Tuesday, January 3, 2012

End-Of-Year: Favorite 2011 TV Shows, Part 2

Yesterday, I posted the bottom part of the Top 30 list of TV shows. Below you will see my Top 10 list full of British aristocrats, community college students, meth dealers, vampires, lawyers, and government workers. There's also time travel, alternate realities, and a world where dragons roam. Before all of that, however, just a few more quick mentions of some other TV shows...

Shows that I watched, but didn't rank: Suburgatory, Dexter, Raising Hope, 2 Broke Girls, 30 Rock, The Office, Grey's Anatomy, New Girl, Up All Night, Pan Am, The Secret Circle, The Killing, V, American Horror Story, Supernatural, Grimm, and Weeds

Shows I've stopped watching for one reason or another: Covert Affairs, Drop Dead Diva, Pretty Little Liars, Chuck, and White Collar

Dishonorable Mentions:

Torchwood: Miracle Day - I knew there would be growing pains when they moved this show to America, but I didn't expect them to hurt this much. I can't believe the team that gave us the amazing Children of Earth gave us this mess of a season.

Glee - Don't think I'm jumping on the hate bandwagon because everyone else is. The truth is I continually root for this show, because I love seeing a musical regularly on television. But lazy writing, awful characterizations, and overblown hype is making this show borderline unwatchable at times.

Terra Nova - The pilot was pretty solid and the finale was actually kind of great. Too bad everything in the middle ranged from mind-numbingly dull to ridiculously awful.

My Top Ten TV Shows of 2011

10. Homeland - More than a year since 24 ended and I have finally found its replacement in this gripping tale of an American POW soldier coming back home embroiled in a possible terrorist plot. I only saw this show a couple weeks ago because of its impeccable word-of-mouth from critics and friends, but, and excuse the choice of words, it really did blow me away. Damian Lewis as the soldier and Claire Danes as the lead investigator are both magnificent and every episode was so intense. If I had to critique the show, I'd ask what the hell is up with its opening title sequence!

9. Downton Abbey - If I counted the first season, which I technically saw earlier this year, this would be ranked higher. In any case, I knew my Anglophilic ways would render me unable to fall head over heels in love with this series and that's exactly what happened. A British period piece about the aristocracy and their lowly servants isn't anything new, but with a ridiculously amazing cast (Maggie Smith is a stand out) and engaging stories, though with 1-2 key exceptions less engaging this past season, it's definitely become one of my favorite shows.

8. Doctor Who - I may have ranked other shows above this, but I didn't wait in line for nearly 12 hours to watch an advance screening of those other show's season premiere. It was in this kind of spirit that I approached this sixth season of this show that perhaps bit off more than it could, but was nonetheless brilliant throughout. Moffatt certainly needed to reel himself in, but the trio actors of Smith, Gillan, and Darvill were perfection, the latter especially. If nothing else, this year gave us the beautiful episode "The Doctor's Wife" and made me cry like a baby with "The Girl Who Waited."

7. Being Human - There's not much else I can say to praise this brilliantly written supernatural heartbreaker of a drama. This time around they are in a new town, a new house, and new dangers. Annie's wonderful rescue from limbo, the intriguing Pack storyline coupled with George and Nina's new baby, and of course the return of Herrick were all highlights. But as I've always said it's all about the characters and their constant struggle to feel human. The finale was the show's most human yet in its determined optimism amidst amazing sacrifice.

6. Community - An episode centered around Dungeons & Dragons. Two episodes done in documentary style. An episode that is doubly an homage to Pulp Fiction and My Dinner with Andre. An epic episode with seven alternate realities. A musical Glee parody episode. A clip episode using almost no old clips. And of course a 2-parter paintball episode for the ages. All of this are certainly gimmicks, but what makes this show so good is that through it all, we still care about the characters. I don't think any other sitcom can pull off what this show is doing at the moment.

5. Fringe - The thought of this show prematurely ending this season is making me sad, so I'll just tell myself that if anything it's already given us 70 episodes full of great, inventive, and more importantly emotionally affecting sci-fi stories. This past year, it's been more of the same. The fallout over Fauxlivia's infiltration in our world was the big storyline at the end of last season and Anna Torv and company sold it wonderfully. The childhood flashback episode the the LSD episode were two of my favorites. This season's Peter-less alternate reality has been more of a mixed bag, but it's never not intriguing.

4. Game of Thrones - *BEST NEW SHOW* As a big fan of Rome and Lord of the Rings, I knew that I would love this show which seems like a great hybrid of those two great works. I admit that most of what I like about this show is its thoughtful and expansive world building which is a staple of its genre. Yes, I was confused for a good half a season getting people's names and relationships with others straight, but by the end I just wanted to know more. I was especially drawn to the outcasts/underdogs--Daenarhys, Tyrion, Snow, Arya. Looking forward to visiting Westeros again soon.

3. The Good Wife - There is no doubt to me that this is the finest drama on network TV at the moment. The cast is impeccable and every episode works in many levels both for the plot of the week and for the overreaching plot arcs all the while continuously enriching the characters and their relationships with one another. As I said last year, what puts this above other lawyer shows is their commitment to their characters. Throw in a quirky judge here, a sociopathic client there, and an extramarital affair and wham bam, it's all good.

2. Breaking Bad - *BEST TV DRAMA* Did the season start out a bit slow? Certainly, but the slow burn in the beginning only made the numerous explosive episodes in the back half that rendered me speechless and emotionally drained week in and week out. The devolution and subsequent rise to darkness of Walter White was a sight to behold just as it was great to see the growth and journey of Jesse this season. With the show's end in sight, 16 more episodes, I'm excited to see just how dark they can actually take the show's lead character. For now, I'm hust glad a show like this exist.

1. Parks and Recreation - *BEST TV COMEDY* This show is perfection. I'm going to repeat that lest you think I'm joking. This show is perfection. Got that? Good. But seriously, this time last year I just started watching the show and more than liked it. Now, I'm a hardcore fan. The show itself sounds a bit bland... a bunch of government workers and their work hi-jinks. And yet there isn't a single episode, at least for the past two seasons, where I wasn't left smiling from ear to ear or crying with joy. That's what this show is really, pure happiness. From its endlessly optimistic lead character to the hilarious supporting players. This show has the biggest heart of anything on TV and that's why it's my favorite show of 2011. Also zomgAdamScottissofine.

Final Note: Three British shows make it in my top 10 and six in my top 30 not including a remake of a British show (Shameless). ABC has the most shows on my list with 6, but oddly enough none to crack the top 10. CBS is second with 4 shows. NBC and BBC America made it into my top 10 twice. Along shows from the main networks and premium channels, shows from FX, CW, ABC Family, and PBS also made my list. Finally and happily, my list contains a whopping 9 new shows compared to none last year.

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