The Excellent 10 of ‘10

This trophy was well represented in the countdown of the best media items of 2010.

Here we go with the annual list of the best media-related items of 2010 – a list of not just the best shows (isn’t everyone doing those?) but the best events as well. If you notice (excluding sports), cable is well-represented in this countdown, with a total of six shows in the Top 10 and honorable mention categories. It’s a no-brainer where to go if you want quality, scripted programming.

And now… the Top 10 of 2010:

10. Family Guy (Fox). Mainly been a hit-or-miss show, but the hits have been spectacular – especially the season premiere (And Then There Were Fewer), which changed Family Guy forever (not to mention the upgrade to HD.)

9. Modern Family (ABC). You can’t overlook a show which won an Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series in its first year. A classic in the making.

8. The NFL. Record high ratings and close, exciting games for the most part – this is a winning combination which the NFL leaves other sport leagues in the ratings dust.

7. Chicago Bears’ Rollercoaster Ride.  Whether they won or lost – with QB Jay Cutler, you never know what you are going to get – but one thing you will get is great television (except when they played the Patriots.)

6. The Walking Dead (AMC). Non need to use a pun here – Walking Dead’s six-episode run brought in an average of nearly six million viewers a week and praised for its cinema-like presentation. Seriously, this is what the real purpose of high-definition was meant to be!

5. Futurama (Comedy Central). Matt Groening’s futuristic comedy set in the 30th Century made its triumphant return seven years after Fox canceled it. Welcome back!

4. The Lost finale (ABC). Alright, the finale didn’t answer all the questions humanoids wanted and had a controversial scene during the credits. So what? Isn’t what makes great art is leaving some questions go unanswered? (on the numbers side however, Lost’s final episode drew just 13.5 million viewers – certainly not a losing performance – but a disappointment given all the hype.)

3. Boardwalk Empire (HBO). Outstanding cinematography, great plots, interesting characters and storylines – Martin Scorsese knows what he’s doing. While the broadcast networks have to create programs just to lure audiences, Scorsese, HBO, and other cable nets (see #6) create programs to tell a story.

2. The Big Bang Theory (CBS). The sitcom moved from its Monday slot after Two And a Half Men to the lead-off position on Thursdays this season  and continued its 18-49 demo dominance. And Big Bang hasn’t lost a step in the funny department either: Seeing Sheldon actually steal an Indiana Jones from a movie theater has to be the most hilarious moment on television this year. Now that’s what I call piracy!

1. The Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup Clincher (NBC). Patrick Kane’s OT goal in Game 6 clinched the team’s first Stanley Cup in 49 years and capped an exciting playoff run, which set record hockey ratings in Chicago in the People Meter era. Way to go Hawks!

Honorable Mentions: Hawaii Five-0 (CBS), Mad Men (AMC), Hot in Cleveland (TV Land), Dexter (Showtime), The Vampire Diaries (CW)

Other great media items of note in 2010:

ROBERT FEDER’S COVERAGE ON THE TRIBUNE SAGA. Vocalo and soon- to-be Time Out Chicago blogger Robert Feder’s articles on the shenanigans at the Tribune Tower was truly phenomenal work.

THE SUCCESS OF J NIICE AND JULIAN. After approximately two years, WBBM-FM’s morning show featuring Jamar “J Niice” McNeil and Julian Nieh has become dominant in key young demos, pushing out rival WKSC-FM morning personality Kevin “Drex” Buchar in the process.

BETTY WHITE ON SNL. The veteran actress guest-hosted an episode of Saturday Night Live back in May thanks to a Facebook campaign and helped score the late night comedy’s best ratings of the season. Power to the people!

THE LATE SHIFT, PART 2. The year began with the removal of Jay Leno from NBC’s prime-time lineup – a move that was expected. But Leno returning to The Tonight Show – the gig Conan O’Brien held for only seven months – was unexpected. And the ongoing saga set the stage for O’Brien to move to basic cable (TBS.) What happened here was the most interesting look behind-the-scene scenarios since, well.. the last time this happened (remember when Letterman was passed over for The Tonight Show gig for Leno way back in 1992?)

WGN RADIO’S GOODWILL MISSION. After two long, frustrating years, WGN radio listeners got their wish and saw the exit of Jim “Don’t Drop the Soap” Laski and undone most of the damage done by Kevin “Pig Virus” Metheny and Friends. Moves include the return of David Kaplan to the evening slot and extensions of Milt Rosenberg’s and Steve King and Johnnie Putman’s programs.

A CHICAGOAN WINS AMERICAN IDOL. Mount Prospect native Lee DeWyze did something fellow Chicagoan Jennifer Hudson wasn’t able to do: win American Idol and become the first from the Windy City to do so. Whether this will translate into increased viewership for Idol in Chicagoland (whose local ratings still trails most other metered markets in the country) remains to be seen, however.

BEST MOVES OF THE YEAR: BET reviving underrated sitcom The Game and former blog punching bag Steve Harvey becoming the latest (and hopefully permanent) host of Family Feud.

MAJOR USE OF THE EXEC REMOVAL SERVICE. Who do you call when bad execs are ruining media properties? Execbusters! Those guys zapped Jeff Zucker, Randy Michaels, Lee Abrams, Pig Virus, and Sam Zell all right out of jobs this year.

Happy New Year, everybody!

Updated on 2011-01-01 at 23:07 (correction made to Julian’s name)

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