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The Top TV Drama Moments of 2010

December 27th, 2010 by Martin Moakler Social Community Manager

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 …

Top TV Reality Moments of 2010

December 21st, 2010 by Martin Moakler Social Community Manager

Reality TV has come a long way. In the past 10 years, it’s gone from just being a cheaper alternative to scripted shows to a powerhouse phenomenon that has infiltrated all facets of media and politics, and is also a cheaper alternative to scripted shows. Even if you never watch the shows … well, you’re a liar, but you know who Speidi, The Situation and the Kardashians are, although you might not be able to explain why they’re famous. This year, the influence of the genre was felt far and wide … even in the White House! Let’s take a look back at the top moments of what may be the wildest year of reality TV to date. — Martin Moakler for Hulu

President Obama Enjoys ‘The View’
In July, President Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to appear on a daytime talk show, and the ladies of The View grilled him on everything from war and the economy to what is on his iPod. The Commander in Chief even got tested on his pop culture IQ, wherein he confessed that he had no idea who Snooki was, despite using her as a punch line for the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in May. Perhaps he was just flustered trying to get a word in edgewise with the notoriously fast-talking quintet.

Mr. Colbert Goes to Washington
With the President’s visits to The View and The Daily Show, Washington certainly went to the talk shows, but the talk shows also went to Washington when Stephen Colbert of The Colbert Report testified before Congress on behalf of migrant farm workers. After slipping into his on-air persona during his testimony — despite having submitted a report that he would address the lawmakers as himself — he received fewer laughs than he was used to and was even asked to leave … by a Democrat!

Oprah OWNs Up
Media mega-titan Oprah Winfrey announced that she would be shutting the doors on her successful, eponymous talk show in 2011 after 25 years to focus her attention on her new television network, The Oprah Winfrey Network (or “OWN,” for short). Even though OWN will be open for business on New Year’s Day, Oprah made sure her last season will be her most notable, with huge publicity stunts including flying her audience to Australia in a plane piloted by John Travolta, expanding her popular “Favorite Things” episode to two days, and, most recently, nearly gouging out Hugh Jackman’s eye by accident.

‘Dancing’ with the Tea Party
The midterm elections spilled over to reality shows when Bristol Palin outlasted Brandy on Dancing With the Stars, stirring up quite the scandal. Despite consistently being on the bottom of the leader board throughout the season, teen activist Palin made it all the way to third place. Conspiracy theorists postulated that Tea Party activists rigged the voting after message boards instructing Tea Partiers to vote for the daughter of the former Vice Presidential candidate multiple times were discovered. Host Tom Bergeron shot down the scandal, noting that those complaining probably didn’t even vote at all, but a nation learned that politics can rear its ugly head onto the most unlikely of dance floors.

A Rose for Any Other Name
The bitter breakup between Bachelor Jake Pavelka and his fiancé Vienna Girardi played out in the tabloids mere months after he gave her a rose and ring on the popular ABC show in March. More shocking than the end of a Bachelor relationship, however, was when Chris Harrison interviewed the former couple on a special episode in July. The cold, calculated Pavelka accused Girardi of cheating, while the frazzled Girardi accused Pavelka of only playing out their romance when the cameras were rolling. The truth may one day come to light in another reality show, but legions of stay-at-home romantics were forced to grapple with the possibility that people go on reality shows for their own personal gains instead of love.

Weave Got the Beat
The kids from Jersey Shore went to Miami this year, but there was still plenty of drama to be had in the Garden State. The Jersey girls of The Real Housewives of New Jersey made last year’s table-flipping incident seem subdued when what started as a civil (by Real Housewives standards, anyway) conversation between Teresa and Danielle erupted into the North Jersey equivalent of the last two minutes of The Blair Witch Project. And after Danielle’s hair extensions were ripped out, she made young Ashley out to be the most feared Jersey resident since Tony Soprano.

‘Idol’ Hands
The popular karaoke contest received more attention for its judges this year than its contestants. In January, Simon Cowell announced it was his last season. Ellen DeGeneres followed suit, citing that the show was not a “right fit.” Kara DioGuardi left because the other judges didn’t know she was even on the show. Jennifer Lopez signed on as a new judge, as did Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler. Randy Jackson is staying right where he is, dawg, and Paula Abdul is still off the show but remains forever our girl. (Her new show, Live to Dance, premieres on CBS January 4.) Oh, and some kids sang some songs.

Housewife in the White House
With all of the energy exerted to keep terrorists out of the United States, Homeland Security let under their radar a more imminent threat: reality stars. Last year, DC socialites Michaele and Tareq Salahi crashed a State dinner at the White House, where they mingled with various Heads of State, including President Obama. When it was revealed that they were participants in another edition of Bravo’s Real Housewives franchise, The Real Housewives of DC, and the events leading up to the dinner had been filmed as a plot line, a nation wondered to what ends hopeful reality subjects would go to get attention.

XXI Olympic Winter Games
One could say that The Olympics is the original reality show: the heightened drama, the fierce competition, and athletes who go there to win, not to make friends, and the Vancouver Winter Games lived up to that tradition. The International Olympic Committee praised the Canadian city for having a “great atmosphere for these games,” a fact with which the Americans can no doubt disagree, as we brought home the most medals. In fact, the general consensus throughout the world was that the Olympiad was a success, although there were a few negative reactions to the cold.

Aisle Be Seeing You
Scores of reality shows over the years have well documented the stunts and sociopathic behavior in which people are willing to engage in order to win a reality competition, but this year marked a new level of outrageousness with the premiere of Bridalplasty. On the E! show, brides not only competed to get a dream wedding, but also their dream plastic surgeries before their big day. Of course, this isn’t the first reality show to offer plastic surgery as a prize; The Swan did it six years ago. But, whereas The Swan at least made the pretense of rewarding hard work and inspiring behavior, Bridalplasty unleashed twelve bridezillas on a wild free -for-all chase of Who Wants a New Nose!

The Death of Fox Reality Channel
This year, the Fox Reality Channel went off the air. At first glance, one might assume it was taken down because America ran out of reality subjects to film, but many wondered if it marked the beginning of the end for the genre. Probably not, but it could well be an indication that the viewing public reached a saturation point for reality shows about former reality stars who compete to get another reality show (yeah, that’s a thing).

Top TV Comedy Moments of 2010

December 15th, 2010 by Martin Moakler Social Community Manager

It’s been a tough year for TV comedy. We lost a Golden Girl, a Designing Woman, and Gary Coleman. Party Down was canceled because the cast was just too successful on other shows. And, worst of all, Ke$ha was on $aturday…er, Saturday Night Live. But no matter to what depths our hearts plunged this year, our desire to laugh allowed us to persevere. And laugh we did, at this year’s outstanding funny television moments that made us feel totally double-rainbow. — Martin Moakler, Video Publisher

Glee Theme Episodes
The musical phenomenon had already proven itself more popular than The Beatles, but this year the kids from McKinley High’s New Directions became event television with theme episodes that utilized the collections of Madonna, Lady Gaga, Britney Spears and The Rocky Horror Picture Show for the story’s narrative. Certainly some of the most talked-about television of the year, these Glee episodes revered these musical icons and whetted Gleeks’ appetites for the next target of the show’s adulation.

Katy Perry and Elmo-gate
Katy’s décolletage proved a bit too scandalous for parents who protested her appearance alongside Elmo on Sesame Street this fall, prompting the PBS children’s series to pull the clip altogether from the show. It would seem that Katy got the last laugh as she made a provocative cameo on The Simpsons’ Christmas special, in which America’s favorite yellow family was re-imagined as puppets in honor of her arrival.

Betty White Hosts Saturday Night Live
The power of the Internet was never so apparent as when a random Facebook campaign convinced NBC to invite comedy legend Betty White to host Saturday Night Live … and Betty had never even heard of Facebook! The episode, which honored SNL’s funny ladies past and present, was just one jewel in the resurgent crown of popularity she experienced this year, proving that funny (not to mention muffins) has no expiration date.

Modern Family Wins the Emmy
In their second season, The Pritchett-Dunphy clan proved that they were no sophomore slumps when Modern Family snagged the Emmys for Outstanding Comedy Series, Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series, and Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for Eric Stonestreet’s performance as the hilarious Cameron.

John Stewart and Stephen Colbert’s Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear
In the midst of the mid-term election, political pundits who preach rather than report and government officials telling us the latest thing we need to fear, Jon Stewart of The Daily Show and Stephen Colbert of The Colbert Report banded together to host the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear. Created as a means to hold up a mirror to the three-ring circus that our news and politics has become, the D.C. rally boasted an attendance estimated at 215,000, with an Internet and television viewership of close to 2.5 million. Of course, the rally didn’t solve our current societal woes, but perhaps it did as their motto instructed: “Take it down a notch for America.”

The Office’s In/Out Tray
Less than nine months (ahem) after their wedding, Dunder-Mifflin power couple Jam (Jim and Pam) gave birth to Cecilia Marie Halpert. This joyful arrival was quickly obscured, however, by Steve Carell’s summer “WUPHF” that the 2010 season would be his last, leading to wide speculation as to who in the office will fill Michael’s void. (That’s what she said!)

Late Night Wars
After handing over the reins of The Tonight Show to Conan O’Brien last year, NBC gave them back to Jay Leno in January after his ten o’clock talk show failed to gain any momentum. Outrage from O’Brien’s minions passionately rang in the form of organized protests and Facebook groups, and a Che Guevara-esque icon as your avatar instantly demonstrated that you were “with Coco.” After months of gag orders, high-profile interviews, and a summer-long touring show, Conan is back on the air, albeit basic cable. The hullabaloo has almost totally died down, but it was sure a heck of a ride.

30 Rock Live Episode
There was more frenzy than usual in the halls of 30 Rockefeller Plaza when the madcap comedy did not one, but two shows in front of live studio audiences in Tina Fey’s old SNL stomping grounds, Studio 8H. With the help of Julia Louis-Dreyfus as “Past Liz” to smooth over the sitcom’s trademark jump cuts, the live 30 Rock event was a wild success, and even managed to include jabs at more timely events like the Chilean miners and Brett Favre’s … um, photographic largesse.