Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Rowan's Best Of Television 2011

When I voted for The A.V. Club's Best Of Television list, I included notes on all the shows I voted for. But since we only published the notes of shows that didn't make the main list, most of mine weren't included. In case you want more detail, here it is:

  1. Parks & Recreation (15) – Parks & Rec had an absolutely stellar shortened 3rd season, with maybe one episode of 16 being disappointing, and including all-time classics like “Flu Season” and “Fancy Party”, my pick for best episode of the year in any category. The 4th season has been a little wobbly, but not enough to take the show out of the top tier.
  2. Community (15) – A show this audacious should have less to show for it, but Community's hits vastly outnumber its misses. Even better, as its gimmicks have become standard, Community has also developed much more of a soul than it's given credit for.
  3. Misfits (14) – Misfits' combination of comedy, drama, character work, and utter absurdity means that it, more than any other show, gives the impression that anything could happen. The tension helps the show be both more amusing and more emotional.
  4. Justified (13) – You could easily make the case that Timothy Olyphant, Margo Martindale, and Walton Goggins were the three best actors on TV this year. I wouldn't argue with you.
  5. Game of Thrones (12) – Possibly the most interesting show on television this year, thanks to considerations both on the screen and outside it. Also one of the best, although it did have its growing pains.
  6. Louie (12) – Louis C.K.'s formal experimentation is marvelous. His use of drama in a comedy show is bizarre and intense, both in good ways. His willingness to dredge up the darker side of his psyche is impressive. It doesn't always hit, and it occasionally focuses too narrowly on a subject or scene, but I'm glad someone is trying that hard.
  7. Archer (11) – I may be in the minority in preferring Archer's more grounded, lighter first season to its second. But that's not to say that there wasn't some great stuff, especially the three-part fall episode.
  8. The Vampire Diaries (10) – At some point the ride has to end, yes? A show can't be this tightly serialized, with so many intense cliffhangers, and actually keep getting better and smarter. Can it? It's working for The Vampire Diaries so far. Why complain?
  9. Mildred Pierce (9) - It's deliberately old-fashioned in a way that you might expect from, say, Masterpiece Theater, but Mildred Pierce has a distinct American flavor that keeps it interesting.
  10. Treme (8) – It's a little less surprising in its 2nd season, and some of the story decisions have been awkward, but Treme is as warm as ever.
  11. Ricky Gervais Show (8) – Tighter editing transformed the 1st season's occasional so-funny-you-choke-on-your-drink moment into a regular occurrence.
  12. Bob's Burgers (7) – Halfway through its first season, Bob's Burgers switched from “potentially interesting” into “possibly magical”. Thanks to animal anus paintings, but hey, you take what you can get. If it can maintain that level of quality, it'll be towards the top of next year's list.
  13. Children's Hospital (6) – For bite-sized dumb fun, hard to beat Children's Hospital. For clever parody that shows just how manipulative TV shows can be, it's also a good choice.
  14. The Middle (5) – The Middle deserves recognition for being consistently good and sneaky-smart about class issues. It may never be one of the very best, but it's a great show to have around.
  15. American Dad (5) – Like The Middle, it's a show deserving of some recognition for consistency, although it does it from an almost totally opposite direction.

    Yes I Know About Breaking Bad - I started my catchup too late and it became a choice between that or three or four shorter, easier to handle shows. Next year.

    As a side note - I did the writeup for The Vampire Diaries on the main list, and also The Cape and cult-comedies-on-hiatus for the specific TV Club Awards.

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