Friday, January 18, 2013

End-Of-Year: Favorite 2012 TV Shows, Part 2

A mixture of laziness, writer's block, work, and tennis has conspired to delay this post of my top 10 favorite TV shows of the past year. I was supposed to have posted this a day after I posted the bottom part of my Top 30 list, but alas. So without further a due...

My Top Ten TV Shows of 2012

10. Fringe - This should probably be ranked higher, but this final season, which has been pretty good, isn't matching the highs I felt last season where the alternate universe arc reached its zenith. But those last few episodes last season makes this a worthy top 10 inclusion especially with the promise of major tears coming for the series finale airing tonight. I'm so not ready to say goodbye to these characters.

9. The Good Wife - Yes, Kalinda's S4 arc with her husband is perhaps the one blight in an otherwise another excellent year for this show with Alicia doing better than ever balancing the whole mom/lawyer/wife dynamics while everyone else experience some growing pains. The law firms' financial troubles have been particularly well handled I thought. This show remains the blue ribbon example of casting and ensemble work certainly in all of network TV.

8. Sherlock - The first season, which also had just three episodes, ended up in my top ten list two years ago for the seamless way Moffat updated the Holmes story for our times with pitch perfect acting from Cumberbatch and Freeman to bring the roles of Holmes and Watson to life. This season second was more of the same with higher, more personal, stakes and a couple of brilliant turns from Andrew Scott and Laura Pulver playing Moriarty and Irene Adler respectively.

7. Breaking Bad - Coming off an explosive season and heading towards the finish line, this past season had a lot riding on it, but I think this transitional period went just right. Walter's devolution has reached its peak while everyone around him are really starting to suffer none more so than Skylar played devastatingly by Anna Gunn. The heat is on and things are reaching its boiling point.

6. Downton Abbey - It's very difficult to say anything about this show because most people on this side of the ocean haven't seen the latest season, but I quite enjoyed it, more so than last season which I also quite liked. With the war over, the show was able to focus more with its characters. Like most soap operas, and yes this show can be characterized as such with no shame, there are insane plots, but in the end it's also about whether you care enough about these people to put up with all the crazy and I really do care. Which is why certain developments make it that much more difficult to accept.

5. Shameless - I already gave this cast my Best Ensemble award, because I really do think the young actors making up the Gallagher family are doing something special. It helps that they are led by a very good Rossum who has found that once-in-a-lifetime role that was tailor-made to show off just how talented she is. We are continually rooting for them, for her, to suceed and when they inevitably don't you can't help but keep watching and hoping.

4. Homeland - Apparently the show jumped the shark, or so the internet is telling me. I do think the whole "Abu Nazir in the United States" plot line was a bit too much, but the rest of the season played out as thrilling, exciting, suspenseful, and nervewracking as the show's hailed first season. In fact, the first few episodes of this season pretty much gave me whiplash from how quickly things were progressing. Lewis, Danes, and Patinkin were just aces. The final episode only made me need the next season more.

3. Community - A part of me wondered whether or not my longing for the show's return had any effect on its relatively high ranking. But even if it did, the show can well damn stand on its own merit especially as still one of the most random and inventive sitcoms out there. An entire episode with the characters playing a video game? A tribute to Law & Order? An epic pillow fort/blanket fort war that leads into a Ken Burns-style documentary episode? An episode where the characters realized they might have been stuck in an insane asylum all this time? I miss you, show.

2. Parks and Recreation - *BEST COMEDY* My #1 show last year drops a spot only because there were maybe a couple of episodes that didn't live up to standards BUT the show is still so damn good. From Leslie's campaign and subsequent rousing win to Ben's Washington sojourn and eventual proposal to Leslie, it's been a year full of big changes for almost every character. The comedy is still gold and the relationships between characters have never been better developed. Basically this show is pretty much the moment when Leslie met Joe Biden: magical.

1. The Hour - *BEST DRAMA* It doesn't happen often, but sometimes shows have the perfect season where every episode is just as strong or better than the rest while characters and plots are working seamlessly with one another. I fully believe this latest season of The Hour was one such season. The first season was good, but was slightly unmemorable while this season pretty much destroyed me. Most of the change had to do with really narrowing the focus of the overarching mystery and making it more personally relevant to the characters. The acting has never been better from the leads and supporting alike with some familiar S1 faces getting much-deserved focus and air time this season along with some excellent casting for new characters. I'd watch it all again in a heartbeat.

Addendum: The network with the most shows in my top 30 is ABC, but none of its shows ranked higher than #17. PBS scored two top 8 shows, which are both technically British imports. Speaking of British shows, 4 made my top 11 including my best show of the year. The network with the second most shows in my list is NBC with 4 including two in the top 3. Only 6 new shows made my list.

Shows that I watched, but didn't rank: 2 Broke Girls, Amazing Race, Big Bang Theory, Don't Trust the B- in Apt 23, Elementary, Glee, Glee Project, Masterchef, Modern Family, The Mindy Project, Nashville, The New Normal, The Office, Project Runway, Raising Hope, Revolution, Smash, Supernatural, Survivor, Teen Wolf, True Blood, Wilfred

Cancelled shows or shows I've stopped watching: 666 Park Avenue, American Horror Story, Arrow, Bunheads, Grey's Anatomy, Grimm, Newsroom, Pan Am, Partners, The Killing, The Secret Circle, Touch, Up All Night, Weeds

And finally, just a brief word of a few shows that merited Dishonorable Mentions...

Dishonorable Mentions:

Weeds - Terrible final season ending with one of the worst series finales I have ever seen. I can't even bring myself to talk about it. The only bright spot was bringing back the original theme song.

Smash - This is NOT one of the worst shows of the past year, but man didn't it just seem like everyone thought it was? The show had no one to blame but itself though with some of the worst characters you just wanted to hate as well as the ludicrousness of us thinking Katharine McPhee is a bigger star than Megan Hilty. as if.

Glee - As if you thought I was actually going to forget about this show. Perhaps everyone just needs to accept that this show is bad and will continue to be so. And yet, I still think there's a very good show underneath it all. Perhaps one that focuses entirely in NYC

Partners - It sort of got better right before it went off the air, but for the most part it made a mess out of some very talented people, one of which (Brandon Routh) I almost nominated for my year-end awards.

Revolution - It's better than what a lot of people think the show is, but it's still not great mostly because the main characters are a bit dull versus the intriguing ones in the fringes or are killed off with no reason.

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