I’d say Part II probably had my favorite songs in it, but really, they all had outstanding numbers.

But let’s get to the review, shall we? So as not to spoil the end for some of our RSS readers, I’ll try to save the spoilers for the bottom, so let’s go through performances first. (And let me apologize if I don’t get the exact titles of the songs correct.)

I thought it was great. I really did. I enjoyed every minute–even the not so joyful ones. I think I was most excited about Neil Patrick Harris’ performance. I knew of his interest and talent in singing from various interviews I’d heard from the cast of How I Met Your Mother, so I was thrilled to get to see him in action. And really, every time he opened his mouth, I loved it. His expressions and small gestures especially. His small shoulder dance in “Freeze Ray” and the small smirk at the beginning of “You’re Gonna Die.” I really just loved him and frankly still want to give him a hug.

Captain Hammer was a trip. “Corporate tool” is probably the best description of this person possible. My favorite was when he sang about his hair in “A Man’s Gotta Do.” I know some people might not have enjoyed his Hero song all that much, but it was entertaining. I’m glad he got a moment to sing his own song without having Penny or Horrible cut in.

And Penny was lovable, which I found surprising. I don’t know why. Her lament was a little bored to me–I guess it was too reminiscent to Tara’s “I’m Under Your Spell” in the Buffy musical, and I didn’t necessarily need to know that Penny had a sad childhood. I’d rather just see her as a woman who grew into a nice person who cared. But either way, her smile did cheer me up, and I rooted for the good guy–er, the bad guy–to get together with her in the end (that’s Dr. Horrible if you couldn’t tell). Joss, in a few interviews, mentioned the feelings that were evoked every time Penny and Horrible sang together, and really, it couldn’t be more true. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, go back and listen to “On the Rise,” the first song in Part II.

Now, let’s get to the plot.

So when I heard “Sing-Along Blog,” I really had no idea what to expect. I loved the concept. I liked the video blogs intermixed with the storyline. It really added a great aspect to the thing, and really, in the end, it packed a hardcore punch. The severe cut from the final song to his heartbroken, guilt-ridden face with “I won’t feel…a thing” is just so strong. It’s one that will stay with you.

Actually to be honest, I’m quite mad at myself (much more so than with Joss) for not realizing the end. I’ve been a loyal follower of Joss’ work: Buffy, Angel, Firefly/Serenity. So the fact that I didn’t see Penny’s death coming is really just a bad note on me. I’ve been reading other reviews, and I never thought that Penny would become a secret supervillian, but I really never thought of her fate. My mind was focused the ultimate showdown of Dr. Horrible and Captain Hammer. I was considering their deaths–or really, the lack thereof, since I doubted Joss would kill them off (hey, I was right). For some reason, I just was expecting something…I don’t want to say happy. Something lighter, I guess. In the end, I just came up with a blank slate.

Honestly, I’m a little torn on my opinion of Penny’s death. On one hand, it blindsided me. I wasn’t expecting it. On the other hand, Joss generally kills someone off! Plus, it tends to be something that other stories tend to do. If someone’s fighting over a girl, the most tragic would be a hero’s death or the death of the loved one. It makes sense that he would sacrifice what he loved most to get what he wanted.

Not to say I’m not hurt or miffed. It took me a couple watches (and I had to watch all three parts together) to really accept it as a decent end. And here’s what I think: In the end, Penny sees Dr. Horrible as Penny and tells him that Captain Hammer saved them. Throughout the show, Dr. Horrible laments on society and the status quo. It’s quite revealing that in the end, the character that seems to see so much good in humanity and seems to see the most about the world is the one blinded the most. She never sees the supervillain–probably to the benefit of Dr. Horrible’s broken heart–and she still thinks Captain Hammer is the hero, like we saw in the first rescue scene. It was Captain Hammer that causes the errs, even if they were originally set into action by Dr. Horrible.

But Dr. Horrible has a point. Would it upset the status quo if he puts poison in the water supply, as he sang? Penny still saw everything in black and white, despite her almost discovery during both Captain Hammer and Dr. Horrible’s final songs. Meanwhile, the rest of society just shifted their attentions to Dr. Horrible–their new superstar. He may be bad, but the merchandise is still sold and fans are still made. So really, Dr. Horrible becomes the worst villian but the status quo remains the same. Society just wants someone to talk about.

As much as I hate that Penny died and I still question whether it was necessary or just Joss’ habit to tear apart his fans’ emotions, I like the final thought. Even though looking back, it seems like a predictable ending as far as classic literature is concerned, I suppose it’s ok. I don’t know, honestly. I still go back and forth, though I like Penny’s status quo mentioned. And it makes me feel good that Penny saw everything, but to her Dr. Horrible will remain her Billy Buddy.

Now, on brighter notes, Joss did a good job. I enjoyed. I’ll definitely be buying the DVD and soundtrack (rumor is, the commentary on the DVD will be sung as well, btw). I loved the music. I loved the jokes. I loved Bad Horse and the rest of the League. And now suddenly I’m a larger fan of Neil Patrick Harris and a new fan of Felicia Day (she’s not just the Potential that stayed alive and took care of the injured on the bus anymore!). Oh, and Nathan Fillion ain’t that bad anyway. I’ll be keeping my eye out on new projects–and Internet projects.

That is another great thing about this musical, which maybe I’ll delve into another day. I like that we’re now exposed in a grander scale the series that are Internet only. They can be successful (despite some other failures). So way to go Writers’ Strike.

So way to go, Joss and crew. This was definitely NOT Horrible. And hey, if you’re still upset about Penny, just think of it this way. At least he didn’t chop the head off the human race…being Penny, that is.