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2007 Calvin Awards: Best TV Show

February 14, 2007

One of these is not like the other two.

In the Battlestar Galactica's second and third seasons, with the Humans still on the run from the Cylons, we watched them deal with the discovery of another Battlestar crew, more infiltrations from Cylon spies, the discovery of a potential new home, and one of the biggest and more daring reboots of a TV series we've ever seen.

Show runner Ron Moore was also unafraid to tackle the big questions, turning the show into a sometimes maddening ethical debate. And the slippery, morally ambiguous character of Gaius Baltar continued to show us why James Callis is one of the best actors on TV. This is what great sci-fi is meant to be and the reason Battlestar Galactica is our choice for Best TV Show.

Sliding in just behind it is NBC's The Office, which moves up one slot from last year. The adaptation of the brilliant BBC series really came into its own this year, with Steve Carell's boss from hell role as Michael Scott becoming the breakout comedy character of television. His cartoonish antics have made the show "Must See Through Fingers" TV, as we cringe in anticipation of his next incredibly insensitive or just plain buffoonish remark. The strength of the show remains the ensemble, though, filling it to the brim with "blink and you'll miss it" hilarity. Additionally, the Jim/Pam romance expanded to the Jim/Pam/Karen love triangle, providing the show with a realistic heart seldom seen elsewhere on TV.

Third place goes to another NBC show, Friday Night Lights. Based on the 2004 movie, which was in turn based on a 1990 book, Friday Night Lights follows the lives of the Dillon Panthers, a West Texas high school football team. Much more than a simple high school and sports series, it gets into the heart of a dead-end town. Are they obsessed with football because there's nothing else in the town, or is there nothing in the town because they're so obsessed? It's not an easy answer. It's raw human drama and features some of the most real, recognizable characters on TV today. This show may not be long for this world, so catch it while you can.

Fourth place is taken up by My Name is Earl, yet another show from NBC. Earl Hickey, played by Jason Lee, continued on his quest to make up for all his past wrong doings, exploring the wide world of karma on his way to become a better man. Few sitcoms are as inventive as Earl, which this year flashed back to Y2K, deported one of its main characters to Mexico, and sent another one to jail as a part of a wildly misguided revenge-inspired theft. Something akin to a live-action version of the Simpsons, My Name is Earl is a brilliant but heartfelt satire of American life with more laugh-out-loud moments than just about anything on TV.

The first pay cable series on our list comes in at fifth. Entourage's third season saw Vinny Chase rise to superstardom with the record breaking Aquaman movie (Hey, it's fiction. Anything can happen), then quickly throw it all away by refusing to sign on for a sequel. His turbulent rise and fall through Hollywood, along with his crew of childhood friends made for some of the best "inside baseball" of the year, and who doesn't enjoy Jeremy Piven's Ari Gold?

Veronica Mars slipped a bit in our rankings to sixth spot after being our runner-up last year. The brilliant first season proved a tough act to follow, and the conclusion to the second season provided a bitter split among BOP staffers as to its satisfaction. The third season sent Veronica to college and continued her on-again/off-again/on-again (...well, you get the picture) romance with Logan Echolls, once her bitter enemy. A gripping mid-season finale proved that Rob Thomas's show still had the right stuff and gave us hope for the lone CW show that made our list.

The third member of NBC's Thursday night comedy lineup to make our list is Scrubs (and we're warming up to 30 Rock). There hasn't been this powerful a comedy lineup since Jell-O Pudding Pops were popular. While the antics of the doctors at Sacred Heart Hospital remain outlandish and JD's fantasy sequences as wild as ever, Scrubs has matured as a series, along with its characters, and is capable at times of delivering a punch to the stomach, something uncommon for a show that has featured a song about poo.

Eighth spot goes to The Wire, a newcomer to this list. One of the most critically acclaimed shows that almost no one watches, it's the HBO series that gets lost in the hype surrounding The Sopranos, Rome, Entourage, well, you name it. Even Arli$$ got more press than The Wire. A gritty crime drama set in Baltimore, from the makers of Homicide: Life on the Street, The Wire gets down and dirty into the world of drugs and inner-city crime. It's style stresses realism to sometimes devastating effect. Those who do watch the show almost invariably end up calling it the best thing on TV.

Last year's number one show on our list, Deadwood, slips to ninth spot this year. After the positively brilliant and at-times Shakespearian heights of its second season, it was bound to have a bit of a letdown. However, the adventures in rough and tumble 19th century South Dakota, with the operatic profanity of Al Swearengen and crew, still made for fantastic viewing.

Rounding out our list of ten is Aaron Sorkin's return to TV, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, and NBC's fifth show to make our list. Going behind the scenes of a Saturday Night Live-esque variety show, Studio 60 brought Sorkin's sparkling dialogue into the world of sketch comedy. At times a frustrating show, it has nevertheless reached incredible heights during its brief run so far.

Some of the shows that just missed the cut here include the superpowered Heroes, the medical drama Gray's Anatomy, the serial killer drama Dexter, the increasingly frustrating Lost, and Doctor Who, a staple of sci-fi.

Top 10
Position Show Total Points
1 Battlestar Galactica 53
2 The Office 50
3 Friday Night Lights 43
4 My Name is Earl 38
5 Entourage 37
6 Veronica Mars 36
7 Scrubs 34
8 The Wire 33
9 Deadwood 30
10 Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip 27



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