Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Best 2012 had to offer

No fancy intro.  Just a nice list.

1.  Game of Thrones
Every year, thefutoncritic.com does a top 50 episodes of the past year.  Usually it focuses on season premieres and finales, and usually it makes some colossal screw-ups.  This year, if anything other than "Game of Thrones'" masterful penultimate episode, "Blackwater" wins top prize, it's just another travesty.  The entire episode was one long battle, but it was packed full of action, humor, drama, character and suspense, that the entire hour may have been one of the finest episodes in television history.  And that pretty much sums up the second season of "Game of Thrones," which has become only the second show in my viewing experience, since the invention of the DVR, that I have to watch the night it airs (the only other one was "Lost").  By far, this is the show I look forward to watching the most every week, and almost every scene not involving Denaerys is riveting.

2.  Breaking Bad
It says a lot when a show enters into the discussion with "The Wire" as the greatest show of all time, surpassing even "The Sopranos" in many camps.  The greatness of Heisenberg and Co. is that the show is unafraid to do seemingly anything.  Really, this is what all shows should aspire to do, because its fan base so rarely questions its choices, knowing that Vince Gilligan knows what he is doing, and that his story about the downfall of Walter White is just that.  And that at the end of the day, while we may not get an happy ending next summer, we will get a satisfying ending.

3.  Mad Men
It's easy to forget how great this show is, how much fun it is to sit back and listen to the rich characters just talk to each other.  Like Gilligan, Matthew Weiner is in complete control of this show, and there's hardly a character or a line of dialogue that is not important in some way.  This past season, we even saw a fundamentally different Don Draper than the womanizing over-confident adman that we have seen since the beginning of the 60s, but everyone was ok with this, because this is television, and characters change.  And characters die.

4.  Justified
When other lawmen are impressed by something you say because it's so bad ass, you know you've said something worthwhile.  Which is exactly what happened when Raylan Givens dropped a bullet on Wynn Duffy and said, "the next one will be coming faster" and the FBI agents investigating him laughed and said that's pretty bad-ass.  This is "Justified," the home of the best written dialogue on television.  So much so that every Raylan Givens-Boyd Crowder scene is must-see-tv.  Season 3 of "Justified" was better than the first two, which is saying something.  Somehow they managed to introduce more great characters to flank Raylan and Boyd, and you could go down the line and name the people you want to see more of, but yet don't want to because then there would be less Raylan and Boyd.

5.  Boardwalk Empire
When a show makes a decision to kill off its most popular character, it makes you do a double take.  But then something interesting happened.  "Boardwalk" got better.  And whether the writers had to take more chances without Jimmy or whether they were just able to flesh out more of the characters without the Nucky-Jimmy relationship, the show began to really solidify itself as a mobster drama.  Capone is coming into his own, Lucky Luciano (whom I didn't even realize was a real person) is beginning to figure things out, and all the historical people don't just feel like shout-outs.  Where the show will go in season 4 is anyone's guess, as it seems like Nucky is stepping away from the limelight for a bit.


6.  Person of Interest
It's a credit to the show that they have managed to make their 4 leads so likeable.  Especially the two main men, Jim Caviezel and Michael Emerson.  They have developed a great and believable chemistry together, and although the main antagonist has a poorly named and not threatening moniker (HR), it at least has Lester Freeman in charge.

7.  Homeland
Perhaps the most maddening show on television.  Chuck Klosterman is right, that something always has to happen.  Whatever "Justified," "Game of Thrones," "Mad Men" and "Breaking Bad" do properly in terms of dialogue, "Homeland" does the complete opposite.  The characters never have truly interesting conversations (with the exception of the Nazir-Carrie Islam vs the West one), and in fact, the ones between Brody and Carrie are almost fastforward-worthy.  Maybe should have been lower, but the first half of the season is still very good.

8.  Luck
Perhaps a little low, but that's because it didn't get its deserved second season.  Which is unfortunate, because we all wanted to see where Ace was taking this.  And more importantly, we are all a little worse off because David Milch is not in our lives.  Perhaps he should have stuck with "Deadwood" instead of insisting on his alien surfing show.  Would things have been different?  Whatever it is, it seems like Milch has a problem finishing his works; could we not have had a second season with less horse racing?  They could even continue to be at the track, but just not show the racing parts.  People would still have watched, and only occasionally said, "Where are the horses?"

9.  Revolution
This show is not very good, I concede.  But I will also admit that I looked forward to every week just to see what happens.  And the parts about the world immediately after the blackout are actually pretty good and interesting.  But there has never been a show that I wanted the main character to be killed so badly as I want that dopey Charlie, who is such a bad actor and completly pointless.  I also believe that this show leaves more on the table than any other show right now, as its potential is one of the highest of any show.

10a.  Dexter
Not even sure what to make of this show any more.  The writers this season killed off Pullo and the rest of the Koshka Brotherhood, then made Hannah the big bad, or something like that.  Or was it LaGuerta.  Mike was killed for no reason, and Louis was killed for even less of one.  Then Doakes was brought back for a pointless flashback, maybe because the actor had nothing to do since Dexter's best season, season 2.

10b.  The Walking Dead
Actually a pretty decent season, and some captivating parts, and definitely its best season to date.  Which isn't saying much, because the first 2 seasons were borderline unwatchable.  For season 3, the show abandoned character and instead went for zombie killing, adding the poorly acting Governor in order to add a bad guy that acts with strange motivation.  Why does he want to kill Rick?  Why did Merle kidnap?  Why can't everyone just be happy where they are and try to live a life where they try to kill zombies or find out what happened?  Or is this the point of the show?

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