Now that we've reached the end of the calendar year, but not the end of the TV season, I'd like to salute those shows and characters who made the best contributions to the TV Universe.
They aren't necessarily recognized for expanding the universe through the means of spin-offs and crossovers, but because they enriched - or as they say in 'The Simpsons', embiggened - the possibilities and various aspects of Toobworld.
BEST NEW TV SERIES
Striking out on its own, this drama has picked up the mantle of such off-beat, quirky, spooky shows as 'Twin Peaks' and 'The X-Files' without following in either of their footsteps.
It's been described as an unholy hybrid of 'Gilligan's Island', 'The Twilight Zone', 'The New People', 'The Outer Limits', and 'Survivor'. Yet it's none of the above and all of them and something else altogether.
For the first time in a very long while, I'm waiting for the next installment of a show as soon as the end credits are rolling for the current episode.
BEST TV MOVIE
'THE LIBRARIAN: QUEST FOR THE SPEAR'
The premise for this flick built on projects that had come before it - most notably 'The Raiders Of The Lost Ark' - and gleefully, shamelessly ripped them off. With its premise of a modern library housing the world's most magical antiquities, 'The Librarian' was able to be linked to a variety of other shows - 'Hercules', 'Arthur Of The Britons', 'Roar', 'Lois & Clark' etc.
And with the possibilities of sequels, its links can continue to be forged.
BEST NEW MALE CHARACTER
DR. GREGORY HOUSE - 'HOUSE'
It's been over twenty years since 'St. Elsewhere' forced us to lose our outdated views of all doctors as 'Marcus Welby, M.D.'. But not even Dr. Mark Craig could hold his own against such an unmitigated prick as 'House'. The world of medicine might not benefit from his presence, but Toobworld certainly gains.
BEST NEW FEMALE CHARACTER
GRACE McCALLISTER, 'JACK & BOBBY'
Like Dr. House, she certainly is not an easy character to like. But her hard-edged, bull-headed, opinionated attitude is certainly believable for molding the boy who would be President into everything he will be, as well as won't be.
BEST NEW MALE SUPPORTING CHARACTER
TONY BLUNDETTO, 'THE SOPRANOS'
For someone who was supposed to be so integral to Tony Soprano's early family life, "Tony B" seemed to come ouf of nowhere, rather than fresh out of prison. But it didn't take long to accept how Tony B's very existence was a shattered reflection of everything Tony S was and should have been and whom he would never be.
When Tony S finally killed his cousin himself, he had convinced himself it was to save Tony B from a far worse death. But it may be that he was removing that constant reminder of his own flaws.
Tony Blundetto was the most devastating blood relation Tony Soprano had since his mother Livia.
BEST NEW SUPPORTING FEMALE CHARACTER
There's no denying how bad I find this spin-off from 'Friends', but whenever Jennifer Coolidge shows up as Joey's boy-toy hungry carnivore of an agent, the stultifying shackles are thrown off and she sends this sitcom into loopy, giddy heights.
It's just a shame that such a brassy broad is stuck in such a leaden vehicle.
BEST CAST ENSEMBLE
THE SURVIVORS OF 'LOST'
Everybody on board Oceanic 815 has a secret. Nobody is as they appear, either. And the show's creators delight in dangling tantalizing little clues to keep us coming back for more, and willingly.
Everybody in the cast is so perfect for their roles that it would be a shame to lose any of them. But the producers have stated that a major character will die by the end of teh season. Yet even the worst of them are rich enough in backstory to hang around for years.
BEST NEW GUEST APPEARANCE
ARIK SOONG, 'ENTERPRISE'
It took three seasons, but it looks like 'Enterprise' has finally learned what made 'Deep Space Nine' better - a grasp of the rich history of 'Trek'.
And no one was a better link to all of that than the mad geneticist Dr. Arik Soong. "Grandfather" to the android Data of 'Star Trek: The Next Generation', disciple of the goals fought for in the Eugenics Wars, Soong had a playful malevolence found in the best of villains.
And he had a fine eye for green-skinned Orion slave girls!
Finally, here are a few quickies:
BEST SERIES FINALE - 'Frasier' ('Friends' suffered from a built-up sense of overkill hype.)
BEST SENSE OF ONE'S OWN HISTORY - 'Enterprise', runner-up: 'Law & Order'
BEST BLEND OF TOOBWORLD AND REAL WORLD HISTORY - 'Deadwood'
BEST BLEND OF TOOBWORLD AND REAL WORLD CELEBRITY - 'Entourage'
BEST SPIN-OFF - 'Boston Legal'
WORST SPIN-OFF - 'Joey'
BEST CROSSOVER - 'All My Children' & 'One Life To Live' (the baby-swapping storyline)
WORST CROSSOVER - 'Monday Night Football' & 'Desperate Housewives' ('The Towel')