This year was a strange TV year for me. I feel like I mostly stopped being enthusiastic about American dramas; a large part of this was because of my falling out with Heroes. While I did start watching a few new shows this year, I'm not head-over-heels in love with any of them yet, at least not in the same way I have been obsessing about kdramas.
2007 will probably also go down as the year I got sucked into Asian dramas. I managed to resist for about eight years, too, and then that little thing called Coffee Prince came along...
No spoilers in any of the below; please use <span style="color:#333,background:#333">spoil
Shows that didn't work for me
The Collecter: Sadly, I bounced off this, or just got bored and wandered off.
Ugly Betty: I feel a little bad putting this here, but I watched a few random episodes and just didn't get caught up in it. I may end up giving this a second chance, but I'm not sure, given how I put it on my Tivo Season Pass and proceeded to ignore all episodes for months.
Dr. Who: I caught most of S1 on Tivo, but I just never got sucked into the show. Part of it may have been because I used it as knitting fodder, but some of it may also be that I'm usually not the biggest fan of campy SF. I think I will eventually watch S3 just for Martha though. Also, fan_eunice's two vids of incredible Dr. Who cuteness were very persuasive.
The only reason Heroes isn't on this list is because 2007 included some of the great S1 episodes.
Shows that I'm watching but not excited about
Scrubs: I feel bad putting Scrubs here; it's not that I don't enjoy it, it's just that I never quite recovered the mad Scrubs love I had during S1-S3. I've liked the current season so far, but the tail end of the last season annoyed me, so we'll see how it ends. I do like how the show slips in things about race without making a big deal of them, but I wish the women were less sidelined.
Dead Like Me: I watched the entire thing this year, and though I really liked George and Rube, the show ended up alienating me with the final Daisy storyline and the way Roxie was consistently passed over in terms of screen time and character development. Also, I am still mad about the dog joke.
Heroes: Oh Heroes. I love most of the latter half of S1, with the exception of the finale, but oh, did you fall apart for S2. I am not even sure if I am going to keep watching. I keep saying I'll quit, but I keep watching new episodes too. I may hold off and see what the general consensus and commentary on bobthehaitian is before proceeding, though I'll still co-mod the community.
Life: I'm still a little on the fence about this one. I love Dani Reese to pieces, and the Mulder-Scully partner dynamic is forever intriguing, but I'm still having problems with Crews. He was definitely better and less grating in the last two episodes I watched (ep. 6 and ep. 3), so I'm going to watch a little more (plus, Dani!), but I'm not sure how enthusiastic I'll end up about this one.
Blood Ties: I am mildly fond of this show. I like Vicki a great deal, and I very much like that there are two Asian women in the supporting cast (1 East Asian, 1 South Asian), but the MotW format doens't hook me. I think I'll keep watching for fun and have this as a knitting show.
Fantasy Couple: I've only watched two episodes of this and wasn't that impressed, but several people have reassured me that the bits I don't like get better and that the heroine's growth is the main draw.
Snow Queen: I've only watched one episode, and that is because Hyun Bin of My Name Is Kim Sam Soon is in it. He is scruffy and sad! I am certain this will end with the heroine dying of a tragic, wasting, terminal illness, but I think I will watch it anyway.
Shows that I'm very excited about!
Homicide: Life on the Street: I stalled out on this in early S3, but oh how I loved the first two seasons. There's a dearth of female characters, but the one there is awesome, and the show is smart and interesting and complicated when it comes to racial dynamics. Also, it doesn't hurt that Pembleton = Best Thing Ever.
Spooks/MI-5: I was actually wondering if I should have put this on the "not so excited" list. I enjoyed S5, but the season didn't feel as tight or as exciting as S2-S4 were, and there was one plot twist in the season that had me very bummed out. I've got S6 to watch, but I spoiled myself on one twist that's had me so dispirited that I haven't felt up to watching it. We'll see what happens.
Pushing Daisies: I think I will let the Narrator speak for himself:
Young Ned could touch dead things and bring them back to life. But if he touched the dead thing twice, it died again... forever. The consequence of not touching a dead thing twice was as cruel as any consequence, and that was something else had to die.
Ned grows up to become a piemaker, and he ends up reviving his childhood love, Chuck. Unfortunatley, this means they can never touch. In the meantime, he helps PI Emerson Cod solve crimes by talking to the dead, and Olive Snook (played by Kristen Chenoweth) completes the cast.
So far, I love the show's quirkiness and its very sweet heart, under the morbid premise. Everything is brighter and stranger and more candy-colored than life, and I would watch this show alone for the visuals. But I love it for the characters. They are strange and strangely heart-warming, and I particularly love the delicate romance between Ned and Chuck, the growing friendship between Chuck and Olive, and Olive's friendship with Chuck's aunts.
And then, there is Emerson, who is made of PURE AWESOME. He is black, and yet, he is not a Magical Negro! And he knits! And have I mentioned the made of PURE AWESOME? I am very much looking forward to new episodes of this.
Avatar: the Last Airbender: I was very meh about this last year, so I am amazed that it's become one of the few shows I anticipate.
Avatar is about Aang, the Avatar, and his quest to save the world from the ruthless Fire Nation. His companions are Katara and Sokka, siblings from the water tribe, along with Toph, an earth bender. The world has Aristotlean element magic, but don't let that turn you off. It can be a little clunky when it comes to emotions, but it's funny and witty and the world-building is excellent. I keep saying this, but I am incredibly impressed with the amount of research and time the writers put into this. The world is a mix of Asian cultures, but rather than the generic Pier 1 Asia feel you get from most shows (*cough*Firefly*cough*), the show has taken the time to portray extremely specific Asian cultures. For the Chinese and Japanese ones, it was down to the dynasty. I'm not sure about the Tibetan and Inuit influences, though I have a lot of faith in the writers.
The martial arts are also extremely specific schools, not hand-wavy martial arts, and Rachel's said that they look very accurate. The level of detail is really boggling; I've noticed that every single time they have Chinese posters or letters or whatnot on the screen, I can pause and read the characters.
Politics-wise, I love that the show has quite a few important female characters and that they are all very different, and I love that it is a show populated entirely by POC. I do wish there were more POC behind the scenes in terms of voice actors, writers and directors, but honestly, I'm really impressed.
That said, I still watch for the characters. I love the show's sense of humor, and the plots have been getting increasingly more complex. It's definitely not at the same level anime is at when it comes to emotional turns and consequences, but much of the latter is due to network restrictions. And it makes me happy and squeeful!
So You Think You Can Dance: I had this on my list last year, and it's clear that I am hooked now! Hi, my name is Oyce, and I have finally been addicted to a reality show.
I love the focus on dance, on the various disciplines and watching all the dancers trying new genres. I really like that the judges aren't snarky and mean. They are sometimes, but it doesn't hit my embarrassment squick like most other reality shows. And the choreography is just awesome. I've got YouTube links in my episode write ups, in case anyone wants to sample and see if they will get sucked in too.
I cannot wait until next summer just to watch more. Also! I SAW BENJI IN RL I WIN!
Nobuta wo Produce: Nobuta is a shy girl who gets picked on; Shuuji and Akira decide to form an unlike alliance to "produce" a new, popular Nobuta. The premise sounds incredibly squicky, but this is one of the best deconstructions of the Pygmalion trope that I've seen. Instead of concentrating on how to be popular, the show actually ends up dissecting why people want to be popular and affirming the decision to be yourself. I'm less excited about this because of the ending, but I still like it a lot.
My Name Is Kim Sam Soon: This is the first kdrama I ever finished! Kim Sam Soon is the Korean version of Bridget Jones, at least if Bridget Jones were a pastry chef. I love this because Sam Soon says what she thinks the entire time, because the side plot with her sister rocks, because there are many strong women. I do want to hit the hero quite often, and the other side of the love triangle wasn't the greatest, but Sam Soon herself makes up for a lot. I laughed myself sick while watching this, and it is one of the main reasons I have slid so far down the kdrama slope.
And now, my very favorite shows of the year! It's cheating a little, because I'm not done with either yet, but I am so filled with squee!
Damo: My Damo love, let me show it to you! This is the show I would rec for people who aren't sure they'll like the romantic comedies of the trendy drama series. This is set in the Joseon Dynasty, and it's about a damo (tea servant) in the police. Historically, damo were women who served tea to the police officers, but the DVD says that they sometimes acted as undercover agents as well.
Someone is counterfeiting coins, and Jang Chae-Ohk tries to help her superior officer Hwangbo Yoon unravel the case. Unfortunatley, it's much larger than anyone suspects, and it soon has Chae-Ohk caught between personal loyalties, love, family, and her own honor. I love Chae-Ohk to pieces; she is now on my list of favorite female characters. She's not conventionally kickass, though she is a swordfighter. She's quiet and stoic and does what she thinks is right, and I love that the show is about her decisions not only about romance, but about things like family and honor and duty, all while straining against all the ways society limits her, as a woman and as a servant.
Also, Hwangbo Yoon and Chae-Ohk have a great relationship; they grew up together and trained together, but she's a servant and he's the bastard child of a noble. Even so, he respects her completely, and I just love the two of them. And! There's intrigue and wuxia and rebels and escapes! I loved this so much that after watching about 6 episodes, I plunked down money for the DVD set. The only reason I am not frothing at the mouth about this now is because I am watching Coffee Prince; I got my sister to start watching Damo, and we have been exchanging flurried emails, her about Damo and me about Coffee Prince, which cracks me up because it was the opposite just a week or so ago.
I'd recommend watching until episode 2; if the flashbacks don't interest you, you probably won't like the rest of the show.
Also also, check out these screencaps.
Coffee Prince: This is the show that started my kdrama obsession! I am cheating a little by including this; technically I was somewhere in the middle of episode 10 when it turned to 2008. But see how much I love it? I rang in the new year with it! I am so obsessed with it that I actually put down my knitting because it meant I might miss a snippet of dialogue.
Go Eun Chan is a tomboy trying to support her family. When she runs into the rich Choi Han Kyul, he mistakes her for a man and hires her to act as his boyfriend to scare off the women his grandmother is setting him up with. Han Kyul's in love with his cousin's girlfriend Yoo Ju, who cheated on his cousin Han Sung.
I know this sounds incredibly boring, outside of the gender-bending, but it's not. There's a fuzzy warmth to this show that makes me grin every time I think about it; I have the dorkiest expression on my face right now. While it isn't quite breaking genre tropes, it takes the time to flesh out all the characters (I still cannot believe they got me to adore Min Yeop), and the characters sort through misunderstandings by talking and listening and taking time outs, like grown up and mature people. I also like both sides of the love quadrangle -- Eun Chan and Han Kyul perfectly portray the giddy, uncertain, nerve-wracking, amazing-ness of falling in love while Yoo Ju and Han Sung have been together for nearly ten years and their journey is more about working on long-term relationships.
I, um, also have giant crushes on Han Kyul and Han Sung, both of whom aren't your standard alpha bastard. Han Kyul starts out that way, but he fails miserably at hiding his giant, squishy marshmallow heart.
I also love Eun Chan's mother and her sister and the way the show has been extremely careful to not pit Yoo Ju and Eun Chan against each other. And! As a bonus, I think this show has my favorite denouement of the girl-crossdressing-as-guy that I've seen, as so far it doesn't ignore the question of sexual orientation.
Um. I wish I could say more coherently about this show, except every time I try, I dissolve into high-pitched squeals and hand flailing.
Huh, looking at all this, I did watch a lot this year. It just didn't feel like it, because for most of the year, I was hopping from show to show to show. I didn't fall into kdramas until Thanksgiving, but wow, I fell hard.