I watch a lot of television, so much so that I get a backlog of shows that have to be recorded/downloaded in order to keep up. These are the best shows currently on the air, not included are programs that have officially ended (that may get its own list later).
1. Good Eats (Food Network): More than a combination of science and food, it is a total entertainment package whose format is reminiscent to those well-versed in Powerpoint.
2. Mythbusters (Discovery Channel): It started out as a gimmick and an excuse to blow stuff up, it has continued into a program that celebrates creativity and ingenuity. They still like to blow stuff up, and they know that each one needs to be bigger than the last one.
3. The Simpsons (Fox): Pretty much everyone agrees that the best years are in the past, but I don’t agree that it sucks. I say it is still better than 90% of what is currently on the air. Who is to say it can’t be great again? And I also greatly enjoyed the movie.
4. Doctor Who (BBC): Thank you internet geeks! Because of you, I don’t have to wait four weeks and pay out for digital cable to see this show. I do anyway, but I don’t have to wait. It might be one of those sci-fi shows that tries to teach lessons about humanity, but you can tell everyone involved loves being a part of it. I recommend any of the Steven Moffat-penned episodes for the best of the new series (restarted in 2005).
5. Battlestar Galactica (Sci-Fi): It is actually a serious drama set in space more than a sci-fi show, which tends to handicap it in the eyes of the general public, who are already staying away from the channel because of the name and avoiding the DVDs because of the high price. It’s fine to be a latecomer and you don’t need to know anything about the 1970s version (too camp for me anyways), you can always rent or borrow the DVDs to catch up (it is a serialized drama), but do it soon – this is the final season.
6. Ace of Cakes (Food Network): They make cakes. But they’re not just cakes – they’re custom-designed dream cakes. I have no idea how much they cost (likely a bunch), but no one argues with the results. What this program does is show you lovable characters who make your cakes.
7. Dirty Jobs (Discovery Channel): Showcasing jobs you may have never realized existed, Mike Rowe gives a full and hearty effort to do the jobs that many people would never want to do for whatever salary.
8. Thank God You’re Here (Network Ten): The Australian original version (I don’t care for the US version) takes comic talent and throws them into a situation where they improv their way through a 6-minute sketch. It’s funnier than it sounds and you’ll probably never get the chance to see it, so find yourself a region-free DVD player and order online. Or come on over and watch my DVDs.
9. No Reservations (Travel Channel): Anthony Bourdain may have mellowed out due to fatherhood (not so much drinking and smoking), but you can’t deny he knows what he’s talking about and he never apologizes for his opinions. If he doesn’t like something, he will tell you. Part food show, part travel show, but never fully either, it’s that rare duck that is completely under the radar, so when you meet a fellow fan, you know you’re part of the cool crowd.
10. Everyday Italian (Food Network): Everything looks so good on this program. Everything.
11. Top Gear (BBC): I’m not even a car guy, but these guys get to work with some incredible examples of automotive engineering. Then they get to have fun by drag racing fighter jets, taking a car up to 253mph, playing football, or converting cars into boats or a space shuttle.
Just missed – How I Met Your Mother (CBS): This should become one of the classic comedy series of all time. There are no weak characters in the bunch (unlike other past hit comedies) and they all play off each other incredibly well. Who would have thought CBS would do something other than crime or reality competition shows?