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Robert Lloyd's best of 2009 list

TELEVISION

December 20, 2009

Ten good (and mostly new) things in TV this year.

"Food Party" (IFC). Puppet-filled, cardboard-and-glitter surrealist cooking show (sort of) lasted only six episodes, about 10 minutes each, but was easily the most exciting thing I saw this year -- poetic, goofy, beautiful, strange.

"Bored to Death" (HBO). Brooklyn lit-scene bromantic faux-noir stoner comedy about the attitude of doing right.

"Parks & Recreation" (NBC). Institutional small-town comedy mocks its characters but not their aspirations or optimism.

Watching the "Doctor Who: The End of Time" trailer at Comic-Con. Television is often a social event, but there is nothing quite like seeing it in a crowd of 4,000; roared approval for Catherine Tate especially gratifying.

"Castle" (ABC). Bantering detective show is a reliable simple pleasure, with overgrown-boy mystery writer Nathan Fillion especially charming in his scenes as father and/or son.

"Children of Earth" (BBC America). Russell T. Davies' compression of a "Torchwood" third season into five consecutive nights hits its creepy peak when the aliens revealed why they'd come for our children: to get high.

"Men of a Certain Age" (TNT). Three friends face 50 in a series in which people talk the way people talk (mostly). Uses familiar TV faces (Romano, Bakula, Braugher) to effective new ends.

"The Good Wife" (CBS). Classic-cut legal drama intertwines the personal and professional but never smells like soap.

"Party Down" (Starz). Well-cast portable ensemble comedy, following a small band of caterers through a range of parties, was the better of the two shows this year to feature Jane Lynch.

"Seinfeld" episodes of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" (HBO). The "Seinfeld" stealth reunion, packed inside the season (perhaps the series) finale of Larry David's solo series was a multi-layered ode to second chances, and a pretty good episode of "Seinfeld" besides.

robert.lloyd@latimes.com

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