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The good, the bad and the unwatchable

We have reached the end of the year, which is a time for lists. Bests and worsts, ins and outs, hits and misses, treasure and return. (That last one is for Christmas presents and, sometimes, spouses.)

There is a multitude of year's-end and decade's-end lists out there for you to find.

I'm going to use this space here for making notes to myself about my viewing habits for 2010, broken down into handy-dandy categories that I'll likely forget once the weekend is over.

Watch More Often

You know these shows, or at least you've heard of them. Well, I have ... but then I get paid to have heard of them. (Although not much.)

And while I've seen a few moments here and there, increased time-investment is warranted.

  • The Mentalist (CBS): Folks keep talking about this one and, since it has become a hit, it's probably time to give it an extended shot.
  • Burn Notice (USA): Spies, guns, conspiracies ... and Bruce Campbell in Hawaiian shirts. What's not to love?
  • The Big Bang Theory (CBS): I'll say this flat out. The BEST traditionally structured situation comedy on television. Why aren't you watching this show every week? For that matter, why aren't I?
  • Modern Family (ABC): You know those shows that seem terrific in short bits, but for some reason make you squeamish over an entire episode? That's what this one seems like, though it's funny enough to give a second chance.
  • The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson (CBS): This will require recording, since staying up that late is for you young'uns. The Scot-turned American worth watching, if only for his well-written monologues.

Watch Less, If At All

I truly don't get paid enough to watch this group.

  • Desperate Housewives (ABC): I know, I know; it's a camp comedy classic. It's not meant to be taken seriously. Even killing off Nicolette Sheridan (which, I admit, was a nice gesture) isn't enough to get me to watch.
  • 30 Rock (NBC): Everyone loves 30 Rock. Whenever I watch, I see clever people saying witty things. Which, in essence is the problem; the artifice is too evident; the "cool factor" too cloying. Everyone and I will have to disagree.
  • Mad Men (AMC): Everyone loves Mad Men. Whenever I watch, I see clever people saying witty things. Which, in essence is the problem; the artifice is too evident; the "cool factor" too cloying. Everyone and I will have to disagree.
  • Californication (Showtime): David Duchovny as a frustrated novelist whose love life and sexual escapades provide more distraction than inspiration. I think this show was made for people who don't watch television.
  • Reality Shows Involving "Real" Families With Large Numbers Of Children (Several): Get. Them. Off. The. Air. Where are the child labor laws to prevent voyueristic abuse like this?

Looking Forward

Shows that will be returning to the airwaves with new episodes. Think of then as the Calvary coming to rescue after we've had to sit through "Eastwick" and "Hank."

  • Glee (FOX); The show about a high school singing group is on its midterm break after a great first half. There's some danger in some of the soap-opera elements, but there's nothing as sweet, sassy and wickedly fun as this show.
  • Lost (ABC): The final season begins on Groundhog Day, which would be a great metaphor for repeating itself from the beginning ... except that it might lead to viewer revolt.
  • Leverage (TNT): A fun, spy-caper fantasy starring Timothy Hutton and a stellar supporting cast as modern Robin Hoods giving the bad guys what they had coming.
  • Project Runway (Lifetime): One day you're in, the next you're oooot! The fashion designers are back where they belong, in New York being cut to shreds by Nina Garcia and Michael Kors.
  • Eureka (Syfy): It's just a small Oregon town where everyone (except the sheriff) is a genius and strange things keep happening. Think of it as Twin Peaks meets Picket Fences.
  • Breaking Bad (AMC): The show that's taken over from The Wire and The Shield as the most-likely cause for nailbiting. Bryan Cranston as a meth-cooking cancer patient is the best character on television.

Jumped the Shark

Once-popular shows (some still strong in the ratings) that have lost their way and might not find their way back.

  • Heroes (NBC): What this should have been was a series of TV movies or graphic novels. The plot had had so many do-overs by this point, you have to ask yourself why they keep trying.
  • House (FOX): Does anyone really care of House and Cuddy make a cute couple? Seriously? A once-great medical drama that decided to become a soap opera worthy of ... of ...
  • Grey's Anatomy (ABC): ... this piece of dreck.
  • Law & Order, all of them (NBC): A great franchise that has lost a lot of what has made it special. The flagship erred by removing Jack McCoy from the courtroom. Criminal Intent is replacing Vincent D'Onofrio with Jeff Goldblum.
  • American Idol (FOX): Paula's out as a judge and Simon is rumored to have one last season in him. Ellen Degeneres is jumping into this mess like Cousin Olive into The Brady Bunch. But then, there's always Adam Lambert and the guy who won last season ... you know ... what was his name?

Mail Tribune news editor Robert Galvin writes about television for Tempo. He can be reached at rgalvin@mailtribune.com