Best of 2009: Television

How come most of the blogs did their best-of-2009 lists on the week leading up to Christmas, instead of the week leading up to New Year’s like you’re supposed to?

Hulu’s cool because not only do the clips go away after some unpredictable time period, but you get to sit through 30 seconds of advertising before you watch a clip advertising a show.

My picks for the best stuff on television hasn’t really changed since the last time I wrote about them. But I have actually swear-to-god-I’m-not-making-this-up had a couple of people ask me about the series. So here’s my favorite TV of this year, plus my favorite episode of each one to get you started (with a link if it’s still available online).

1. Community
It’s still the funniest series on TV. “Introduction to Statistics” is the best one. (It’s the “Mexican Halloween” episode, which is offensive to those of us who know of “Mexican Halloween” as a sexual position).

2. The Venture Brothers
I’ll go ahead and say it: season three kind of left me cold, but everything about this series is too damn cool not to love. Season 4 has been working a lot better for me, even if it feels like it’s kind of coasting. One of the best things about the series is that they’re going full-on with their over-complicated continuity and their obscure references, without feeling the need to pander and over-explain everything. Best episode this season is probably “Handsome Ransom,” but I can’t find the whole episode online anywhere.

3. 30 Rock
The problem I keep having with “30 Rock” is that the episodes are hilarious while they’re on, but completely evaporate as soon as they’re over. Still, “Dealbreakers Talk Show #0001” had enough laugh-out-loud moments crammed into 5 minutes to last a whole season.

4. Psych
Nine parts stream-of-consciousness 80s references and in-jokes to one part detective show. Best episode you can get online at the moment: “Let’s Get Hairy”. Making an episode about werewolves and casting David Naughton is quintessential “Psych.”

5. Batman: The Brave and the Bold
Can’t find any great episodes online, but the opening of this “sneak peek” clip explains everything about the appeal of the show: it doesn’t take itself seriously but rarely lapses into pure camp, and it’s got a style that hits exactly the right balance between the Silver Age comics and late 60s/early 70s animated series.