9. Chuck (NBC)
8. Project Runway (Bravo)
7. Desperate Housewives (ABC)
6. The Real World (MTV)
5. Reaper (The CW)
1. Lost (ABC)
Okay, I feel somewhat nasty about having four reality shows in my top 10, but I don't have HBO or Showtime, have never watched any FX series, and Heroes blows so I guess I have to let them slide in there. Come on, there's no shame in loving Project Runway, even in a season that is so far less-than-stellar (it's good, yeah, but I'm expecting it'll get better towards the middle of the season). The Real World has certainly exploded since the middle of its season. A pregnancy scare, birds of death, Trisha being sent home, and Cohutta's increasingly enjoyable take on the world has made this the most consistently enjoyable season of The Real World in years. America's Next Top Model is trashy but fun and you all know how much I love Kid Nation.
Of the new scripted series debuting this year, two share a premise (average joe works in crappy retail job and fights forces of evil) and both are doing quite well. Granted I haven't seen Chuck since Bryce returned from the grave, but up until then it has managed to find a distinct voice and tell an ongoing storyline. Reaper has drawn harsh criticism for it's escaped-soul-of-the-week formula, but most of that comes from the let down critics are feeling after seeing a truly spectacular pilot. Reaper's first episode introduced me to the world with such fanfare and made me really care for every single character. Really, I think about the Reaper kids often and worry about their well-being. No new show since Lost has made me care for characters like this and the friendship between Sam, Sock and Ben is the best one on television. Reaper is truly Buffy the Vampire Slayer in season one and it is a world-changing catastrophe away from becoming the next great TV show.
No top ten list is complete without The Office and 30 Rock and both shows deserve every mention. The Office continues to defy sitcom traps by putting The Couple together and having them get even more interesting. They broke up Dwight and Angela, strategically shifting the "will they/won't they" tension elsewhere while providing amazing and touching comedic moments (Dwight's farm). And outdoing Dunder-Mifflin, an almost impossible task, is 30 Rock. The show has hit the kind of stride that defines shows and builds a legend. And believe me, 30 Rock is on the verge of being legendary. Every episode is so expertly paced and every actor is so in tune with their character (and has been since surprisingly early in the first season) that every episode plays out like a well orchestrated cavalcade of comedic chaos. Laughs come from all angles and Emmy award winning performances are made every time a new person comes on screen (Jack's therapy session with Tracy, come ON!). Whereas Arrested Development became increasingly insular as its genius increased, 30 Rock still feels open to new viewers and it's that "everyone's invited" vibe that really makes it stand out. So often 'intelligent' comedy is viewed as harsh and closed off. 30 Rock is smart but still so accessible.
Lastly, those two shows that reenergized primetime TV three years ago have been enjoying stellar seasons. Desperate Housewives found sure footing by making sure that the leads all, you know, act like friends again. My main complaint years ago with this show was how it felt like four seperate shows crammed into an hour. Season four has been entertaining. But it is nothing compared to Lost, which once again blew away all competition with it's daring season three finale. I can't really write much about Lost. It's a television revolution in storytelling and character development, especially since it's better than ever as season four starts at the end of January. When all is said and done, if Lost doesn't lose the plot, we may be watching the best television show to ever air. That's how important this show feels right now. This is the Beatles in 1966.