2007 has been kind to me as a television viewer and has seen the genesis of Rick's Rants. Despite some ups and downs I'd say it was a pretty solid year for television. I've singled out the 10 shows who have demonstrated excellence above all others and have given the top 5 my official Rick's Rants seal of approval. Before going into the top 10 I'd like to thank all the readers I've had this year for all the support and I'd like to let you know that you can expect even more fun in 2008 from Rick's Rants. I'd also like to pull some shameless self promotion for my personal website The Trifecta, where I am one writer of three who cover electronics, sports and media. I encourage you all to check it out (and bookmark that shit). Without further adieu, onto the top 10!

#10. Ninja Warrior: Sasuske's 1-11

Starting off the list is the famed Ninja Warrior. If you've been keeping up with Rick's Rants you'll know that I recently bashed on American Gladiators and hailed Ninja Warrior as the superior parallel show. For those of you not yet initiated in the ninja ways, Ninja Warrior is a Japanese competition held twice a year in which 100 contestants take on a brutal merciless obstacle course separated into 4 stages. Just to give you an idea of how hardcore this course is, in the 19 competitions that have taken place only 2 competitors have ever achieved total victory. The commentary is witty and about as Asian as you can get. I have much love for Ninja Warrior in my heart and I'm glad I can recognize its excellence here.

#9. The Daily Show / Colbert Report Combo

I really can't say enough about these two kings of men. They give me news, hilarity and hope for a better tomorrow. Even with the writer's strike in full force John and Steven came back and have been just as entertaining as ever. It's been fun getting to see these two as raw as you can get them writing all their own material. I don't know what I'd do without these guys; I guess I'd have to watch the boring standard news. I'm proud to give you boys the number 9 spot, even though I know Colbert wouldn't be happy with anything less than number 1.

#8. It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia's Junior Year

If you've been keeping up with Rick's Rants you've already heard me sing pretty high praises for It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. The "Seinfeld on crack" formula really shines in season 3 with each zany character pushing his or her limits further and further each episode. As with any great comedy re-watchability is of the utmost importance and It's Always Sunny has certainly kept me laughing at the same jokes and gags over and over again. Congrats Philly boys, the #8 spot is nothing to scoff at.

#7. South Park has now completed it's Ph. D in Television Creation

Whenever I write about South Park I can't help but get nostalgic. I can vividly remember a teacher making me turn my Kenny t-shirt inside out in middle school because of the supposedly illegitimate humor that he represented. Since my childhood days South Park has evolved in a way no one could have expected. I think season 8 was a big turning point for the show, not to discredit previous episodes, but since season 8 almost every single episode has made a social or political commentary in the overarching story line and those that don't, strike comic gold and have been some of the most uproariously hilarious. Season 11 represents the best of South Park to date with memorable episodes that I think will go down as some of the series best for years to come with the Imagination Land Trilogy sitting atop the pedestal. The only thing more terrifying than a terrorist attack on our imaginations is having to suck Cartman's dry salty balls.

#6. Lost's Junior Year

Lost's third season was broken up into pieces and had a couple gut wrenching filler episodes in the middle but the superb ending to the season made it easy for me to gloss over its imperfections. Its honestly hard to believe I'm only giving Lost the number 6 spot considering all I can think about right now is how excited I am for the 4th season opener, probably more excited for a television show than I'll be all year (except perchance Battlestar Galactica's final season). The first 6 episodes that aired were fast paced and intriguing but upon returning after a long hiatus the show lost its flair a few episodes in. After the writers offed Nikki and Paulo the series started to pick up with an intensity it never had before and then like a butterfly from a cocoon emerged to become some of the best television I've ever seen in the last 5 episodes, especially the literally explosive finale: Through the Looking Glass. Hopefully with these shorter seasons Lost won't suffer from filler episode syndrome in the coming years and will make it higher on the list. I have high hopes the series will end answering all the questions I've accumulated yet still leave me scratching my head for many moons. Good luck Lost, I'm pulling for you.

#5. {DVkV1mmkGqqGnr||Planet Earth

Planet Earth

This unbelievably gorgeous epic TV series brought to us by producer Alastair Fothergill (the man with the funniest name on the planet) should be seen by all, young and old, big and small. Shot over 5 years and consuming the lives of 40 camera men, Planet Earth offers a glimpse of the planet like we've never seen before and truly utilizes the power of high definition television to bring this experience to life. Anytime an episode was on the high-def Discovery channel I became completely emerged. Whether you go HD-DVD or Blu-Ray Planet Earth should be your first purchase (immediately followed by 300). It is my honor to bestow the first Rick's Rants stamp of approval this year to Planet Earth. Congrats Alastair Fothergill.

#4. Mad Men's Freshman Year

Mad Men

Congratulations AMC, you didn't quite crack my top 3, but damn was it a hard choice. The reason this year in review is a month late is actually because of this show. In Florida right before new years I was sitting out by the pool listening to music when I met a script writer who casually mentioned that Mad Men is the only television show he was watching because it was incredibly well written. Then it won the Golden Globe for Best Drama Series and Jon Hamm won Best Actor in a Television Drama for playing Don Draper, the most baller dude I have ever had the pleasure to witness do business. I consider the Golden Globes just about as big as it gets for TV awards and was pretty upset to see my boy Dexter snubbed yet again for what I think is the best acting job done on television in years, but decided I would simply have to watch Mad Men before doing a year in review of television. So... I plowed through it, maybe my favorite way to watch a show. I put it on my iPhone, did nothing but watch episodes on a couple flights and now it's in the #4 spot. Poor Fox Mulder got knocked out to 11. It's pretty unfortunate. Mad Men is a glimpse into the lives of the men behind one of the most prominent Ad Agencies in New York during the 1960s. Had Don Draper, the creative genius who leads the Mad Men in their advertising ventures, been hired to promote this show he'd tell you that AMC's first attempt at an original scripted series is the best on television, and he would love all the references to the awards it won and other shows it beat out on AMC's web page. I'm not one to usually tout my home town horn, but it was pretty sweet when Don's wife mentioned my nesting ground, Lower Merion, as a place where lots of nice wealthy Jews lived in the 60s. Things haven't really changed much in the last 47 years. Mad Men is back on AMC now on Sunday nights, if you haven't tried it yet, it's about that time, especially with the writer's strike's force being full felt.

#3. Dexter's Sophomore Year

Dexter

It's my pleasure to present the bronze to Dexter and all the fine folks at Showtime for their second outing with everyone's favorite serial killer. This season the stakes were raised for Dex with his own homicide department hunting him, a completely insane woman hell bent on having Dexter for her own and Doaks watching him at every turn. Unlike the aforementioned Lost there is no filler here. Each of the 12 episodes are extremely well crafted, each scene shown serving a purpose. Quite oppositely to the first season Dexter shows emotion and acts on impulse humanizing him in a way that only the last 5 minutes of the final episode last season did. Season 2 also does away with the bare minimum body bag per episode formula that season 1 clung so tightly to. We get to see a Dexter shaken to the core and unable to perform the only task that previously made sense to him: killing. For the second year in a row Dexter's cinematography and acting, specifically Michael C. Hall's performance, are the best on television. If you haven't subscribed to Showtime yet, Dexter is reason enough, not to mention Weeds and Californication. I can't wait for another chapter in this Dark Defender's tale.

#2. Battlestar Galactica's Junior Year

Battlestar Galactica

Battlestar Galactica puts all other Sci-Fi ventures in the entertainment industry to shame (including you George Lucas) and justly deserves the silver. This adult themed drama that follows the last 40,000 humans left alive on a journey to find a new home could not be better crafted. Season 2 left the fleet split in two, with most survivors down on the Cylon occupied New Caprica, and humanities last hope on board two ships drifting in space, led by Commander Bill Adama (exquisitely portrayed by Edward James Olmos) and his son Lee, waiting for the moment to strike. Season 3 opens with the exodus of New Caprica and begins the last stage of the search for Earth, a planet that the scriptures say will be the salvation of the human race. I'm not much for religious themes in television, but when set on a fictional stage the religious undertones really add to the drama without pushing beliefs on viewers. Galactica's Gaius Balter is one of the most conflicted and interesting characters I've ever seen portrayed. After indirectly causing the mass genocide of the human race he experiences vivid hallucinations of a woman who may just be a figment of his imagination, although devotes of the show could make a strong case that god is speaking to him directly. If you've been watching Battlestar then you know how great it is, and for those of you that don't I strongly urge you to Netflix those DVDs. There's never been a better time to begin your journey on the Battlestar Galactica with the television lull and the final season of this exceptional show coming in April.

#1. Flight of the Conchords's Freshman Year

Flight of the Conchords

And the gold goes to... (drum roll please) the Flight of the Conchords, the self proclaimed "New Zealand's fourth most popular guitar-based digi-bongo acapella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo." It was a pretty tough decision putting the Conchords in the top spot, but when it comes to television this year I've spent more time watching this wonderful 12 episode series than anything else by a long shot. I've probably seen each episode more than 10 times and some a lot more. As this is a comedy show I've got to come back to re-watchability and these boys really nail it in a way that no show has done since Arrested Development. These two comic geniuses have taken their entire repertoire of ridiculously riotous songs and turned them into a television cult phenomenon that will not soon be forgotten. With the help of HBO they attracted some top notch talent for a supporting cast who each add their own brand of humor into the mix. Rhys Darbey plays the haphazard band manager who manages the band out of his day job office at the New Zealand consulate. Kristen Schaal takes on the role of the single fan of the band who stalks them relentlessly and lastly we have Arj Barker (whose stand up should certainly be you-tubed) as the local pawn shop owner who befriends the guys. I really can't say enough about how much I love the Conchords. It's become more than just a TV show for me. The album rides with me in my car, I sing the songs whenever I'm reminded of a scene, I'll be the first in line for tickets for the next US show, and I know when I come home I can always throw on an episode for a quintessential half hour of comedy escapism. For all those Conchords fans out there I'm pleased to let you know that you can expect a full studio album in April as well as a second helping of the HBO show sometime in the distant future (the year 2000). I can only hope there'll be a tour associated with the album release but there has been no official announcement as of yet. Thank you HBO for giving Bret and Jemaine the opportunity to bring their distinctive brand of humor to this side of the pond and congratulations again on Rick's Rants gold seal of approval.

Bonus Awards:

Best Opening Credits: Mad Men, with honoraries: Dexter and Planet Earth.

The 11 spot: Goes immediately to Californication, sorry about that Mulder.

Best Last 5 Minutes of a Season Finale: Larry and the Blacks of Curb Your Enthusiasm

Best Single Episode: Lost: Through the Looking Glass

Thank you again to all the readers and Movieweb for making Rick's Rants a reality. Agree or disagree, let me know what you guys think of the top 10 with a comment or just post up your favorite Flight of the Conchords lyrics. Until next time...

- Rich

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