As we begin to embark upon the fall television season, which has me excited for tonight's premiere of the 5th year of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, I wanted to write a quick review of what was easily the best summer season of television series in a long time, maybe ever. There were a half dozen or so shows that I made appointment viewing in the past couple months, and with True Blood's wacky and somewhat disappointing finale Sunday, only Entourage remains as a summer series that is continuing into fall. But Ari and the gang are nearly over, so without further ado, here are my rankings of the top series in the summer of 2009 (that I watched).
- Nurse Jackie (Showtime) This new show that followed Weeds on Monday nights seemed a little shaky to me at first, but I was paying $10 a month just to watch Weeds so I stayed with it, and I couldn't be happier. Edie Falco of Sopranos fame plays the eponymous star of the show, a night nurse at a New York City hospital who (1) has a massive prescription drug habit, (2) is cheating on her husband with someone from the hospital, (3) has two young children, the oldest of which has anxiety issues similar to her own, and (4) constantly bends the hospital rules to preserve all her secrets and to provide better nursing for her patients. So yeah, she's really fucked up. Like really, really. But as played by Falco -- who is absolutely brilliant in the role -- she's also incredibly likable and vulnerable and even sometimes hard to watch as she digs herself further into self-made traumas that only dramatic actions can get her out of. When she can't get her wedding ring off in an episode late in the season (no one but her closest friend at the hospital, a hilarious but also well-rounded doctor character played by British actress Eve Best, is aware that she's married, including her lover), she has her doctor friend cut it off and then, in a painful scene to watch, ends up smashing her finger in the bathroom with a hammer for an excuse for her husband about what happened to the ring. The show is a half-hour long, but in the mode of Weeds, it's not a comedy, nor is it a drama -- it's certainly far from melodramatic -- but there are funny parts, some outright hilarious; there are serious parts; there are amazing parts; and mostly, it's just about these flawed people living their flawed lives, and failing, but holding my interest in a way that no new show has captured my interest since, well, True Blood last September. By the end of the season, I would watch the taped episode of Nurse Jackie before the taped episode of Weeds. Which makes it #1 in my book.