Friday, 30 December 2011

The 10 Best TV Shows of 2011

Next up to the wall....

10) Raising Hope

This show is certainly not perfect, but like creator Greg Garcia's previous show My Name Is Earl, there's a charm and genuine feeling about the show, not to mention that it manages to be funny in numerously creative and unexpected ways. Garcia is also pretty great at creating a comedic universe, and being much, much smarter than a first impression might have you believe. That and a winning cast that includes Garret Dillahunt, Martha Plimpton and Shannon Woodward, I enjoy watching this show to an absurd degree.

9) Happy Endings

This one started out OK but not great, which had a lot of people writing it off instantly, but even in its worst episodes, this show always made me laugh. And in its second season, one where it's really found its stride it's become a joy to watch. There's no real desire here to do anything other than make you laugh, but at the moment it's really working for me. I imagine it will become awful quite quickly, due the utterly wafer thin storytelling, but for now I'm enjoying the grace period just fine.

8) Treme

I don't think there's anyone left watching Treme who isn't in love with it, as the ratings will attest to, because I've seen a number of articles of people who gave the show a long time and it never worked for them. I saw the term 'Homework TV' float around, and I sort of see their point. Treme is quite possibly the least accessible show on TV, focusing on a specific place not everyone relates to and a culture that not everyone cares about. To me though, its a wonderful character study of a city, just like The Wire was, but the tones are as different as they could conceivably be. And to me, that's not all that bad of a thing.

7) Parks And Recreation

Probably higher on most lists, it has been still a terrific year for Parks And Rec. Something about it doesn't quite let it work for me as well it does for other people. Maybe the overly twee tone, maybe because while every episode is good, every episode can be quite similar. But the cast of this show is just off the reservation, containing two maybe three all time comedic performances, and the fantastic episode 'Fancy Party' was as good as anything on TV all year.

6) Homeland

Although it sort of flubbed the ending, not drastically but noticeably, Homeland was an intelligent, meditative TV. A psychological thriller of the utmost complexity, and what one would call 'proper grown up TV'. Clare Danes, an actress that has been good before but probably has a strike rate of 60 to 40 the way of negative, is just excellent here, giving what the world can collectively agree is career best work. Damian Lewis and Mandy Patinkin match her, and the show itself does well not to take the easy way out. Or at least not most of the time. I enjoyed this.

5) Archer

I briefly considered putting at Archer at number 1, just because of how far it came along in 2011, and it managed to achieve at least 3 episodes of out and out comedy genius. The episode in which a cancer/chemo stricken Archer stalks the streets seeking vengeance is quite probably my favourite episode of any show all year, such is the extent of how fucking well that half hour worked. Truthfully though, there maybe haven't been as many stand-out episodes of Archer as some of the shows higher on my list, but please for the love of god watch this show, particularly if you're in your twenties.

4) Justified

Justified stands out in the world of dark serialized dramas I think. Instead of being the pitch-black, anti-hero always wins type of thing, in which our protagonist does despicable shit and everything works out for him, Justified feels almost a throwback to the morality of old westerns, only infused with the psychological complexity of modern drama. That and the calibre of the performances on this show were immense, Margo Martindale, Walton Goggins and Olyphant himself all just being ridiculously awesome all the time.

3) Louie

Louie broke all the rules of what TV is supposed to do. When you expect it to be comedic its dramatic, and vice versa, and there's just such a gravitas to so much of it, perhaps because this is the most undiluted a personal vision has ever been on TV, and for that it's defiantly unique. A don't think every episode is a masterpiece like some, and occasionally one might have the capacity to flop completely. But it's just such, rich, rewarding TV to a fault.

2) Breaking Bad

The best drama on TV follows up one of the all time great seasons of TV with one that's just a smidgen worse, which means its still fucking brilliant and anyone stuck on that first point to such an extent to a point that they can't take in the second point is just an idiot. In particular, the fleshing out of Gus as a primo antagonist worked an absolute treat, and I think if it had stuck the landing just a little bit more than it did it would have unquestionably be my number one. Still, I feel privileged I get to watch this show.

1) Community

This is a heart over head choice maybe, but fuck it. The ambition of this show just resonates with me, and in a second season which provided a shockingly high number of all-time classic type episodes, this show is proof that comedy can be cynical without sacrificing its soul, sarcastic without being bitter and breath-takingly ambitious without losing the core of what it is. I love this show, and can deal with a dud every now and again if the mean number of episodes are this fucking spectacular.

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