The crop of shows that if missed will create a big black hole of emptiness in your life is short this year. Kidnapped looked promising with a great cast, including the intense Jeremy Sisto, but it went missing fast enough. Jericho’s previews were promising but it imploded on itself, offering us a much weaker land-locked LOST with a bunch of unknowns (with Skeet as the exception).
The Nine just isn’t punchy enough, for me anyway, to create a cult following. Shark has some bite, but serves as fun time-filler for rabid James Woods fans and not much more. Justice was a travesty and I hope the hammer falls on it soon enough; it’s much too aggressive and fast to be enjoyable. The character and story development is formulaic and boring. Some shows I didn’t even want to look at, such as Ugly Betty, but I hear it's fantastic. Despite the excellence of thy PVR, there’s just not enough time for everything.
So what’s left? Well only three shows stood out this year to be dubbed as great and two of them as masterpieces of TV goodness.
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, a very intelligent look behind the scenes of a fictitious SNL-type show at a fictitious TV station with a plethora of very well constructed characters with brilliant dialogue. After the first episode, I said to myself, that’s it, I don’t need to see any other premiere, this is it, and this is the treasure of 2006. Powerfully cast, the brilliant and complex story line of a show and its station in decline and the last ditch effort to save it make for eventful episodes. It is rather unfortunate that Sorkin’s magic is beyond most people’s palate, as it seems to be sinking. A merited 5 out of 5.
Heroes… holy crap, what can I say about this masterpiece of cult fantasy television? They seem to have stolen a few pages from Joss Whedon's storytelling mastery and a few more from JJ Abrams' high-concept epic production skills and they went to town. This is the absolute best super-hero TV show off all time and could kick some motion pictures’ asses around like a rag doll. No bubble gum, no clumsy wink-wink references. It’s dark, dirty, gritty, and fearsome. I was completely blown away by this show which I wanted so much to succeed but was ready to trash at the first sign of bubble-gum. All the classic super-powers are there, but everything has a twist to it. It’s masterfully constructed and bound to keep me hooked to the bitter end of the series. A heroic 5 out of 5.
But this year’s winner was unexpected. I had never heard of Dexter until I saw an ad for it on The Movie Network. The hook for me was Michael C. Hall from Six Feet Under — that was enough to pique my interest. But the premise sounded like a bummer at first, but I was wrong, so very wrong.
A forensic scientist by day, sociopathic serial killer by night — but here’s the twist — he only kills the guilty who have slipped through the cracks of the justice system in the most corrupt city of America, Miami. Everything about this show is slick, without relying on the cool factor too much at the same time. It’s smart, funny, and darkly eerie. Dexter goes through life faking it all, acting all nice and friendly, but if he only had a heart.
No one else but Hall could be more perfectly cast for this role. His narration, his presence, his brutality, contrasted with his sweetness and charm makes him scary. His ability to be the wolf in sheep’s clothing makes him irresistible to watch. If you haven’t caught Dexter yet, shame on you for missing this year’s absolute best new show. It’s addictive, it’s smart, it’s wicked, and it’s perfect. It’s 5 out of 5.