Tuesday, June 26, 2012

TV Year In Review, Part II

We're back with the second instalment of the year in review.  Yesterday's entry covered the worst of the bunch, but we're picking things up a bit with the "Average-To-Very Good" division.

23. American Dad
It's with no small disappointment that AD was just 'average' this season, as this as quietly been one of the funnier shows on TV for some time now.  Perhaps some regression was inevitable given how it's going into its eighth (!) season.  Good gravy, these animated shows just rack up the episodes, don't they?

22. Girls
I really should make this a NA since I've only watched the first two episodes, but from what I've seen, I've liked.  It could very easily rise up several places or into the Very Good-to-Great division once I've seen the entire season.  I feel like "Girls" has already gone through the critical whirlwind of being praised, then facing a backlash, then re-praised and having the backlash criticized, and then a secondary backlash, etc. so really, I have no idea what the hell to expect from the rest of the season.  Is there an episode where Hannah hits her douchey fuckbuddy in the face with a railroad spike?  Please say yes.

21. Veep
HBO's other Sunday offering.  This is kind of a weird criticism, but here goes: I feel that Veep is already a victim of its stasis.  Like, it's clearly a funny show and I was totally in the tank for "In The Loop," so I'm a fan of Armando Iannucci's brand of West Wing-if-they-were-all-incompetent-and-backstabbing style of political comedy.  That said, the show may have already hit its ceiling.  If 'Veep' is all about how Selina is buffoonishly useless at everything, then there's nowhere really to go from there.  There's no threat of her losing the VP job or losing an election since then there's no show, nor is it apparent that any similar change will affect the basic premise -- they've already run through "POTUS has a health risk, Selina may become president" and "Selina gets pregnant" in just singular episodes, the latter one being introduced and then dropped in hugely abrupt fashion.  They've spent four eps on the fallout from re-assigning a smirking Secret Service guy but can't spend more than five minutes on Selina having a miscarriage?  It's like they wrote the plot and then realized that wait, miscarriages aren't funny.  Anyway, these are some flaws I found in a show that (believe it or not) I actually quite enjoyed, though it's not a show I feel compelled to watch on a week-to-week basis.  

20. Survivor: One World
The franchise gets a sorely-needed quality season and one of its best-ever winners.  Nothing but good feelings about this edition of Survivor --- well, except for them casting a flat-out racist (Colton) and a special ed teacher (Alicia) who insulted other players by COMPARING THEM TO HER STUDENTS.  Good lord.  Update your resume.

19. Saturday Night Live
Your typical up-and-down SNL season, with a couple of instant-classic hosting gigs (Melissa McCarthy and Emma Stone) and a few weak episodes and thankfully never quite hit trainwreck status.  Even the lousy Lindsay Lohan episode wasn't all that terrible thanks to some pre-taped material and Jack White as the musical guest.  I've already written about Kristen Wiig leaving and SNL's current love of modern nostalgia, so next season will be the real interesting one as we see how the show replaces Wiig, Andy Samberg and, once the election is over and his Romney impression isn't needed, Jason Sudeikis.  Funniest skit of the year: I'm not sure anything topped Steve Buscemi as "Coach Bert," the high school coach everyone was surprised to learn wasn't a pervert.  Funny idea, timely take on the Penn State scandal and you literally couldn't have better casting than Buscemi in this role.

18. How I Met Your Mother
Good bounce-back year for HIMYM following the Zoe storyline that ruined S6 and the outright-mediocre S5.  It's settled into that Friends-esque groove of getting by on B/B- episodes that work in large part just because you enjoy the characters.  The interesting behind-the-scenes subplot of the season was that the show has never been more popular in the ratings, so there's a possibility that it could be extended beyond the eighth season, though that would frankly really be pushing it.  Not to mention the fact that Jason Segel has said he's essentially leaving after this year no matter what.  That's be tough to work around.  Would Robin tell an offensive joke in the S9 premiere, Marshall leaves the bar and then Bob Saget voices-over "and that was the last we saw of Marshall for seven months"?

17. Simpsons
Now in its 23rd damn season, The Simpsons is essentially Saturday Night Live by this point.  People will always complain about how they don't watch anymore since it isn't as good as the olden days, yet there's still plenty of quality comedy to be found.  As with all modern-day Simpsons seasons, S23 had a couple of episodes (Holidays Of Future Passed and the great Them, Robot) that were good as anything they did in the golden years, with HOFP actually standing out a bit more because of its latter-year placement and the fact that we've grown so close to the characters.  I'm not going to lie --- I will probably tear up when Simpsons finally goes off the air in a couple of years.  Then I'll say "Maw-ster Hugh has found true love."  Dammit, there's another one for the list.

16. New Girl
Between Max Greenfield's show-stealing Schmidt character, Zooey Deschanel doing Zooey Deschanel things, Hannah Simone making a welcome return to popular culture after years as a MuchMusic VJ, Lamorne Morris eventually becoming something other than Replacement Damon Wayans Jr. and Jake Johnson's hilarious yelling, 'New Girl' had a lot of good things going for it.  It's very possible that the show will take a leap in its second year and become one of the legit funnier shows on television.  All the writers have to do is stop saying dumb shit about how their show is healing America and all systems are go.  Funniest scene of the year candidate: Schmidt on a confusing date with Cece's Russian model roommate.

15. Modern Family

I had an interesting time figuring where to place MF on my list.  It was destined to be in this category and was originally a lot lower, but the more I thought about it, MF really had a higher conversion rate on episodes then New Girl, HIMYM and certainly both SNL and the Simpsons.  Lo and behold, it ended up in the 15th slot.  It's just a thoroughly solid show that is the king of that aforementioned B/B- zone, with the occasional trip to B+Land just to keep things interesting.  Can't help but feel that some of the Modern Family backlash online is due to the show being a) popular and b) a huge Emmy force, which naturally irks fans of other deserving but unheralded shows.  I feel that pain.  I'll be equally upset if (who am I kidding, when) the Modern Family actors dominate the supporting categories and leave better performances out in the cold.

14. Portlandia

Congratulations to Portlandia, the king of the average-to-very good division!  This makes up for the Trail Blazers' lousy season, surely.  There's a slight sense of "well, they've pretty much milked this premise dry" setting in but man, you just can't go wrong making fun of hipsters.  Portlandia also stands out as one of the better shows to introduce your friends to, since literally everyone is entertained by hipster mockery.  Hell, you can even show it to your hipster friends since they'll take it ironically.  Favourite sketch of the season: "She's Making Jewelry Now" just killed me, for whatever reason.

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