Thursday, January 1, 2009

2008, A Retrospective (Part 1)

Originally posted at on December 23rd, 2008

From a personal standpoint, 2008 was a very topsy-turvy year. After graduating from college in December 2007, I began the year looking for a job in the communications field, specifically in radio. While searching for said job I ran errands for my uncle at his insurance office, and for a brief period I worked at the campus bookstore at Lewis University and even did some substitute teaching. In May I landed my current position as traffic assistant at Salem, and in November I also became the office receptionist. Of course, the most polarizing event of the last year was my uncle's struggle with pancreatic cancer, a battle he lost on October 30th. Luckily, I had a number of distractions that kept me sane in '08, which I've posted below:

Here are my five favorite TV series in 2008:
1. "The Colbert Report," Comedy Central. This year marked the most important presidential election in recent memory, and more often than not the cable news outlets bungled their coverage. Luckily, the faux egomaniac we've come to know and love as Stephen Colbert found pure comedy in the unintentional hilarity of ADHD-stricken 24-hour news.
2. "30 Rock," NBC. The recent influx of special guest stars (Oprah! Steve Martin! Markie Post?) was a bit much, I won't debate that, but this was the year that Tina Fey became the undisputed queen of American comedy. Her kingdom was built upon a hit movie ("Baby Mama"), a vicious, uncanny, yet highly relevant imitation (Gov. Sarah Palin), and the funniest episode of any TV show since "Arrested Development" was cancelled (last April's "Subway Hero").
3. "The Office," NBC. After an uneven start to its fourth season, the hit NBC comedy came back roaring after the strike. The multi-episode story arc with Oscar nominee Amy Ryan brought out the best in Steve Carell; the whirlwind of emotions that he expressed as he found --and ultimately lost-- his true soulmate makes you wonder why he hasn't won an Emmy yet.
4. "The Daily Show," Comedy Central. This probably would've finished second if not for Rob Riggle's unfunny "Ugly American" schtick, especially when he confused the Wailing Wall with the Great Wall of China. Other than that, the campaign coverage was as top-notch as ever.
5. "Mad Men," AMC. When it came to TV drama in the last 12 months, no show was as well-acted, nuanced, and took advantage of its large ensamble as this chronicle of the ad executives at Sterling Cooper.

In turn, these were the three I disliked the most:
1. "Hole in the Wall," Fox. People in bicycle helmets and pastel unitards have to pose in a particular fashion to fit through a slot in a giant, moving wall. This was a game show... seriously.
2. "Kath & Kim," NBC. The problem with this freshman comedy isn't Molly Shannon or Selma Blair; granted, Molly has a history of being over-the-top zany and it's hard to find anything likable about Blair's character, a selfish, chronic-unemployable man-child. The true culprit is the writing; whoever adapted this series from Australia simply doesn't know how to write dialogue. Your average piece of internet fan-fiction is more nuanced than this.
3. VH1 Celebreality. Three words: "I Love Money." Two more words: "Charm School." At the rate the basic cable channel's reality programming is going, this will have a permanent spot on my "worst" list for years to come.

Other achievements:
Most Improved: "American Dad," Fox. No bones about it, this show will always live in the shadow of the cultural phenomenon that is "Family Guy." However, so far this season the overall aesthetic of "Dad" has run laps around FG's increasingly tired non-linear writing and near-constant meta references. Where FG saturates the laugh quotient, "Dad" emphasizes the storyline and more than just two or three protagonists. Case in point: "Escape from Pearl Bailey," a clever send-up of a certain 1981 Kurt Russell movie and a satire on the diversity of high school cliques.
Least Necessary Remake: "Knight Rider."
Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Moustache Sciences: Grant Show on "Swingtown" and Michael Imperioli on "Life on Mars."
Most Outrageous TV Moment: This.
My Most Anticipated Returning Series of 2009: "24" and "Flight of the Conchords."

I only saw three movies in a theater this year, "The Dark Knight" (which I enjoyed) "Wall*E" (ditto), and "Mamma Mia" (not my cup of tea). I posted reviews over at MovieTome if anybody's interested.

As my MySpace profile states, I've read the first 20 pages of some of the greatest pieces of literature ever written. On that note, I'm still halfway through The Onion's "Our Dumb World," which I received as a Christmas gift in 2007. When I do sit down and read, I go for the same magazines I've been perusing for the last decade or so: Time, Entertainment Weekly, The New Yorker, and ESPN.

Number of applications I filled for open positions at radio stations before landing my current job: 38
Number of interviews from said applications: 2
Number that responded either by e-mail or form letter to tell me I didn't get the job: 8
Number of times I attempted to grow a beard: 2
Milestone I forgot to acknowledge: Cracking Level 60 at, mid-October.
Weirdest Brush with Celebrity: On December 16th, Michael Medved asked me for directions to the men's washroom.
Cutest Photo of My Dog: See above.
Rest in Peace:
Charlton Heston, Paul Newman, Heath Ledger, Sydney Pollack, Robert Prosky, Paul Benedict, Estelle Getty, Suzanne Pleshette, George Carlin, Bernie Mac, Harvey Korman, William F. Buckley Jr., Arthur C. Clarke, Studs Terkel, Tim Russert, W. Mark Felt, Bettie Page, Cyd Charisse, Eartha Kitt, Bernie Brillstein, Bennigan's (sort of), Herb Score, Dock Ellis, the Seattle Supersonics, Bill Melendez, Isaac Hayes, Richard Wright, Mitch Mitchell, Delaney Bramlett, Danny Federici, James C. Swiglo.
Tomorrow, I'll re-post my music picks for '08.

1 comment:

  1. I tried to watch an episode of Hole in the Wall but it was just too stupid to tolerate. And hopefully Kath and Kim will get canceled.