Ahh, television. The opiate of the masses. Three Crimson writers offer their thoughts about this year’s crop of poppies.

2005’s Worst New “Shows”

5. “Taradise”

Tara Reid’s “Wild On” replacement vacillates so much between the hysterical and the groan-inducing, the wonderful and the pathetic, that I could have just as easily placed this in the “Best” list. It fell on this side largely due to its lack of staying power. But it was unapologetically ridiculous, and there’s something to be said for that. Unfortunately, “E!” cancelled the show, and we won’t be seeing any more of Tara’s luxurious voyages.

4. “Out of Practice”

Given the pedigree of its creators—former “Frasier” executive producers—this show should have been well done. Unfortunately, it’s a pale copy of that legendary psychological comedy—these urbanites are not as sophisticated, nor as funny as the Family Crane.

3. “Everybody Hates Chris”

The critics’ favorite, but it’s really unclear why. Rock and partner Ali LeRoi have never written anything remotely funny together, and this is merely another link in the chain. The humor is weak and recycled—not to mention the title.

2. “My Name is Earl”

This show has now landed, along with “The Office,” in NBC’s once-integral Thursday night slot, which used to boast the best lineup on television. “Earl” is an irritatingly stupid show, populated by horrendous accents and worse plotlines.

1. “Hot Properties”

The mention of its name on this page is more than it deserves. Don’t even ask what it’s about. The worst new show of the year by a country mile.

2005’s Best New Shows

5. “How I Met Your Mother”

Led by Neil Patrick Harris and Jason Segel, this show shows a lot of promise. The writing is fresher than most of what you see these days, and it boasts a very appealing cast. Not great, but the best of the new network sitcom crop.

4. “Daisy Does America”

Daisy Donovan’s “Ali G”-inspired journey across America is at times very funny, and already stands as the best original TBS show, which I suppose doesn’t say much. It’s unclear how Donovan’s humor will play out on a network like TBS, but given the recent success of British comedy imports over here, it should do well.

3. “Extras”

Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant’s follow-up to the British version of “The Office” is a much darker, and at times, quite dramatic, take on the lengths we go for fame. Gervais has successfully managed to create a character independent of David Brent—a tremendous achievement.

2. “Top Gear”

This show began airing in a modified American version in the fall, but was taken off the air in October. Discovery claims it will return soon, however. While liking cars doesn’t hurt, the program is also extremely funny on its own. It also functions just as well as a European travelogue, with beautifully-shot segments, like a race in an Aston Martin DB9 to Monte Carlo, and an SLR McLaren to Oslo. One of the best-made programs you’ll find on TV today.

1. “Rome”

HBO made a masterpiece with this series, following Julius Caesar’s rise to power. Its acting is impeccable, its sets extraordinary, and each one hour episode feels like a movie in its own right. Its only flaw is that we have to wait so long for Season Two.

—Alex C. Britell

For those of you who don’t frequent, the term, “Awkward Turtle,” refers to the hand motion one makes at times of situational discomfort—one places one’s hands on top of each other and spins one’s thumbs forward. Thus, a turtle is created. Everyone’s favorite melodrama has spawned many a turtle in my palms this season, and I know you feel the same way. So, I’ve created…

The Top 5 “Awkward Turtle” Moments of “The OC,” Season Three, Thus Far:

5. Before we knew Charlotte was an infamous “rehab pretender,” we watched her stare at Kirsten from a shadowy door crevice. Mad creepy.

4. Dean Hess and Taylor Townsend made out, and Summer watched for a really long time. It was a scene that gave me goosebumps…and not the good kind.

3. “So what…you’re gonna become a fisherman now?” Ahh…Marissa’s retort to Ryan’s one-episode, post-suspension decision to become a sailor. That question, phrased by Marissa at a family dinner, made me cry for the soul of “OC” creator Josh Schwartz.

2. Ryan’s whole “I’m-confused-so-I’m-gonna-punch-the-crap-out-of-this-bag” routine. Ben Mackenzie looked as puzzled as we did. That scene ended the episode and made me realize why they do not show Executive Producer credits right afterward: Shame.

1. In the first episode of the season, a tanned Marissa and Summer sat poolside, rocking iced coffee and oversized sunglasses. In case you forgot the topic of their discussion, I’ll refresh your memory: Marissa’s shooting of Ryan’s brother. I bet that coffee tasted real good, girls. Ahh…humanitarianism. (I think the turtle just flipped over.)

Top 5 “Awkward Turtle” Moments Still to Come (Note: These are not spoilers…just educated guesses.)

5. Summer will get a letter from Brown, granting her admission if she promises to change her name. And she will change it…to “Winter.” In response, Marissa changes hers to “Open-for-Business.”

4. After getting together, Marissa and Johnny will head out to a bar one day. What they will not realize, however, is that it’s a lesbian bar…and that Alex (from Season Two) works there! Later in the evening, Johnny will walk in on Alex “freshening” Marissa’s “glass.” So skillful, that Alex.

3. Feeling sexually frustrated from his lack of horizontal mambo-ness with Kirsten, Sandy will turn to immensely peculiar office-worker Matt. They will go all “Brokeback Mountain.” They will get caught by Matt’s stripper friend who is working her way through law school. About 17 kinds of awkward.

2. Trey will reappear, and Marissa, once done with both Johnny and Ryan, will fall for him. On their first date, they will slow-dance to Bon Jovi’s “Shot to the Heart”…and chuckle about it.

1. Season four. You know you’re as concerned as I am.

—Kevin Ferguson

I’ve never been stranded on an island, so I can’t speak from personal experience, but I’m positive that it makes you rather randy. My proof, obviously, derives from the plethora of couples on this polar bear-filled, monster-infested island. I know most people would point to Kate or Jack, or Kate and Sawyer as a hot and heavy example of the primo couple. Well, those people are wrong.

Top 5 “Lost” Couples

5. Bernard and Rose: Was it not the most wonderful moment in television history when these two were reunited? I’m not ashamed to admit that I cried. Seriously, ask my roommates—I used up five rolls of toilet paper (and that was only over the first hug).

4. Charlie and the Cocaine: Never before have I seen such an on-again off-again relationship portrayed on TV. And don’t tell me that hobbits and coke don’t go hand in hand, because they totally do. You know J.R.R. Tolkein was sniffing those white lines.

3. Hurley and the Numbers: Imagine winning the lottery, only to find that the blasted numbers you used were cursed. But Hurley is oddly obsessed with the numbers—do they have cream filling?

2. Jack and Sawyer: I see the hot man-on-man sexual attraction. It’s only a matter of time before these fellas go all “Brokeback Mountain” on us.

1. Locke and Rousseau: Obviously.

—Jessica C. Coggins