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The Best TV Series of 2009
By Bert Ehrmann
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Fort Wayne Reader
The best series of the 2009 TV season was the new ABC series Modern Family.
To be honest, when I first heard of Modern Family last summer, I wasn't that interested in the show. Everything I had read and seen about the series made it seem like it was yet another comedy meant to appeal to as wide a range of audience as possible. And when a comedy tries to appeal to, well, everyone it's almost never that funny. But when I actually started seeing promos and clips from the show online, I had a major attitude adjustment. In fact, Modern Family is one of the most unique and funny comedies that has aired in quite some time.
Modern Family is a series about three non-traditional families who are all tied together via siblings and marriage. One family looks to be the "traditional" mom, dad and three kid family unit, yet is anything but with the brilliant Ty Burrell as dad Phil Dunphy who isn't much more emotionally developed as the kids and mom Claire (Julie Bowen) who's just trying to make sure everyone gets to fed and to school on time. There's also a gay couple who recently adopted a baby who can be a bit high strung at times and family patriarch Jay Pritchett (Ed O'Neil) with a gorgeous new wife who is dealing with her young son years after his own children left the nest. Jay might seem a grumpy old man but is really a good guy.
Modern Family is the most consistently funny series I've seen on TV for quite some time and is surprisingly relatable. It's the heir apparent to Arrested Development without actually stealing from that show. And that's saying a lot.
Mad Men: Consistently delivering quality stories, characters and setting, Mad Men on AMC charged through the third season of the series never shying away from risks other TV dramas almost never take. While the goal of most TV series is to maintain the status quo, to be sure that whatever happens this week won't affect what happens in next week's episode, it's quite refreshing to see a series like Mad Men that isn't afraid to take risks, to shakeup the cast and to move characters in and out of one and others lives.
Flight of the Conchords: It was a shame to learn that the this second season of the HBO series Flight of the Conchords would be its last. Still, I guess we'll always have Brett, Jemaine and "Too Many D*cks on the Dance Floor" on DVD.
Community: For a few episodes, the NBC series Community was underwhelming at best. But after the series found its voice somewhere around the fifth or sixth episode it's been the highlight of the Thursday night lineup on NBC.
Underbelly: The second season of this Aussie crime drama did something that no American show would have the guts to do; it changed the setting of the series to some 20 years before the first and replaced the entire cast with new characters. And somehow, all these changes worked and Underbelly has continued to be one of the best dramas on TV. Underbelly is set to premiere here in the US on the DirecTV channel The 101 this February. If you needed a reason to ditch your current cable/FIOS/satellite package and switch to DirecTV, Underbelly is a good one.
Eastbound and Down: I wasn't that interested in this series on HBO and didn't watch the series until more than a month after it had ended. I watched the first episode, then the second and before I knew it I had watched the entire six episode season over the course of one rainy afternoon. Eastbound is a nice take on the "big fish in a small pond" story, only this time the "big fish" isn't nearly as big as he thinks he is.
Other good series this season include ABC's Better Off Ted (with the episode "Racial Sensitivity" as one of the funniest things I've EVER seen on TV), the second season of Damages on FX, Chuck on NBC and the surprisingly funny Big Bang Theory on CBS. Honorable mentions include Burn Notice, Battlestar Galactica, Hung, The Office and Scrubs. Visit me online at AlphaEcho.com.