What Made Me Happy and Sad in 2009 (and 'NCIS' Is on Both Lists)
Happy: Watching HBO's polygamy drama "Big Love" (which returns Jan. 10), with its complex storytelling, compelling characters (not the least of which is Harry Dean Stanton's reptilian family-compound patriarch) and yet another chance for Bill Paxton to play a character named Bill (see "Twister").
Sad: Realizing that some of the most interesting, three-dimensional and entertaining female characters on TV are in a show about polygamy.
Happy: ABC's "Lost" put an end date on its story and, after a few stumbles, ramped up to a rippin' good season finale. There's a lesson in this for every continuing TV series -- better to leave the party at the appointed time then wind up as the drunk, boring guy by the beer keg who's told all of his stories ... twice.
Sad: Starting Feb. 2, last season of "Lost"! All good things must come to an end, but it's still a tad bittersweet (but I'm pretty sure that Josh Holloway at left, will land on his feet).
Happy: "Friday Night Lights" lives on, time-sharing between DirecTV's The 101 Network and NBC (eventually, at length, when the Peacock gets around to it).
Sad: Since I don't have DirecTV, I have to watch "Friday Night Lights" on my computer until NBC deigns to start showing it, whenever that will be, maybe summer, who the heck knows? Don't get me started.
Happy: Fox proved a little slower on the trigger finger with "Dollhouse" than it did with other unusual shows like "Wonderfalls" and "Firefly."
Sad: Wish the trigger-finger itch had faded in time for "Wonderfalls" and "Firefly," because "Dollhouse" largely squandered the chance.
Happy: Syfy's "Battlestar Galactica" ended well.
Sad: "Battlestar Galatica" ended. (And as for its prequel, "Caprica" -- I just can't shake the "Star Wars" prequel disappointment. I'm not sure I want to see how space operas begin if I know how they end.)
Happy: NBC's "Chuck" ended its season well and, partly through the efforts of fans (and some love for its advertisers, including Subway) earned a new one, starting Jan. 10.
Sad: Scott Bakula not yet booked to return as Chuck's dad. Hey, they're only doing 10 episodes of "Men of a Certain Age," and he's said he'd serve if asked. Let's get with it!
Happy: FX's "Sons of Anarchy" came roaring back as that uncommon show with very few upright or sympathetic characters (although, in this testosterone-soaked saga, the women are especially interesting and surprising), but which makes for consistent must-watch TV. Must be something that creator Kurt Sutter learned over at his previous gig, "The Shield."
Sad: Jay Karnes' evil DEA-guy character (at right), we hardly knew ye. RIP.
Happy: CBS' "NCIS" continued to be one of the best. shows. ever. And " NCIS: Los Angeles" launched on CBS as a solidly entertaining spin-off -- and I'm now a dedicated fan of the dynamic duo of LL Cool J and Linda Hunt.
Sad: As detailed here, both shows ran bitterly disappointing, jarring and anti-Christian holiday episodes on Dec. 15. Both had good elements (like the bits with Gibbs' dad, played by Ralph Waite), but overall, I hope I never see the likes of them again on either of these shows.
Happy: The CW's "Supernatural" once again proved that the genre of two hot guys and a really fast car (plus super-cool '70s music) is alive and well, at least in the world of the spirits.
Sad: Not enough people are watching. I know it's across from CBS' "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" and ABC's "Grey's Anatomy," but trust me, the fun, the drama and the Impala are worth the effort to watch.
Happy: There was one comedy on the fall network schedule that I really liked and that made me laugh out loud -- NBC's "Community."
Sad: There was only one comedy on the fall network schedule that I really liked and made me laugh out loud.
Happy: David Tennant has never faltered as the BBC's (and BBC America's and Syfy's) "Doctor Who," and writer Russell Davies did that rarest of things -- reviving an ancient show and making it feel brand-new. And, especially in the new, two-part Christmas episode, "The End of Time," he maintains the show's tradition of finding the most unlikely heroes and reminding us all that just because you're a senior citizen doesn't mean you can't save the world.
Sad: We're coming to the end of Tennant's run as the character, and my suggestions of Idris Elba, Colin Salmon or Dominic West for the new Doctor were not taken.
Happy: Showtime's "The Tudors" continued awesome, with performances worthy of chewing its gorgeous scenery (oh, the embroidery and furs in HD! You've no idea!). All thanks to writer Michael Hirst for giving the strong and saintly Katherine of Aragon her due as a powerful woman, mother and Catholic, and I have every reason to expect Hirst will give the same full-blooded treatment to Mary Tudor, who's usually just portrayed as a mad harridan or a punchline for Elizabeth.
Sad: We're fast running out of wives!
Happy: There are so many good and promising new and relatively new one-hour shows on networks and cable right now. Beyond those I already mentioned, they include USA's "Burn Notice," FX's "Damages," ABC's "Castle" (at left), Fox's "Lie to Me" (vastly improved under the hand of "The Shield" producer Shawn Ryan), Syfy's "Warehouse 13," ABC's "V," Fox's "Fringe" and, of course, Fox's sublime "Glee."
Sad: There was only one comedy on the fall network schedule that I really liked and made me laugh. (But, I did like the pilot for Fox's "Sons of Tucson," so that may change.)
Happy: There are also many good reality shows on network and cable right now. In particular, I'm enjoying Fox's "Kitchen Nightmares" (the U.S. one and the Brit version, which airs on BBC America), Bravo's "Tabatha's Salon Takeover" and ABC's "Shark Tank." If this nation's economy is to be saved, it'll come from entrepreneurs and small businesses, and these shows contain excellent lessons on conceiving, starting and maintaining your own business.
Sad: Not sure yet whether "Shark Tank" (right) will return this fall, but it does come back on Friday, Jan. 8, for some new episodes.
What's your list?