Saturday, March 13, 2010

CT, Playing Catch Up


As you may have noticed I have been completely MIA for the past couple of months. Got caught up in school, got bogged down with my new editorial position on the Campus Times, and completely neglected to update the blog when I had new articles...or even at all. My stress levels reached an absurd all-time-high.

But I am back and here's how it's gonna go. I am posting each of the articles from this year so far. Unfortunately College Publisher was down and messed up our archives so for the first few articles I am just going to post them directly here and then back to normal.

In our first issue of the semester we did a Best of the Decade special in honor of the start of 2010. After the jump are my thoughts on the best television of the decade.

One decade ago I was 10 years old. If you had asked me what my favorite television show was, I would have probably told you “Full House” or “Boy Meets World” or even “Seventh Heaven.” I was too young to understand the brilliance of shows like “The Wire” or “The Sopranos.”

Now this does not excuse me from the fact that I have yet to catch up on those brilliant series, but it does give me an excuse to say that my top shows of the decade are quite different from others. So without further ado, here is the best television of the decade according to an idiot box addict:

“Veronica Mars” (2004-07): If you recognize the name “Veronica Mars,” then you are one of the lucky few who watched one of the gems of TV this decade. I was hooked by the time the credits ran in the pilot episode. The search for Lily Kane’s murderer kept me on the edge of my seat through the final episode of season one. Rob Thomas’ characters ranged from the “obligatory psychotic jackass” who won the hearts of every true fan in Logan Echolls to the edgy, street-smart, self-important yet vulnerable outcast of Neptune High in Veronica Mars. “Veronica Mars” was not a perfect show. After an astounding first season, the networks (UPN and then the CW) forced the show to leave its serial story lines on the sidelines to accommodate more viewers. The mysteries of the next two seasons weren’t quite up to par with Thomas’ season one accomplishment. By that point, the audience was so in love with the characters that it didn’t matter much. The mysteries and scandals surrounding Neptune provided my first true TV obsession, and definitely not my last.

“The Office (U.S.)” (2005-present): The names Michael Scott and Dwight Schrute have become synonymous with hilarity over the past five years. Jim Halpert and Pam Beasley have become the definition of soul mates. The cast and crew of the American version of “The Office” have reinvented the art of cringe-inducing comedy. Based on the Ricky Gervais masterpiece from the BBC in 2003, Steve Carell managed to take the already striking character, David Brent, and make it his own.

Through its brilliant mockumentary style, “The Office” has explored one of the most boring settings and turned it into a creative goldmine. The writers not only achieved unparalleled success in the re-creation of a show, but they also jumped one of the biggest hurdles that lies in the path of nearly every romantic television plot on the air: unresolved sexual tension. Jim and Pam got together and guess what? The world didn’t implode. Now, in the show’s sixth season, the lines between comfortable and awkward are still being pushed in all the right ways.

“Gilmore Girls” (2000-07): In a perfect world Amy Sherman-Pallandino would have written the final season of “Gilmore Girls.” We would have gotten that perfect ending to a well-rounded and creative series. But it’s not a perfect world, and Sherman-Palladino acted like a selfish mother who didn’t want to take her daughter out of the spotlight. Hence the unsatisfying seventh season of an otherwise fantastic show.

Despite Sherman-Palladino’s injustice to the final season, she created one of the most well-known mother-daughter relationships on television. Throughout the first six seasons, Lorelei and Rory Gilmore won audiences with their fast paced banter and wit that included pop culture references up the wazoo. Grumpy diner owner Luke and overbearing upper-class grandparents Emily and Richard Gilmore gave the show the ability to hit home with a large audience. The complications that fraught the Gilmore’s lives, whether they were step-dads, boyfriends, domineering parents or popular kids at school, led to the soul of the show; a mother and daughter who could really be called best friends.

“Buffy The Vampire Slayer” (1997-2003): Joss Whedon is notorious for creating shows with names that don’t reflect the quality of the series itself. “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” is a classic example. Many people argue that the best of Whedon’s genius creation lies within the first three seasons and therefore in the ‘90s. However, viewers have agreed that several of the best hours of television can be found in episodes from this decade including two of the most celebrated, “Hush” and “Once More with Feeling.” While it’s hard to say that two episodes can give an entire show a place on my best of the decade list, I will go ahead and do it anyway because Buffy is awesome. If you deny it, it is probably because you haven’t seen it.

Behind the fa├žade of a fantasy world story is a very relatable metaphor for the atrocities and monsters that everyone knows exist in the scary teenage world. Buffy’s battles as a teenager at Sunnydale High School literally come to life when she confronts the evils of the Hellmouth beneath the high school library along with Willow, Xander, Giles and Angel. As tears streamed down my face during the series finale, I realized I had never felt as satisfied by a complete series as I felt at that moment.

“Lost” (2004-10): No show has attracted quite the fan base and extremist behavior that “Lost” has had throughout its five seasons on the air. From the start, J.J. Abrams had created a hit. What started as a popular show grew into a culture, and what began as a drama grew into one of the most thrilling mythology-filled serial shows that has existed on television. When “Lost” hit the wall in season three, show runners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse took an unprecedented step with ABC and created an end date to the series. They recognized that without a set timeline, the show would spiral out of control.

With this achievement, the creators gave us “Through the Looking Glass,” the season three finale, and everything changed in an instant. All of a sudden stories moved at the speed of light. Characters once again had drive and motivation. Somewhere between the flashbacks, flash forwards, and time jumps, “Lost” had been found. As the final season of the epic journey looms closer, it is hard to ignore the influence of “Lost.” With the combined power of a cultish Internet following and the creative dominance of the writers, “Lost” will be remembered as a show that shaped the decade.

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