BEST OF SHOW: TV
Memorable TV moments of 2005
By Maureen Ryan and Sid Smith
Tribune staff reporters
December 18, 2005
It's impossible to sum up 365 days of television, but the baker's dozen below highlight some of the most memorable people, trends and moments from the TV year we leave behind:
1. 2005: A great year for undertakers. Mortality has been everywhere: just a few of the high-profile deaths include Julius Caesar and Niobe on "Rome," stepsiblings Boone and Shannon on "Lost," Rex and the homicidal wacko pharmacist George on "Desperate Housewives" and (or so we thought, at least for a week) John Abruzzi on "Prison Break." And the creme de la creme of requiems: The entire cast of "Six Feet Under." Requiescat in pace.
2. Most worn-out welcome: Joey on "Joey." (Producers, see item No. 1 for a tip on how to end this torture.)
3. Most heartbreaking cancellations: "Joan of Arcadia" (we still miss that show's wit, sincerity and heart), "Arrested Development" (the good news: It's not officially canceled. The better news: It might be rescued by another network. Thanks, TV Santa!)
4. Most watchable jerks: Neil Patrick Harris, erasing "Doogie Howser" memories and finding a rare second act as Barney, an obnoxious, would-be stud on "How I Met Your Mother." And Chicago's Jeremy Piven is scintillating as "Entourage's" Ari Gold, who's utterly devious, selfish, abusive (to his long-suffering assistant Lloyd, among others) and ridiculously funny. We'll never know exactly why we root so much for this foul-mouthed agent, but we do. Hug it out!
5. Most memorable moments: The stunning reunion of various couples, with varying degrees of separation, loss, pain and love, on a recent episode of "Lost." For one, brief shining moment (especially when Rose and Bernard embraced), the show could have been renamed "Found." Other "holy-cow moments": John O'Hurley and his partner losing on "Dancing With the Stars"; computer nerd Chloe blowing away bad guys on "24"; a Cylon shooting Commander Adama in the "Battlestar Galactica" Season 1 finale; the bad guys kidnapping Walt from the raft on "Lost"; columnist Robert Novak storming off a CNN talk show in a huff; fan favorite Austin Scarlett getting cut from "Project Runway"; the one-armed sheriff's deputy on "Invasion" miraculously getting a new arm that he's then forced to saw off; and Ken Jennings finally losing after an epic run on "Jeopardy!"
6. Biggest sign of hope for TV news: The heartbreaking and incisive reporting from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. There was one jaw-dropping moment after another, as Shepard Smith, Anderson Cooper, Paula Zahn, Ted Koppel and others put faces to the despair of New Orleans and took public officials to task for the botched relief of the ravaged Gulf region.
7. Worst moments: The finale of "The Bachelorette" (Jen Schefft, can we please have that three hours of our lives back?); every single second of "Britney and Kevin: Chaotic"; MTV's abysmal coverage of the Live 8 concerts (watching the concerts online was a zillion times better); the lack of hatch-tastic resolution on "Lost's" Season 1 finale.
8. Most memorable Oprah moments: Gifting Katrina relief workers on her "Favorite Things" episode; using her show to get pedophiles arrested; hosting an excitable Tom Cruise, who had just started dating some girl (we can't recall her name); her pal Terry McMillan confronting her gay ex-husband on the air. And, of course, revisiting David Letterman's show, finally.
9. Best showings by Chicago natives: Though Piven didn't win an Emmy, he stole the show on "Entourage"; Joliet Correctional Center provided "Prison Break" with the best set on TV; Marty Casey rocked the house on "Rock Star: INXS"; Shonda Rhimes of University Park rocked the Nielsen ratings with the addictive "Grey's Anatomy"; Dan Smith and Steve McDonagh of Chicago's HB won "The Next Food Network Star"; and Oak Parker Kathy Griffin's "Life on the D-List" was surprisingly addictive.
10. Best escape from death: Reality TV. Every year, reality TV is declared dead, then along come some entertaining new shows to revitalize the genre. Let's see, this past year, we reveled in "Project Runway," "Beauty and the Geek," "Dancing With the Stars," "Brat Camp" and "Rock Star: INXS," not to mention stalwarts such as "Survivor" the Boston Rob/Amber edition of "The Amazing Race." Maybe reality's not quite dead yet.
11. Trend we'd most like to stop in its tracks: Please, can we declare a moratorium on cops, lawyers, evidence technicians and serial killers on TV? Oh, what we'd give for a nice ensemble drama about . . . postal workers. Electricians. Ballet dancers. Anything but cops and killers!
12. The comebacks that worked and the ones that fizzled: Martha Stewart's "Apprentice" was nothing on the Donald's (which was itself pretty blah -- again) and her chat show has all the warmth of a Sub-Zero freezer. Lisa Kudrow was great as the selfish yet vulnerable Valerie Cherish on "The Comeback," but the HBO show never found an audience. "Lost," on the other hand, came back with a terrifically wild and woolly Season 2 opener, and the occasionally blah "West Wing" is on a roll with its live debate and exciting election story line.
13. Our Christmas wish list: That once ABC kills the terrible new version of "Nightline," the network gives that valuable slot to Jon Stewart and his "Daily Show" crew. That we never have to hear, read, see or otherwise experience any coverage of Paris Hilton, Nicole Richie or any of the cast members of "Laguna Beach" in 2006. That all of our favorite shows are available on demand, for free, all the time, anywhere.
Hey, it's a wish list, right?