Monday, May 14, 2012

2011-12 Season in Review

In many ways, this past television season was a complete waste of time.  Crappy shows were made and then promptly canceled, mostly because the TV viewing audience realized they were crappy and would not support such nonsense.  This is a good thing.  Executives need to understand that unambitious or formulaic shows will not last (except for police procedurals; there will always be a spot for a new one of those).

Networks rolled out midseason replacements that were actually halfway decent, and while some were able to find an audience, others were not.  Comedies continue to their hit or miss trend, and the ones that missed this year really missed.

So with a handful of finales having aired and with others about to, it's time to look at the television season that was, with the winners of the new shows.

Best New Comedy - Network
New Girl - To me, this is the only reasonable choice in this category.  The networks were flooded with new comedies, but most of them didn't last past a couple of episodes because people realized they would rather watch nothing Duck Dynasty than some of these (with the exception of Whitney, which for whatever reason, is actually popular.  It shouldn't be, it's terrible, and anyone who watches it should be in jail).

New Girl, however, managed to feel fresh and, well, new, every week.  It was anchored by an excellent cast (notably Jake M. Johnson and Max Greenfield as roommates Nick and Schmidt respectively).  Building momentum with outrageous scenarios and then topping it off with genuinely sweet moments, New Girl managed to evolve from just a vehicle for Zooey Deschanel (which is not a bad person to build a show off, but the other characters really helped this to become a must watch show).

Best New Comedy - Cable
Life's too Short -  Cable didn't have a lot to offer in this regards this year, but Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant's newest mockumentary proved to be funny and witty, while maintaining the classic uncomfortable moments that make their productions different.

While not as good as Extras (and while being compared to it) or The Office, and perhaps featuring less Gervais than people are used to or would like, Life's too Short featured Warrick Davis in a fictionalized version of his life that made you feel bad for him while not quite falling in love with him because of his arrogant attitude.  It's a blend of character that Gervais and Merchant have worked out well and perfected over the years of working together.

Best New Drama - Network
Person of Interest - A police procedural on the surface, but harboring all sorts of moral questions about government and privacy.  Plus anchored by two excellent leading actors in Michael Emerson and Jim Caviezel, Person of Interest was one of the few new shows to actually make it to a second season.

Spreading the narrative out throughout the entire season and mixing in a couple multi-episode arcs, it was easy to stay interested in this show.  And if that weren't enough, there are the personal backstories of Finch and Reese to keep us interested, to find out why the machine was built and if it was a good and moral decision.

Best New Drama - Cable
Luck - With all due respect to Homeland, Luck was a more entertaining and engrossing tale of gambling and deceit.  Originally given a second season, HBO pulled the plug on it after a third horse was killed in the filming of this series.

David Milch continues his command of intelligent programming and a creation of a world that is foreign to us.  Focusing on the horse racing world and the people who inhabit the track, it was always difficult yet rewarding to focus on an episode.  And although killed off prematurely, numerous stories were wrapped up in the season finale to make it worth your while.

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