2010 was a busy year. Like every other year, you had to deal with the family, work, fantasy football … oh, and you really should get that noise your car is making checked out. But despite all that, you still manage to find time to watch your favorite TV dramas. It used to be that when you missed a show, you had catch up on it around the water cooler, but nowadays, time spent at the water cooler is time better spent catching up on “your stories” on Hulu (it’s OK, we won’t tell). So, as you furiously try to catch up on the projects you didn’t manage to get done before the New Year, why not take one last break and look back at the top dramatic moments of the year? You know you want to. (Warning: spoilers follow.) — Martin Moakler, Hulu
Lost: “The End”
For six seasons, the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 captivated us as they tried to figure out why they were brought to that mysterious island somewhere in the Pacific … and then somewhere else … and then to 1977. The multifaceted characters and rich mythology of Lost found an end to their odyssey in May, and although the true meaning of the finale remains unclear, it brought definite closure to a nation of Lost-ies who religiously followed the story from the plane crash to the beach to the hatch to the States and back to the Island again … and in a blink of an eye, it was all gone.
Grey’s Anatomy: “Death and All His Friends”
After a season of behind-the-scenes cast squabbling, even die-hard fans of Grey’s began to wonder how much longer they would be able to follow their favorite sexy doctors through the halls of Seattle Grace. Then the season finale came, thrusting us all to the edge of our seats. When a lone gunman showed up to avenge the death of his wife, no one was safe, and the doctors were left feeling something with which they had become unfamiliar: powerlessness. And when the gunfire finally ceased, a reinvigorated audience couldn’t wait for Season 7 to see how the survivors would recover.
Law & Order Canceled
After 20 years, NBC banged the gavel and canceled television stalwart Law & Order. The series’ compelling “ripped from the headlines” story lines riveted viewers for its entire run and spawned successful spin-offs, both domestic and international. The show will, no doubt, live an even longer life in syndication, and even though the it was renowned for tying up loose ends by the closing credits, we can’t help but be plagued by some nagging questions: What will New York City character actors do now? Who will avenge the deaths of hundreds of Hudson University students now? And why do we still so very much want Sam Waterston’s approval? If only the late Jerry Orbach were still around to pithily let us know.
24 Series Finale
Although not the intentions of 24‘s creators, Jack Bauer came around at a time when the United States turned much of its focus toward hunting terrorists. And for eight seasons, he protected the U.S. from Balkan terrorists, Russian terrorists, Middle Eastern terrorists … if you were planning on harming America, Jack was going to take you down. When the new administration in the White House came around and our national agenda changed, even in TV land, Jack Bauer became a relic of a different era. Despite all the good he did for the country, this year he was disavowed by the American government and forced to go into hiding for the rest of his life.
Private Practice: “Did You Hear What Happened to Charlotte King?”
Just when it seemed the Halloween episode was over, we were left with a terrifying cliffhanger in which St. Ambrose Chief of Staff Charlotte King was beaten and dragged into her office by an unseen assailant. Viewers would have to wait a week to see the brutal aftermath of Charlotte’s rape and assault, her decision not to get a rape kit, and Addison’s stoic resolve to respect Charlotte’s wishes.
Mad Men: “The Suitcase”
In the first three seasons of Mad Men, Don Draper embodied the role of the Sixties Superman: smart, handsome, rich; but the superman faĉade was just as strong and empty as the Samsonite suitcase Don was trying to market in this episode. In a year when Don lost Betty and the kids in the divorce, and then Anna — his only link to his previous life as Dick Whitman — to cancer, he realized that booze, women and secrets weren’t a panacea, and we learned that he was ultimately just a man.
The Walking Dead Premieres on AMC
Even in a television landscape overrun with sexy vampires, The Walking Dead could set itself up to be the heir apparent to Lost, albeit a Lost for more desperate times. Whereas the Oceanic survivors were frequently motivated by hope in beautiful, unfamiliar surroundings, the characters in The Walking Dead warily march through a post-apocalyptic Atlanta that vaguely resembles the world they once knew with not much more than a simple desire to survive.
Dexter: “The Big One”
After tragically losing his wife last year, serial killer Dexter (Michael C. Hall) finally found in Lumen (Julia Stiles) someone who “gets” him: his peccadilloes, quirks and monstrous desire to kill … a bad habit he even got her to dabble in, which is something most serial killers can’t even get on their birthdays. Unfortunately, after sticking it to her own tormentor, it turned out that Lumen was just in it for the justice, and she wouldn’t be able to change her bloodthirsty beau. When she had to let Dexter down easy (because how else do you break up with a serial killer?), he shed himself of any feeling he had learned to emulate, and resigned himself to the fact that he could never be human.
Lone Star‘s Short Run
A summer of heavy promotion for the new series Lone Star seemed to guarantee its surefire success: a charming, Clooney-esque grifter caught between his con life in a Texas oil family and his real life 400 miles away, both of which had women he loved. It boasted talented actors and a compelling plot, but dismal ratings led Fox to cancel the series after just two episodes. When the similarly hyped My Generation was cancelled shortly thereafter, a new quandary was discovered in this era of instant gratification: Why should we commit to a show when we’re not sure it’s going to stick around (fool us once, Flash Forward!)? And how do you get a show to last when people are too apprehensive to become invested in it? And we wonder why there are so many reality shows …