Inside Pulse TV's Top 15 Shows of 2009

It’s February 3, 2010, so you know what that means? Another “Best Of” List. No, not best of January 2010. Lets go back to 2009. Better late than never. It’s time to talk about “Inside Pulse TV’s Top 15 Shows of 2009”.

Once again I asked all the Inside Pulse TV staff members to give me their “Top 10 Shows of the 2009”. Any show that aired new episodes during 2009 were eligible to be on their lists. All channels and genres were eligible as well. I got close to 20 lists with each writer not knowing what shows the other writers considered to be the best. After getting these lists, I assigned each show on each writer’s lists a point value from 1-10. The #1 show on each list was given 10 points. The #2 show was given 9 points. #3 got 8 and this continued to the #10 shows each getting 1 point. Once I added up the numbers, there was clearly a major line between the “best” and the “rest”. However, the line was between the Top 10 and the rest, it was more like the Top 15. So I made an executive decision and decided to create “Inside Pulse TV’s Top 15 Shows of the Decade” list instead of a top ten list.

First, I will give you each writers’ individual lists. After that, I will post our overall “Top 15 TV Shows of the 2009” based on the overall points system. In addition, I gave each writer a show to talk about and explain why they considered that show to be among the “Best of the 2009”. So lets get to the lists….


Murtz Jaffer –

1.  Grey’s Anatomy
2.  Melrose Place
3.  Celebrity Apprentice
4.  Gossip Girl
5.  Dexter
6.  Friday Night Lights
7.  Survivor Samoa
8.  24
9.  Top Chef
10. Lie To Me

Raffi Shamir –

1. Lost
2. House
3. Glee
4. Friday Night Lights
5. The Office
6. Entourage
7. Dollhouse
8. 30 Rock
9. Big Bang Theory
10. Survivor

Lindsay Filz –

1. Survivor
2. The Daily Show
3. How I Met Your Mother
4. Mad Men
5. CSI (original recipe)
6. Law & Order:SVU
7. NCIS
8. Psych
9. Family Guy
10. Flash Forward

Josh Clinton –

1. How I Met Your Mother
2. The Office
3. Lost
4. Survivor
5. Burn Notice
6. Grey’s Anatomy
7. Modern Family
8. Glee
9. Chuck
10. Friday Night Lights

Widro –

1. Lost
2. Legend of the Seeker
3. Better off Ted
4. Greek
5. Top Chef
6. South Park
7. Burn Notice
8. Community
9. Bored to Death
10. Modern Family

Joe Corey –

1. Dexter
2. Mad Men
3. The Big Bang Theory
4. Pawn Stars
5. Colbert Report
6. True Blood
7. Pitchmen
8. Californication
9. Ace of Cakes
10. Sons of Anarchy

Craig Russell –

1. Friday Night Lights
2. Mad Men
3. Two and a Half Men
4. Greek
5. Fringe
6. The Office
7. 30 Rock
8. Chuck
9. Party Down
10. Glee

Nicole Byer –

1. Lost
2. Chuck
3. 24
4. Bones
5. Supernatural
6. Fringe
7. Burn Notice
8. The Big Bang Theory
9. Castle
10. House

Mary Duffy –

1. Mad Men
2. Ugly Betty
3. Monk
4. Law and Order
5. Law and Order Special Victims
6. Law and Order Criminal Intent
7. House
8.The Closer
9. Project Runway
10. So You Think You can Dance

Sharon Tharp –

1. The Office
2. Glee
3. Grey’s Anatomy
4. One Tree Hill
5. Dexter
6. Friday Night Lights
7. Gossip Girl
8. Lost
9. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
10. Big Brother

George Avacalos –

1. The Simpsons
2. Desperate Housewives
3. South Park
4. 30 Rock
5. Lost
6. Pushing Daisies
7. Mad Men
8. The Office
9. Two and a Half Men
10. Big Bang Theory

Sobaika Mirza –

1. Mad Men
2. Glee
3. Lost
4. True Blood
5. Friday Night Lights
6. The Office
7. So You Think You Can Dance
8. Top Chef
9. Battlestar Galactica
10. Modern Family

Mike Trevino –

1. The Office
2. Glee
3. House
4. Dexter
5. Breaking Bad
6. Monk
7. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
8. Mad Men
9. Parks & Recreation
10. 30 Rock

Kevin Wong –

1. 24
2. Chuck
3. NCIS
4. The Amazing Race
5. Survivor: Samoa
6. So You Think You Can Dance
7. How I Met Your Mother
8. Top Chef Las Vegas
9. American Idol
10. Wipeout

Joseph Henson –

1. Breaking Bad
2. Sons Of Anarchy
3. Dexter
4. Lost
5. Burn Notice
6. South Park
7. Kenny Vs. Spenny
8. Family Guy
9. Curb Your Enthusiasm
10. Big Love

Matt Basilo –

1. Lost
2. 24
3. True Blood
4. The Office
5. Smallville
6. Survivor
7. Curb Your Enthusiasm
8. Prison Break
9. Modern Family
10. Family Guy

Trevor MacKay –

1. Parks and Recreation
2. The Colbert Report
3. Dollhouse
4. Chuck
5. The Daily Show
6. Battlestar Galcactica
7. Reaper
8. 24
9. The Office
10. The Simpsons


Inside Pulse TV’s Top 15 Shows of 2009

#15 – 30 Rock

30 Rock has won many awards but that doesn’t mean that Emmys and Golden Globes are the only thing the show has. 30 Rock is a show that mixes brilliantly sitcom elements but also satire. It manages to be relevant without being preachy or confusing to someone that isn’t up to date with current events. Furthermore, 30 Rock often doesn’t take itself seriously and thus not every single joke is written to mean something, or hide a deeper message. The acting is also one of the strong points of the show. Each actor has his own type of humor such as the loud and random jokes of Tracy Morgan or the dry and sarcastic Tina Fey or the intentionally over-dramatic Jane Krakowski. Alec Baldwin also does a terrific acting job by delivering his lines in a subtle and to-the-point way. In general, 30 Rock has still maintained its quality for more than three seasons and every episode still feels fresh and different.

– George Avacalos

#14- South Park

Who can forget Cartman’s stint as a Batman-like vigilante in “The Coon” (complete with Christian Bale-esque gravel voice)? Or how about “Fishsticks,” with that infallible pop star I refuse to name here who blindly insists he’s not a gay fish?

Whether Butters tries his hand at pimping, or Cartman moves to Somolia to live the life of a pirate, South Park continues to be one of the funniest cartoons on television today, with a nearly-flawless 13th season spanning 2009. The key to this show isn’t in how far it will go, as many seem to think; it is the fact that Trey Parker and Matt Stone create bizarre circumstances week after week that effectively mirror the most current social events. The gross out humor and insistence to push the envelope is just delicious icing on top of a “snacky cake.”

As 2010 continues, I will keep on going down to South Park to meet some friends of mine.

– Joseph Henson

#13 – Burn Notice

Burn Notice has been shooting up in popularity for years and finished 2009 as one of the top shows on cable television. Shows on cable television are not as acknowledged often enough for their greatness so other Burn Notice fans like myself will be happy to see it on our list of the best TV shows 2009, even if it only came in at #13. Burn Notice is a show unlike any other. Most shows with spies have them doing missions under the guidance of superiors and with all their special gadgets handed to them. Burn Notice has a spy cut off from all these luxuries. He orchestrates all his missions with only help from his two friends and McGyver’s almost all of his gadgets. He narrates the entire missions teaching you combat moves, spy terms, and how to make basic spy gadgets. What other show on TV is going to teach you how to bullet proof your car using phone books? None is right. I hope Michael Westen stays burned forever so he can continue to heat up our televisions and keep our refrigerators stocked with yogurt.

– Nicole Byer

#12 – True Blood

There’s a popular phrase called the “sophomore slump.”

In television, this expression refers to a series that had a really strong first season but fails to carry the momentum into its second year.  Even popular programs like Lost, Desperate Housewives, and Veronica Mars have suffered from this affliction.  Then there are shows like Heroes that never truly recover.  But every now and then you have a series that manages to recapture the creativity of the premiere season while also maintaining a certain level of freshness that allows the show to grow while assuring the audience that it’s not a “One Season Wonder.”

True Blood most certainly falls into the latter category.

Indeed, the HBO hit series was not only able to follow up on its critically acclaimed first season, but many would argue that year two actually went above and beyond anything that happened the prior season. And with a plethora of interesting stories, the introduction of fun new characters, and some unlikely pairings, it’s a fair point. And the numbers don’t lie – during its second season, True Blood became HBO’s most watched series since The Sopranos.

One of my favorite aspects of the second season was the fact that the central characters were essentially “paired up” into separate story arcs, and slowly but surely they converged to one singular story. You had Sookie and Bill dealing with bureaucratic vampire matters (and while it may sound mundane in written text, it was actually quite thrilling – and it only got better when Eric was introduced to the mix). Speaking of Eric, he spent the first few episodes holding Lafayette hostage, and later creating an uneasy “alliance.” Jason joined a religious cult, which, in a roundabout sort of way, brought him the redemption necessary that ultimately resulted in him discovering his selfless, heroic, tolerant side. Sam and Tara remained in Louisiana, where the former butted heads with Maryann, while the latter became the Maenad’s primary pawn.

I don’t want to give too much away because I want to encourage anybody who hasn’t seen the show to watch – but believe it or not, in the end all of those themes came together to a single point. And unexpected characters became friends, while the seeds were set for enemies to possibly become unlikely lovers. And it all happened in a fluid, believable way.

I don’t know what’s coming in season three – but I’m excited.

– Matt Basilo

#11 – How I Met Your Mother

2009 saw Ted and the Gang at the top of their game, searching for love in all the wrong places.  Despite the loss of two core cast members for several episodes due to family expansion, one to some awesome still-in-development, Muppet-related project, and one to not one but two legen-wait for it-hosting gigs, the show ended up with the most Emmy Award nominations it had ever received — including its first for “Outstanding Comedy” — and actually won one for Art Direction.  More importantly, despite the 2009-2010 season being its fifth on the air, HIMYM is still as fresh and funny as Ted and Robin’s first, disastrous date.  It’s also one of the most refreshingly honest visions of the New York single experience.  No ginormous apartments maintained by a chef and a woman with questionable employment credentials, the apartments on HIMYM are cluttered and tiny; the roommate situation cramped and believable; even the bar downstairs honestly non-descript.  It’s the New York in which one can believe Ted will eventually meet his childrens’ mother in, but it’s the New York in which one sort of believes he never does.

– Lindsay Filz

#10 – Grey’s Anatomy

In my opinion, Grey’s Anatomy was single-handedly the best show of 2009.  I never thought that I would say that about a show that seemingly dropped off the radar when TR Knight left and Katherine Heigl was rumored to be leaving.  But a newly-motivated writing staff led by Shonda Rhimes threw the old script out the window and concentrated and super intense storylines between Little Grey and McSteamy, the Chief’s drinking problem, and the triangle between Owen/Christina and Teddy Altman poured new life into the franchise and it truly has redefined must-see television on Thursday nights… except now it is on ABC and not NBC as in years past.

– Murtz Jaffer

#9 – Chuck

It may sound cliche, but Chuck is truly the show that has something for everyone. Like action and wacky gadgets? It’s there. Like lots of 80’s music? It’s there. Like sexy spies? They’re there. Like romantic tension? It’s there. Like workplace comedy? It’s there. I could go on, but you get the point. Sure, they may have overdone the Chuck/Sarah relationship angst a bit in 2009, but they also gave us a lot of excellent episodes; we learned where the Intersect came from; we had pivotal roles for Chevy Chase and Scott Bakula and we saw the inner workings of the secretive FULCRUM exposed. You can’t ask for much more than that.

– Trevor MacKay

#8 – 24

24 had fallen into a bit of a rut, but Season 7 was a great one and a bit of a renascence for the show.  The “relocation” helped a bit, but I felt there were other factors that contributed to the success.  Firstly, you can’t discount the presence of great actors like Jones, Voight, Feore and Patton.  Second, you had some tight pacing where none of the escalations felt forced.  This is made even more amazing when you consider that Brannon Braga is one of the lead writers.  Third, you had some good plotlines that were in fact, not focused on Jack, which I can’t tell you helped immensely with the story.  Granted, some of the plots were absolutely horrid, but I felt that the winners (in which I’d include the Kim Bauer subplot) outweighed the losers.  And finally, we had Annie Wersching as Agent Renee “Freckles” Walker, who is probably the best new character the show has had since Bill Buchanan.  It really felt that with Walker, the producers had finally created a character that could carry that show that wasn’t Jack Bauer.

As I write this, I don’t know that the momentum from Season 7 has carried over to Season 8, and I think that this really does highlight how 2009 was a banner year for 24

– Kevin Wong

#7 – Survivor: Samoa

Survivor has only been around for 10 years, but they are going on 20+ seasons. Most people point to Survivor as being the “Father of Reality Television”. It has no doubt made an impact on anyone who has watched TV in the last 10 years. But like most groundbreaking shows that started off hot, Survivor started to burn out fairly quickly. The success of the show has always been on finding interesting and unique personalities to be on the show. So, of course, the most memorable seasons have been the ones with the most memorable people. It’s for that very reason that the 19th season of the series, Survivor: Samoa, could arguably called one of the best ever.

Russell Hantz was hyped up as being the “biggest villain” of the show. I was skeptical, and I am sure I wasn’t the only one. I figured no one could live up to the hype, but week after week Russell proved that he could. He easily became someone you hated. But after finding three immunity idols by himself without any clues, he suddenly became someone that you loved to hate. You secretly wanted him to win, even though he you knew he didn’t need the money outside of the game.

So Survivor can thank Russell for “saving” the show and creating more hype for next season, which will have a “Heroes vs. Villains” format. There will be plenty of people to love and hate again next season, but some how this season would feel complete if Russell wasn’t on it again. If Survivor wants to last another 10 years, they need to figure out a reason to have Russell on it every season.

– Josh Clinton

#6- Friday Night Lights

Back when I was still recapping Friday Night Lights on a regular basis, I used to call it “The Little Show that Could”. And it still can.

Another word that I used a lot to describe this show was “real” because it did, and still does, feel and look like the most realistic drama on TV these days. What’s clear about Friday Night Lights is that you’re dealing with real people that face real life challenges. They’re not saving the world from terrorists, they’re not saving lives in 45 minutes, they’re not geniuses or deal with paranormal phenomenons. It’s people like you and I that deal with the same issues that you and I deal with. I’ve never been to a small rural American town like Dillon, Texas, but when I see the challenges that the people on this show, I feel like know what they’re dealing with and that’s why the show has such an avid following that made DirecTV throw a lifeline and save it after the second season.

The creators of Friday Night Lights were faced with the difficult task of evolving the show while maintaining its unique nature, and they’ve been doing it through the third and fourth seasons. They bid farewell to some key characters who went off to college or in self-search. They introduced new characters and in order to tie everything together they switched to a new school to provide a semi-fresh start. It was a risky move since the crowd needs to get used to all the changes, but they did it perfectly.

In its third and fourth season, Friday Night Lights is still the most real show.

– Raffi Shamir

#5- Dexter

The fourth season of Dexter immediately appealed to me since Dexter’s baby was the same age as my child. Dexter (Michael C. Hall) took his child for six month shots aired days after I’d held mine down for her latest round of vaccines. In both cases the doctor comment how calm we were while he plunged the needle in the baby. I related to the long dark nights when a baby refuses to sleep until 5 a.m. Although during those zombie days, I only had to maintain the semblance of a normal life. Dexter needed to be awake for a double life. The season didn’t merely revolve around paternal follies. Instead they gave us the greatest serial killer with Arthur Mitchell (John Lithgow). He seemed like the perfect family man who dedicated his time to building houses for the homeless across the country. But he had a dark side as the Trinity, the most successful serial killer in American history. Dexter wanted to learn how Arthur could maintain his dual identities and paid dearly for his education. Lithgow annihilated his Third Rock From The Sun persona.

– Joe Corey

#4 – Glee

You can’t discuss the television successes of 2009 without bringing up Fox’s biggest and latest hit Glee. As a Gleek myself, I will tell you I was not an immediately hooked by all the hype. I never did like the whole theatre High School Musical thing and let’s face it, that’s what we all thought it was—at first.

After watching the well-written and charming pilot, I was enamored. Glee’s snarky, satirical tone and amazingly talented and diverse cast had us tuning in every Wednesday night. The writing is clever and sometimes far-fetched, but relatable nonetheless. We cried with Will, gawked at Puck’s hotness and got teary-eyed when Rachel and Mercedes belted out their ballads.

Not only has the show’s cast propelled to instant stars, but Glee’s already landed a Golden Globe, a People’s Choice Award and a myriad of other wins and nominations without even completing it’s first season. Within 13 episodes, the show has perked the interest of potential guest stars and fans Neil Patrick Harris, J.Lo., Taylor Swift, Justin Timberlake and more. That’s something great, plain and simple.

There’s no denying this show. Whether you’re a Gleeked-out megafan or a wary skeptic, you’re going to be hearing about Glee for a long time…and rightfully so.

– Sharon Tharp

#3 – Mad Men

One of the things I appreciate most about Mad Men is the attention to detail.  When you’re doing a period-piece like Mad Men, tons of research is required to make the early-1960s look authentic.  And I’m sure Matthew Weiner and
every one under him enjoys the process.

Mad Men also makes my wife and I smarter.  Let’s face it: there are history lessons interwoven into the fabric of this show.  Kennedy, Cuba, Nixon, Marilyn Monroe, the unforgettable image of Vietnamese monk burning himself in protest.  Not to mention how fascinating the fashions & trends of the time are.

Sure it goes a little far at times.  And the characters can leave you feeling cold.  But the acting is so solid.  And even amidst a lot of seriousness, Mad Men can be damn funny too.

I feared that Mad Men was losing it at the beginning of Season 3.  The first two episodes in particular were the weakest two hours the drama had produced.  But somewhere in the middle (maybe it was the infamous John Deere moment), Weiner and Co. rediscovered the magic. And those last two episodes were fabulous.  When Joan returns triumphantly and sets up Season 4, you could just see the darkness that enveloped Season 3 slowly disappear…

– Craig Russell

#2 – The Office

“Our future’s bright and we are far from done.”
Yes, it’s true. The Office‘s 2010 return last week was a clip show. Their first in six seasons. But let’s consider that this year has included an outstanding season finale that brought to a mature close Michael’s love for Holly and revealed Pam’s surprise pregnancy, one of the most topical episodes of any TV show this fall (“Shareholder Meeting“), one of the most bizarre episodes to come along in a while (“Murder”), and the funniest and most touching episode in the entire run (“Niagara”). There’s been plenty to take in this year as the writers have taken a substantially darker turn with Dunder Mifflin’s bankruptcy, Dwight’s evil plot against Jim, and Jim’s consistently awkward performance as co-manager. Yet the show hasn’t lost any of its timing or heart. The Michael Scott Paper Company arc from mid  2009 and episodes “Gossip” and “The Meeting” prove that The Office hasn’t quite run out of steam and its characters always have more to offer. In light of the other 25 episodes from 2009, I think we can forgive one clip show. There’s plenty more fun to be had.

– Mike Trevino

#1 – Lost

Heading into its final season, Lost has incredible momentum in both popularity and creativity. The penultimate season took the show into overdrive, answering some longtime questions but creating even more. The finale itself brought the Lost story to a whole new level, revealing centuries of history and a feud between God and Devil-like figures that almost trivializes the struggles of the castaways. With impeccable production values, a talented, diverse cast and dozens of storylines colliding with one another, Lost’s 2009 season stands as one of the greatest in TV history, and poises its 2010 final season as one of the most anticipated TV events of all time.

– Widro


It should be no surprise that Lost is your top show of 2009, since it was also our top of the decade. It was on over half of the individual lists, so was a clear #1. The Office and Mad Men fought for #2 as they were on a couple of lists fewer than Lost. Glee, Dexter, Friday Night Lights, Survivor, 24, and Chuck all were pretty much locked into the next 6 spots as they all appeared on at least 5 lists. The #10 spot was a close one, but Grey’s Anatomy pulled it over the five shows below it based on its high rankings on the lists it did appear. All 15 shows were on at least 3 lists. The only show that came close to cracking the Top 15, despite jut being on two lists was Breaking Bad. But in the end, that wasn’t good enough.

And there you have it. Another list down for another year. We are only one month in 2010, but you better start keeping track of your favorite shows this year. You know we will no doubt be asking you at the end of 2010, what your favorite shows of 2010 were?

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