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Tommies honor memorable TV from 2005

For 30 years, these were known as the Dumonts, in honor of actress Margaret and the primal TV network. Well, we ended that last year. Until further notice, they'll now be known as the Tommies, in honor of Tom Cruise whose "I Love Scientology" TV tour in support of his movie "War of the Worlds" in 2005 found him trampolining on Oprah Winfrey's couch in declared love for Katie Holmes, lecturing Matt Lauer on the history of psychiatry and snarling at Brooke Shields' postpartum depression. Does the guy know how to make a public impression or what?

So, in fearless recognition of TV's true achievements in 2005, the Tommies:

Going goth, going to hell: The Carver sliced people up on "nip/tuck." A crazed, stalking pharmacist held "Desperate Housewives" hostage while a neighbor was chained in the basement. Both shows turned ridiculous and, to some degree, tedious. Never mind the foundation that found TV sex scenes to have doubled since 1998. Where were they on the shows that probably could have used them?

Dave, Oprah; Oprah, Dave: Everything was delightful about "The Super Bowl of Love" until the actual show, which was more than a bit of a bore. Oprah couldn't believe Letterman was being that serious. She wasn't alone.

Trading up?: CBS' "The Late Late Show" subbed one Craig for another -- Ferguson for Kilborn, who'd had enough.

K-K-K-Katie, beautiful Katie: For a while in 2005, Katie Couric was everyone's favorite pinata; she ended the year being publicly courted by CBS to jump ship and land on the prow of "CBS Evening News." In the back rooms of TV info, these two things are not unrelated.

Worst casting of the year: Dennis Hopper as a Pentagon bigwig in NBC's awful "E-Ring." Runner-Up: Ving Rhames as Lollipop-sucking Kojak.

Right between the eyes: The prime-time shocker of the year was, hands down, the murder of Sasha Alexander's character on "NCIS." Second Place for some people (not me): the escalating ratings strength of "NCIS" as the year went on.

Goodbye to all that: A bad story on "60 Minutes II" hastened Dan Rather's retirement from the nightly news and the demise of the show. Death took Peter Jennings. Hard reality hastened the retirement of Ted Koppel. Common sense showed Tom Brokaw when to get out when the getting was good. Patriarchal TV news is over. And all who rejoice at that are thoughtless media parricides. The good news for them is that stupidity is still legal. (In this political era, how could it not be?)

The long goodbye: A very tough year for TV deaths besides Jennings. With the deaths of Richard Pryor and Johnny Carson came the full realization of a place comedy once held in America that it no longer does.

Who's more lovable?: Kristin Bell of "Veronica Mars?" Or Pauley Perrette of "NCIS?" Or Sandra Oh of "Grey's Anatomy?" As Mike Myers used to say as Linda Richman -- "discuss."

He was robbed: No Emmy for Ian McShane in "Deadwood?" Let someone else try to say those Wild West Elizabethanisms as well. This is why the Emmys will never rival the Oscars.

Stalking horse of the year: President Geena Davis on "Commander-in-Chief."

Dead horse of the year: The sitcom, despite new life and hope from "My Name is Earl" and "Everybody Hates Chris." Runner-Up: Martha Stewart in prime time.

Worst TV read of the year: The new TV Guide.

Best TV read of the year: Steven Johnson's book "Everything Bad Is Good For You: How Today's Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter." Read it. Pass on to a friend.

Applause, no kidding: For the terrific closing season of "The West Wing," ratings be damned; for the brilliant finale of HBO's "Six Feet Under"; for Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert's nightly block of terrific "fake news" on Comedy Central; for Denis Leary and "Rescue Me"; for HBO's "Deadwood" and Showtime's "Huff;" for TNT's "The Closer"; for the idea of "Fat Actress" if not the show; for every TV news mouth awakened to duty by Katrina.

Local TV person of the year: Ch. 2 News Director Ellen Crooke, who, with immense political consequences, completely awakened a long-dead TV news department and an audience along with it.

e-mail: jsimon@buffnews.com

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