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Year’s Best of Television

Caitlin Ferraro | Thursday, May 14, 2009

After suffering through the painful writer’s strike, the 2008-2009 television season was a refreshing comeback for television in general. Viewers witnessed many firsts and lasts throughout, and certainly some unforgettable moments. Shocking twists and turns came from all directions. In a sea of so much goodness, and of course some badness, particular shows and moments stand out:

Best Death It had been known for months that Edie was going to die on “Desperate Housewives.” Few cared that Bart Bass died on “Gossip Girl,” although it did lead to some beautiful scenes for Ed Westwick as Chuck. But did anyone expect Kutner (Kal Penn) to commit suicide on “House”? Or that his death would set off a chain of events in which House would end up in Cuddy’s arms? Or that this all began when Kal Penn chose to leave the show to work for – Obama? While the death was not shown, the way it affected the rest of the characters was beautifully scripted and portrayed. Foreman stepped up and was there for Thirteen. Chase and Cameron got engaged. And House actually doubted himself, for once. Kutner’s suicide was both shocking and served a greater purpose to the show’s overall storyline. Kudos.

Best New Series There are always misses when the new television season rolls around, but every once in a while there are hits. CBS’ “The Mentalist,” FOX’s “Fringe” and HBO’s “True Blood” are all examples of great new shows. Simon Baker is fantastic on “The Mentalist” as he exudes charm while catching bad guys, all the while waiting to find the serial killer, Red John, who killed his wife and son. “Fringe” is a wonderful amalgamation of weirdness as an FBI agent works together with a once-institutionalized-doctor and his wisecracking son to solve crimes that involve “fringe” science. And “True Blood,” a series, based on the “Sookie Stackhouse Novels,” is about a woman with psychic abilities that finds herself entangled with a vampire and a serial killer. Beware though that this salacious show is definitely an adult version of “Twilight.”

Best Series Finale “Scrubs” ended with a touching and funny series finale. “The Shield” pulled out all the stops for its concluding episode. But the best finale of this season goes to SciFi’s “Battlestar Galactica.” The re-imagining of the 1980 series began in 2003 and has since then found a devoted audience. The show has a complicated mythology pertaining to the battle between Cylons and humans, but all the questions were beautifully answered in the 2009 finale. They found a suitable place to live and all our favorite characters found a sense of completion in one way or another.

Best Reality TV Show One of the best reality show’s this year was VH1’s latest creation “Tough Love,” a show surprisingly not like the other shows on the network that tend to border on sleaziness. Instead, the show’s premise was that matchmaker Steve Ward would help eight women find love by discovering who they were, and finding out what men really think. In addition, one cannot ignore the sensation that was “The Bachelor” this year. The nation witnessed as Jason Mesnick dumped his fiancée Melissa Rycroft and then minutes later was reunited with runner-up Molly Malaney. Shocking? Wrong? Terrible? Maybe, but it was definitely great television.

Best New Series that Was Over Before it Began Every year there are shows that are hyped but unfortunately do not last. This year NBC’s “Kings” (and possibly FOX’s “Dollhouse”) hold this unfortunate honor. R.I.P. to “Kings” and other great shows that did not last the season: “Pushing Daisies” and “Eli Stone.”

Overall, some shows have stepped up their game this season and keep getting better and better. Shows like “Mad Men,” “Lost” and “Dexter” have been great dramas this television season. And the seventh season of “24,” which had been postponed due to the writer’s strike, returned in January with a vengeance. The best comedies this year have been “How I Met Your Mother,” “Big Bang Theory,” “The Office” and “30 Rock.” Tina Fey and company rolled right through the Emmy’s, collecting statuettes all over the place.

Television this year also brought us entertainment in the form of the Democratic and Republican Conventions. At times they were important to watch in order to be informed voters, but they were also fodder for the “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” “The Colbert Report” and “Saturday Night Live.” These shows really outdid themselves with the help of election year material.The 2008-2009 television season has been a great one, and it is not even over yet. There are a plethora of season finales yet to come and burning questions that hopefully will be answered. Is William Bell (Leonard Nimoy) responsible for the Pattern on “Fringe”? Who will win “American Idol?” How will Heidi and Spencer get married on “The Hills?” (Just kidding on that one.) Who is the mother on “How I Met Your Mother?” Will everyone survive the series finale of “Prison Break?” Will Izzie (Katherine Heigl) survive her horrible brain cancer and how will it affect the rest of Seattle Grace? You’ll have to stick around this season, – and perhaps the next – to discover the answers.