Friday, 23 December 2011

The 25 Best TV Performances of 2011, Part 1

So here's how this goes down. In this list, there will be no more than two actors per show. That is all. Onward, to celebrate the year in TV acting.

25) Jane Levy, Suburgatory

Surburgatory is a comedy that's sort of flirting with being something I would really enjoy, but is still figuring itself out too much to really look past, but one thing that's been terrific from the start is the terrifically sardonic, Veronica Mars like performance from Levy.

24) Eden Sher, The Middle

A show that's eternally overlooked, perhaps because it's doing OK what a lot of other shows do great, but both the performance and characterization of Sue Heck has always been the best thing it's had going for it.

23) Jason Segel, How I Met Your Mother

Segel had looked a bit dead-eyed in recent years on HIMYM, but the writers gave something to act with this year, and while the show was not universally beloved this year, Marshall's arc dealing with his dead father was pretty great, enhanced by Segel's performance.

22) Damon Wayans Jr., Happy Endings

Happy Endings is maybe the show I most enjoy watching, and it's got a strong ensemble. But I think Wayans Jr has popped from the beginning, in arguably the least developed role.

21) Garret Dillahunt, Raising Hope

Dillahunt, no doubt most famous for his work in dark, serious dramas is possibly doing the best work of his career in this under-rated gem of a show, and it's probably one of the funniest performances on TV. You'll never watch The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford in the same way.

20) H. Jon Benjamin, Archer

This is sort of a cheat, but see how much I don't care. Benjamin gives a voice-over performance that's remarkably layered, always smart and just endlessly hilarious.

19) Hugh Laurie, House

Look, this may be a terrible show these days. But Laurie's performance is still terrific, and has carried this show alone from day one. He doesn't even phone it in like Michael C Hall does on Dexter these days.

18) Luke Wilson, Enlightened

Wilson never really made it as a leading man in the movies, but I think he's doing something he's never done before in this little curio of a show, and it's really intriguing me.

17) Busy Phillips, Cougar Town

I think people are just about getting over the stigma of watching a show called 'Cougar Town', a show with maybe the most relaxed, fun ensemble on TV and Phillips, who just feels so utterly at home in this kind of thing, just destroys it.

16) Wendell Pierce, Treme

Treme has lost a little favour this year, going from a show mostly watched by artsy, hipster/critic types to a show only watched by artsy, hipster/critic types. Still that;s me all day, and I enjoy this shit immensely. Pierce, who just exudes charm to a ridiculous degree, is the best part performance in a sea of great performances

15) Chris Pratt, Parks And Recreation

Pratt has been my favourite thing about this series from day one, even if my brain tells me that Nick Offerman is the better performance, Pratt's goofy enthusiasm came to a peak in this year's 'Fancy Party' a maginificent episode by all accounts and sort of this guys moment.

14) Michael Pitt, Boardwalk Empire 

For all one could say about the familiarity of some of the ground covered on Boardwalk Empire, there's no disputing Pitt's work here, and I think he's blitzed a cast of some of the greatest American actors alive to become a standout performance compared to anything

13) Mandy Patinkin, Homeland 

It feels brutal to leave Damian Lewis off this list, but after hamming it up for years on Criminal Minds, Patinkin spins the reverse and gives a soulful, quiet performance. And it's certainly my favourite thing he's done in a long time. Heart of this show.

12) Peter Dinklage, Game Of Thrones

The only reason this isn't higher is because Dinklage's english accent continues to not quite be there 100%, but regardless, in a show that could be described as misery porn, Dinklage brings humour and level-headedness to a show that can be the teeniest bit leaden at times.

11) Chevy Chase, Community

In it's masterful second year, Community turned Chase into a full-on villain, essentially, and while it left the show with some structural problems, Chase was always incredible, in a manor that's perhaps under-appreciated in comparison to some of the show's younger, cooler cast members. Just for the dungeons and dragons episode alone.

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