*Well, more like Greatest TV Seasons of the Past 10 Years*
** Actually, more like Greatest TV Seasons of My Favorite TV Shows From the Past 10 Years***
*** Limit one season per show
As promised, I hope to blog more in the upcoming weeks. Given my recent declaration that the first season of the cancelled-too-soon Terriers was one of my favorite TV seasons ever, I decided to start things off with an actual list. Despite thinking about it a bit, I've probably left some shows off, so feel free to mention your own favorite in the comments. I've limited it to 10 seasons total and one season per show, which means some of my own favorites didn't make the cut.
In no particular order:
30 Rock Season 2: Unfair as it may be, I tend to view the NBC comedies relative to each other-And I don't remember enjoying any of them more than I enjoyed Season 2 of 30 Rock. I once thought this might be because it was so funny we would communicate almost exclusively through quotes from it each week, but I rewatched it somewhat recently and it held up (I had even forgotten some great lines, like Kenneth calling bagels "Jewish doughnuts"). They also managed to integrate NBC gimmicks (such as Green week) while also skewering them. Greenzo Out. (Honorable Mention for the NBC comedy slot: Office S2, Parks & Rec S2, Community S1.)
Sopranos Season 6, Part II: A bit of a cop-out, I know (I'll take Season 1, I think, if you don't accept this), but David Chase put together a terrific set of episodes to end the show-nearly every one was a classic. One episode after the next, Chase portrays Tony at his most petty and reprehensible as his world closes around him-forcing Bobby to commit his first hit after losing a fight to him, running up his gambling debts with Hesh, etc. The directors also did a tremendous job creating tension in scenes such as Bobby's death at the train store and, of course, the final shot at Holsten's. The entire Season 6 probably could have been perfect had the renewal of the show not meant Chase had to draw out part one longer than originally anticipated.
Wire Season 3: If only for this scene.
Arrested Development Season 2: Possible I've made a huge mistake, but really hard to go wrong with any of them.
Terriers Season 1: Still depressed this got cancelled. Really struck a great balance between episodes that could both standalone while advancing the season-long story arc. Watch it if you haven't already.
Freaks and Geeks Season 1: I wonder if F&G would have lasted any longer than it did if it were on today. Networks seem to be at least somewhat more receptive to critical support today (even if that didn't help Terriers). Plus, a Judd Apatow production now is worth a lot more than it was then. Somewhat extraordinary how many stars this show produced for an 18-episode season about high school outcasts. In addition, much like Terriers, it had a perfect ending.
Seinfeld, Season 5: You kind of forget when you only watch it in syndication that Seinfeld actually had season-long story arcs. That said, this selection has nothing to do with that, and more to do with the solid collection of episodes (e.g. The Cigar Store Indian, The Marine Biologist, and, of course, The Opposite).
Friday Night Lights, Season 3: First season was a bit too long. And the second season never happened.
Da Ali G Show, Season 1: When I saw this commercials for this, I thought it looked awful. Then I watched it. I'm still laughing.
West Wing S2: I always thought it was funny that Sorkin originally imagined President Bartlet would be a minor character on the show. Probably a good thing Sorkin expanded his role.
I'm certainly wrong about some of these, so feel free to tell me so in the comments.
(EDIT: Seinfeld technically breaks the 10-year rule I set out above, but you get the point.)