I'd be 'Lost' without 'Mad Men' . . . my favorite TV shows of 2009

jonhamm_johnslattery_madmen2_240.jpgI decided a long time ago that being a TV critic just means that I get to share my opinion with all of you. But it certainly doesn't mean my opinion is right or wrong. As we learn every week, a show I love, you may loathe. And vice versa. Sometimes you love a show I only like or I love a show you think it just okay. For instance, I do find "The Big Bang Theory" entertaining. But is it among my top 10 shows of 2009? No.

So let me be clear, this is my list of my favorite shows of 2009 - I based my list on the shows that I must watch every week, miss the most when they're gone and find have had the most consistent quality over the last year (which means I had to bid a fond farewell to "The Office" and "How I Met Your Mother" this year). I also only picked shows that were still on the air.

Here are my 10 favorite TV shows of 2009:

    1. "Mad Men" (AMC): Based on the absolutely stellar third season finale alone, this show deserves to be on the list. This season, the show gave fans what they had been waiting for (Joan confronts her husband, Betty learns the truth about Don), while simultaneously providing a jaw-dropping cliff-hanger (what will happen now that Sterling Cooper, as we know it, is no more). All that plus the series creatively address some of the decade's defining moments by showing how they lead each character to his or her own epiphany. "Mad Men" is pure, perfect, and yes rather smoky, bliss.

    2. "Friday Night Lights" (NBC): I've said this before but it's worth repeating, I honestly feel sorry for people who don't watch this show because they are missing out on one of the most nuanced, deftly acted, beautifully told TV series ever produced Last season, the show raised its game as it exquisitely let both Smash Williams and Jason Street go. I love this show so much that I've decided not to watch the online episodes of the fourth season DirectTV has made available to critics and watch them when they air on NBC next spring. A show this good, deserves the big screen.

    3. "Lost" (ABC): I can't even begin to tell you how stressed I am about the show ending. Because you know what? I don't think there will ever be another show like "Lost." It was groundbreaking and constantly reinvented itself. And last season proved, I'm willing to go along for whatever ride the show wants to take me on.

    4. "30 Rock" (NBC): I still often think the parts of "30 Rock" are better than its whole. But boy are those parts funny. A throwaway line you might miss on "30 Rock" is still more funny than almost every comedy on TV.

    5. "Damages" (FX): Oh what a tangled web "Damages" weaves and oh how I love trying to figure out what in the heck is going on.

    6. The ABC Wednesday Night Comedies - "The Middle," "Modern Family," and "Cougar Town:" Why the face? Sure adding all three comedies to my list technically gives me more than 10 favorite shows for 2009, but I decided I couldn't chose between them. "The Middle" gets better every week and defies convention by actually having the children be even more funny than the adults on the show (every week I have a new favorite kid. This week my pick was Axel.) "Modern Family" has moments that still have me laughing weeks later and I'm kind of ready to declare "Cougar Town" the new "Sex and the City."

    7. "24" (FOX): After a disastrous sixth season, Jack was back to his fine form in season 7. Plus we got a great President in Cherry Jones and a great partner for Jack in Annie Wersching. I can't wait until the clock starts ticking again in January.

    8. "The Closer" (TNT): Quite simply, the best procedural drama on television.

    9. "Glee:" Is the show uneven? Yes. Did it have some questionable plot lines? Absolutely. Is there anything else like it on television? Not even close. I keep coming back for the fabulous musical numbers and I have to recognize the show for not being afraid to take lots and lots of chances. The fall finale was only two days ago and I already miss it.

    10. "Greek:" It might seem easy to create a show as fun and frothy as "Greek" but it isn't. Never too serious but never too superficial, "Greek" actually makes me wish I could enroll in Cyprus Rhodes University. Watching the show makes me happy.

Those are my favorite TV shows for 2009. What are yours? Talk about it below.

My Favorites of 2009 Schedule

Today we talked about my favorite TV shows of 2009. Here's the schedule for the rest of my end of the year round-up:

December 14 - My favorite TV characters of 2009

December 18 - My picks for the Best of Everything Television

December 21- My picks for the Best TV Moments of the Year

December 28 - My picks for the Quotes of the Year

Do you have a favorite TV moment of 2009 or a favorite quote? Write me at amytvgal@zap2it.com and let me know about it.

Where Have I Seen Them Before?

Alona Tal was Trudy's long-lost daughter Molly on the series finale of "Monk." She was Jo on "Supernatural," Rebecca King on "Cane," and Meg on "Veronica Mars."

Deej, Erynn and Dennis recognized Anna Camp as one of the judges for sectionals on "Glee." Camp was Sarah Newlin last season on "True Blood" and we saw her as Pam's sister Penny on the wedding episode of "The Office."

Caroline Aaron was one half of the bickering airplane couple on "Desperate Housewives." We've seen her on many TV shows - I remember her as the patient who was going to lose her ability to speak on "Grey's Anatomy" and the matchmaker who tried to set up Robert on "Brothers & Sisters." I also remember her as Gwyneth Paltrow's best friend in the movie "Bounce." Dennis recognized Dan Castellaneta was her husband. In addition to being the voice of Homer Simpson, we've recently seen Castellaneta as Rusty's professor Dr. Hastings on "Greek" and as a police officer in the episode of "Bones" that had Bones and Booth investigating the death of a dwarf.

Rebecca recognized Wendy Phillips as the mother of the bomber on "Bones." Like me, Rebecca remembers Phillips as Anne on "Homefront." She's also Peg Embry on "Big Love."

James Frain was an executive with the National Linear Accelerator Project on "FlashForward." We just saw Frain in an episode of "Grey's Anatomy" as the schizophrenic son of a woman who was in a car accident. He's also Thomas Cromwell on "The Tudors" and played Audrey's husband Paul on "24." And as I said a few months ago, I always think of him as Forney in the movie "Where the Heart Is."

Josh Cooke was the detective who hit on Brenda even though he knew she was married on "The Closer." Cooke was Danny on "Big Day" (remember the ABC comedy that took place on the day of a couple's wedding) and Ben on "Four Kings." We also saw him as Van Stonewater in the two-part series finale that wasn't of "Scrubs."

Katie recognized Joanna Garcia as Maggie, the perfect woman Ted had known since college on "How I Met Your Mother." Garcia was, of course, Megan last season on "Privileged." We saw her this season as Bree Buckley on "Gossip Girl." She was also Hope on the short-lived CBS comedy "Welcome to the Captain" and Cheyenne on "Reba." Diane caught Jamie Kaler as Maggie's co-worker. Kaler is Mike on "My Boys."

Diane, Jeanine and Judy recognized the explosion of familiar faces on "Castle." Marc Blucas was Jeremy Preswick, the man who had amnesia. Blucas was Buffy's boyfriend Riley on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." We recently saw him as Jack Rader, a rival of Dr. Lightman on "Lie to Me." Anne Dudek was his ex-wife. Dudek was Amber on "House" and his Betty's friend Francine on "Mad Men." She's also Laura on "Big Love." Carlo Rota was the man with diplomatic immunity. He's Chloe's husband Morris on "24." Rider Strong was the dead gallery owner's bitter ex-assistant. Strong was Shawn on "Boy Meets World" and Chick in the short-lived WB series "Pepper Dennis."

Quotes of the Week

"No one could get laid wearing these . . . challenge accepted." Barney after looking at the overalls Marshall wore in high school on "How I Met Your Mother."

"I accidently pushed Navid down the stairs and you accidentally ran over my uncle." Jasper to Annie on "90210." Well I'm glad that secret is finally out.

"Bring it on William. I am reasonably confident that you will be adding revenge to the long list of things you're no good at right next to being married, running a high school glee club and finding a hairstlye that doesn't' make you look like a lesbian." Sue to Mr. Schuster on "Glee."

"Well I do have something I've been working on since I was four." Rachel when the gang tells her they need her to sing the ballad on "Glee."

"Who is this? Your sister?" Booth to Brennan when he meets her cousin Maggie (played by Emily Deschanel's real life sister Zooey) on "Bones." Thanks to Barry for the quote.

"You must write an etiquette book for adulterers." Orson to Bree on "Desperate Housewives." Thanks to Ritchie for the quote.

"It's only been 20 minutes but I've learned so much about the 'Real World/ Road Rules Challenge.' Let's hope his application gets accepted this year." Jules to Laurie about her date on "Cougar Town." Thanks to Jeff for the quote.

"It's a good thing he reads Russian literature. If he was a Nicholas Sparks fan he'd be dead." Detective Ryan commenting on the thick book in the man's coat ("War & Peace") stopping a bullet on "Castle." Thanks to Ryan for the quote.

"Anything that starts with the word 'weee' is just a fun suggestion. Like the constitution and 'weee the people'" Veronica to Ted on "Better Off Ted." Thanks to Don for the quote.

That's all for today. I'm back on Monday with my favorite TV characters of 2009. Have a question? Seen a familiar face? Want to nominate a quote of the week or topic for discussion? Do you have a favorite TV quote or TV moment of 2009? Write me at amytvgal@zap2it.com or Twitter. Have a great weekend. Talk to you on Monday.

Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal

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