Monday, December 5, 2011

2011 In Review: Television

That's right, ladies and gents!  It's that time of year again.  The time we run down the good, bad, and worst of the year that was.  So let's stop dilly dallying (I hate when we do that) and get right to it.

I've been operating under the theory that this past year has seen more quality television than it had movies.  Quick, I asked Wifey and now you, name me one GREAT movie you've seen this past year.  Anything spring to mind?  I'm normally a year behind so 'Inception' pops up.  Possibly 'Scott Pilgrim' if I give it enough thought.  But other than that?  I can't think of one 'WOW' movie I've seen recently. 

But television?  Now we're talking. 

BEST OF THE BEST

Modern Family:  I've spewed on enough about this show that I'll keep things brief. I was worried that success would go to this shows head, but, if anything, it's better than ever.  So consistently funny that we take for granted how memorable and relatable the characters are.  Top notch work by everyone involved for three years running. 

The Good Wife:  Still as intelligent, absorbing and thought provoking as ever.  Getting Eli to 'work with the team', Will and Alicia's complicated fling, the work/family stress, the Alicia/Kalinda mess (which just got messier than ever after last night's episode), Cary and  his new girlfriend (who Kalinda is attempting to seduce), Peter investigating Will without trying to seem biased...I really could go on, but if you're not watching already there's nothing I can say that will sway you.  Just know you're missing one of the best shows of recent memory.  Human, heartfelt, often hilarious, and - like life - complicated and messy. 

Suburgatory:  A cynical, sarcastic, hilarious look at the lily white suburbs from the point of view of an inner city teenage girl.  Every character is quirky and slightly deranged and it affects everyone and everything in town.  Up to and including the PTA.  The Halloween episode is my favorite.

Boardwalk Empire:  After sauntering out of the gate in it's first few episodes, this show has steadily picked up momentum while fleshing out every character we meet.  If I had to pick one show at gunpoint as my single favorite, this might be it.  Might be...

The Walking Dead:  Some spoiler alerts here, just in case.

I freely admit to having a dark side, having my doubts about the existence of any holy creator or overseer, and am a bit fed up with television and movies sugar coating the workings of the real world.  Bad things to happen to good people every day.  It's a fact and refusing to admit such is ignoring reality.  I don't wish it so, but it's true. 

Enter this season of the Walking Dead, which not only has it's main character (and the viewer's emotional connection) openly question the existence of God (in a church no less), but who's challenge for a divine sign from above is answered with his own son being shot in the woods.  If that's not a spiritual 'fuck you', I don't know what is.

Keep in mind this is the same show that has done the following:  Had the main character's best friend and his wife get it on while they thought he was dead, resulting in a (now unwanted) pregnancy; have a character watch her sister die, then come back as a zombie only to have to shoot her in the head; have another character fall into a ravine, awaken with a zombie gnawing on his boot and an arrow through his torso only to get shot by his own crew after he staggered back to camp; have a now missing character saw off his own hand because he lost keys to the handcuffs that chained him to a pipe; and recently have a little girl go missing for weeks after our hero misdirects her back to the highway.

But even I wasn't prepared for the climax of the search for the little girl that ends with her as a zombie trapped in a barn and being shot in the head by the best friend who is now if full psycho mode.  This show isn't just dark, it's pitch black and it is leaving viewers with little to no hope.  Forget sticking together, this group may not even survive. 

And, yes, I fucking love this show.  Would you expect anything less?

Boss:  Kelsey Grammar stars as the corrupt (and terminally ill) mayor of Chicago.  Another example of television now drawing in quality talent from movies.  Martin Scorcese is involved with Boardwalk Empire and Gus Van Sant directs a few episodes of this shockingly well made show on Starz.  Grammar is eye opening as the vicious and cold hearted mayor who thinks he's above it all.  I love the (possible?) hallucinations caused by his disease.

The opening scene from the series contains the best acting I've seen on TV all year:  Grammar listening to a doctor give his diagnosis while the camera lingers, uninterrupted, on his face while he attempts to process.  Just fantastic.  I did have a hard time buying into the extremes other people would go in order to please him, but it's not a deal breaker.  He's just a mayor.  Not even the President would get that kind of reverence. 

ESPN'S Documentary Series:  This used to be the '30 for 30' series, but they don't use that title any more for some reason. Regardless, these are some of the most absorbing shows you'll ever see.  My favorites being the ones on Steve Bartman (who comes off as the only rational, considerate, intelligent person in the entire debacle), real life Rocky, and Chris Herren (because I remember him from his high school days). 


BEST OF THE REST

New Girl:  Surprisingly funny is all I can say.  Not a huge fan of Zooey, but she gives enough freedom to her co-actors that the guys she lives with wind up stealing every episode.  Oddly, a show about a girl is one of the few that honestly portrays male friendships:  Rude, insulting, argumentative all solved with a simple 'You want to come with us?'

Up All Night:  Amusing sitcom about new parents.  Many laugh out loud moments (often throw away lines, at that) and someone has finally put Will Arnett to good, 'Post Arrested Development' use. 

Community:  Not as good as it has been, but some stellar episodes (The multiple time lines, the 'Heart of Darkness' spoof) keeps me coming back. 

Parks and Recreation:  I finally got  hooked on this show two seasons ago and have not been disappointed. At this stage, it's better than 'The Office' (see below).

House:  While not in it's prime, it's still better than most of the crap out there.  I'm thiiiss close to being done.  Although I've been thiiisss close for three seasons now.  Guess as long as Hugh Laurie is on board, so am I. 

GUILTY PLEASURE

Revenge:  I'm not proud I watch this, but it's been entertaining and addictive enough that I keep coming back.  Plus the lead chick is hot and you root enough against the bad guys that there is satisfaction in their come uppance.  Been slowing down a bit, which I don't like.  No revenge has been taken in three episodes now. Let's get to it. 

DISAPPOINTMENTS

The Office:  It's not terrible (yet), but Steve Carrell leaving should have put everyone on notice.  I'm hoping this is simply growing pains and they figure it out, but it's not looking good. 

Bones:  Unlike 'House' I am done with this show.  Babies being born everywhere, personal crisis neatly resolved every week, Bones and Booth now romantically involved.  Pick a 'jump the shark' reference and this show has had it over the past season and a half. 

The Big Bang Theory:  After some friendly urgings, I gave this show a shot.  I laughed once while that 'audience' laughed hysterically at every 'joke'.  Don't get it. 

WORST

Terra Nova:  Not only does the premise make no sense, but they can't even pull off the action scenes properly.  All the characters are one note and the family we're supposed to care about is annoying and pouty.  I wanted to punch the son in the face after 15 minutes and that urge hasn't abated.  Made it through two and a half hours before bailing. 

Whitney:  I'm convinced the only reason this show was created was because Whitney Cummings is hot in an anorexic, plastic surgery addicted kind of way.  I've never seen her stand up nor any of her comedy, but if this show is any indication, I wouldn't laugh once.  Far and away the worst show I've seen all year. 

Two Broke Girls: WTF, CBS??

Music entry coming soon.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

On Walking Dead, wasn't it Rick, the main character that shot the girl coming out of the barn, not the best friend?

Also, you should check out Happy Endings.

BeachBum said...

Was it Rick!? Man, my mind is a disaster lately.

I actually have checked out Happy Endings and have been enjoying it. It was lame last year, but they seem to have retooled it. Didn't add it to my list mainly because I'm scared this recent run is a fluke.

Like 'Suburgatory', I laughed loud and often at their Halloween episode.

kos said...

Yeah the office has gone way down hill. How about Odette Yustman on House? That shit is hot!

BeachBum said...

Kos, I was so excited (in all aspects of the word) when there was a chance Yustman and Olivia Wilde would be working on House's team.

The mere possibility of them having a lesbian fling was almost too much to handle. Alas, Wilde leaves the show after an all too brief two episodes.

Pity

c. said...

I tend to agree with all things said with the exception of Two Broke Girls...really? No love? I get a kick out of it, but I suppose I am a chick and it's a pretty chick-oriented show, so grain of salt?

Man is Good Wife better than ever or what? I know it's a dead horse with the two of us, but I'm wearing pointy shoes, which all but necessitate a good kick. Prediction: Diane and Eli love affair.

BeachBum said...

Sorry, C, no love at all for 2 Girls. Not sure why, but both characters rub me the wrong way. Almost like they were miscast and the brunette should play the rich one. Granted I didn't make it past the first show, but it's tough to go back after the first bad taste.

As for Diane and Eli, that would be funny and hypocritical of Diane since she was up in Will's shit about his Alicia fling. I still think Eli's girlfriend (from Ugly Betty) makes a return.

Personally, I'm waiting for Kalinda and Cary's girlfriend/coworker to hook up. CAN'T WAIT!!!!

Clayton Bigsby said...

The Office has been awful. I actually don't mind Whitney, always record it or watch it. Have you tried Homeland? I've been watching it online (legally I swear) and I'm 4 episodes in, it's great so far.