Best & Worst 2008: Mary McNamara’s TV picks
By Mary McNamara
It was a strange and shape-shifting year for television -- the screen went flat, in more ways the one. The writers strike ended, but not before disemboweling the Golden Globes, throwing late night into an uproar and scattering way too many “Law & Order” reruns around the grid. And although the settlement was good news for those out of work, for viewers the nightmare was just beginning.
Many of the weaker new shows were given the cost-containment ax, while others, including “Chuck” and “Pushing Daisies,” retreated in the hopes of a fall relaunch. Because its format demands an entire season, “24" decided to just start over again next month, while “Big Love” vanished entirely, which is a crime against man and nature (it’s back in January also). The spring was a weird mishmash of new and old, with networks touting “a brand-new episode” of old favorites as if they had landed the
I am going to beat the drum for Rand Ravich’s show -- about a cop wrongfully convicted of murder who is now, Zen-like, stalking his adversaries -- until it becomes a hit or is canceled. And since it was recently moved from the dead air of Friday night to the balmier climes of Wednesday, I’ll take the former. Stars Damian Lewis and Sarah Shahi are the hottest cop duo since ... well, ever. Throw them some magazine covers already.
Watch the video review here. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
Dr. Walter Bishop on Fox’s ‘Fringe’
The role of modern-day mad scientist could so easily have been a disaster, but “Fringe” writers and the masterful John Noble have conspired to create a character that seems, as trite as it sounds, more Shakespearean than sci-fi. (Robert Caplin / For the Times)
Watching him figure out what worked -- an image of calm, a rejection of hysteria -- and what didn’t -- self-esteem that bordered on smugness, attempts at humor (“You’re likable enough, Hillary”) -- was a study in American politicking that will no doubt be used by generations. (Chris Carlson / Associated Press)