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The 2010 MLB All-Star Game [Wednesday Morning Quarterback]
Jul 13th, 2010 by Dan

It’s All-Star game time again! This year the game is being played in sunny Southern California, down in Anaheim. Thanks to the peculiarities of baseball scheduling and the east coast focus of television, the game is actually being started in daylight hours, 1700 PST.

The liveblogging experience of the year is about to begin yet again! Expect updates throughout the evening and night.

Time: 1944

My cable woes are keeping me from watching the MLB Network this year (I hate you Comcast!), so instead I’m watching ESPN’s coverage, which has been somewhat interrupted with news about George Steinbrenner’s death by massive heart attack. It’s an odd thing to not have him around the Yankees anymore, even if he hasn’t really running things for two or three years. Despite my dislike for the Yankees, he will be missed as a figure in baseball.

2000

It begins! Looks like it’s displacing Hell’s Kitchen tonight. So far we’re starting with a super lame comparison of stars (like in space) to baseball players. “Daddy, what are stars made of?” I think the observatory in this intro comes from Anaheim, but it’s still pretty corny.

Also: the All-Star game is not “in the City of Angels”, it’s in Anaheim. Saw Longoria. I’m already happy. Starting for the teams, Ubaldo Jimenez and David Price.

Way to go broadcaster, you said David Wright instead of David Price for the starting pitcher. I’m only taking it personally because I’m a Rays fan.

I might have to take a break soon, my roommate is cooking dinner and I’ll have to catch up on the game using my newly acquired DVR.

2008

Reserves Lineups!

WHOOPS! My DVR only buffers a half hour. I missed the reserve lineups. You’ll have to see them as the game goes on.

Now it’s time to try to play catch up.

Starting Lineups

National League

Manager: Charlie Manuel

SS – Hanley Ramirez
2B – Martin Prado
1B – Albert Pujols
DH – Ryan Howard
3B – David Wright
LF – Ryan Braun
CF – Andre Ethier
RF – Corey Hart
C – Yadier Molina
P – Ubaldo Jimenez

American League

Manager: Joe Girardi

RF – Ichiro Suzuki
SS – Derek Jeter
1B – Miguel Cabrera
CF – Josh Hamilton
DH – Vladimir Guerrero (big applause for the former hometown hero)
3B – Evan Longoria (I love this kid!)
C – Joe Mauer
2B – Robinson Cano
LF – Carl Crawford (Go Rays!)
P – David Price

Skipped the Star-Spangled Banner…sorry. Skipped the thing to honor real American heroes. Kind of bummed, because I saw Charlize Theron and she’s hot.

Amber Riley from Glee singing “Beautiful”. She’s got a great voice, but she supports the American League. Uncool. In fact, of her backup singers, only two is a National League supporter. What gives! I guess it is an AL city. Gonna skip the rest of this song.

Commercials…fast forwarding…

Honoring Steinbrenner, Amber takes on the National Anthem. Guess I didn’t skip it after all.

I love the Pepsi Refresh baseball commercial.

The commercial for NFL coming back…in bad taste on the All-Star game day.

Opening pitch by Rod Carew. He doesn’t start on the mound, but he sidearms all the way to the plate without bouncing.

2042

One announcer predicting AL victory, but the other guy is guessing NL thanks to the amazing NL pitching. Now a neat little feature about how the NL hasn’t won since 1996. GO NL!

2049
Top 1
We’re live just in time for the first pitch to Hanley! Strike one!

David Price has the advantage of lighting in the ballpark as the sun falls. Offenses will probably start late in this game. Hanley falls behind 1-2…Price is hitting 99 mph. A tiny chopper straight to Cabrera at first and the first out has been recorded.

Martín Prado comes to try and face Price who hammers one in at 98. Wicked curvey thing gets him behind 0-2. I mean, come on, NL! Don’t let them dominate. Prado hits one to Cano who almost boots it, but Prado is thrown out 4-3.

Pujols, greatest ballplayer in the game, steps up to the place and actually gets himself a ball. This marks the first time Price starts an at-bat with a ball. Maybe he’s scared of Pujols? I don’t blame him. Price makes a mistake and Pujols almost rocks one deep into right, but Ichiro robs him of one with a running catch.

2056

Bot 1

I’m missing Frutista Freeze commercials. I’m thinking I won’t see any at all and that’s a bummer, they were pretty good. Instead we get the lamer normal Taco Bell commercials.

Ichiro pops one up on the second pitch. Hanley ropes it in for the first out.

Bob Sheppard’s recorded voice introduces Derek Jeter. Famous voice and we’re all sad to have lost him. Jetes will get that intro for the rest of the season. Both Jimenez and Price are pretty lanky compared to a lot of pitchers. Craziness. Ubaldo falls behind on Derek with three straight balls, the third of which rides WAY in on him. Scary with this glare. Ubaldo manages to walk Jeter. This is frustrating already, haha. Pitching is supposed to be the NL forte.

Miguel Cabrera comes in and Ubaldo goes right after him. I’m loving how FOX is putting everyone’s infographic in team colors. Cabrera puts a little blooper into RF and it’s now first and third.

Things are already looking bad when Josh Hamilton steps up. A mean breaking ball starts the count off right and a 98 mph fastball keeps him up 0-2. Third pitch goes right back up the middle to Jimenez who turns a beautiful 1-6-3 with Hanley and Pujols. Phew…

Score: 0-0

2105

Top 2nd

Ryan Howard comes in for the top of the second. All the batters are saying it’s near impossible to see in the batters box right now. This is bad, since the best offenses will be in early in the game. Howard falls behind early, but he battles back to 2-2. Unfortunately, he whiffs on a high fastball outside. He’s way underneath it.

David Wright comes out in one of the new helmets. It makes him look less ridiculous, but his head is still too small for this. Wright gets on thanks to a hard hit ball to Cano who boots it again. Will they rule it an error?

Ryan Braun now in to try and push David around the bases. broken bat grounder to Longo who makes a beautiful 5-4-3 double play. David Price almost ate a bat there.

Bot 2nd

Vladimir Guerrero takes the plate for the AL against Jimenez. He’s still going 98, but, then again, why save anything for the tank? The next NL pitcher will be in in an inning or two. In typical Vlad-fashion, he chases a pitch down in the dirt and strikes out.

Longo comes up! Almost eats a baseball or two. Longoria cracks a monster double on a mistake pitch by Jimenez. I mean, you don’t pitch Longoria fast and inside.

Mauer pops up to center. Whoops

Cano steps up. He almost spins around on the second pitch. Tiny grounder to Martín Prado, 4-3, inning half over. Black screen? I hope I didn’t lose cable in this thunderstorm.

Top 3rd

TV comes back when I futz with the DVR a bit, thankfully. Andy Pettitte now on the mound. Ethier at bat. He’s playing CF for the first time in his career, but he’s doing pretty well. That is, until he just struck out on a cut fastball low and outside.

Corey Hart’s insane season puts him in this game and he’s ready to hit (I hope). Update on the Cano fielding, no errors recorded. Hart falls behind, 1-2, and he swings and misses at another low cutter.

Yadier Molina grounds one right up the middle right after the announcer says he’s having a tough time at the plate.

Man on first for Hanley, but he grounds to his counterpart, Jeter, who puts Molina out at second.

Bot 3rd

Josh Johnson is now on the mound for the NL against Carl Crawford. Unlucky for JJ, since Crawford and Longo are probably the people on the AL squad who have seen him the most.

His strong pitching and a lucky reflex by Wright get Crawford on a liner to third.

The lineup rolls around to Ichiro. JJ is continuing the fast pitching with 97 fastballs all over. Ichiro is looking good, but he falls behind in the count 1-2 before he whiffs on an outside fastball at 98 mph.

JJ now faces Jeter and the trend of backing him off with high fastballs continues. Yadier is like a gymnast behind the plate with the way he sits and bends. Jeter breaks his bat fouling off a JJ pitch. Full count to the Yankee slugger who’s probably also seen JJ once. A beautiful breaking ball takes Jeter out for strike three. He just looks at it and knows he should have swung. The NL gets out of the 3rd safe.

Score: 0-0

Top 4th

Torii Hunter comes into CF and Ichiro comes out. Prado grounds to Jeter, 6-3. Cliff Lee is on the mound too, btw. One inning for Pettitte? Really?

Pujols at the plate. He uncharacteristically takes three strikes from Lee, but at least he goes down swinging. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Pujols do ridiculous stuff in any All-Star games.

Howard broken bat grounder to Cano. Inning over.

Bot 4th

I’m really not liking any of these freecreditscore.com commercials. They’re not great songs.

JJ stays on the mound against Cabrera. Adrian Gonzalez takes over at first. Weak hit to Wright and Cabrera is out.

Josh Hamilton comes back up to face the Marlins fireballer. There’s ridiculous echo on the pitches. Like a booming echo every time it hits the catcher’s mitt. What’s up with that? Ryan Braun makes a fantastic catch to ob Hamilton of a hit, but his wrist bends like crazy. I can’t believe he came out of that ok. JJ is grateful.

Vlad, naturally, swings at a fastball way high and inside, but somehow lays off a more reasonable outside pitch. Vlad lines out to Gonzalez at first and we’re in the 5th.

Top 5th

Justin Verlander on the mound for the AL. David Wright nabs a single on the first pitch. First lead-off batter to get on in the game.

Braun steps up to face the Tigers hurler. Ryan needs to not hit into a double play tonight. David Wright goes to steal, Mauer throws it FAR away, but David doesn’t notice and he stays on 2nd. Missed opportunity. There was a funny moment before where they showed Howard joking that Braun’s catch was just for tv and he could have made it. Verlander hits 99 and Braun fouls. The AL has another pitcher loose in the bullpen. I like the way Manuel is managing instead. Gotta save some! The at-bat continues…Ryan Braun misses the opportunity to get stuff moving swinging over an inside fastball.

Andre Ethier comes up to try and make up for his strikeout last at-bat. It’s been 30 years since the last Dodgers player was voted in to play. Insane. He ropes one into right for a single and we’re first and third. Wright intelligently is held up, which is safe.

Now we’ve got Corey Hart, who I think is lucky to be in this game. Sorry Corey. If he can make an RBI happen…Unfortunately it seems that Verlander’s got his number as he falls behind 0-2. He gets struck out on an appeal, but it was close. Just a little too far.

Yadier is out for Brian McCann, a more offensive catcher. Let’s hope he doesn’t squander the NL’s best chance for the night. It’s funny to see the camera men perched on the rocks in the Angels batters eye/waterfall. His first strike almost kills Hanley Ramirez as his bat flies out of his hands. McCann is battling, but Verlander seems to have the upper hands as the count shifts to 3-2. The ball goes way far out back in RF, but it stops at the track, one out too late for the sac fly.

0-0!

Bot 5th

Scott Rolen takes over at third while Matt Holliday and Marlon Byrd move in. Hong-Chih Kuo steps in to pitch for the NL. The lefty specialist gets to face many after Longo. Kuo hasn’t allowed a hit to a leftie all season and he’ll get three after Longo. The Dodgers hurler fills up the count pitching around the hot Longoria, but he walks him on a breaker that goes way inside.

Time for Kuo’s lefty powers to take form as Joe Mauer steps in. Just learned that Kuo is the first Taiwanese all-star. Mauer takes two strikes, but the commentators are saying Kuo’s specialties, hard and outside, are actually Mauer’s specialties too. I’m a little worried. A slow chopper to Kuo which should be a routine out at first, but Kuo throws it far over Adrian Gonzalez’s head, earning him an error and runners on 2nd and 3rd.

Cano, a dangerous hitter, steps up to challenge Kuo. Goddammit…this situation is awful. Long fly ball into LF, which means sac fly. Longoria scores and the AL pulls ahead. One out.

Crawford steps up to bat. Another lefty for Kuo to handle. A hard hit goes to Hanley who makes a heads-up play and throws Mauer out at third. It was really aggressive baserunning by Mauer and an intelligent move for Hanley. Kuo’s done for the night, Heath Bell moves in.

Torii Hunter is at bat for the AL. First Angels player at the plate. McCann drops a pitch getting up too early to get Crawford before he stole 2nd and he’s now at 2B. Hunter smacks one to the RF corner, ending the inning with Andre Ethier’s catch.

Top 6th

Hanley Ramirez is still in the game, facing Jon Lester and Jon Buck. Ian Kinsler is at 2B and Vernon Wells is in LF. Small chopper doesn’t get Hanley a base, Lester fields it with difficulty and manages to underhand to first.

Martín Prado shows bunt, but doesn’t connect and the at-bat moves to 3-1. He nearly makes a dramatic hit for a homer, but he’s way, way early. Count goes full, but Prado stays alive. It’s a pop up to Jeter for the second out.

The NL’s next batter, Adrian Gonzalez, steps up against Lester. I’m hoping for good things. The count goes full. Can he do something big? Small grounder to second and Ian Kinsler throws him out.

Inception sneak peak coming up. I kind of don’t want to see it, I mean, I want to see this movie and not have it be spoiled.

Bot 6th

Looks like Longo is all the offense so far. Halladay is the pitcher for the NL, but Jeter barely gets a hit past Marlon Byrd. He’s pinch run for with Elvis Andrus.

Brandon Phillips at second, Rafael Furcal at short. Paul Konerko at bat. A foul ball pushes Andrus back to first on an attempted steal. Halladay is going pretty strong against Konerko, but he’s having problems punching him out. Andrus runs, Konerko misses and strikes out, McCann almost loses the ball and Brandon Phillips tags Andrus out after he passes the bag.

Now it’s time for Josh Hamilton, thankfully with two outs. Roy likes to stay ahead of his hitters as he gets both to 1-2 relatively quickly before trying to get them on the outside stuff. He can’t get Hamilton to take the bait when he offers and the count fills up. He belts one past Gonzalez and lands on first.

David Ortiz, Big Papi, makes his way to the plate. Halladay is out. Hamilton gets pinch run for too, but I miss who it is. Jose Bautista is the runner and Matt Capps of the Nats steps up to take on Ortiz. His fastball down the pipe gets Ortiz looking to end the inning.

Top 7th

Joey Votto at DH with Phil Hughes pitching. Grounds out to second.

This interview with Jeter is making it hard for me to WATCH THE GAME! Scott Rolen is now at 2-1 when we decide to watch him hit. He manages a base hit to center.

Matt Holliday takes over batting duties next. Another ball down the middle and Scott Rolen takes advantage of the opportunity to run to third. He’s very lucky the throw was off-line. First and third, nice.

Matt Thornton is called in to pitch to pinch hitter Chris Young. He’s got a big chance here, but Thornton is a strikeout pitcher. He hits a pop up right to first. Dammit.

Marlon Byrd’s got a chance to make something happen now. The NL really needs this. Thankfully, Thornton loads the count up for Byrd. It’s been a beautiful at-bat, considering it started out 0-2. Another ball loads up the bases.

This puts Brian McCann at the plate with the chance to pull ahead with a strong hit. He thankfully fouls it just out of play on the first pitch. Patience, grasshopper. Make sure it’s a good pitch! Ripped into the RF corner and THREE RUNS SCORE! The announcers are calling it the “biggest NL hit in 13 years”.

Thornton is out of the game with the score 3-1. Now pitching for the AL, Andrew Bailey. Rafael Furcal up to bat for the NL. Wiggington is in the game now? When did that happen. Walk.

First and second and we’ve got Brandon Phillips up to bat, but he swings at a dirty, dirty breaking ball that lands in the dirt.

Score: 3-1

Bot 7th

Who’s Colbie Callat? She’s singing “God Bless America” and she’s a country singer. Stereotypical Southern California blonde beauty. Damn, I love a girl in a jersey and I’m digging this simple acoustic version. Nice cowboy boots too.

Nick Swisher at bat. Adam Wainwright pitching. He totally burns Swisher with a beautiful curve. Brutal.

John Buck steps up to bat now. He hits a bullet to LF, but Holliday lets the pitch bounce right out of his glove. Is it just me or does Matt Holliday make a lot of errors in important places? Buck is on second with one out.

Now Wainwright’s got to face Kinsler as the tying run. Vernon Wells is on deck. This is a bad situation. I wonder how many of these players McCann has strategies for facing. He walks Kinsler, setting it up for a strong power hitter.

Seems that Price hit 100 mph while Verlander and JJ both hit 99. Vernon Wells has been bouncing back this year with strong numbers, but he grounds to SS who makes an awful toss to Phillips at 2B. No double play.

Now it’s Torii Hunter who had a good hit to right last time up. Can Wainwright stay safe in this game? I love a good curveball. I got to see Torii Hunter’s knees buckle on a great Wainwright curve. What does Adam do? Pitch a brilliant ball to the outside to strike out Hunter. End of 7th.

Top 8th

How many new Firestone tire commercials are there? I hate these “Legendary Drivers” commercials. The song is stupid.

Now would be a fantastic time for the NL to add on some insurance runs. Rafael Soriano comes in for the AL and he induces a fly out to LF.

Joey Votto back up to bat. Hits it deep to center, but not deep enough. Two out.

Rolen is up now! Flies out to LF.

Bot 8th

Michael Bourn takes LF. Brian Wilson is up to keep the NL in contention. Elvis Andrus is trying to catch up for the AL, but he grounds out softly to second.

The AL puts Paul Konerko up to bat. He grounds to the third basemen who GUNS it for no reason.

And now it’s Bautista! Pops up to first.

Top 9th!

NL is still up. Can they win this thing? Hopefully they put an insurance run on the board just in case.

Jose Valverde is the AL pitcher for the 9th. Michael Bourn up to bat, but he strikes out.

The NL has Chris Young to pin their hopes on now. Can they get an extra run in? Chris Young chases too and it’s two outs for Valverde.

Marlon Byrd! Valverde’s stuff is pretty dirty. Byrd makes it to 3-2, but he strikes out.

Bot 9thPRESSURE!

Jonathan Broxton in to close the game for the NL. Can he do it? Big Papi gets a single.

Now Adrian Beltre comes up to bat. Whoa, strong 99 mph fastball up and in, but Beltre chases for strike three. Ugly pitch to swing, but at that speed, you’re almost just guessing.

Catcher John Buck can’t be pinch hit for, so he’s up. Can Broxton induce a double play? Don’t walk Buck, A-Rod will come up! 3-0 at this point…3-1, swinging strike. Lucky, lucky. Second swinging strike almost right down the pipe. Full count, full drama. Pop fly to RF that Byrd has to run to. Ortiz can’t run just in case it drops, giving Byrd the chance to throw him out at second. Beautiful.

Just one more out. Ian Kinsler comes up to bat instead of Rodriguez. Fly to CF, Chris Young nabs it and the NL does what it hasn’t been able to do since 1996! FINALLY! Go NL! WOO!

Best TV Shows of the Decade [Idiot Box]
Dec 15th, 2009 by Dan

You’ll notice that this list is weighted heavily toward the end of the decade rather than the early part and that’s all because I didn’t watch much tv in high school (2000-2004). The list is also pretty small because I didn’t have access to most tv shows during my years at the university unless I went and bought box sets (2004-2008).

Firefly

It may have come out early in the decade, but I was way late to the party, since I first started watching Firefly during the summer of 2008. I’m not what you’d call a Whedonite. To this day I’ve never seen an episode of Buffy or Angel, but, between Firefly (and Serenity) and Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, I’ve come to see that he’s a damn good writer capable of creating interesting worlds filled with great characters. Firefly is definitely not the first space opera to hit the airwaves, but it’s definitely one of the few I’ve ever seen to focus on fringe members of society like Captain Reynolds instead of prestigious members of an organized army. The world of Firefly is not that different from ours, save for space, and it feels like an accurate representation of what space would be like in its exploratory infancy. If the wild west was possible on Earth, it seems more than likely that the space frontier would develop similarly. Firefly makes me happy because the crew is amazing. Each character (…minus Simon) is interesting, well acted, and hilarious at any given time. FOX did the world wrong by canceling this show and bringing back Family Guy

Arrested Development

Once in a while a great show comes along that revolutionizes the way you experience television for the rest of your life. Arrested Development is that show for me. I didn’t start watching until the third season (final) was set to start, but I fell in love with the show from the first zany episode. One of the leaders in the recent American movement to serialized television, Arrested Development is probably the first serialized comedy I’ve ever seen and that may have been its downfall. Rather than go with the typical American sitcom style of status quo ante episodes and unrelated plots, Arrested Development episodes depended and borrowed heavily from every episode that preceded it, a trait that blocked out potential future viewers who felt like they were continuously out of the loop with the jokes. Those of us who were in on the joke loved experiencing every minute of the Bluth Family’s fall from grace in this show that proves that smart comedy can be hilarious. Unfortunately, it also proved that smart comedy doesn’t sell. FOX canceled it during its third season, tragically ending the best show I’ve ever seen in my adult life.

Lost

4, 8, 15, 16, 23, and 42. Oceanic Flight 815. The DHARMA Initiative. The Others. Jacob. The Smoke Monster. If you know what any of these things are, you know something about the best drama of the decade. I initially avoided Lost because of all the hype. If that seems petty and stupid, that’s because it is. People hear a lot about the show and how it never seems to answer questions or come to any satisfying conclusion, but I think that’s the talk of people unused to these long, serial dramas and the pace at which they move. Of course, ABC wasn’t helping any with the pacing when they were refusing to give the creators a firm end date. Lucky for us, the staff held their ground and told ABC they wouldn’t continue the show without a firm end date. Since then, things have moved along briskly (if confusingly) as the cast tumbles toward the dramatic conclusion of the most puzzling show of the decade. Will we all be satisfied by the ending when it airs in 2010? Expectations are running high, but I’m trying to keep mine neutral to low so that I’m able to enjoy the ending they’ve got planned for us. So long as it doesn’t go out like The Sopranos, I’m game.

The Office (US)

Bringing hit shows to America from across the pond doesn’t guarantee success. The television environment in the UK is just too different for that. Many of the best shows are extremely limited in scope and know when they’ve run their course. The original run of The Office in England comprised 12 episodes over two seasons and one two-part Christmas special. Within two seasons The Office (US) surpassed the episode count of its parent and finally managed to come into its own identity. No longer borrowing from its roots, The Office has stumbled here or there and struggled with the Homer Simpson effect (as I like to call it), but overall blossomed into a fine show all its own with a much happier outlook that reflects American tastes more than anything. Beyond that, Steve Carell has emerged as one of the premier comedy actors in the business thanks to his ability to express very human pathos into his comedic roles. While I personally think that NBC shouldn’t push the show beyond next season, it’s certainly been a funny ride so far.

Extras

While we’re already talking about shows written/created by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, we may as well progress to the fantastic look at the life of a television/movie extra as told by Ricky Gervais. It’s unclear to me how much of the story is auto-biographical, but one can’t help but get a peek into the difficulties that Gervais must have faced trying to earn notoriety and bring The Office to television while also getting a glimpse into how different The Office could have been if Gervais and Merchant didn’t keep their standards up while chasing fame. Spoiler alert, but the first season deals with Gervais’ character, Andy Millman, and his struggle to both sell his idea for a show (a blue-collar workplace comedy with an obnoxious boss (ring any bells?)) and gain notoriety. Each episode features a cameo by a known (usually) British star in film or television as an exaggerated version of themselves and Andy eventually gains enough attention from the BBC to produce his show. Unfortunately, they turn it into a laugh track, lowest common denominator comedy to attract the highest audience possible and Andy continues to compromise his vision just to hold onto the scraps of fame that he has gained. It’s a sad story with a slightly uplifting ending that’s absolutely worth watching for no reason other than to see Orlando Bloom act like a self-centered jerk who hates Jonny Depp.

Weeds

This show has really gone and changed from year to year. What started as a satire on suburban misery has really ballooned into a far-reaching comedy tackling some seriously complex issues (maternity, masculinity vs. feminism, maturity, rape, murder, addiction, etc.) without ever getting too dark for too long. Just watching the opening shows how much the show has changed, since “Little Boxes” hasn’t played past season 3 when they, spoiler alert, burned down everything you knew and moved on. While some of the stereotyping jokes have gotten a little old (WE GET IT, SANJAY IS GAY! HAHAHA….MOVE ON), the show does still seem relevant and interesting in its fifth season and the most intriguing developments seem to come where you least expect it: from Nancy’s kids. Let’s hope that the show continues strong into 2010 with some fresh, interesting plotlines as Nancy delves deeper and deeper into a world she used to only scratch the surface of. It’d be nice to see Conrad again too…Extra bonus reason to watch: Mary-Louise Parker is seriously hot for an older lady.

30 Rock

I almost missed the boat on 30 Rock. iTunes gave me one free episode (the one where Jack things Liz is a lesbian) and I thought “Good, but not great” and didn’t watch through the rest of the first season. The critical buzz brought me back for season two and I fell in love with the show. Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin are comedic powerhouses in this, the second best comedy of the ’00s. In fact, 30 Rock and this most recent presidential election have both proved that Tina Fey was probably the only funny thing about SNL when she was still head writer while Mean Girls proved that she’s just plain good at writing. 30 Rock is brilliant in its subversive, but fair humor and takes the best parts of Tina Fey’s improv heritage and applies them to a sitcom that will have you guffawing every episode unless you lack a soul. It’s a must watch.

Dexter

I love shows that take place in Miami. More than that, I love shows that are unique in premise. Cop shows are a dime a dozen. Shows where the main character is the real villain are harder to come by. If you’ve been living under a rock, you don’t know that Dexter is about a cop who is also a serial killer. It’s not a unique plot in movies/literature/comic books, but it’s one of the few times I’ve seen it on tv and I love it. Dexter Morgan is a sociopath struggling with living with the urges that drive him to kill and staying out of the electric chair. The first season was based heavily on the book Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay, but subsequent seasons have had more creative freedom to mold Dexter beyond Lindsay’s strict characterization. I’m a little behind on seasons 3 and the current season, but I feel like the character is maturing rather nicely, if not a little unrealistically (he seems to exhibit more feeling than a sociopath should, but I’m no expert) and the show usually brings me back for more each season.

Pushing Daisies

Bryan Fuller had a great premise on his hands. Ned, the piemaker, could touch dead things back to life, but the renewed life had two rules: If he touched them a second time, they were dead forever and if he let them live longer than a minute, another life would be taken in its place. Abandoned by his father and harboring a power he does not really appreciate, Ned grows up to be a rather distant man who doesn’t let anyone get too close to him. He also teams up with a private detective, Emerson Cod, to solve murders once Emerson spots him using his powers. The status quo he develops (baking pies using rotten fruit that he brings back to life and solving murders for the reward money) comes crashing down when he revives a childhood sweetheart that was his one true love. While the show is often too sweet for its own good, the development of its themes of affection and intimacy (without touching, of course) are both interesting and well done. The storylines were clever and the show was funny, but it was ultimately too expensive to produce for the limited ratings it received and the show died before giving the viewers true resolution with all of its dangling plot threads. Worth watching because it is the most unique show of the decade.

Honorable Mention: Battlestar Galactica

There was so much promise here. The first two seasons of BSG were the best sci-fi I’d seen on television. How can you screw up the paranoia of the Cylon threat and the powerful storylines about a race driven to the brink of extinction? I’ll tell you how: haphazard decisions and haughty religious overtones. The Final Five were not decided upon when the show began. As I heard it, they shoehorned cylon origins onto characters who they never intended to make cylons and the see-sawing quality of the final episodes make that very apparent. When you combine that with one of the stupidest finales in the history of television (let’s just say it goes something like “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…”) you’ve gone and ruined what could have been the most significant show in recent science fiction history.

EDIT:

How did I forget The Wire?

The best police serial I have EVER seen. It deconstructs everything you know about television cop dramas by showing you both sides of the fence and the reality that good almost never triumphs over evil. David Simon must have really been affected by his days in Baltimore, because this love letter to the city tells the truth, giant warts and all, about how drugs have destroyed Baltimore and how the police are rendered powerless by bureaucracy to do much of anything about it. The show is a bit of a downer, but the acting is superb and the plotlines (save for one that I really hated in Season 5), will keep you interested through the five seasons. This show is a must watch.

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