- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 28, 2006

With 2006 drawing to a close, we naturally look back on the year that was. Television is fertile ground for review, and this time, we rely on the “L” words to help us make our point.

Loveable

• Weeds (Showtime): A strong ensemble cast coupled with crisp, sparkling dialogue and unexpected plot twists makes this black comedy about a widowed pot-dealing suburban mom as addictive as the drug itself — and one of TV’s best shows.

• Six Feet Under (Bravo): Even in its rebirth on Bravo — with bleeped out language and the more graphic images edited out — the superb writing and storytelling of this former HBO darling (which aired its final episode more than a year ago) still holds up in basic cable syndication.

• The Office (NBC): Consistently sharp scripts and a talented cast headed by Steve Carell, Rainn Wilson and John Krasinski (who has a small role in the new “Dreamgirls” film), proves why this sitcom won Emmy gold this year for best comedy series.

• Big Love (HBO):Despite its controversial and, to many, reprehensible story line, this well-crafted comedy drama put a human face on the practice of polygamy. You know it’s wrong, but you sometimes find yourself hoping that the characters can keep their dirty little secret from the rest of the world.

• Marie Antoinette & the French Revolution(PBS): Although questionable content about the teen queen’s reputed sexual prowess kept it off the air in some public television markets, this two-hour documentary offered new insights and managed to shine a sympathetic light on the tragic 18th century monarch.

Likeable

• American Idol (Fox): After five seasons, we’re still addicted to the drama and “Idol” show still tosses us some shockers. Who can forget odds-on-favorite Chris Daughtry being booted from the competition in one of the biggest on-air surprises ever in reality show history?

• Desperate Housewives (ABC): Having overcome a lackluster sophomore season, the breakout 2004 hit — now in its third year —seems to be back on track.

• Ugly Betty (ABC): American audiences have latched onto this refreshing comedy, setting aside early fears that the American adaptation of this Colombian telenovela would be lost in translation.

m Dexter (Showtime): After a triumphant run as homosexual undertaker David Fisher on “Six Feet Under,” Michael C. Hall found life anew (and a Golden Globe nomination) as Dexter, a medical examiner by day and methodical serial killer by night on the premium cable series of the same name.

• Bridezilla (WE): No matter how bad the behavior, the grooms never walk out on these out-of-control, over-demanding brides-to-be. The show’s catchphrase says it best: “They’re engaged, enraged and about to be committed.”

Like watching a wreck

• Flavor of Love (VH1): Other than a misguided quest for fame, there’s no plausible reason why a bevy of twentysomething beauties would want to win the heart of the clock-wearing, gargoyled-looking rapper Flava Flav — who, at 46, has fathered seven children without benefit of marriage. Meanwhile, disgusting behavior reigns supreme among the show’s contestants, from fistfights to spitting and even public defecation.

• Breaking Bonaduce (VH1): He’s walked atop towering rooftops while high on tequila, encouraged his 5-year-old son, Dante, to make photocopies of his private parts, been booted from the bedroom after his long-suffering wife discovered his extramarital affair and has now found religion. Can Danny Bonaduce withstand much more of his own self-destructive and potentially lethal shenanigans?

Loathsome

m Celebrity Fit Club (VH1): Ted Lange barely registered a blip when he appeared as the genial barkeep Isaac on “The Loveboat” since that show left the air nearly 20 years ago. So why on Earth would we want to chart his attempts to shed his paunch after packing on the pounds? Moreover, the show’s smug team of “experts” and other “has been” — or in the case of the whining Angie Stone, “never arrived”— celebrities were even less interesting.

• Bad Girls (Oxygen): Like ants at a picnic, crazed and out-of-control reality show participants just seem to come with the territory. But when they turn dangerous — as in the case of the drunken Ripsi, who attacked, scarred and terrorized her fellow housemates during her brief stay on Oxygen’s “Bad Girls” — it becomes another matter indeed. Oxygen apparently agreed and kicked the Boston-bred rich girl to the curb after just two episodes.

A tribute to Ford

The History Channel is rebroadcasting “Gerald Ford: A Man and His Moment” Sunday at 7 p.m.

Hosted by former NBC newsman Tom Brokaw, the hourlong special offers an inside look at the man who was known as the “accidental president” and who surpassed Ronald Reagan as the longest-lived American president.

Mr. Ford died Tuesday at the age of 93 after a long illness.

Those joining Mr. Brokaw on the broadcast include Sen. Edward M. Kennedy; and historians Doris Kearns Goodwin, Douglas Brinkley, and Michael Beschloss; two of Mr. Ford’s children — Steven Ford and Susan Ford Bales — and several public figures who worked with the former president including Vice President Dick Cheney (who served as Mr. Ford’s deputy chief of staff and chief of staff (1975-77); Donald Rumsfeld (chief of staff, 1974-75 and secretary of defense, 1975-77) and Henry Kissinger (Mr. Ford’s secretary of state).

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from staff, Web and wire reports.

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