Top 5: TV Seasons

*Obviously all Top 5 lists are subjective and based upon a limited sample size due to the vast amounts of entertainment available that no one person can consume – this is even more true with the past century of brilliant television.
**Unlike other Top 5 lists this will just be presented alphabetically.

Chuck: Season 2

Chuck Season 2Chuck was the little show that could; season 1 – 5 all ended with a fan campaign to keep the show alive and a last minute renewal. It probably would have been cancelled during Season 1 if it aired all 24 episodes but the writer’s strike offered a graceful hiatus to find its bearings…and it did perfectly. Season 2 was a brilliant mixture of comedic relief, action, mission of the week episodes and overarching mythology. Each episode dabbled in stunt-casting (that worked) and the show wasn’t afraid to embrace its nerdy protagonist who always saved the day with brains over brawn. Yes there was some will-they-won’t-they drama but it cleverly sidestepped by continually showing characters that trusted and depended on each other. There was a clear goal from the first episode and a surprising fulfillment of Chuck’s destiny by the season finale (what they did afterwards…was more miss than hit). Each side character within the universe mattered and felt like they had a purpose and it never felt too heavy-handed when Chuck’s civilian life proved to be the answer for his spy mission. It was exciting for audiences to watch Chuck transform from bumbling Nerd Herder who was forced into the spy life to an active member of the team who chose his own fate.

Doctor Who: Season 4

Doctor Who S4Whenever Whovians (I didn’t come up with the phrase) run into each other the first question asked is, “Who’s your favorite Doctor.” The correct answer is David Tennant. Sometimes a follow up question is, “Who’s your favorite Companion?” I go with Rose Tyler. She wasn’t the companion in Season 4 but this collection of episodes still retain some of the strongest within the series. Donna Noble was the perfect buddy-companion (no romantic interest) that The Doctor, and fans, needed. She was able to humanize his involvement in Pompei, listen to his adventures on Midnight and offer a strong case for why The Doctor needs a companion during the episode “Turn Left.” Season 4 is almost an unfair season to call out because it does have a “get the band back together” story-arc that ties perfectly into The Doctor’s past allies and most memorable foes. This season also introduces Dr. River Song one of the more interesting and enigmatic allies the tenth Doctor encounters and almost a tease for what the eleventh Doctor has in store. Plus, I dare any fan to not be a little teary eyed each time they watch Tennant’s powerful performance as he says goodbye and transforms.

Firefly: Season 1 (and only)

Firefly*sigh* Firefly is arguably the best show ever created…and I’m part of the problem it never had a chance to continue. I discovered Firefly on DVD, long after it was cancelled and pulled off the air. This series was tightly written with comedy, action and heartwarming moments throughout each episode (a trend for my favorite shows). The ensemble cast were more than just their archetypes when audiences first meet them and they continue to grow into more complex characters with each passing episode. Firefly wisely jumps into the middle of the action in the lives of Captain Malcom Reynolds and his rag-tag team of misfits and only provides hints of their past connections and adventures when necessary. The series is a unique mixture of genres as it is the perfect example of cowboys in space – the rugged, true grit style of westerns is seamlessly integrated with the technology and exploration of sci-fi. Where many shows would have their protagonists hem-and-haw over the right decision and debate with each other, the characters in Firefly take action quickly and let their deeds speak for their beliefs of what is right and wrong. Whedon became a nerd-icon for his clever dialogue and brilliant set pieces created throughout this series. Also, the show cleverly never uses sound during scenes of outer space, a technique that adds to the unique quirk and charm of the show.

The Flash: Season 1

The FlashArrow was praised for grounding Oliver Queen in reality (kind of) so it was with cautious optimism that fans started watching The Flash. The show quickly setup a freak-of-the-week premise that worked and a couple enemies that weren’t too CG heavy or over the top. Then something changed with the DNA of the show, they went full on comic-booky logic-shenanigans and it was amazing. Time travel. Alternate realities. Body-swapping. The Speed Force. Everything that made The Flash comics great was brought into the show. For the most part, the secret identity didn’t matter and the series just focused on the exploits of The Flash and how he would protect the city. Just like the comics, anything was possible and random heroes would stop by and support The Flash and his allies. It was gratifying to see them not slow-play the Harrison Wells story arc and deliver one of the best season finales ever created. Even the trademark CW-romance was kept to a minimum (thank goodness) in favor of Barry discovering himself and the full extent of his powers. The Flash S2 is easily my anticipated show to start this coming fall.

How I Met Your Mother: Season 2

HIMYM Season 2At the crux of HIMYM is Robin and Ted’s relationship. The entire first season was a will-they-won’t-they extravaganza that surprisingly ended with them getting together. Instead of a quick retcon, the series has them stick together for the entire season…but their relationship isn’t the point of this season it’s just a fact that never weighs down the comedic situations. HIMYM uses unconventional storytelling methods to play with perception, time and frame of reference throughout the series but many of those tricks came together in this season. S2 introduces audience to much of the HIMYM lore (which is run into the ground in subsequent seasons) with the Slap Bet, Robin Sparkles and many Barny-isms. HIMYM became a slapstick mess as the series continued but some of the finer episodes of the series came from this season – Swarley, Single Stamina, Arrivederci, Fiero and …. you know what pretty much every episode in this season is worth mentioning.
What are your favorite season of television? Do you think there is a sweet spot for most shows where they hit their stride?
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