Time for my annual wrap-up of my favorite TV shows this year.
Despite being a total television whore, I didn't seem enjoy it as much as I had in previous years. Partly because there wasn't as much great television airing to waste my time on... but mostly because I am just getting burned out on TV. Even so, lucky for me, I still watch entirely too much of the stuff.
THE TWELVE BEST...
#1 The Finder
I loved this show more than I thought it was possible to love a television show. That hasn't happened in a long time. Which means it was a show destined for cancellation which, of course, it was. Then Michael Clarke Duncan died, dashing any hopes for a reunion movie or some kind of conclusion written into Bones. And so I re-watch the old episodes, wondering what could have been.
The fact that I ended up liking this show was a bit of a shock, given that I'm a bit of a Sherlock Holmes purist. The fact that I enjoy it more than the more faithful BBC series is surprising. The fact that it is now my favorite show on television makes no sense at all. And yet... here it is. The casting of Johnny Lee Miller as Sherlock and Lucy Liu as Watson is genius. The stories are well-written and make for good mysteries. Everything just works.
Well slap my ass and call me Sally. I had no hope for a television show base on the Green Arrow comic books. And yet... it is perfectly realized for the small screen. The plot is solid. The stories are entertaining. The casting is excellent. What changes they made to the source material serve the medium well. It's not the Green Arrow of the comic books, but it has the feel of a Green Arrow comic book. I couldn't ask for more, and I'm enjoying the show quite a lot.
#4 Raising Hope
Remains one of the best shows on television. Funny, charming, smart, entertaining... everything you want in a series. I had thought that finally getting Jimmy and Sabrina together would be the death knell for the series, but it strengthened it in many ways. Here's hoping they know how to keep things fresh for many more seasons.
Consistently the funniest show on television, and one of the few series which likes to innovate in new and fascinating directions. Unfortunately the latest direction is the firing of show runner Dan Harmon and the eventual departure of Chevy Chase. Marry that to NBC consistently shitting all over the show, and one has to wonder how much longer it can last. Enjoy it while you can.
In many ways, this is the best show on television. But the genre isn't really my thing, so it's not at the top of my list. And yet, it's such compelling television that I enjoy it just the same. The writing has not faltered since the first episode, but it's the way the cast brings the words to life that makes the show such a must-see.
#7 Breaking Bad
If you're not watching the show, you really should check it out. Preferrably from the beginning. Now that we're in the final stretch, things are bound to get even messier. Which is exactly what has made Breaking Bad such a hit with its fans.
#8 Happy Endings
This show has yet to recapture the magic from its awesome first season. But it's still funnier and more entertaining than most of the crap on television, so I keep watching. The problem being that my interest is waning more and more. If they can't find a way to make things interesting again, it may drop off my radar completely.
#9 The Walking Dead
The second season was a bit of a mess after what had come before. Not so surprising considering visionary director Frank Darabont was fired. But then things seemed to come back together in Season 3. Characters that had outlived their usefulness were eliminated... kickass new characters were introduced... and the threat level started to grow. I don't know if Season 4 will continue to improve, or if we're due for a setback, but I plan on watching so I can find out.
#10 Sons of Anarchy
This show seems intent on shaking things up more often than not, but sometimes what gets shaken isn't very effective in the long run. This season it felt as though the writers had no intention of going calmly into the night, and made radical changes that left SOA fans reeling. Deep down, everybody knows where things are ultimately headed with the show... the question has always been "Will the writers have the guts to take us there?" Now we know the answer is unequivocally yes, and I can't wait to enjoy the ride.
#11 Hawaii Five-0
This show had me, then lost me. Then I started watching again and was amazed at how well it had progressed. The chemistry between McGarrett and Dano is some of the best on television... and funny as hell. The stories are uniquely Hawaii and pretty good crime drama as well. Unfortunately, every episode has a fucking Microsoft product demo crammed into it, which brings everything to s screeching halt each week. But if you can ignore that, it's a show that might surprise you.
For the longest time, this show was kind of treading water and didn't seem to have the ambition to do much more than that. Then, almost without warning, things escalated very quickly. By the time we got to the last episode of the season, it was if the writers were throwing everything they could think of to take the story to maximum thrust. I like the cast. I like the concept. And now I'm liking the story. If they have the guts to keep running at this pace, Season Two Three is going to be some excellent television.
A DOZEN MORE WORTH WATCHING...
This modern version of Murder She Wrote still has terrific mysteries every episode. Even better, they've pushed the show forward by finally having Beckett and Castle hook up. As if that weren't enough, the supporting cast is wonderfully competent and vital to the series.
The show may be coming to an end, but it was a staple of my 2012 viewing schedule. Tina Fey can do no wrong in my book.
Rules of Engagement
Getting tired, but's still funny and worth watching.
The New Normal
Surprisingly funny television, even though most of the humor relies on tired stereotypes.
Keeps. Plugging. Along. Fortunately, Shonda Rhimes knows what makes good television, and is constantly shaking things up to keep viewers interested. The airplane crash that took out two popular characters couldn't have been an easy decision... but it was critical in keep the show fresh and moving forward though yet another season. But what happens to keep things interesting next season?
2 Broke Girls
Yeah, it's rude, crude, and isn't very smart... but it's also darn funny. Why they keep clinging to the pretense that the broke girls will eventually dig themselves out of their financial troubles is beyond me. That's the end of the show.
This show is so far under the radar that few people even know it exists. That's a shame, because it's a crime drama that's worth a look.
Hot in Cleveland
By now, I'm over this show, but the constant presence of Betty White cannot be ignored. She is as hilarious as ever, and that alone is enough to keep me watching.
I kind of waffle on this show. It's funny and well-cast, but never seems to reach much. It's the same problems and misunderstandings each episode... but with different people and situations. Oddly enough, it kind of works, and I find myself watching more often than not.
I'm going to be crucified for mentioning this show because everybody I know seems to hate it with a passion... but I think it's funny. Sometimes charming even. Not so much for brash and abrasive Whitney Cummings, but instead for Chris D'Elia, which somehow keeps the show on-track. Yeah, it can be annoying at times, but it's got real heart beneath it all, and that's what keeps me coming back.
This show is not my cup of tea, but it's so incredibly lush and smart that it can't be ignored... even when the drama reaches ridiculous levels. Dame Maggie Smith has just been the icing on the cake.
I am still not 100% sold on Matt Smith as The Doctor, but the show has such fantastic writing and production values that I don't dare ignore it. I'm also in love with Amy Pond, so there's that. Now that she's left the show, I'm a bit worried about the show, so only time will tell if my television future in 2013 will include Doctor Who... but Amy & Rory's replacement, Clara does look promising...
IT'S NOT TV, IT'S PREMIUM CHANNELS...
Game of Thrones
Continues to impress. One can only hope that George R. R. Martin figures out a conclusion to the books before the TV show catches up.
Rarely does a show inhabit such a fully realized environment as Boardwalk Empire. Even if the writing were shit, I would still probably tune in just to look at it.
The Big C
While Laura Linney's character grows more unsympathetic with each new episode, I have to say she's as fascinating as she's ever been. This is in direct contrast to Dexter where I just can't find him interesting any more. Since the next season of The Big C is the last (and oddly abbreviated to four 1-hour episodes) it remains to be seen where Cathy will end up. All I can do is hope that it's worthy of what she's had to face over the past three seasons.
ANIMATION WORTH YOUR TIME...
Continues to be brilliant, relevant commentary on pop culture and society in general. I hope it never ends.
Probably the most bizarre show to ever air on television, and I love every minute of it. I fully realize that the stories of Jake the Dog and Finn the Human are not going to be everybody's cup of tea... but they really should be.
The ultimate spy series, but oh so wrong. How they manage to get away with something so raunchy is a mystery to me. Probably because it's so bloody witty and brilliant.
Burn Notice — Even though I still like the characters, the stories are built on a premise which has grown very tired. I've hoped for a couple seasons now that they will wrap up the show before it gets bad... but I'm starting to lose confidence.
Revenge — The first season of this show was utterly brilliant. Emily Thorne picks a new target each week and then destroys her enemies in clever and darkly humorous ways. This season? Corporate finances and coincidences. How a show so delicious could devolve into something so pathetic and boring is just beyond me.
Modern Family — How many times can Phil Dunphy do something stupid and it still be considered funny? I dunno, but we've long since passed that point.
The Big Bang Theory — Adding Amy Farah Fowler was a stop-gap necessity to keep the show from going stale and repeating itself over and over again. Except now the stop-gap is getting tired.
Parks & Recreation — The show used to be funny because it was so tightly wound. But now it's so expansive, scattered, and decentralized that the laughs are fewer and far between.
Fringe — I still like watching this show, but not nearly as much as I used to. The thrust of Fringe was always the alternate universe. Then that got unceremoniously dumped for a future world which seems so disconnected from what we've known that it doesn't even feel like the same show.
Grimm — The monster of the week aspect of the show is just so tired. There are baby steps made to expand on the mythology of the Grimms, but it's not coming fast enough to save this show from seemingly endless repetition.
American Horror Story — The first season wasn't great, but it was so different from anything else on television that I was compelled to watch. This second season doesn't have that advantage, and seems to be treading water rather than forging out in a brave new direction.
Being Human — At first I resented this show as a poor American copy of the British original. But it quickly grew on me because it had a "voice" that was evolving into something different. But now it's just kind of settled into something that's not nearly as interesting. Yes, they try and pop in some big events to shake things up, but the net effect isn't change enough to keep me watching.
Go On — I really want to like this show because I've been a big fan of Matthew Perry's work in Friends, The West Wing, and Studio 60, but it's just not anywhere near that level. I suppose Perry is okay, but it's too hard to like his character and the supporting cast isn't helping.
How I Met Your Mother — Worn out its welcome years ago. Just reveal the mother and get this over with.
Psych —Probably because of syndication concerns, this show just doesn't seem to grow. Nothing really changes. Even big events like Shawn hooking up with Juliet is played to minimal effect so you barely notice it. As a result, brand new episodes feel like they could have happened in the first season. Something drastic needs to start pushing the show forward or they should just pack it up.
White Colar — Yet another USA Network show that doesn't want to evolve. It seems as if the characters are just caught in a loop so that the episodes can be syndicated more easily. Boring.
Suits — I really enjoyed the first season, but cannot seem to get into the second season for some reason. The characters are ultimately one-note cut-outs that don't engage. Maybe this season I just started to notice that?
SNL — More misses than hits this year. But every once in a while... a surprise that makes it all worthwhile.