Rachel's Top 5 Surprises
On paper, this legal-themed Lifetime Television original series sounded like a mess. Vapid model Deb gets into a car accident; her mind is transferred into the body of Jane - an intelligent lawyer - who is decidedly more full-figured. While this show definitely requires some suspension of disbelief - like - though it's Deb's mind in Jane's body, Deb has also absorbed Jane's legal knowledge (though not any other prior memories) as well as some of her personality traits, while simultaneously retaining some of her own. Again, you'd think this premise would seem silly (not to mention hard to follow), but Drop Dead Diva totally made it work. Even the legal aspect of the show - the cases - have proven to be entertaining and unique as opposed to just filler. Jane/Deb quickly learns that knowledge from both women prove helpful in the legal field - and we are shown that both women may have more to offer than what initially appeared to be the case. If not executed properly this show might have come off as preachy and trite, but somewhat surprisingly, it ended up being one of the most enjoyable treats of this summer on TV.
I know that in the end TV networks don't do anything if they don't ultimately believe that there's a profit in it for them...but the rose-colored glasses, glass half-full side of me would instead like to chalk it up the unexpected 11th hour renewals of Dollhouse and Chuck this past May to generosity from the networks due to the immense fan support that both of these series received. Of course, a few months later Fox canceled Dollhouse...so back to that money theory...but these final 13 episodes have shaped up to be so utterly satisfying that I am still quite thankful. Chuck has yet to air on NBC since it's surprise renewal; here's to hoping it becomes a giant hit!
After watching the short first seasons of both of these comedies, I had written them both off as "good, but not great" and "will watch when nothing else is on, but not appointment TV". However, both of these shows came back from their summer hiatuses and completely excelled. I think that both Parks and Ted are among the funniest comedies currently airing on television. Both shows have demonstrated sharp writing and great workplace humor.
Modern Family lives up to the Hype
Before this Fall TV season started, every TV critic and their mother was proclaiming "Modern Family" to be the best thing since sliced bread. Honestly, it's an awful lot of pressure on a show to debut with this much hype. It's only option is to live up to the hype...or more likely, underperform. Luckily for Modern Family, the comedy has done the former.
Glee has become a pop culture phenomenon
I adored Glee since its pilot, but frankly, was convinced that it was too offbeat to emerge into any sort of mainstream hit. Low and behold - 4 months later and all of my friends are asking me if I own the "Glee soundtrack". While the show does not generate ratings of American Idol proportions for FOX, it has been growing in popularity and really has turned into a phenomenon of sorts - probably mostly due to its infectious soundtrack (and general incorporation of music). People are downloading the Glee soundtracks like wow on iTunes and upon hearing that it won't be back until April seem thisclose to starting some form of a riot!
Rachel's Top 5 Disappointments
Death of Privileged
This CW show was so charming and sweet; it was a breath of fresh air. Of course, The CW was convinced they could do better, so they ditched it in favor of new series The Beautiful Life and Melrose Place (2009). Joke's on them though, as Privileged actually performed better in the ratings than both of these new series (and as you well know, TBL's performance was so appalling that it was canceled after just 2 episodes). Melrose Place may still be chugging along, but I'd be pretty surprised if it survived beyond this single season.
Kyle XY's Cliffhanger Finale
This one was the worst. As one Reeler put it at the time, the Kyle XY ending was "one of the most F-ed up series finales I have ever seen". After devoting 3 seasons to a show, there is nothing more infuriating than the series ending on an unresolved cliffhanger (and one that seemed cheap at that). For the record, I blame The Secret Life of The American Teenager. Kyle XY was regarded as an ABC Family hit until that crap premiered...
Here we have a show which had promising pilot and an entirely unique premise - but week in and week out has fallen short of my expectations. I have now watched 10 episodes of FF - and somehow have not grown any real attachment to any of the characters. And, not only has the show failed in its character development (and Joseph Fiennes...not cutting it as a lead for me here), but even more disappointing...has gone nowhere with its plot. Each episode is an infuriating feedback loop consisting of the cast seeing something occurring in their flashforward that motivates their present actions. Thus, the show avoids explaining why anything is ever actually happening. It's happening merely because someone has seen it happen already. Is that the best you've got, FlashForward writers?
It's hard to believe a show that was once so incredibly good has managed to become so horrendously awful. To me, there is not a better example of a show that has become a shell of its former self. Once one of the most original and engaging series on television, Nip/Tuck in its later years - and especially the episodes that aired during 2009 - has turned into a joke. Practically every new person that Christian or Sean meets tries to kill them. Every male character on the show has slept with Kimber (not to mention that she was married and has a child with Matt and now may be getting married to Christian, Matt's biological father). Speaking of Matt, he's in jail now - for robbing convenience stores as a mime. It's SO BAD, guys. Thank god this show will soon be ending!
Scrubs: Med School
We probably can't say we didn't see this one coming, but the attempted Scrubs: New Class/Med School/Rebirth/Unnecessary Extension has been...not a failure of epic proportions, but not exactly a success either. The new interns just can't hold a candle to the original cast, and the plotlines all do really seem just a bit too recycled. If you didn't watch Scrubs back in the early days, you might be slightly more inclined to find the new episodes entertaining, but for those who did...it's all very "been there, done that". Scrubs was a great show - but like many others - it did not realize that it was time for it to end.
What have been your biggest surprises and disappointments of 2009?