Coming out of the writer's strike into a staggeringly bad economy made for a tough year for TV in 2009. Solid -- if not spectacular -- shows were canceled. Jay Leno left late night, but was kept around to fill a prime time hole with a show that wouldn't cost NBC a bundle.
But we managed to find some high points in '09 -- nine of them to be exact. So here's Holidash's take on the best new shows of '09.
"The Good Wife" -- The political sex scandals of 2009 rocked the nation and the Carolinas, but it's on CBS where they've grown traction with a look at the other side. Juliana Margulies' Alicia Florrick may be the spurned wife living quietly in the midst of a very public imbroglio, but that quiet is better termed as strength and class. Both offer a glimpse of the life of the woman who stands by her man, even when she doesn't want to. It's not a flashy show; it's a human one.
"Glee" -- Our SSRI for a gloomy 2009, the grown up version of the high school musical phenomena reminds us why the villian archetype (Jane Lynch) will always prosper, that the fastest way to our heads is through song. The show has already spurned mega sales for the Glee Soundtracks 1 and 2, and the rush of the half finished first season to DVD is promising to keep at least one sector of post-holiday sales churning.
"Modern Family" -- If the opening lines to Tolstoy's Anna Karenina rang through your head the first few times you watched this return to the family-based sitcom, it's because happy families are indeed all alike, but the unhappy ones are a heck of a lot funnier. Ed O'Neill is back and doing what he does best: Playing bumbling patriarch to the hilt and to plenty of laughs.
"Flash Forward" -- If you don't know yet what you'll be doing on April 29, tune in to ABC's suspenseful mind-bender. It owes a lot to Lost, but the idea that everyone in the world has blacked out at the exact same time, only to be thrust into the future for a few moments has thus far left us wanting more. The thanks goes to a star-studded cast, including Joseph Fiennes and Courtney B. Vance, and come May sweeps we're expecting a big finish. The question: Can they sustain us past April 29?
"Castle" -- Lighthearted, cheesy -- but you say that like it's a bad thing? Throw in some sass and Nathan Fillion as the mystery writer with a penchant for getting under the skin of one very sexy detective, and this mid-season replacement show sizzles with the chemical compound for making us smile.
"Community" -- We've all been taken down a peg or two in 2009, and the snarky skewering of community colleges couldn't have come at a better time. This addition to NBC's comedy Thursday is modeled on the type of characters that made John Hughes famous. Although he wasn't a part of the creation, the pilot's dedication to the late director proves his archetypes aren't done making us laugh.
"Vampire Diaries" -- Yes, it was the year of the fang-toothed, and we make no apologies for adding a CW teen show to the mix. They have to watch TV too, as do the guilty pleasurers among us. Based on a book that pre-dates the Twilight craze, it was a sparkling surprise -- especially for the Twi-haters who thought they couldn't handle another in that vein.
"Southland" -- Centered in an LA that's more gritty than glam, this smart cop drama returned the story to the officers, leaving the crime stories to the Criminal Minds and CSIs out there. The mid-season replacement show was canceled by NBC just as it was getting good, but TNT has promised to keep rookie Ben McKenzie and his training officer Michael Cudlitz on the beat in 2010.
"Cougar Town" -- The title alone made us shudder, but we apologize for everything bad we said about this woman of a certain age beds younger guys show. We should have known Courteney Cox Arquette had it in her to make Jules Dobb more interesting, less ick. She's not scratching her way to the top of the food chain, but in 2009, her "Scrubs"-esque laughs were what we needed.