Thursday, December 27, 2012

Television Top Tens of 2012: New Series

The next list up is the top new series. You can see my top episodes list here.

REMINDER: Lists are subjective. I ranked what I like. I don't watch Vegas or Arrow or Dallas or Luck or Anger Management. So if a show isn't included, it's probably because I didn't watch it, or because I didn't like it as much as the shows I listed. But feel free to ask away in the comments.

This list is ranked, along with 5 honorable mentions that are listed alphabetically. (kinda. They're alphabetically in how I listed them, but the first one should actually be 3rd alphabetically. Oh well.) Here we go:

Let's start with the Honorable Mentions and work out way up:

-Last Resort never quite lived up to its potential to me. Every episode had something I enjoyed, but also something that I simply could not care less about.

-Elementary, on the other hand, was not a show I expected to watch past the pilot, but Johnny Lee Miller's and Lucy Liu's charisma and (non-romantic) chemistry elevates this procedural.

-Bunheads had some moments of greatness, but it also frustrated me more often than not. It is one of two shows (Girls is the other) that has grown on me since the season ended, but it mostly just seemed like not-quite-Gilmore Girls.

-Battleground, Hulu's original political series, was a genuinely fascinating look at local politics. The highlight for me was Alison Haislip as Ali (insanely attractive G4 alums was apparently a big thing for me this year). It does not seem like it will be back, but go watch it!

-Through most of the fall, I expected Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23 to make my list, and to be fairly high (I believe it was as high as #5) based on the season 2 episodes, but the run of unaired season 1 episodes that closed out the year were bad enough to knock it down the list and eventually off.

And now about the Top 10.

10. Wedding Band- There are better new shows on TV than Wedding Band, in fact all five of my honorable mentions are probably better. But it is nice to have a show that's just enjoyable to watch; that I can not think about at all between airings. It airs in a terrible time slot and I have no idea if it will be renewed, but it is just a pleasant show to watch when there is nothing going on.

9. Revolution- Revolution had a strong pilot, which is not unusual for shows of this ilk. What was impressive about Revolution was that it was able to keep building intriguing story (while becoming TV's only new hit series). It certainly had weak episodes and weak links in the cast, but it was impressive and showed potential.

8. Girls- I appreciated Girls far more than I actually enjoyed it. What Lena Dunham has done is incredibly impressive, and I enjoy the cast, particularly Allison Williams and Zosia Mamet. There were highlights (the previously mentioned Crackcident) but more often I felt I was watching the show hoping something interesting would happen. It grew on me as the series continued, and in reflection since the series aired. However, the overwhelming hype leading into the show was entirely unwarranted.  It was a fine show, and Dunham's work in all facets is admirable, but it is not the tv-changing godsend that many critics made it out to be.

7. Veep- Veep never quite lived up to what I was hoping. It is an all star comedy cast and a top showrunner, but the show was often just okay. That said, it continuously made me laugh, and showed serious potential for the future. I'm excited and curious for season 2.

6. Ben & Kate- I've knocked Ben & Kate plenty on Twitter this fall. I think it is just alright, the cast has potential but it is largely unfulfilled. I don't understand why everyone is in love with it. That said, it is the 2nd highest new sitcom this fall on my list. It's a show I enjoy, but don't care about. I don't have any passion for the show, and I will easily get over its inevitable cancellation. It's a fine show, and #6 of all new shows is a high rating, but it is not the special show many people seem to think it is.

5. Bent- Now Bent, on the other hand, was special, or at least had the potential to be. I wrote plenty about Bent with my paragraph on the finale yesterday, and here. It was an enjoyable, short-lived series, and it's too bad we cannot see where it would have gone.

4. Scandal- I like political shows and I like Shonda Rhimes shows, so Scandal was always going to be a show I enjoyed. But the second season, in particular, has been tremendous television, often one of my favorite dramas to watch any given week this fall. Kerry Washington is absolutely spectacular (and award-worthy) as Olivia Pope, and the rest of the ensemble (especially Bellamy Young) has stepped it up in season two. While the Quinn Perkins conspiracy was alright, the voting machine scandal and the assassination attempt have lifted this show to another gear.

3. Awake- Kyle Killen is excellent. Jason Isaacs is excellent. Cherry Jones, BD Wong, Steve Harris, all excellent. Wilmer Valderrama, well, he dated Lindsay Lohan once, so good for him. Awake was never going to be a hit series, but it got to last a full season. There were ups and downs, but this show did the best job I had ever seen in combining a high concept serial storyline with a straight police procedural. I genuinely have no idea what the hell season 2 would have been, and perhaps the series is better off as a one-and-done, but that one season was terrific.

2. Go On- Go On is what NBC wishes Community was, and while it isn't Community (and as much as I love Community, I don't think we need 2 of them) it's a fun show on its own. Matthew Perry is doing what he does, and I'm a fan of that. The supporting cast is a lot of fun, and given how many of them there are (between the massive group and the radio station), it's impressive how well developed some of these characters have been. Laura Benanti and Allison Miller, both of whom survived hour-long flops from last season (The Playboy Club and Terra Nova respectively) have been surprising highlights. While it's a shame that Go On has taken potential viewers away from New Girl and Happy Endings, the show has earned them in their own right.

1. The Newsroom- I know. I know you hated The Newsroom. I know you found it sexist and pompous and arrogant. I know you didn't like them going back slightly in history and taking credits for other people's news breaks. I know you didn't like how they covered the Koch Brothers or Gabby Giffords or Osama bin Laden or gay marriage. I know you hated The Newsroom.

I just don't give a fuck. 

I loved The Newsroom. I love Aaron Sorkin. I even liked Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. See? I own Studio 60 and The West Wing on DVD, and had Sports Night prior to losing it to the hurricane (actually the condition of my West Wing DVDs is also unclear). So I'm all in on Sorkin. And The Newsroom? It was excellent Sorkin. You say Sorkin can't write women? You're ignoring Olivia Munn's Sloan Sabbath, one of the best new characters on TV this year. You think no woman would be stupid enough to accidentally send a mass e-mail? One of the cast members for the show accidentally tweeted out a topless photo. I get complaints about stealing credit for scoop, and if the reporters who actually broke these stories have an issue with this, I get that. But for fans? This isn't a retelling of what happened, it's an alternate universe. Things are going to be different, and our central characters are going to get these stories. The show isn't flawless, but almost nothing is (The West Wing certainly was not. Even in the Sorkin years, Mandy existed and Zoey was kidnapped). But this was far and away the best new series of 2012.

Up next, Best Series

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