Bullz-Eye's TV Power Rankings, Winter 2006 Edition, best TV shows

Bullz-Eye's TV Power Rankings: Summer 2006 Edition

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Savor the moment, HBO. You currently own more than a quarter of our TV Power Rankings list, but with the imminent departure of “The Sopranos,” “Deadwood” and “Rome,” along with the TBD status of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and the oddly lengthy shooting schedule for the half-season “Extras,” the end of your reign as BE must-see TV could very well be nigh. For the moment, though, we heart you and wish you would ask us to the prom.

Unless Jack Bauer’s still single, in which case we’re spoken for.

Got a comment about the latest edition of our TV Power Rankings? Blog away at Premium Hollywood.

1. 24 Fox Last: 1

Death, death, death! Season five of “24” came out swinging the Grim Reaper’s scythe like it was Armageddon, taking out David Palmer and Michelle Dessler in the first 10 minutes, while leaving Tony Almeida in a coma (he would die midway through the season). The killing didn’t stop there either; fan favorite Edgar is poisoned to death by nerve gas, while Chloe (the official TV girlfriend of Bullz-Eye) watches helplessly. President I.M. Weasel proved to be much more cunning than we ever expected, signing off on Palmer’s death while threatening to send First Lady of Crazy Jean Smart to the funny farm. The finale, like most “24” finales, was a bit of a letdown, since they left a whole lot of plot threads unresolved. (Did they ever reveal who knew that Jack (Kiefer Sutherland) was still alive?) But they made up for it by slathering a big, steaming pile of mean throughout: Jack shoots JoBeth Williams in the leg in order to make Robocop talk, Jack nearly beats Audrey - his ex-girlfriend - to death when he suspects she has betrayed him, and Chloe hilariously tasers a drunk pest twice. But how now, brown cow, for Jack, who sails away in the season’s final seconds on a freighter headed for China? For the first time ever, the only thing Jack will have to save is his own butt. Pity all of his best friends are dead. ~David Medsker

DON'T MISS: Season one DVD review l Season two l Season three l Season four l 24 Blog

2. Entourage HBO Last: 5

Vinnie Chase may be the star of the summer blockbuster “Aquaman,” but he’s low man on the totem pole in his own entourage. Now in its third season, “Entourage” is one of the best shows on television not because of Vince (Adrian Grenier), who often comes off as flat and disinterested, but because of his boys - Eric (Kevin Connolly), Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) and step-brother Johnny Drama (Kevin Dillon) - and, most notably, his agent, Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven). Who knows if HBO had a grand plan when they hired Piven to play the acerbic and often downright nasty super agent (“Lunch is on me,” he tells a group of his wife’s friends, “provided that, Joyce, you still have your stomach stapled”), but he saved the show last season when too much time was devoted to Vince’s failed romance (and subsequent post-breakup depression) with Mandy Moore, and he did it again this season when the writers focused more on Vince and “Aquaman” in the first few episodes and less on the entourage and Ari. Fortunately, everything is once again right with the world: Vince is sharing the spotlight with his boys, Eric’s having threesomes, Turtle’s career as a music rep is taking off, Drama’s appearing in video games with Marlon Brando, and Ari is the biggest, and funniest, prick on TV. ~JC

DON'T MISS: Season one DVD review l Season two l Season three preview l Entourage Blog

3. Scrubs NBC Last: 3

Relegated to Tuesdays and shoved into the schedule wherever NBC can find the room, “Scrubs” doesn’t get the network love that Thursday nighters “The Office” and “My Name Is Earl” get. And yet, coming off one of its finest seasons to date, “Scrubs” is simply the best sitcom on network TV thanks to its endearing blend of quirky comedy and heart-wrenching poignancy, not to mention a cast that seems to get better every year. But as good as J.D. (Zach Braff), Dr. Cox (John C. McGinley), Turk (Donald Faison) and the other Sacred Heart Hospital staff members are, creator Bill Lawrence (“Spin City”) and his writers also deserve mad props. Take last season’s excellent “Wizard of Oz”-themed “My Way Home,” the show’s 100th episode, in which Elliot (Sarah Chalke) learns she has the brains to lead a Q&A session on a difficult topic, Turk finds a heart donor for a patient, and Carla (Judy Reyes) discovers she has the courage to be a parent. Want laughs? While discussing their boyfriends’ last names, Elliot asks Jordan (Christa Miller), “What, you don’t like ‘Cox’?” to which Jordan replies, “No, I love ‘Cox.’” Enter depraved surgeon The Todd (Robert Maschio), who says, “Best, conversation, ever.” NBC may not give “Scrubs” its due respect (the Emmy-nominated show isn’t even part of the network’s fall lineup, instead airing in January) but its legion of loyal fans knows just how good the series is, and so do we. ~Jamey Codding

DON'T MISS: Season one DVD review l Season three

4. The Office NBC Last: 2

If it wasn’t official during our last Power Rankings, it certainly is now: the American version of “The Office” is no longer living in the shadow of the BBC show that inspired it. We admit, we had some very serious concerns when the series first premiered, given that the first season of the show had a few episodes that were almost complete rewrites of episodes from the British version. Thankfully, upon having viewed the show’s first full season (it was originally a mid-season replacement, you may recall), we can confidently state the writers of “The Office” - who probably cringed when they received the network mandate to recycle those episodes in the first place - have created a whole new world that stands not atop the feet of the original, like a little kid dancing with an adult, but proudly beside it as its own viable comedic entity. Michael Scott (Steve Carell) has evolved from David Brent Lite into a boss that way too many Americans recognize, and Rainn Wilson’s role as Dwight Schrute…well, frighteningly, he might be even more recognizable in your workplace. The unrequited love between Jim (John Krasinski) and Pam (Jenna Fischer) may never come to pass, but the thought that it might is, in and of itself, just about enough to keep us tuning in. Possibly the coolest bit about the show, though, is that, even during the summer hiatus, NBC put brand-new “webisodes” online, so we could continue to follow the adventures of Dunder-Mifflin’s accounting department. Make no mistake, the one-two comedic punch of “My Name Is Earl” and “The Office” is the most solid pairing presently on the air. ~Will Harris

5. Deadwood HBO Last: 7

Was the Wild West really like this? Was there this much corruption, politicking and murdering? Maybe. Were there this many f-bombs? Maybe not. Methinks creator David Milch (“NYPD Blue”) uses the colorful language because, since “Deadwood” is on HBO, he can. Considering both its language and its violence, the show just wouldn’t be the same on broadcast television. Unfortunately, before the third season started, it was announced that these would be the show’s final episodes. It’s not clear if Milch is parting ways with HBO or vice versa, but either way, it’s a shame. Cocksuckers. The storytelling is brilliant, the acting superb, and the set design and costumes are genuine, and it once appeared that “Deadwood” would have the best chance of carrying the network’s torch after its flagship, “The Sopranos,” finally went off the air. While the show revolves around two men - the scheming, cussing bar owner Al Swearengen and the fine, upstanding Sheriff Seth Bullock - it’s the women of “Deadwood” that make the camp so interesting. While they don’t hold the overt power of their male counterparts, the alcoholic Calamity Jane, the widow Alma Garret and two former prostitutes, Trixie and Joanie Stubbs, are often the owners of the show’s best dialogue and storylines. Most of the residents of “Deadwood” are interested in two things: their survival and the survival of the camp, in that order. This generates a lot of conflict and strange bedfellows, both literally and figuratively. I’m not sure where the final season is headed, but once “Deadwood” and “The Sopranos” are gone for good, the network is going to have a hell of a time replacing them. ~John Paulsen

DON'T MISS: Deadwood Blog

6. The Sopranos HBO Last: 8

So here we sit, eight episodes away from the end of one of the most popular shows in TV history, and what have we learned? Well, for starters, “Sopranos” creator David Chase has balls. Big brass ones. How else can you explain last season’s “Johnny Cakes” storyline? Chase revealed that Vito (Joseph R. Gannascoli), one of Tony Soprano’s captains, was gay a couple of years ago, and in the show’s recently aired sixth season, Vito was exposed. Not exactly the kind of storyline “Sopranos” loyalists are accustomed to, but it worked. Viewers (and bloggers) spent the entire season wondering who was going to whack Vito (no pun intended, we assure you), and when and where it was going to happen. Unfortunately, the season as a whole dragged a bit due in large part to Chase’s constant character and plot juggling, whether it was Chris (Michael Imperioli) falling off the wagon with fellow recovering addict Julianna Skiff (Julianna Marguiles), Paulie (Tony Sirico) learning that his mom was actually his aunt and his dead aunt was his mom, or Johnny Sack (Vincent Curatola) copping a plea with the feds. But the remaining eight episodes, which debut in March 2007, are set up for a big final payoff and a potential bloodbath. Following his own brush with death, Tony (James Gandolfini) seemed ready for a lifestyle change but between the Vito situation, Chris’ implosion, and the rise to power of Phil Leotardo (Frank Vincent) in New York, that ain’t happening. With heat coming from all sides on Tony, how will Chase choose to end it? You can bet we’ll be there next year to find out. ~JC

DON'T MISS: Season one DVD review l Season two l Season three l Season four l Season five l Sopranos Blog

7. The Shield FX Last: 4

Midway into the show’s fifth season, “The Shield” appeared to be well on its way to redeeming itself as one of the premiere dramas on television. The Strike Team was back together and everyone was happy, even though a rabid IAD agent (Forest Whitaker) was hot on their trail. And then Shane killed Lem (Kenneth Johnson) in the season finale, and everything changed. We’ve yet to actually see how this is going to play out for next season, but we’re already dreading the consequences. Will the death of a major character (at the hand of his best friend, no less) only make for a stronger hour of television, or will it just push the series more towards eventual retirement? Also, will the Barn’s newly appointed captain, Claudette (CCH Pounder), choose to work with Vic Mackey (Michael Chiklis) or against him? Partly because we’ve yet to see an outcome, and partly because we don’t have high expectations for the end result, “The Shield” has been dropped a few notches this time around, but don’t count this high-powered drama out of the race just yet. There still are at least two more seasons to go (according to the deal that Shawn Ryan just inked with FX), so anything can happen from here on out, including a much-needed dethroning of “24” from the top spot. ~Jason Zingale

DON'T MISS: Season one DVD review l Season two l Season three l Season four l The Shield Blog

8. Lost ABC Last: 12

The second season of “Lost” was a shaky one, thanks most in part to an unbalanced storyline and an annoying programming schedule that aired at least one repeat for every two new episodes. Of course, we all knew that J.J. Abrams and Co. would eventually deliver the goods, and boy, did they. We’ve got four words for you: Best. Season. Finale. Ever. Not in the history of the show: in the history of television. Yes, it was that good. The season finale also put millions of conspiracy theories to rest when the island’s supposed electromagnetic powers were displayed at their full potential. The result? One giant headache and three more impending castmates in the dirt. But seriously, what did happen to Desmond, Eko and Locke after the weary Aussie activated the failsafe in the hatch? And what will become of Michael now that he’s successfully betrayed his fellow survivors? Also, are the Others just a shipwrecked theater troupe, or do they really play a more important role in the big picture? And what are we to make of the closing minutes in the finale? Is that woman’s father in charge of the entire project, and is she really financing a rescue team to find her dear Desmond? There are plenty of questions looming as we await the launch of season three (most importantly, perhaps, why Ana Lucia and Libby were killed off so carelessly), but this time around, we sense that there’s a lot more confidence amongst fans as to the direction that we’re headed. ~JZ

DON'T MISS: Season one DVD review l Lost Blog

9. Grey's Anatomy ABC Last: NR

Our little interns are growing up. Last year, their problems were so charmingly innocent: Izzie’s embarrassment over her modeling past; George’s unrequited crush on Meredith; Meredith’s indecision over whether to continue dating her boss; everyone’s collective fear of The Nazi. In their sophomore season, the stakes are dramatically higher. George is reeling from the humiliating consequences of consummating his crush. Izzie is putting both her heart and her career on the line for a patient with whom she should never have fallen in love. Cristina is recovering from a miscarriage, and slowly learning what it means to be in a committed relationship. The Nazi has become a mother. And Meredith has grown older, but not always wiser. One moment she’s bravely holding the live artillery shell that threatens a man’s life; the next she’s kidding herself into thinking that she and the unhappily married Derek can just hang out as “friends.” That’s the allure of this show: You never know when something’s going to blow up in a character’s face…but you can’t wait to find out. ~Deb Medsker

DON'T MISS: Season one DVD review

10. My Name is Earl NBC Last: 13

Karma still reigns supreme on the first half of NBC’s Thursday night comedy duo (the other half being “The Office”). Earl Hickey - played by Jason Lee - has continued to check off items on his decidedly long list of things he’s done in his life which he feels require retribution. Still along for the ride are Earl’s brother Randy (Ethan Suplee) and their incrrrrrrrredibly hot friend Catalina (Nadine Velazquez)…and, inevitably, Earl’s ex-wife Joy (Jaime Pressly) and her new husband, Darnell a.k.a. the Crab Man (Eddie Steeples). The premise being what it is, we always knew that the show had the potential to go on forever, just as long as the writing continued to live up to the standards set by the first few episodes. Thankfully, a year into the series, it’s done nothing but get funnier and funnier. A guest spot by Juliette Lewis, playing a former girlfriend of Earl’s turned bounty hunter, was a particular highlight, as was the appearance of Beau Bridges as Earl and Randy’s dad. The best episode of the season, though (and your mileage may vary; we all have our favorites), was probably when Joy and Darnell got married; if it doesn’t end up ranking as one of the great television weddings of all time, something’s gone horribly wrong. Now that season one is scheduled to arrive on DVD with plenty of bonus features (including an exclusive mini-episode where Earl theorizes what life would’ve been like if he’d been influenced not by Carson Daly but by Stewie Griffin from “Family Guy”), count on the cult of “Earl” to increase its membership numbers by leaps and bounds. ~WH

11. Rescue Me FX Last: 18

Constantly battling fellow FX series “The Shield” for the title of the most controversial show on television, “Rescue Me” has effectively upped the ante once again in its third season, and in doing so, nearly broke our top 10. This year, the firefighter drama has admittedly gotten a bit out of hand at times (like Lou’s mid-life crisis, Probie’s I’m-not-gay-you’re-not-gay blowjob, and the notorious rape scene), but some of the other subplots have garnered interesting results; namely, Sheila’s (Callie Thorn) sudden obsession with Tommy (Denis Leary). This season also features several heavyweight guest stars, including Susan Sarandon as a rich MILF who’s “kidnapped” Franco’s daughter. In fact, there hadn’t been much comedy around the firehouse this season until “Zombies” aired a few weeks back. The episode portrayed “Rescue Me” at its absolute finest, and we can only hope that we’ll see many more like it as the season progresses. ~JZ

DON'T MISS: Season one DVD review l Season two l Rescue Me Blog

12. Prison Break Fox Last: 11

Not unlike the #1 show on this list, “Prison Break” requires the viewer to suspend disbelief for 40 minutes each and every week. Would a maximum-security prison allow a death row inmate to be a part of a maintenance crew that would be doing unsupervised work? Would the prison allow two brothers to be incarcerated at the same site? Of course not, on both counts. Still, the show has that same pressure-packed feel as “24,” along with a protagonist, Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller), who is just as upstanding as Jack Bauer. Even though he probably can’t connect on a pistol shot from 50 yards away, Scofield is incredibly intelligent and able to problem-solve with the best that even CTU has to offer. When last we left them, Scofield and the gang had just broken out, but missed their charter plane at the airport, and the police were hot on their tail. It’ll be a challenge to pick it up from there, so let’s hope that the writers are up to the task. A sophomore slump would mean certain death for a show like this. ~JP

13. Curb Your Enthusiasm HBO Last: 16

It seems like a long time between seasons of this great comedy, and I often wonder during the show’s hiatus: What trouble is Larry David into right now? Last season, he had to decide whether or not to give one of his kidneys to Richard Lewis. Richard’s cousin, Louis Lewis, was (conveniently) in a coma and Larry kept visiting him in the hospital, secretly hoping that Louis would croak so that Richard could have Louis’ kidney instead. The other season-long storyline was Larry investigating the possibility that he was adopted, leading to several funny scenes with his supposed gentile birth parents. The show isn’t quite as fresh as it was in its first couple of seasons, but with episode titles like, “The Korean Bookie,” “The Christ Nail” and “Kamikaze Bingo,” how could you be?  ~JP

DON'T MISS: Season four DVD review l Season five

14. Extras HBO Last: 9

When we last sat down to talk about the BBC/HBO comedy, “Extras,” the first season had just ended and fans were already hungry for more. Unfortunately, while the second season of the series is currently in production, no U.S. air date has been set. Internet rumors point to an early 2007 premiere, but why the long wait? Does it really take an entire year to write and film six episodes? The only news to keep fans entertained until then is the long list of guest stars that have already been confirmed for season two, including Orlando Bloom, David Bowie, Daniel Radcliffe, Sir Ian McKellen and Chris Martin. Ricky Gervais’ official website also hints that more are yet to be announced, with rumors of a possible cameo by Tom Cruise. Presumably, “Extras” shouldn’t even be mentioned on a list of television’s best shows - what with its absence from the primetime lineup - but the future is more than enough to keep us excited, and while the series did suffer a considerable drop from its previous ranking, we’re confident that the show will bounce back into the top 10. Once it returns, of course. ~JZ

15. South Park Comedy Central Last: 10

“South Park” is nearly a decade old. Believe it. The show that debuted in 1997 about four foulmouthed kids from a small Colorado town has grown up, despite what detractors say about the program’s brand of comedy, and watching creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone develop into two of TV history’s greatest social commentators has been a lot of fun. The show’s 10th season has featured a two-part bash fest of “Family Guy” (see #17), the return of Towelie, the genetically engineered and eternally stoned towel, and, of course, the gruesome death and subsequent resurrection of series icon Chef. Parker and Stone took on Scientology last season with the now infamous “Trapped in the Closet” episode, and when Scientologist Isaac Hayes, who voiced Chef from the very first episode, quit in protest of “Closet,” the duo took another swing at the church but cut Hayes some slack: “We shouldn't be mad at Chef for leaving us,” Kyle explains while eulogizing Chef. “We should be mad at that fruity little club for scrambling his brains.” Well said. Then again, these guys have been hitting nails on heads for almost 10 years now. ~JC

DON'T MISS: Season one DVD review l Season two l Season five l Season six l Season seven I Best Cartoon Characters

16. House Fox Last: 15

He chased away the only woman foolish enough to love him. He tortured his only real friend with childish pranks. He got shot by a disgruntled former patient. Twice. And that’s just the Golden-Globe winning lead character, Hugh Laurie’s Gregory House. Season two of this captivating drama revealed new layers in its supporting characters as well, with Cuddy’s quest for a baby (not to mention a suitable man to father it), Chase’s as-yet-unexplained fall from the wealthier class, and Wilson’s doomed relationships with both his wife and one of his cancer patients. Then there’s Foreman’s two-pronged assault on his own “nice-guy” image: First he stole Cameron’s paper topic and beat her to publication with it…and then he exposed her to his own life-threatening illness in order to force her to find a cure for them both. Looking for cloying lessons of heart-tugging sweetness? Try that hospital in Chicago. “House” delivers its stories with a chartful of complications and a boatload of bile - and that’s just the way we like it. ~DebM

DON'T MISS: Season one DVD review

17. Family Guy Fox Last: 14

Down, down, down falls “Family Guy” from its previous heights on our list. Peter Griffin and company suffered a merciless skewering by the folks at “South Park,” where it was revealed that the “Family Guy” writers were actually manatees who take "idea balls” and send them down a shaft, after which the jumbled collection of ideas is turned into a joke for the show. (My God…it all makes sense now.) But, hey, what can we say? Although it remains wildly hit or miss, the show is still full of laughs, and, like we begrudgingly admitted last time around, it’s often funnier than “The Simpsons” nowadays. This season’s episode where Peter and his buddies form their own “A-Team” was an instant classic, as was the scenario which had Brian and Stewie go on tour with Frank Sinatra, Jr., as a new “Rat Pack.” It’s still annoying when the show is gross seemingly just for the sake of being gross, but, then, that’s what the kids think is funny these days. ~WH

DON'T MISS: Volume one DVD review l Volume two l Volume three I Freakin' Sweet Collection I Best Cartoon Characters

18. Rome HBO Last: 17

Talk about a setting ripe for drama: Rome, at the height of its power, when aristocrats would resort to murder in order to gain control over the empire. The first season covered the rise of Caesar (Ciaran Hinds) and his inevitable conflict with several Senators who felt he was gaining too much control. Despite Caesar’s considerable star power, the show really revolves around two soldiers, the upstanding Lucius Vorenus (Kevin McKidd) and the brutish Titus Pullo (Ray Stevenson), and their adventures in the army and, eventually, in politics. It’s good that this show is on pay cable, because the pagan religions weren’t quite as conservative when it came to sex and violence, and there is plenty of each on the show. It also doesn’t hurt that “Rome” features three seriously hot women - Atia (Polly Walker), her daughter Octavia (Kerry Condon) and Lucius’ wife Niobe (Indira Varma) - with varying degrees of power. Caesar’s death marked the end of its first season, so the show is poised for another dramatic year, whenever HBO and the BBC get around to finishing it. ~JP

DON'T MISS: Season one DVD review l Rome Blog

19. Battlestar Galatica SciFi Last: NR

The success of this show is still surprising, considering the incredible cheesiness of the original ‘70s series. But creator Ronald Moore, who had previously worked on the “Star Trek: The Next Generation” juggernaut and HBO’s underrated “Carnivale,” has done a fine job of using the original’s promising premise - several human colonies fleeing a race of mechanical beings - without any of its many, many, many faults. The show has been described as “The West Wing” in space, and the moniker is accurate. There is enough drama, intrigue, politics and surprises in one episode of “Battlestar” to last an entire season of most series. The second half of the second season wrapped up in March and the fleet has gone through several power struggles and Cylon encounters. Although some may argue that “Lost” falls in the genre, it’s safe to say that “Battlestar Galactica” represents the best sci-fi on television. The series returns in October, and it’s been announced that Moore will be involved in a spinoff series, “Caprica,” which will take place 50 years before the events in “BG.” Let’s just hope that his creativity doesn’t get spread too thin. ~JP

DON'T MISS: Season one DVD review l Season two

20. Reno 911! Comedy Central Last: 20

If nothing else, “Reno 911!” can at least be considered among one of the most consistent selections in Bullz-Eye’s TV Power Rankings. For the third time in a row, Comedy Central’s police parody has earned the last spot on our list, and if the rest of season four is even partially as funny as its premiere, there’s no doubt the show will land a spot on next year’s edition as well. The incompetent officers of the Reno Sheriff's Department are some of the most outrageous characters currently on television, and that’s why the show works. While past seasons have greatly depended on the humorous situations that come with Reno’s finest chasing down new criminals (played by guest stars and blurred out members of the principal cast) each week, the past two seasons have become more about the main characters. You could call it maturing, but we like to think it’s more about the writers finally recognizing the real strength of the program: the cast itself. ~JZ

DON'T MISS: Season one DVD review l Season two l Season three

Off the List

"Arrested Development" (#6), "Invasion" (#19)

Honorable Mention

"Chappelle's Show" (Comedy Central)
We would've loved to put "Chappelle's Show" in the top 20 but, alas, a three-episode return (dubbed "The Lost Episodes" by Comedy Central) just wasn't enough to warrant inclusion. Still, we couldn't let the show ride off into the sunset without a final word. These lost episodes are certainly bittersweet: On one hand, it's just great to see new episodes of "Chappelle's Show" after a year-long hiatus but, on the other hand, it sucks that these are the show's final moments. We give props to Chappelle for sticking to his guns and turning his back on $55 million, but that doesn't make the outcome any easier to accept. Here's hoping he winds up on another network soon -- HBO, as we said last time around, seems like a perfect fit -- but at the very least, thanks for the two seasons (and three episodes), Dave. ~JC

"How I Met Your Mother " (CBS)
The best traditional - i.e., filmed in front of a live studio audience - sitcom on TV today. Josh Radnor (Ted) and Cobie Smulders (Robin) are absolutely the sitcom couple to root for, while Neil Patrick Harris continues the career renaissance he started when he played himself in “Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle.” The first season ended with Ted and Robin finally getting together, only to have their best friends, Marshall (Jason Segel, “Freaks and Geeks”) and Lily (Allyson Hannigan, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”), break off their engagement. And it wasn’t even a cheap, just-for-the-season-finale move; the episodes leading up to it made it something you saw coming, even if you didn’t want to. If you’re not in on this show now, you’d better get in while the gettin’ is good. ~WH

"Big Love " (HBO)
Yes, another HBO show. You have to excuse the switch to first-person here, but seeing as I'm the only one on staff who actually enjoys the show, I felt the need to speak up. Here's what I don't get: Despite all the critical acclaim "Big Love" received during its premiere season, not one person I've talked to actually likes the show. Huh. Then again, someone pointed out to me that critics also raved about "The Comeback," and we all know how God-awful that piece of dung was. Still, those who bailed on "Big Love" after the first episode or two missed out. Bill Henrickson (Bill Paxton) is the owner of a growing chain of Henrickson Hardware stores in Utah. To outsiders, he's an ideal citizen: a local business owner and family man with a lovely wife and three beatiful kids. Problem is, he's actually got three wives and seven children. Yep, Bill is a polygamist, trying to lead the outwardly moral Mormon life while hiding his growing family at home (in three neighboring houses that share backyards). One unmarried colleague said, "I can't imagine having one wife, let alone three." Fair enough. A friend of mine, who grew up in a Mormon household and ditched the religion as soon as he was 18, told me the show freaked him out. I can understand that too. Still, there's nothing else like "Big Love" on television today, and I mean that in a good way. The relationships portrayed on this show are complicated, intricate and fascinating, and while I've got to wonder how "Big Love" will pick up in season two now that Bill's dirty little secret was exposed in the season-one finale, I have to have faith that the writers will again deliver. Even if I'm the only one I know who will be watching. ~JC

"Last Comic Standing" (NBC)
The summer can be a long one if you like primetime TV, because aside from a few gems, all you’ve got to choose from are reruns and short season reality shows. But a few of those reality shows stand out from the pack, and one of them is NBC’s “Last Comic Standing.” A previous hit with host Jay Mohr, the show has been reduced to a shell of its former self with “Yes Dear” star Anthony Clark hosting it. This dude is so not funny, and it’s really mind boggling that NBC put him in this role. But two things make "LCS" worth watching: the excellent stand-up talent, and the fact that there are shows like “Rock Star Supernova” and “America’s Got Talent” on other networks. This season there are a few comics that have star potential, including Chris Porter, Michelle Balan and Josh Blue. Others who exited early but still have enormous potential are Roz and Gilbert Iglesias. But no matter who you like, this is still a solid show. ~Mike Farley

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