Friday, December 7, 2012

2012's Best and Worst in Television: The Series

Best Television Shows of the Year 2012

1-Homeland (SHOW) 

Every week the show re-writes the book on how to make a television series great.  Last year this was number 3 show of the year, and deservedly.  The show’s first season was impeccable, but the second has been a game changer.  While some have complained that the show has become too much about a “relationship” I challenge those folks, and think this show has become even more of a cat and mouse game than ever before.  Do Brody and Carrie “love” one another, maybe?  There is an undeniable tension between these characters, allowing the show to capitalize on the drama.  Watching week after week this show proves to break the rules challenging viewers to examine their disbelief, about what just happened.  Homeland is the must see television of 2012.

2-Girls (HBO)

A show that you will love or hate, I feel that there is no middle ground for this Lena Dunham project.  At 28 I feel like a failure watching this 25 year old girl star in, write for, direct, and produce one of the most well done shows of 2012.  At the beginning the show was seen as “younger Sex and the City.”  The comparisons can be made, Girls is about four women living in Brooklyn.  I think that’s where the comparisons stop.  Girls is a vibrant, and real journey for the millennial who has depended on their parents, or feel like they have everything going for them when they do not.  The show is hilarious, but also awkward, because as you watch these young women struggle you can’t help but think, I have been there, or damn how do they let this happen.  Girls is the bravest show of the year, and one of the funniest.

3-Breaking Bad (AMC)

The show never quits, while the beginning of the season started a little slow and had a weak episode, this show is still one of the best.  When Breaking Bad has a “bad” episode it’s still better than most shows on the air.  Watching the evolution of Walt turn into this kingpin was brilliantly executed, and the last episodes opening sequence was one of the most brilliant choreographed sequences.  Like with this past season’s Dexter (Deb finding out about Dexter) we have been waiting for Hank to stumble upon Walt’s secret, and he finally has, that moment, made me stand up and scream.

                                                                        4-Veep (HBO)

Another HBO show that cracked the top five , comes from the mind of Armando Iannucci is Veep.  What is it like to be the Vice President, to be just that close to the most important person in the United States?  If this show is any indication of Joe Biden’s life it’s quite hilarious. Iannucci is stranger to writing about the humor in politics (see In the Loop), his writing is so crisp, and witty.   Julia Louis Dreyfus’s Selena Meyers is one of the funniest roles I have seen for a woman in television; she proves that she is a comedic genius.  Along with Dreyfus this is one of the best ensembles, they work together like a well-oiled machine.  Great television!

5-Game Change (HBO) 

The television film event of the year.  Game Change is based on a book which looks at the 2008 election, the book looks at everyone involved from Hilary Clinton to John McCain.  This film focused obviously on the McCain/Palin ticket, and intricate details that occurred.  Moore’e performance made me forget about Tina Fey’s impersonation (until the showed it in the film-how meta), and the ensemble worked well together brilliantly.  This film shows the evolution of politics, and the fact that celebrity status plays a role in campaigning.  Palin is an interesting women, and the film proves to be a well-balanced representation of how this ticket spiraled into unrealistic crazy experience for those involved.

 6-Louie (F/X)

With every season this show surprises me, and proves there is something new, and ingenious from the mind of comedian Louis C.K..  Watching Louie date and be with women ranging from Melissa Leo to Parker Posey were some of my favorite comedic moments from this past year.  C.K. like Lena Dunham is a forward thinking person who is brutally honest comedic mind of our time, and his show week after week represents is journey as a single dad, and someone just living their everyday life.  The man knows his stuff, and even helped Robin Williams seem relevant.

7- Sherlock (BBC/PBS)

Everyone is obsessed with Downton Abbey, but the real BBC star from this past year was Sherlock.  Sherlock is in the second series (season UK term) tackled a much darker three episodes, as Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Watson (Martin Freeman) fought to stay alive.  With three long form episodes the real stand out from this series was “A Scandal in Belgravia” where Holmes meets his match in female dominatrix Irene Adler.  This episode started the series strong and proved that this was not a tired reinterpretation of the great detective, but one of the most vibrant television shows.  Cumberbatch has bested Robert Downey Jr. and Steven Moffat (the writer, creator, and sometimes actor) knows how to hold you on the edge of your seat better than anyone.

8- Parks and Recreation (NBC)

Last year’s number one show is still at the top of its game, but is not as funny as the combination the second season and first half of the third.  Leslie Knope running for city council has been one of the funniest stories, and the debate and election episodes pushed this show to stay on this list.  This show has survived better than its somewhat similar show The Office.  Parks and Recreation uses their ensemble well, and has helped to continue to develop their characters in meaningful ways.  This show continues to make me laugh week after week, even with the occasionally miss episode.  Amy Poehler’s writing is the gift that keeps on giving!

9-The Newsroom (HBO)

Aaron Sorkin got a lot of grief for this, and the critics did not hold back (unlike with the The West Wing).  The show was described as anti-woman, pandering to liberals, and many other adjectives.  What I saw like former news anchor Dan Rather was an honest show about the reality of working in a newsroom.  The show had heavy handed moments (the Coldplay montage) and was often a little left leaning, but there were also some great performances (Jeff Daniels, and Sam Waterston), and some great television moments that looked at the changing face of the 24/7 news cycle.  I was hooked from episode one, and have not looked back.

10- Community (NBC)

The drama, Dan Harmon leaving, Chevy Chase going crazy, and even more of that is permeating into the upcoming season.  When Community returned for the second half of its third season in 2012 it did not completely hit it out of the park, but still provided some of the best comedic moments of television.  From a Law & Order spoof, the misadventures of the Greendale 7, and the gang entering Nintendo like video game this show still has some of the wittiest writing on television.  My favorite ensemble working in comedy.

Worst Television Shows of the Year 2012

1- Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo (TLC) 

Do I need to explain? This show was a cultural phenomenon in a tragic way, and I am sad that the reporters have got on the gravy train.  I feel as though I am in the episode of Newsroom when they are forced to cover Casey Anthony.  This is one of the worst shows of all time!

2- Work It (ABC)

One of the most offensive premises of all time. Two men, living in a woman’s world, so they dress like women.  Lasted only two episodes because of backlash, and well, it was terrible.  How this show even made it to mid-season proves just how bad the material is at the networks.

3-Are You There, Chelsea? (NBC)

Chelsea is one funny lady, but every time she has left late night she (beyond her books) she always seem to fail, the MTV movie awards, films, and now here in her television series.  I watched this show one and a half times, the second time (or half time) I just could not laugh or sit through this show, you can do better Chelsea.

4-How I Met Your Mother (CBS)

The Show feels as though it’s at a standstill.  They keep playing the same storylines, will Robin and Barney get together or won’t they, does Ted still love Robin?  The show seems to be the Barney Stinson show, and do not get me wrong I love NPH, but what about Ted, Marshall, and Lilly they have become secondary figures.  The show is supposedly going to end this year, but they appear to be nowhere in sight of meeting the mother.  To put this show on this list pains me, but there is no way around it.

5-The Killing (AMC) 

What started out as a taught wonderfully crafted thriller unspooled into another run of the mill procedural that had little pay off for the time spent on the mystery of Who Killed Rosie Larson, and made climatic moments a snooze.

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