What we read while tripping over the power cord at the Superdome…
Here are the best episodes of 2012. Obviously this contains spoilers:
10) “Argentina” — Dexter
One of the nicest surprises on television this year was Dexter’s renaissance in quality. After some misguided years and a true nadir of a season in 2011, Dexter finally embraced a real progression in the story—having Debra find out about her brother’s “hobby”—and was all the better for it. The tension between Deb and Dexter led to some of the show’s best scenes ever. And since Dexter didn’t spend the entire season chasing his usual Big Bad Guy, Season Seven actually had decent subplots, including great guest performances from Ray Stevenson and Yvonne Strahovski. In “Argentina,” the show was even able to address the weirdest element of last season—Deb’s crush on her brother—in an impressive and compelling way.
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What we read while everyone misremembered Mary Shelley’s book…
Every year this list gets harder and harder to write. After a spring of Mad Men, Girls, and Veep, followed by asummer of Breaking Bad, Louie, Wilfred, and Pretty Little Liars, fall is starting to look like the worst part of television’s year: another round of network shows destined to be cancelled after a few weeks, or so broad and grating that they’re hard to watch. Nevertheless, there’s usually something to be excited about, even if I have to dig deep to round out the list:
10) Ben & Kate Premieres September 25 on FOX
I’m throwing this on the list because it felt wrong not to include any new comedies, even if this year’s batch seems particularly uninspired. At least this one has Jim Rash’s writing partner, Nat Faxon, in it. Plus a cute kid…
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Is This Episode on the List?
Well, the 2012 list is pretty much all wrapped up, but what were the best episodes of TV in 2011?
10) “You’re Getting Old” – South Park
This was not the funniest episode of South Park this year, or even the best, but it was certainly the most memorable for the way it dealt with the show’s ongoing existence. As Trey Parker and Matt Stone found success on Broadway with The Book of Mormon while their aging series had now passed its 200th episode, they were bound to start questioning the value of a show that “just shows how shitty things are.” When Randy and Sharon Marsh broke up, it seemed like a thinly veiled commentary by Parker/Stone on the series itself (“Every week it’s kind of the same story in a different way, but it just keeps getting more and more ridiculous”). It was so jarring that some people expected it to be a surprise series finale. Of course, I’m happy Parker and Stone are continuing with the series, and the fact they are willing to question the value of the show is part of why it’s so great.
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It’s time for my third annual installment of this laboriously titled NPI feature! And, man, was compiling this year’s list difficult. Not only is this fall season following an unusually impressive summer in TV, with Breaking Bad, Louie, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Pretty Little Liars, and Rivals all airing solid to great seasons, but the shows premiering over the next few weeks do not look especially promising. After all, does Whitney Cummings really need two new shows? As usual, some old favorites are off the list, either due to a decline in quality (Dexter) or senescence (Friday Night Lights). In their place, though, are shows I am not at all confident in labeling “exciting.” Anyway, with all that hedging out of the way, on with the list:
10) Hope Solo on Dancing With The Stars Premiered September 19 on ABC
For normal people, who don’t have the same crush on Hope Solo that I do, this probably isn’t that exciting. And while I won’t be watching DWTS, I will be looking up Hope’s performances on YouTube… Continue reading »