6 Favorite Stories of 2009: Julie's Picks

When television historians reflect on this decade, they will certainly not skirt around the fact that 2009 was one of the most disappointing years in the history of the medium. Broadcast networks spent thousands of hours pumping hot air into the controversies surrounding the Gosselins, David Letterman and Tiger Woods, but when you look back on the groundbreaking programming produced, you're left with little more than Snooki and an empty balloon in a cornfield. So follow along as I lead you through my favorite (and the most uplifting) of this year's small-screen developments.

· James Franco's Unexpected Arc on General Hospital

Actor-slash-performance-artist James Franco reinvigorated the dying soap opera format with an unexpected arc on ABC's General Hospital as an elusive creative "whose canvas is murder." Some of his best moments included a steamy night with a silk blindfold, a one-take slip up, Tommy Wiseau-inspired meltdown, lonely candlelit New Year's Eve.

· Biggest Loser Desecrates The Nation's Capital: A Photo Essay

NBC brain-fried entertained viewers with another biggest season of The Biggest Loser (although it will be outdone by next season's half-ton twins) but still has not spoken out about those rumors of dehydration and starvation.

· Balloon Boy Suffering From Media Exposure, Low-Altitude Sickness?

Falcon Heene could have been this year's breakout reality star if only he could have dealt with the anxiety of lying about a national crisis in 10 back-to-back interviews. Alas, he'll just have to settle for that inevitable Law & Order arc based on the event.

· Six Milestone Moments of the Jim and Pam Office Boremance

Loyal Office fans wept during the Niagara Falls marital vows that finally bound Jim and Pam together after a long courtship, but Movieline remembered the seasons of smirks and anticlimactic exchanges that led to that disappointing wedding episode.

· Who Is Killing the African-American Sitcom?

Fall's premiere season brought us a handful of great scripted series, but only two centering on black families, Brothers and The Cleveland Show. Fox swiftly canceled Brothers and Movieline investigated where all of the great African-American sitcoms have gone.

· Death Threats and Anguished Guidos Plague Jersey Shore

MTV's super-tanned cast mates scooped up all the media coverage (and death threats) that Falcon Heene could not stomach back in October: late night appearances and biblical skits galore.