Pat Clark

Celebrating a year of great stuff

Being Christmas and all, Scene writer Lisa Millegan and I decided to reflect on the past year's entertainment from the perspective of receiving.

Giving is best, but we all like to receive, as well, yes?

All of us in the greater Modesto region were on the receiving end of quite a lot of quality entertainment in 2009. Sure, most of us had to pay for the pleasure, but what we got in return often was pretty amazing stuff.

This region is unusually blessed with great venues that bring in great names and shows. How many regions this size across America welcomed the talents of Dana Carvey or Jewel or John Cleese?

There were plenty of artists who played here we didn't get a chance to see who almost certainly put on amazing shows. I would have loved to have seen Crosby, Stills & Nash in Murphys, for instance, but couldn't make it.

There also were a few shows we caught that we would have loved to have been able to include, but just couldn't. Both

of us were at Acoustic Christ- mas earlier this month at Modesto Centre Plaza, but as much as we loved singer Ingrid Michaelson, Centre Plaza was too sterile a venue for a semi-mellow acoustic-fest. We agreed that a return to the warm ambience of the State Theatre would have hugely benefited that multi-artist concert.

And Lisa, who has covered arts in the region for almost the entirety of the passing decade, also takes a look at how much that landscape has changed in 10 years.

For a look at the decade in arts, see Page E-9; for our take on 2009, see Page E-12.

Yes, I saw some great live shows this year, but — let's face it — my heart belongs to television. I've always loved TV and that warm feeling was as present as ever in 2009. Here's a quick top 10 glimpse at why:

1. "Mad Men" — Third season. As good as TV gets. You're not watching it. I give up.

2. "Damages" — Modesto native Timothy Olyphant joined the cast, putting icing on the cake of this complex and fascinating drama.

3. "Top Chef" — It might seem odd for a competition/

reality show to be so high on a best-of list. But it's my list and it's no secret that I'm addicted to this show. It's fast, furious and fantastic.

4. "Burn Notice" — It's like a piece of candy tossed on a table of gourmet foods: a light little nibble that delights you without you having to think about it.

5. "Lost" — This show found itself in a big way this past season, setting up a 2010 series finale season that I'm eagerly anticipating.

6. "Saving Grace" — Holly Hunter is my favorite living actress, and this drama is a showcase for her talents. Grit and spirituality go hand in hand.

7. "30 Rock" — Alec, Tina and the gang continue to be TV's current comedy touchstone. It's glib and goofy and never lets you down.

8. "Breaking Bad" — Often hard to watch, this show manages to move you while it repulses you. Not always my kind of combination, but here, it's stunning.

9. "How I Met Your Mother" — A little gem that's entertained us for years but manages to fly just under the radar. A fun and delightful weekly jaunt.

10. "Rescue Me" — It was another nutty year for the FDNY — at least in this TV version of said. Denis Leary clearly thinks he's still hot stuff, as evidenced by the female attention he writes for himself. But all can be forgiven given the rest of this half-hysterical, half-dramatic material.