2008’s Excellent 10

Happy New Year, everyone!

Instead of listing just TV shows, yours truly has decided to include items other than TV shows in the annual Excellent 10 and Toilet 10 lists across this year. Two history-making events happening in 2008 – Michael Phelps’ Olympic Gold Medal run and Barack Obama’s acceptance speech here in Chicago after becoming the first African-American President in history – made great television, even better than shows who didn’t deserve to be on the list this year (notably Chuck, Family Guy and The Simpsons, who were Number One in 2007… and then this happened.) So, let’s count them down… the best of 2008 (and yes, even two NBC shows made the list…)

10. The Big Bang Theory (CBS). Hey, we nerds can be funny too.

9. The Biggest Loser (NBC). This inspirational reality show (a rarity – and no Christian themes or sappy Ty Pennington to boot), this show definitely does not live up to its name.

8. Saturday Night Live (NBC) The election and Tina Fey as Sarah Palin gave this venerable late night show its’ best ratings in years.

7. Mad Men (AMC) First critically acclaimed, now an Emmy winner. Now if the program can only get some viewers…

6. Battlestar Galactica (SciFi) What the frak? Hey broadcast networks, this is how a remake should be done.

5. The Mentalist (CBS) Though it gets no respect (because it features no hot chicks the press can fantasize about – or screw), this new show is clearly a smash hit with an average of 17 million viewers per episode.

4. South Park (Comedy Central) Sorry, Family Guy and Simpsons, but with episodes like Guitar Queer-O and Major Boobage, Matt and Trey’s brand of satire reigns supreme this year by a large margin.

3. Michael Phelps. An amazing Olympic performance with a record breaking eight Gold medals. Watching him swim made great TV.

2. Survivor: Palau (CBS) Hands down, one of the best editions ever.

1. Barack Obama’s acceptance speech. As newly-elected President Obama said, “We are not a nation of red states and blue states.” I couldn’t agree more, and his speeches are always must-see TV.

Honorable Mentions: The Amazing Race (CBS), The Doctors (syndicated), Ugly Betty (ABC), King of the Hill (Fox).

Here are more honorable mentions…

BEST TEAM: The Boston Celtics. The 2008 NBA Champions are even more dominant this year, thanks to the play of Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, and ex-Chicagoan Kevin Garrett. Doc Rivers (another ex-Chicagoan) is doing a great job as head coach. I see another NBA Championship in 2009 in the cards…

BEST PODCASTS: Tie between Football Today (ESPN) and Buzz Out Loud (CNET). Though excessively long at times, both are entertaining and fun to listen to. If you’re a fan of football and technology, this makes your workday – or any day – a lot more fun. A close third is Marc Berman’s Programming Insider Podcast, which is especially good when Michael Burgi is on.

BEST PROMOTION: Those “campaign” ads featuring Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks dueling with each other while getting out the vote for the upcoming NHL All-Star Game. And I approve this message.

BEST FIRINGS: Joe Ahern getting canned at CBS-owned WBBM-TV and Jay Mariotti leaving the Sun-Times. May they never return.

BEST MOVE BY A CHICAGO RADIO STATION: They haven’t started yet, but WBBM-FM’s pairing Jamal “J-Niice” and Julian Nieh for a new morning show replacing the legendary Eddie & JoBo (in fact, it’s the ONLY good move made by a local radio station ALL YEAR.)

BEST MEDIA OUTLETS: ABC-owned WLS-TV continued its dominance in Chicago’s Nielsen ratings, but The Drive (WDRV-FM) takes the crown thanks to their ratings surge under Arbitron’s new Portable People Meter system.

Coming up next: The Worst of 2008.

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