TV Gal's Best of Show(s)

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As has been previously entered into evidence, I watch TV like it's my job.

But sometimes I like to think about what shows would I absolutely watch each week -- even if I didn't have to. That's how I came up with my personal Top 10 TV shows of 2006.

It was tough times in 2006 as we said good-bye to my beloved "Everwood" (sniff, I still miss you most of all Ephram), "Arrested Development" and "Alias." Yes, we went through a lot this year (again thanks so much for your support during the TiVo betrayal of '06).

But, thankfully, after a fall launch that I found lackluster, we end 2006 on a high note. "Ugly Betty," "Heroes" and "Friday Night Lights" are all better than I originally thought they would be. Who knows? They could even make my list next year.

You know my caveats: only network shows (cable shows don't have to play by the same rules) and I only picked from shows that are still currently on the air (what's the point of recommending a show you can't watch anymore? Why tease you?).

So I've made my list, I've checked it twice and here are my picks for the ten best prime time shows on network television

1. "24": Remember when "24" premiered and everyone was in a tizzy? How will the show continue? Does it have more than one season in it? Not only does the series have a lot of life in it, it made its fifth season arguably its best (no easy feat, just ask "Prison Break.") What else is there to say about a season that introduced President Logan and the First Lady (I can't imagine the show without them)? That continued to prove that no one is safe (RIP Edgar). That even rehabilitated Audrey and keeps on developing some of TV's most interesting and quirky characters (yay Chloe). Best. Season. Ever.

2. "The Office": First of all, let me tell you, you are going to love this week's episode of "The Office." I'm kind of in awe of what the show has done this season. Bringing the background characters into the forefront (raise your hand if you love Kelly) and taking the Jim/Pam romance in new and believable directions. TV love triangles (or quadrangles as the case may be) are more interesting when we actually care about all the parties involved. And I really care. Sometimes I may be uncomfortable (two words: Prison Mike) but I always, always laugh out loud.

3. "Lost": At the heart of it, the genius of this show remains that it plays to multiple types of viewers. The viewer like my dad who enjoys each hour for what it is -– a compelling drama (even if he can't remember the characters names. A typical conversation between the two of us goes something like this: Me: "Do you think Jin killed that man?" Dad: "Jim whose Jim? Which one is he?"). It plays to viewers like myself who get perhaps far too invested in who Kate really loves, delight in the Sun/Jim back story, is dying to know how Locke ended up in that wheelchair, is annoyed by the new characters (there's no way they've been on the island all along) and keep wondering when will see Rose and Bernard again. And finally it appeals to the viewer who savors dissecting every clue and hint the show gives us about what the heck is going on. Name me a show that does all that.

4. "Veronica Mars": I'll stipulate to the fact that the show has lost some of its bite this season, but I feel about "Veronica Mars" the way I used to feel about "Buffy." Even a mediocre episode of "Veronica Mars" is better than most things on television. I'd name it one of the best shows on television based on last May's finale alone.

5. "Everybody Hates Chris": I'll spend at least 11 dollars and sixty-seven cents to tell you how much I enjoy this show. Remember how I agonized about my Top 10 character list last week, well I can't believe I didn't put Tichina Arnold on this list. She's the best (and sassiest) mom on TV. Any show based around a child is tricky business. Not many child actors can pull of being funny without being smug. But Tyler James Williams may be the best child actor since we met Fred Savage all those years ago. Sing it with me, "Everybody Loves Chris."

6. "The New Adventures of Old Christine": The best traditional four camera sitcom currently on network television. Julia Louis-Dreyfus thrives as the woman who doesn't quite have her life together. But we always knew she was funny. The show's real gift is in its supporting cast. Trevor Gagnon -- another great child actor -- as her son. Hamish Linklater as her deadpan hilarious brother and Tricia O'Kelley and Alex Kapp Horner as the positively fabulous soccer moms from hell.

7. "Scrubs": There's no annoying laugh track, no live studio audience, and no mugging for the camera after a particularly witty line. In fact, it's only because I'm always laughing so hard that I know this is a comedy. But what makes "Scrubs" truly unique is that it is often so poignant and moving (witness the birth of Carla and Turk's baby). I can't wait for the musical episode.

8. "Brothers & Sisters": If there was ever an example of mom knows best, this is it. From the very first episode, my mom declared that this was going to be an excellent show and that I should give the drama another chance. And, once again, my mom was right (it's kind of like the time she told me not to cut my own bangs and I did anyway). I love a show that gets better with each episode and relishes in fabulous performances. Even though the sisters sometimes bug me, this is quickly becoming my can't miss show. And a special shout of for creating Kevin, a television character who has as interesting and complicated love life as his straight siblings. Thanks Mom for making me watch.

9. "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip": I loved this show before I even met it and it has lived up to my expectations.

10. "Without a Trace": The best procedural drama in prime time continues to reinvent its own format. And it remains the only procedural crime drama that can seamlessly integrate the character's personal lives without making it seem like a clunky afterthought.

Those are my favorite shows of 2006. What are yours? Talk about it on the TV Gal message board.

Quotes of the Week

"I've been married twice before and I'm a recovering cocaine addict. And I know that's no woman's dream of a man or of a father. Nonetheless, I believe I'm falling in love with you. If you want to run, I understand. But you better get a good head start, because I'm coming for you, Jordan." Danny to Jordan on "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip." Thanks to Claude and Erin and who were the first to submit this week's most popular quote.

"I really need to find that sword." Hiro on "Heroes." Thanks to Tim and Charley for the quote.

Where Have I Seen Them Before?

We were all so excited for the plethora of familiar faces that popped up on the special episode of "The Closer." Debra Mooney, Edna on "Everwood," was Brenda's old friend Elaine. William Daniels, Mr. Feeny on "Boy Meets World" and Dr. Craig on "St. Elsewhere," was Andrew the CIA agent who got Brenda her job back. Paul Schluze, ADA Keller on "Justice," Father Phil Intintola on "The Sopranos," and Ryan Chappelle on "24," was the CIA agent selling secrets. Joy Lauren, Danielle Van de Kamp on "Desperate Housewives," was the friend of the dead boy.

Let's pull Tracy Middendorf out of the "so deserves her own show" file so I can tell you she played the missing (and dying) woman on "Without a Trace." She was Carla Matheson on the second season of "24," Jennifer Cole on "The Practice," Elsa Caplan on "Alias" and, of course, Laura Kingman all those years ago on "90210."

David reminded me that Silas Weir Mitchell, Haywire on "Prison Break," was the leader of the support group on "Without a Trace." Todd Lowe, our beloved Zack on "Gilmore Girls," was the guy stealing drugs at the party. John de Lancie, Q on "Star Trek: The Next Generation," was the missing woman's boss.

Paul recognized Kathleen Wilhoite, Liz on "Gilmore Girls," Susan's sister Chloe on "ER," and Rosalie all those years ago on "LA Law," was the mother of the anorexic girl. Loretta Devine, Adele on "Grey's Anatomy" and Marla on "Boston Public," was the woman whose husband was struck by lightening. Thanks to Paul for recognizing these familiar faces.

Drew recognized Shelley Morrison, Rosario on "Will & Grace," was Randy's fake mom on "My Name is Earl."

Robin recognized Kip Pardue; the new male nurse Ben on "ER," as Ronnie in "Remember the Titans."

Edward Hibbert, Gil on "Frasier," was Lorelai's wedding party planner on "Gilmore Girls."

And, as you know no member of "90210" goes unnoticed by Team TV Gal. Bruce recognized Kathleen Robertson, Claire on "90210," was Kathy/Diane on "Medium." Kathie and DJ caught James Eckhouse, Jim Walsh on "90210," as Kimber and Matt's doctor on "Nip/Tuck."

Highlights of the Week Ahead
All times listed are Eastern Standard Time for Dec. 11 to Dec. 17

Tune in to TV Land's "100 Greatest Quotes & Catchphrases" every night this week at 10 p.m. You just might get to see someone you know.

The truth is out there. David Duchovny directed this episode of "Bones" (Wednesday, FOX, 8 p.m.) Look for a cameo from Kathy Reichs, the real life Bones.

I'd love to hear "The Office,""Studio 60" and "Brothers & Sisters" quite a few times when the nominations for the 64th Annual Golden Globes are announced Thursday at 8:30 a.m. E! and on "The Today Show" on NBC.

Trust me, you are going to love this episode of "The Office" (Thursday, NBC, 8 p.m.).

Should old acquaintances be forgot? Of course not. So tune in to see Tate Donovan return to "The O.C." at Thursday 9 p.m. on FOX.

That's all for today. I'll be back next week with my picks for the ten moments of TV this season (will Robin Sparkles make the list?). And don't forget, also coming in December: the best of everything television and the best quotes of the year. So send me your favorite TV moments and quotes of 2006. Have a question, seen a familiar face, want to nominate a quote of the week, write me at amytvgal@zap2it.com.

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