It's that time of year again, when we all make lists and think back over the past year, in whatever field of interest concerns us, and chronicle the high points and the lows. For the past few years I've been presenting this compilation as an awards show, the Toobits, which of course celebrates my two bits about Toobworld.
As it is with any such list you'll find in TV columns across the country these last few weeks, these are my opinions. You're welcome to your own and I hope you'll share them, but I'm sticking to my weapons of choice. (It could be you won't see something that was a favorite of yours because I just never got around to seeing it. There's only so much time in the world - even for a do-nothing-else-anyway sort like me! - and I've only got the two eyes, even if they do operate independantly of each other at times.)
Unlike the Emmy Awards which will just keep handing out trophies to some shows forever, only shows, characters and what-not that debuted in 2007 can be considered. And that includes characters who have been recast; those are still the same characters who already exist in Toobworld. (But there were a few notable appearances that deserved honorable mention, and they get it.)
So without further ado, let's have at it:
BEST NEW TV SERIES
Pushing Daisies' is magic, not surprising I suppose since it's billed as a "forensic fairy tale". Had this show been of sub-par quality, I would have hated it so much since it just doesn't fit into the overall vision of a cohesive TV universe. But it's an hour each week that fills me with so much wonder and delight that I can overlook the fact that I can't fit it into Toobworld anywhere - as is.... (ahem)
As for 'Mad Men', Captain Jack Harkness of 'Torchwood' was wrong. The 1960s was when everything changes. This view of the advertising world and its men in grey flannel suits is a sumptuous look back at the beginning of the decade with the most subtle signals of the seismic disruptions that were to come. I admired it most of all for the way it challenged me to toss aside my expectations and abandon the cliches I came to expect from TV shows. For instance: for awhile there, I thought for sure that Pete's rifle, kept in his office, would figure into a plot where somebody would get shot and there would be this over-riding mystery as to whodunnit. Instead, the real mystery was the identity of Don Draper and that proved to be even more compelling.
BEST TV MOVIE
'Futurama: Bender's Big Score'
Oddly enough, most of my options in this category didn't even make it on TV, at least not yet. (Other possibilities: 'Battlestar Galactica: Razor' and 'Babylon 5 - The Lost Tales') "Bender's Big Score" will eventually make it on the air, but it's better to watch it in the DVD format. The convolutions they take in the plot thanks to the twists and turns of time travel need a few replays to keep everything straight. It must have been a doozy trying to juggle so many plot-balls, and it was only after the second viewing that I realized there was a big plot-hole. But it's so much fun to have the old gang from Planet Express back, that I didn't care.
I have yet to write up my blog's treatise on the place of Oz in Toobworld and its evolution, but I'll get around to it soon. Suffice to say, this was a bold experiment that touched on familiar themes from the original, but still was able to stand on its own as a new vision.
'The State Within'
I was curious about this mini-series when I read about it in various UK-based sites (Hi, Rob!), but figured it would just be an entertaining way to get through a few hours. Turns out it was an edge of your seat rush that fed my love of political intrigue stories - a Fletcher Knebel tale for the new millennium.
BEST EPISODE, ANY GENRE
"Blink" - 'Doctor Who'
I saw this originally thanks to my buddies Mark & Michael and told my brother not to miss it when it finally aired on the Sci-Fi network. When it did, he texted me during it - he cursed me out because he was catching it on the late night repeat, while up at the Lake all alone in the cottage and he was scared out of his pants! Between Stephen Moffatt's brilliant writing, Hettie McDonald's directorial skills which made inanimate objects scary, and above all, Sally Sparrow - the greatest Companion the Doctor never had - it had to be the best of all possible episodes (especially since it could stand on its own).
BEST MOVIE THAT SHOULD BE ADAPTED INTO A TV SHOW
A TV show based on this character really could work, especially if they focused on Clayton's talents as a "janitor" - that kind of lawyer who comes in and cleans up the messes made by their biggest clients.
However, writer/producer Ken Levine doesn't seem too keen on that possibility: "MICHAEL CLAYTON – George Clooney in a complex legal drama. If it sells four tickets expect a TV version with Ron Livingstone." and "See it now before it becomes a TV series with Matt LeBlanc in the title role."
BEST SERIES FINALE
'Slings & Arrows'
What a well-realized show this was! I tried to introduce a friend of mine to it and she only watched two episodes before tossing it aside. You have to feel sad for people like that..... Each season could be seen as one of the three stages in a man's life - the exuberance of youth, middle-age ambitions, and the fading twilight at the end - and all three focused on one Shakespearean play which reflected that particular point in time. But there was so much more to be found in that world of the New Burbage Shakespeare festival that it became the TV location I'd most like to visit - even moreso than Cicely, Alaska, or Fernwood, Ohio.
If this show came back for a fourth season, I think I'd be pissed - as much as I loved the characters, it's perfect and complete, just as it is.
WORST SERIES CONCLUSION
'The Anna Nicole Smith Show'
Just a sad, sad waste, if only for the sake of DannieLynn.
BEST EVOCATION OF A TIME PERIOD
Everything was so fully realized to make you believe that they were actually in the 1960s - the clothing, the furniture, the cars, the TV shows in the background, books read, products used, and the smoking smoking smoking! It's only forty plus years ago and yet this may as well have been a science fiction show because everything was so alien - especially the attitudes and the differences between the sexes.
BEST SENSE OF ONE'S OWN HISTORY
'The Sarah Jane Adventures'
This show could have beaten its audience over the head with the references to its own pedigree: "Well, back when I was traveling with the Doctor..." sort of thing. Or they could have ignored it altogether. Instead, there would be light touches - pictures in the background of past associates in UNIT, or the mention of the Sontarans by someone who could be seen as just suffering from Alzheimer's and so have her comments dismissed. Now that the series established that it could stand on its own, perhaps one or two adventures based on past exploits from 'Doctor Who' could pop up next season. (Hopefully there is a next season.)
BEST BLEND OF TOOBWORLD AND REAL WORLD HISTORY
'The Bronx Is Burning'
First off, on a personal level this resonated because 1977 was a pivotal year in my life - graduated from UConn, worked summer stock, then moved to New York City. And this mini-series touched on all the events that made up the history of that year when all it needed to do was focus on the behind-the-scenes turmoil at Yankee Stadium that led up to the big World Series win.
BEST BLEND OF TOOBWORLD SHOWS
'Boston Legal' & 'Studio One': "The Defender"
It's a bit of a cheat since 'BL' took the scenes of William Shatner and Ralph Bellamy as the Prestons and presented them as though they were now Denny Crane and his father. However, since this version of 'The Defenders' had to be shunted off to some alternate dimension because the roles of Lawrence and Kenneth Preston were recast for the actual series, then not only was a Zonk avoided, but at least this much of the material could survive in the main Toobworld.
'The Sarah Jane Adventures' from 'Doctor Who'
It acknowledged its parent but was able to stand on its own, capturing that same magic of the old series and still get a fresh spin. 'Torchwood' tried too hard to have its own voice; but its fixation on sex, and its one episode that really tied into 'Doctor Who' ("Cyberwoman"), nearly ran it off the rails. Still, there was no way 'Torchwood' could ever be:
'Private Practice' from 'Grey's Anatomy'
Ugh. The worst part is that people actually like this. When it comes to it, I can't understand why anybody even like the original series......
Would it really be so bad if characters from another planet wore the style of costumes found in the old sci-fi serials? I think that retro look deserves a comeback. It would have at least made this show stand out from any bland sci-fi series from the late 70s, early 80s. But everything about this show seemed to hearken back to series like 'Otherworld', 'Fantastic Journey', and 'Galactica 1980'. And as for Ming the Merciless? I can understand you don't want to incur the wrath of BD Wong with another Fu Manchu ripoff, but did Ming have to become such a weenie? He looks like Sam Jones running around in 'Lost In Space' jammies!
'Making Cleaver' ('The Sopranos')
This would have been perfect if they excluded scenes from the series that shouldn't have been public knowledge. And those they did use should have been filtered through a camera, so that what we saw could be interpreted as improvised behind-the-scenes footage. Even so, it was a great spoof of those promotional documentaries that pop up on HBO all the time.
BEST REVIVED SERIES
Audiences thought the worst with that six episode mini-arc that launched the third season - too much focus on the Others and their camp, too much of the Jack/Kate/Sawyer triangle, not enough about the Survivors we did like, and the loss of Mr. Eko. But when it came back from that holiday hiatus, this series came back SMOKING! And it all led up to a very satisfying, and sad, conclusion with a rock-em sock-em revelation at the end.
'How I Met Your Mother' - 'The Price Is Right'
This could have been just a cheap ploy to plug another series from the parent network - as was the 'HIMYM' visit to the Victoria's Secret after-party - but it fit well into the 'HIMYM' mythos as well as give a loving nod to the longevity of a CBS fixture, Bob Barker.
'The O'Reilly Report' - 'ALF'
This was groaningly bad, and not because of the bad puns and one-liners from ALF. The mess has to be dumped in O'Reilly's lap, who was less animated than his guest. I didn't expect him to nail ALF with questions about the travails of his former co-star, but he missed the perfect opportunity to spar with the ultimate illegal alien over the issue of immigration. ALF would have been better served by snoozing with Larry King. The next time he should go mano-a-"mano" with Lou Dobbs.
MOST CRASS CROSSOVER
'How I Met Your Mother' - 'Victoria's Secret Fashion Show'
It just felt forced and obvious as a plug for the TV special.
FIRST CROSSOVER OF THE YEAR 2007
'The Sarah Jane Adventures' - 'Doctor Who'
BEST COMMERCIAL CROSSOVER
American Express - '30 Rock'
The vignettes about Kenneth trying to work a little "Secret Rodney" magic around the office were so well-done, I thought at first they actually were part of the show. It seems they were shown out of sequence however, but that doesn't knock enough points off to lose their standing.
BEST THEORETICAL COMMERCIAL CROSSOVER
McDonald's - 'Heroes'
James Kyson Lee appeared in one of the McD blipverts this year and it can be easily interpreted that he's appearing as Ando (which I did back when the commercial first aired.)
BEST COMMERCIAL RETURN
Max Headroom for Channel 4
He used to do soda blipverts and now he's back doing network idents, and definitely showing his age. But it's a welcome return nevertheless. (American viewers, you'll have to seek him out via YouTube and other such outlets.)
WORST COMMERCIAL CROSSOVER
The Chevy Silverado ad during an episode of 'Cane' - which showed a key plot point of that episode before it happened
SPECIAL COMMERCIAL HONOR
Charmin paid tribute to Mr. Whipple after the death of his portrayer, Dick Wilson, with a compilation of clips. A classy move by the corporation to honor its own.
BEST ADAPTATION FROM ANOTHER UNIVERSE (aka MEDIUM)
'Doctor Who' - "Human Nature"/"Family Of Blood" & "Blink"
Both of those stories stand on their own in the literary universe - the two-parter featured the Tenth Doctor in Toobworld but originally was about the Seventh in the novel, while the short story for 'Blink' featured Sally as a 12 year old girl. Toobworld may have had the best of those deals.
Two other adaptations of mention:
'The Dresden Files'
Sadly, the Sci-Fi Channel didn't see fit to give this story about a private eye wizard in Chicago a second season. I guess we all needed that hour of wrestling so much more.
'Shrek The Halls'
Just the Christmas memories shared by Gingy made this special worthwhile, but you can never go wrong with the whole world of Shrek.
BEST NEW ALTERNATE TV DIMENSION
'The Amazing Mrs. Pritchard'
George W. Bush is the President and Tony Blair was the Prime Minister until Mrs. Pritchard took over. So it's a close copy of the main Toobworld, moreso than the worlds of 'Doctor Who', 'The West Wing', and '24'. And Mrs. Pritchard made a fantastic PM!
BEST BLEND OF TOOBWORLD AND REAL WORLD CELEBRITY
'The Knights Of Prosperity'
All they needed was just a short bit by Mick Jagger showing off his splendid digs in New York City to a television audience, and from there the plot just had to deal with how to break into the place. No need for celebrities badly portraying themselves or for getting involved in highly unlikely situations. (And before you protest, 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' and 'Extras' were not eligible this year.)
BEST NEW MALE CHARACTER
COMEDY: Chuck Bartowski, 'Chuck'
DRAMA: Don Draper, 'Mad Men'
Although Chuck could have been more geeknerdy, Zachary Levi really brought home the pathos of the character as well as the humor. And for all that Draper tried to cut himself off from deeper relations with those around him, Jon Hamm was able to reveal so much by showing so little.
BEST NEW FEMALE CHARACTER
DRAMA: Delilah Malloy, 'The Riches'
COMEDY: Chuck Charles, 'Pushing Daisies'
Minnie Driver was the storm at the center of her family and gave off more energy than most characters in action-oriented shows. And Anna Friel is just a delight as your typical girl next door - who just happens to be dead.
BEST NEW MALE SUPPORTING CHARACTER
COMEDY: Emerson Cod, 'Pushing Daisies'
DRAMA: Bill Jacks, 'John From Cincinnatti'
DRAMADY: Sam Axe, 'Burn Notice'
BEST NEW SUPPORTING FEMALE CHARACTER
DRAMA - Sarah Corvus, 'The Bionic Woman'
COMEDY: Olive Snook, 'Pushing Daisies'
DRAMADY: Madeline Weston, 'Burn Notice'
BEST NEW RECURRING MALE CHARACTER
Dr. Gordon Wyatt, 'Bones'
It looks like we've seen the last of Dr. Wyatt, as the show is bringing in John Francis Daley as the newest member of the team, to be a "forensic psychiatrist". But Stephen Fry brought his A-game to the role of Booth's therapist and he was given the dialogue to match.
BEST NEW RECURRING FEMALE CHARACTER
"Cut-Throat Bitch" - 'House'
Ultimately she didn't survive the competition, but I'd like to think we haven't seen the last of Anne Dudek's doctor. It's about time she was given a good role she could hang on to.
BEST NEW CAST ENSEMBLE
'The Bronx Is Burning'
Of course there will always be the Big Three mentioned - Turturro as Billy Martin, Sunjata as Reggie, and Oliver Platt, who nailed the Boss even though he looked nothing like him. But all the way down the line these were actors (Michael Rispoli as Jimmy Breslin, Loren Dean as Fran Healy, etc.) who made you believe they were the ball-players and the reporters and the cops who filled out the story of 1977 in the Bronx.
BEST ADDITION TO AN EXISTING CAST
Drama: Charles Kingman, 'Slings & Arrows'
Comedy: Leon Black, 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'
Drama: Dr. Martha Jones, 'Doctor Who'
Comedy: Loretta Black, 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'
BEST NEW GUEST APPEARANCE
Male, Drama - "Claude", 'Heroes'
Male, Comedy - Leon Czogolcz, 'Reaper'
Female, Drama - Sally Sparrow, 'Doctor Who'
Female, Comedy - Rosemary Howard, '30 Rock'
I'd love to see each one of those come back as a recurring role. (It could be argued that Claude was a recurring role, but I don't care. I'm geeky enough that I wanted to work in the appearance by Christopher Eccleston so that I could mention his scene with Eric Roberts, who played the Master in the FOX TV movie of 'Doctor Who'.)
BEST HISTORICAL CHARACTER
Frank Pakenham, 7th Earl of Longford, 'Longford'
Never heard of the man before this TV movie, but afterwards I felt I knew him as well as anybody I'd read about in the news.
BEST LEAGUE OF THEMSELVES APPEARANCE
Kenneth Welsh, 'Slings & Arrows'
It was just a short scene near the beginning of this last season in which Welsh expressed his anger in being passed over for the role of 'Lear' by punching Geoffrey in the nose. That's all it took. I love it when celebrities feel free to make fun of themselves.
BEST LEAGUE OF THEMSELVES APPEARANCE IN A COMMERCIAL
MALE: Bruce Campbell, 'Old Spice'
FEMALE: Claire Danes, 'Gap'
BEST NEW COMMERCIAL CHARACTER
The Hit Moms - Burger King
I've read mostly negative reviews of these ads, but I think the idea is crazy enough to work. And let's face it, who wouldn't want to see that creepy-headed King wacked?
BEST CHARACTER RETURN
Peter Davison as The Fifth Doctor [Thanks, Rob] - "Children In Need": 'Doctor Who - Time Crash'
Eight minutes of pure TV joy, and thankfully it can be considered canon which gives Toobworld a splainin as to why previous Doctors always looked older when they met their future selves.
BEST INTRODUCTION OF A CHARACTER (TIE)
The rebirth of the Master from Professor Yana, 'Doctor Who' - "Utopia"
Mr. Linderman, 'Heroes'
It was all about making the pot pies that sold me on Malcolm McDowell as Linderman. As for Derek Jacobi in the roles of Professor Yana and the Master, it all happens with the opening of the watch, not the later regeneration. And in an instant, with just the realignment of a few facial muscles and a shift in vocal tone, the sweet, somewhat doddering old man became the series' classic villain.
BEST NEW MALE VILLAIN
Mr. Linderman, 'Heroes'
Sadly his reign was cut short after only three episodes while unfortunately Sylar continues to plague the series, but McDowell showed what a master he is at the villainous turn with just those few episodes.
BEST NEW FEMALE VILLAIN
Mrs. Wormwood, 'The Sarah Jane Adventures'
Over the top and bitchy, she was perfect to launch the series and could come back as a worthy adversary for Sarah Jane, an equal in much the same way as the Doctor is matched up to the Master.
If I wanted to eliminate the runner-up entirely, I could have changed this category to be that of "Best Unseen Character". Jim Dale is as much a vital member of this cast as the others whom we actually see each week.
"I don't know Butchie instead." - John Monad, 'John From Cincinnatti'
It almost has a mantra-like feel to it. I should put it on a T-shirt!
Here are two runners-up:
"You're not worthy to be shit on his shoes." - Secretary of Defense Lynn Warner, 'The State Within'
"We'ze gonna get silly, Bitches!" - Bob, 'How I Met Your Mother'
Both of which come in handy in conversation.
"Scissor me timbers!" - Mrs. Garrison, 'South Park'
John's sermon at the Snug Harbor Motel, 'John From Cincinnatti'
"If my words are yours, can you hear my Father? Can Bill know my Father, keeping his eye on me? Can I bone Kai and Butchie know my Father instead?
"My Father's shy doing his business. Kai helps my Father dump out. Bill takes a shot. Shaunie is much improved.
"Joe is a Doubting Thomas. Joe will save Not-Aleman. Joe will bring his buddies home. This is how Freddy relaxes. Cup-o'joe, and Winchell's variety dozen.
"Mitch catches a good wave. Mitch wipes out. Mitch wipes out Cissy. Cissy shows Butchie how to do that. Cissy wipes Butchie out. Butchie hurts Barry's head. Mister Rollins comes in Barry's face. My Father runs the Mega-Millions.
"Fur is big. Mud is big. The stick is big. The word is big. Fire is huge. The wheel is huge. The line and circle are big. On the wall, the line and circle are huge. On the wall, the man at the wall makes a man from the circle and line. The man at the wall makes a Word on the wall from the circle and line. The Word on the wall hears my Father.
"The zeroes and ones make the Word in Cass's camera. In the Word on the wall that hears my-Father-in-Cass's-camera, the good one Mitch catches doesn't wipe Cissy out. In the-Word-that-hears-my-Father, Cissy shows Butchie something else. In-my-Father's-Word, Cissy shows Butchie in Shaun. In-my-Father's-Word, Tina raises Shaun at lunch. In Cass's-camera, Butchie lays the court out for Barry, and Mister Rollins watches, and he doesn't come on Barry's face. In Cass's-camera, Butchie knows Kai kept the faith. In-my-Father's-Word, the Wave lifts them up.
"In Cass's camera, Bill doesn't bump his head on the stairs. In Cass's-camera, as long as he's being stupid, Bill gives Lois a kiss.
"In His-Word-in-Cass's-camera, the Internet is big. Nine-Eleven is big, but not every towel-head is eradicated. In His-Word, We are coming Nine-Eleven-Fourteen. "In my-Father's-Word, Bill sees how Freddy relaxes. In Cass's-camera, Ramon wants to know who's hungry, in the courtyard and Room Forty-Five.
"In my-Father's-Word-to-come-in-Cass's-camera, Doctor Smith calls Ocean Properties. In Cass's-camera-to-come, my Father stares Not Aleman down, and Freddy sees Bill much-improved.
"You will not note my-Father's-Word, nor remember Cass's-camera, but you will not forget what we did here."
BEST DIALOGUE EXCHANGE
Olive: "Do they touch much?"
Emerson: "Wish they would."
BEST NEW THEME SONG
It evoked - for me, anyway - a sense of foreboding as well as of another time.
BEST MUSICAL MOMENT
Andy sings ABBA to Angela, 'The Office'
What sealed the deal was his use of two friends to sing backup - over the telephone.
BEST NEW TOOBWORLD LOCATION
BEST EXIT FOR A CHARACTER
JT, 'DeGrassi: The Next Generation'
Senseless, and believable from this NYC perspective, JT was stabbed outside a class party by a school rival who felt dissed by his classmate. But it was the behind the scenes look mini-doc after the episode that made the moment even more moving. It showed how the cast reacted to the news, when they first learned that the actor who played JT was leaving the show, at the table reading. Not very Toobworldian, I know, to be caught up by the show's production, but it was a very touching scene to see him say goodbye to his friends.
BEST DEATH SCENE
Paolo & Nikki, 'Lost'
Charlie Pace, 'Lost'
Flower, 'Meerkat Manor'
WORST DEATH SCENE
Dr. Meredith Grey, 'Grey's Anatomy'
Chief Jerry Reilly, 'Rescue Me'
I know Dr. Grey didn't stay dead. That's why I don't like it.
BEST COINED WORDS
"adverlingus" - '30 Rock'
"newpeat" - 'The Office'
"sanjayed" - 'American Idol'
BEST CLASH BETWEEN TOOBWORLD & THE REAL WORLD
The Mooninite bomb scare in Boston caused by an 'Aqua Teen Hunger Force' guerrila marketing campaign gone wrong. (01/31/07)
BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT IN A SHOW
I'm sorry, I know I'm in the minority here. But this show declined in quality with each passing season, and it wandered all over the place with the final one. People will talk about certain episodes but even then I think it comes down to just certain scenes in those episodes and not the entire show. Although I will admit that I really liked the cut to black ending; it was very Toobworldian. Still, had this show been one season only, with Tony killing his mother in the nursing home at the end, I would have said it was the most perfect TV show ever. As it turned out, it's pretty good and that is far better than most shows can even dream about. Still it could have been so much more.
BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT IN THE GENERAL AUDIENCE
I realize it took far too long for the writers to find their way on this series but once it did, 'Journeyman' became appointment TV. Unfortunately, the stupid general TV audience couldn't be bothered to stick with it, preferring the cookie-cutter tripe of 'CSI: Miami' with the Carusobot as Rob Buckley has dubbed him. Stupid puny humans! Wouldn't know a good TV show if it bit you on the ass, which it can't do since you're sitting on it all the time watching crap!Oh well. At least they were able to give the show some closure, so that eventually it will be the perfect DVD boxed set.
BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT IN MYSELF
'Flight Of The Conchords'
Every year there seems to be a show which I fail to get into and realize too late that I'm missing out on something great. And apparently, it's always on HBO: 'The Wire', 'Deadwood', 'Rome'. And now this. But the one episode I did see was especially cringeworthy and I'm not that big a fan of the style. (I never could get into the original 'The Office' and although I watch the American remake, I'd rather just skip over anything that's focused on Michael Scott. Which is a big problem, of course.)
As with those aforementioned shows, I'll eventually go back to FotC via Netflix.
These are the performances that I thought deserved special recognition. They weren't actually eligible in any category since the characters had previously appeared in Toobworld, even if they were played by somebody else and/or in some other series:
Derek Jacobi as Professor Yana/The Master - 'Doctor Who'
Ray Wise as The Devil - 'Reaper'
So those are the 2007 Toobits. As always with lists like this, somebody might take umbrage at my choices over other candidates. If so, let me know what you thought. I won't change my choices, but I'd still like to hear what you liked/disliked.