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Best of 2012: TV Shows

Since the end of the year (and possibly the world) is nigh, I figured I’d take the easy blogging route and give you some of my Best Of’s for this year. First up, my one true love, television.

2012 was not the best of time, but it wasn’t the worst of times. There are some shows out there that were strong but didn’t catch on, some that were good the previous year but GREAT this year, and some that sucked hard. Right now, I’m focusing on the good. Here are 12 of MY top shows in 2012:

1) Community. Shock of all shocks I lead with this one, right? My favorite show, Community had a strong start in 2011 and then, after the brilliant Christmas episode “Regional Holiday Music,” fans were left hanging until March for new episodes. But, the wait was well worth it with classics like “Pillows and Blankets,” the Ken Burns-ian episode about the civil war between Abed and Troy, “Basic Lupine Urology,” the Law & Order-themed episode, and the epic “Digital Estate Planning” 8-bit episode. Not to mention a season finale worthy of being a series finale- a good thing to note in case this next season sucks (which I doubt, but with new show runners ya never know!).

2) The Walking Dead. This is a show that was good and then got even better. Every set of episodes improves upon itself, and this year was no different. I’m going to keep this vague since one of the three readers of this blog has indicated she might try to catch up on the show: after finding out what happened with Sophia, the gang deals with the power struggle between Rick and Shane, leaving Hershel’s farm, finding the prison and Woodbury, and the deaths of many of the characters we’ve come to know and love/tolerate. This show excels at keeping episodes tense and suspenseful, keeping us viewers guessing as to what will happen next. I can’t wait for February for the next batch of episodes!

3) The Good Wife.I know I’m getting repetitive here, but this is a show that improves every season it’s on. The story lines get tighter; they allow the characters to grow and take risks, AND the show does a good job having intriguing COWs (cases-of-the-week) that help accentuate or accelerate the personal/political story lines. This show is really three shows in one (four if you count the Kalinda-husband storyline from this fall, which I’m ignoring because it was one of the few missteps of this show in 2012)- a great soap, with the love triangle of Alicia, her husband Peter and her boss Will; a great law show, and a great political show with Peter running for office again. This show excels at all three, and makes them seamless in a single hour.

4) Homeland. Now, I don’t actually watch Homeland, so it may seem odd to put it on my list, especially so high up. But, I have started reading the recaps and talking to my family about it, and it seems like a show I would love, and yet another example of a show improving upon the previous season. The twists and plots I’ve read about seem very shocking- taking twists other shows would leave for a finale and having them happen in the second episode. It seems like a very carefully constructed show that moves plots forward week-to-week with few weak spots. The only reason I haven’t started watching this season yet is because it was already three episodes in when I decided I want to love this show, and so I want to marathon season 1 and this season rather than have to wait week to week for a new episode.

5) New Girl. This show gets better the more they make Jess (Zoey D’s character) a real person instead of a cartoon character, a sentiment I’ve shared many times. The humanization of the character started waaaayyyyy back in January, when Nick’s girlfriend confronted Jess about her “birds dress me” shtick. Sure, the show defended it at the time, but it was also a big step toward making her less ridiculous and more real. Plus, the show does a good job not making it the Jess show, but really utilizing the roommates (less so with Winston, but that’s gotten slightly better this season). The best episodes are the ones that are heavy on the guys. “You give me cookie, I gave you cookie.” Nuff said.

6) Happy Endings. I understand this show not being everyone’s cup of tea. It’s incredibly zany, and one of those shows where if you don’t get a reference or don’t find a bit funny, you won’t find the rest of it funny. The characters can be incredibly grating if you don’t love ’em to death. It’s a polarizing show, but I fall squarely in the camp of “It’s hilarious.” I love Brad and Jane’s insane relationship, Alex’s ditziness, and now that she’s stopped saying “a-mah-zing,” I even like Penny. I related to Dave’s need for an inter-vee-ntion, and who doesn’t love a grown man hibernating every winter, sticking his whole hand in a honey jar? It’s weird, but I’m weird, so it works for me.

7) Revenge. The guiltiest of the shows on this list, I like Revenge, even with it’s weird, conspiracy Secret Evil Corporation plot line this season. It’s just fun to watch rich people get their comeuppance. Plus, Nolan is hilarious; Jack is super sweet when crying over his dead dog, and the new British dude is HOT.

8) Go On. Maybe it’s because I miss Community, and this show shares the same ragtag makeshift family of outsiders feel that Community has. Maybe it’s because I’ve loved Matthew Perry since I was 10 and my parents inappropriately allowed me to watch Friends. Maybe it’s just because it’s a good show. I don’t know the exact reason, but Go On is definitely my favorite new sitcom of the year. While not every episode has been comedy gold, more have had me laugh out loud than haven’t. Even the weirdos I thought were just going to annoy me, like Mr. K, have grown on me. Now my only issue left with the show is: why do George and Owen appear in the same episodes so infrequently? Are we only allowed one African-American male per episode? It’s weird. Or maybe it’s only weird that I’ve noticed…

9) Last Resort.Another newbie, and sadly one not long for this world. I’ve loved this show since I saw a sneak peek of the pilot a few weeks before the premiere. It was the one I was most excited for others to see. First off, Scott Speedman in a uniform. Secondly, it’s an amazing show. Andre Braugher knocks it out of the park every week, and the plot is twisty and turny without being ludicrous. We’re down to the final handful of episodes, and luckily we’ve been promised at least some resolution in the final episode, but I can’t lie- I’m super, super bummed this show didn’t get picked up for a full season. I think it was good, smart TV; I think it could’ve done better in a different time slot, and I definitely think the television landscape is worse off without it.

10) Psych. You remember Psych, don’t you? I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t. It hasn’t been on since April, and despite the fact that the season usually gets split into a fall season that starts around October and a Spring season that starts around February, this year we’re waiting until February for any new episodes. But the ones that aired last spring were great! Among the awesome themes in the episodes: Indiana Jones, The Shining, and The Bachelor. Plus, the finale was crazy suspenseful: was Henry shot DEAD? We’ll find out- in 2 more months.

11) Parks and Recreation. I didn’t start watching this show until the third season, and thank goodness- while the first couple seasons were good, once Adam Scott and Rob Lowe came onto the show, it became great. 2012 was no exception. Leslie’s campaign, Bobby Newport, Ann and Tom dating, Chris’s depression when he and Millicent broke up, the great speeches in “The Debate” and “Win, Lose or Draw”, Ben’s surprise for Leslie in the Halloween episode- it’s been a great year in Pawnee, IN.

12) Last, but not least: The Newsroom. Now, this is evidently a divisive pick. Some people found it overly preachy of liberal views; some people found it tacky and overdone. Many people, including myself, had issues with the female characters and how they were portrayed unevenly and caricature-y, particularly Mackenzie. And while I admit the show was uneven, I still think it was great. The spirit behind it, the Sorkin-ism of it all. Oh sure, it’s not as great as The West Wing- will any show ever be?- and doesn’t have quite as much charm as Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip had. But it’s at least on par with Sports Night, another underrated Sorkin show. I like a show that asks us to think deep, to occasionally approach  issues with a different perspective, while still giving us mushy romance like the Will-Mack or Jim-Maggie relationships. Here is the basic point of all Aaron Sorkin shows: why should we just accept what is? Why shouldn’t we hold ourselves and those around us to higher standards, to expect people to rise to our expectations of being decent, thoughtful, considerate human beings rather than lower our expectations to meet people’s behaviors? I’m definitely looking forward to Season 2- I hope they catch up to real time enough to cover “Honey Boo Boo.”

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