Tuesday, December 27, 2011

2011's Best in Television: The Shows, the Episodes, the Performances

Top Ten TV Shows

1-Parks and Recreation-Rarely do these lists name a comedy as the best show of the year (that's not why I am picking it), but this show was flawless this year.  Season 3 which took place entirely in 2011 was a perfect season of a comedy.  With cast additions like Rob Lowe and Adam Scott the tone of the show has never faltered.  I love Leslie Knope and I am glad they moved away from creating Michael Scott part two.  This is one of the best ensembles.  I could go on an on about Leslie, April, Andy, Tom, Jerry, Donna and of course Ron freaking Swanson, but that would fill up a huge amount of space.

2-Breaking Bad-The best show everyone is starting to watch now.  This show is like a fine wine, it gets better with age.  When I watched the third season of this show I thought, this is the best season of this show, then came the fourth season.  This show continues to get better and better.  Vince Gilligan is a genius, and has made this one of the best dramas on television ever!

3-Homeland-The best new show of the year!  This taught cat and mouse game centered around the CIA, a soldier returning home being missing for eight years, and terrorism is one of the best thrillers.  Claire Danes and Damien Lewis have amazing chemistry and have given phenomenal performances.  I just finished this series, and from beginning to end with so many twists and turns I am ready for season two to start.

4-Game of Thrones-Another show with a great first year. While there were moments were the pacing of this show is quick, and I had to re-wind to make sure I got every detail this show is amazing.  You better not get attached to any character though because they will kill him or her off with the snap of your fingers.  The show is not afraid to push boundaries, and bring a fantastical world to life.

5-Louie-This show is beyond sarcasm.  Louis CK has made his dark twisted life into a brilliant comedy series.  While the first season provided some great awkwardly funny moments, the second season of this show kicked it up a notch.  The show provided even more awkwardly funny moments, and showed depth to Louis CK while interacting with his children.

6-The Good Wife-This show is the onion of television shows. Of course the show does not stink, but like Shrek says "onions have layers."  This is one of the best shows because it peals away revealing the layers of the different characters while intermixing a procedural court case.  The show is also not afraid to shuck those layers and start new.  This is one of the best shows on television and CBS made a huge mistake moving this against Monday night football.

7-The Walking Dead-While season two followed the hunt for a young girl, this show took the context of the zombie analogy to a whole new level.  Are these "walkers" people?  I thought this season was strong, and provided not only new directions but showed that even in a show about the walking dead there is life.

8-Curb Your Enthusiasm-I have never seen a show where is season 8 the quality has not remotely decreased.  CYE was at the top of this game in a post divorce world for Larry and a change in location to New York.  I have two words for everyone, Palestinian Chicken.  "Palestinian Chicken" is the funniest episode I have seen in a long time.  Watching Larry easily giving up on his faith and his people to eat chicken from a Palestinian restaurant is hilarious.

9-Modern Family-There is not much to say but that this show still remains steady with the laughs.  Whether the kids are catching Claire and Phill having sex or we watch Mitchell and Cam in their search to get another baby this show while not at as great as its first year still is one of the best shows on television.

10-Revenge-As much as you may laugh, this is one of the most entertaining shows of the year.  The show provides a soapy/exciting experience for viewers.  This show reminds me of the days of Dallas, Knotts Landing, and Dynasty.  Those show were never taken as serious as they could/should have been.  Revenge tells the story of basic human emotions in fabulous clothes in the Hamptons.  Emily Van Camp and Madeline Stowe work together flawlessly.

Top Five Episodes (In Alpha Order)

Each of these episodes were not only quintessential to the show, but were classic television episodes that will have a lasting impact on television.

Game of Thrones-"Baelor"
Wait what just happened? No, I mean did that just happen?  This episode was a game changer for the series, and made this show turn a corner few other shows have turned.  This episode defines this show.

The Good Wife-"Closing Arguments"

The moment fans have been waiting for!  An episode with a compelling court case, and where Alicia finally moves on from Peter and kisses Will.

Friday Night Lights-"Always"
One of the best series finales.  The show always had heart, and made a show about football more than a show about football.  This episode won an Emmy for directing, and provided a perfect emotional ending for Coach Taylor and crew.

Modern Family "Caught in the Act"

Who thought walking in on someone else's parents having sex would be so hilarious.  This is by far one of my favorite episodes of this show.  Thinking about how horrifying this moment actually would be, and then watching it in a TV show, is the reason why this show is still one of the best. (no clip)

Parks and Recreation "Flu Season" and "The Fight" (tie)

I could not pick, it was my Sophie's choice of this year.  "Flu Season" was Poehler's "Vitameatavegamin" when she comes down with the flu and in the eleventh hour convinces people to invest in the harvest fest.  Then there is of course Leslie and Ann's big fight while everyone gets drunk on Tom's Snake Juice in "The Fight"  Two pitch perfect episodes.

Outstanding Performances

Damien Lewis as Sergent Nicholas Brody and Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison in Homeland-The cat and mouse game of the year! But who is who?  These two have so much chemistry, and whether they are sparring in the the interrogation room or the bedroom there is no stopping this dynamic duo.  Picking just one person would be a tough thing to do, both of these actors are at the top of their game in this show.

Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister on Game of Thrones-Tyrion is not only a great character but he provides so much more than the serious context of the other characters.  Tyrion is constantly referred as the the "halfling" but his character is the most redeemable in the entire Lannister family, and is has some pretty funny moments.

Adam Scott as Ben Wyatt and Amy Poehler Leslie Knope in Parks and Recreation- These two have amazing chemistry.  This is dork love at its finest.  Leslie lives on waffles, and Ben dresses up in a Batman costume.  Of course these two are meant to be.  While many love Ron Swanson (I do too) these two are just great, and make me laugh, cry, and make me proud to be a dork.

Giancarlo Espostio as Gustavo 'Gus' Fring on Breaking Bad-The man mixes his dark and "good" side effortlessly.  Esposito brought Gus to life earlier as a more one dimensional character, but as this show continues to become more, characters like Gus become phenomenal.  I think most of the credit has to go to Esposito, and his brilliant performance.

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