The industry tabloid TelevisionWeek has just released its latest Winter Critics Poll results, with AMC's Mad Men topping the list of favorite shows. The Emmy winner for Best Drama was the first basic cable show to score the top spot with critics. Get the rest of the best here.
True Blood was named the Best New Show among critics. The Mentalist, Life on Mars, Sons of Anarchy and Fringe rounds out that list.
The horrific (and promptly canceled) hotel sitcom Do Not Disturb was singled out as the worst new show on TV. "I want to believe [Fox programming chief] Kevin Reilly had nothing to do with this," groused Florida Sun-Sentinel critic Tom Jicha. Knight Rider, Kath & Kim, Crusoe and My Own Worst Enemy led (aside from the top spot) an all NBC sweep of bad TV. Read the gory details here.
I was one of 45 critics across North America participating in the poll. I saw things a little differently this fall and winter. My choice for best drama and comedy on TV was Late Show with David Letterman, especially Letterman's revenge on Sen. John McCain. When McCain panicked and ditched Letterman, he woke up the slumming talk show host, turning him into a man on a mission. The relentless, water torture attacks on George Bush during those nightly "Great Moments in Presidential Speeches" was nothing compared to Letterman's dismissive deconstruction of Sarah Palin. The hardest hitting questions, the most insightful political dialogue, the brightest exchange of candor occurred between a parade of impressive guests during Letterman's run up to the election. Letterman broke free of his hero Johnny Carson's strict code of neutrality, wearing his partisanship and his fury on his sleeve. Replacing McCain with Keith Olbermann that memorable no-show was the greatest F-U in late night.
The rest of my Top-10:
1. Late Show with David Letterman
2. Robot Chicken
5. True Blood
6. Saturday Night Live
7. Mad Men
8. Little Britain
10. 30 Rock
Do Not Disturb also topped my Worst Show list:
1. Do Not Disturb
3. Hole in the Wall
4. The Life and Times of Tim
5. Rosie O'Donnell's Variety Train Wreck
And here's how I answered the other questions in the TV Week survey:
What was the best programming trend in the fall? Worst?
Best: Fewer commercials on Fringe, a bold step in the right direction away from what is killing broadcast television--interruptions that no longer are tolerated by a new panning, scanning generation.
Worst: The dead on arrival, out of gas fall, gutted by the writers strike and TV's new scaled down economy.
If you could offer one New Year's Resolution for the television business, what would it be?
Forget cheerleaders--create a show that saves TV critics!
Aside from candidates, who was the star of the Election 2008 cycle? Why?
Tina Fey, of course, for nailin' Palin.
Aside from candidates, which personality from Election ’08 programming do you hope to never hear from again? Why?
The guy who came up with that creepy Star Wars-like hologram deal on CNN's election coverage.
Rate the effectiveness of this year’s broadcast networks launch strategies. Who had the most effective launch? Why? Who had the least effective launch? Why?
Hammered by the writers strike and a cratering economy, they were all doomed.
Which show launch failed the most at living up to its hype?
90210. OMG! It's so boring!
If you could put a show on different network, what would you move and why?
30 Rock to HBO. It would be twice as funny if Alex Baldwin's character could slap, swear at and abuse people like a HBO executive.
If you could issue an immediate execution notice to one show, what would it be and why?
Oprah. What the hell is with that derivative, boring "Friday Live" deal? Stick to selling books and giving away cars!
If you had to remake/import a show for U.S. audiences, what would it be and why? Trailer Park Boys. With the economy in the dumper, these bizarre, beyond blue collar delinquents would kill.