Skip to main content

Open Space's Top 10 TV Shows of 2008

As the 66th Annual Golden Globes approach and 2008 is receding in our proverbial rear view mirror, I thought it apropos to post my own list of top television shows that I found worth viewing last year. These are not necessarily the most critically acclaimed or the best drama/comedy/dramody/ect. on television, but they are the ones that engaged me. While not as critically acute or noble as those which are elected with votes for the Golden statues, in the tradition of this blog, here they are for what they’re worth (in no particular order):

Battlestar Galactica. BSG got really dark last year but brought us hope just when we needed most. This series consistently tackles the complex dimension of man’s experience, and does so with intelligence and gripping characters and storylines. While it appears the spiritual aspects of the series may not have been thought through the way I expected, it still falls together in a way that hasn’t disappointed—so far. The series is in its last run starting January 16, finishing up its four season arch. I must admit that, even though I hate to see the series go, television series with a closed storyline arc are something I deeply appreciate. It’s like reading a good novel. (For more on this series by this blogger, go here.)

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. This series is in its second season and I'm still hooked. While I wasn’t too enamored with John Connor’s character at the beginning of the series, I must admit I’ve found it interesting to see him juxtaposed to a never seen but much talked about future John Connor. There are moments when actor Thomas Dekker really carries off the weight Connor must feel in the present while knowing his role and stake in the future. And I also wasn’t too enamored with Riley when she first appeared but in the last two episodes, she has become one of the more complex characters on the series. And, of course, I appreciate the deliberate dabbling in the realm of faith and religion in this series as well. It’ll be interesting to see if and how the series works with the newest Terminator film due out next spring. (For more on this series by this blogger, go here.)

Eureka. Eureka is one of the greatest viewing pleasures of the summer season—quirky, humorous and engaging as well as an thoughtful commentary on technology as well as what makes a good community. And, for what it’s worth, I recently discovered (hat tip to Peter Chattaway) that the composer for BSG also does the music for T:TSCC and Eureka as well. Coincidence? Heh, not sure, but all three are great sci-fi series (with good music).

Life on Mars. We came upon this series one or two episodes behind but were immediately drawn in. I’m coming to think of this series as an engaging exploration of a common human experience: those times when we find our lives turned upside-down, when nothing seems to be the way it should be, when we feel lost and far from anything familiar. Like Sam, the main character in this series, we try to make sense of it all—of who we are and why we are here—as we try to find our way home. The British version was a closed story arc, like BSG, but I’m not sure what the American’s will do with it. I’m sticking with it, though.

Leverage. This is one of my more guilty pleasures. The series isn’t too deep or dramatic, but it is great fun, heh. A kind of Americanized version of the British Hustle, the series gives me my justice fantasy fix for the week.

The Office. Another remake of a British original and another of my guilty pleasures, heh. While this series is in its fifth season, we just started watching this year. It was a post on an episode in this series that spawned one of the more interesting conversations in this blog's comment's section, one with Ken of C-Orthodoxy about the value and nature of satire. Go here to read the exchange.

Smallville. We’ve watched this series from the first episode, though last season we built up our collection of episodes on the DVR and then watched them over a couple of weeks last summer. It was really interesting watching the episodes back to back, and then begin this season’s viewing almost right away. The series has been able to stay fresh, I think, mostly because it too has a somewhat closed storyline like BSG and Life on Mars. It’s definitely been interesting watching Clark become more and more the Clark Kent and Superman we know he will be. And the introduction of the Destroyer also introduces more explorations about our struggles with darkness in our choices—something this series (and comic-book stories) excel at. I do miss Lex, though. (To read more of my thoughts on the series and particular episodes, go here.)

Pushing Daisies. I’m heartbroken that this series has been cancelled. It is quirky, whimsical, ultimately uplifing and smart with periodic explorations in to the realm of faith to boot. I’ve appreciated its optimistic worldview, where bad things happen but love and goodness win out. It finishes up in the next few months, and I will miss it. (For more on this series by this blogger, go here.)

Lost. While I admittedly abandoned this series a couple of years ago, this last season has me hooked again—and how. The series has always been fertile ground in which to discuss fate, free-will and the choices we make, all themes and issues that bring God-talk into open spaces. Interestingly, it will complete its run next year, making it another of those series that has a closed storyline that I seem to be so fond of. (For more on this series by this blogger, go here.)

Heroes. There’s a lot of criticism on this season’s episodes but I’ve actually enjoyed most of the episodes—especially their exploration of the darkness and goodness that exists in all of us, another theme that brings God-talk into open spaces. A highlight of the season was when I caught myself empathizing with and actually liking Sylar at one point. Ack. That on it’s own makes this season worth it. By the way, I’m not liking Sylar so much anymore, heh. (For more on this series by this blogger, go here.)

I’ve also been watching other series, albeit not as consistently. Bones has had a couple of good episodes, as did Boston Legal and House. Of course, I enjoyed Doctor Who as always. And our family enjoyed watching Avatar: The Last Airbender as well as The Legend of the Seeker, the latter of which admittedly is not Golden Globe material but we’re enjoying it. I particularly appreciate that the main character is not paralyzed by his mistakes but encouraged to admit them, take responsibility and then turn around and move forward, all the wiser and more compassionate. A good lesson for my kids—and me.

And there you have it. If you've made it all the way through this post, heh, let me know what you watched last year.