For a critic who has been paying attention, there is no better gift that keeps giving at the end of a long year than a few good lists. • Not just because it's about doing what we love: telling you what we like most. It's also a chance to set the flood of entertainment products, news events and trends into some kind of perspective. Spinning order from chaos, we tell the story of our off-screen lives in what we all choose to watch on the small screen. • My year-ending list of top TV and media trends will come in the Dec. 26 Floridian. But there's just too much for one list to cover, so I'm taking space here for stuff that was too quirky or crazy to make the big roster. (Names in bold are pictured.)
Most overrated show of 2010 | Glee
Yeah, I said it. Not because I'm one of those haters who didn't get the concept or twitches when a song breaks out. Instead, I'm a stone fan who felt TV's splashiest, snarkiest take on high school seriously lost its way this fall. In short: too many uneven episodes and bizarre character moves. (Supercool villain Sue Sylvester marrying herself? Ham-handed messages on bullying and body image? Glee club teacher Will Schuester drowning in self-pity and selfish behavior?) Consider this award the kind of tough love our beloved gleek crew needs to get whipped back into shape.
Most underrated show of 2010 | Late Night With Jimmy Fallon
Like a teen growing into his daddy's suits, Jimmy Fallon has matured as a performer before our very eyes, turning his nice-guy persona into impish routines and finding the comedy voice of Twitter and Facebook-obsessed Millennials. Nailing his Emmy-hosting gig sealed the deal, and a recent viral hit joining Justin Timberlake belting out the history of rap was icing on the cake. Forget about Jay, Conan or that other Jimmy; Fallon is the latest hope for network TV's late-night comedy future.
Best band on TV The Roots
Allow this onetime music critic a brief return to form, noting how drummer-leader Questlove and his amazingly funky and soulful rap band has backed everything from George Clooney's Help Haiti Now benefit to Jon Stewart's Rally to Restore Sanity. Somehow, this ill crew from Philly also found time to drop two amazing records in 2010: their own opus How I Got Over and the sparkling, socially conscious John Legend collabo Wake Up. Move over Paul Shaffer; looks like there's a new powerhouse rocking the wee hours.
Best Tampa Bay media jobs program Reality TV
From St. Petersburg native "Big Mike" Lynche on American Idol to Tampa-raised ESPN star Erin Andrews on Dancing With the Stars and quickly unmasked Big Brother saboteur/Tampa bartender Annie Whittington, local folks have popped up in key roles on every major reality show this year (yup, that was the kid from New Port Richey whose eyebrow dance lit up YouTube on America's Got Talent). Something about Florida's natural attraction to insane drama and sordid eccentricity draws reality TV producers like flies to, um, Shinola.
Most overblown media coverage of 2010 The Koran-hating Gainesville preacher
In yet another sign of the Sunshine State's dominance of the bizarre, overly mustachioed, wannabe Koran burner Terry Jones drew pleading phone calls from the secretaries of State and Defense before falling off the media radar like he entered the witness protection program. That's the thing about conflict-addicted media: Once we know you're not actually going to set fire to the book like you threatened for weeks, we tend to move on.
The shows I wish I had room for on my Top 10 list
Year-end lists often are the most arbitrary work we critics will do, and there are always shows that don't quite make the cut. Here's my list of almost faves that would have made next week's list if I had 20 or 30 slots instead of 10. (Feel free to stop by the Feed blog and post your also-rans, too.)
Friday Night Lights (NBC) — The best football-centered show that's not about football at all.
Treme (HBO) — A note-perfect elegy to New Orleans' Katrina struggle dropped after America stopped caring.
Rescue Me (FX) — The best distillation of what guys find funny and desperate in one package.
Man v. Food (Travel Channel) — The coolest tribute to life-threatening gluttony on television.
Deadliest Catch (Discovery) — We lost Capt. Phil and gained a landmark TV season.