The 2012 TV Yearbook

Don’t be sad to leave 2012 behind. It’s been a great year: We got the Olympics, the most viewed TV event in U.S. history. You couldn’t turn the channel without coming across news on the Presidential election. Everyone was blessed with Honey Boo Boo, child. “Gangnam Style” became the most-liked YouTube video ever. PETA claimed victory for Luck‘s cancellation and might actually be right this time. Clint Eastwood became known less for his acting and directing and more for an empty chair speech. Elena became a vampire. NFL referees went on strike. Louie C.K. finally became a big deal. A Real Housewife turned into a real TV actress. Carrie was right! Peggy quit Sterling! Rosie Larsen’s killer was finally revealed. Parenthood continues to fantastically tackle cancer. Grey’s plane crash may have been a TV stunt, but it was actually pretty compelling. Some epic battles also raged on – AMC verses the network providers, Dan Harmon versus Chevy Chase, The Hatfields versus the McCoys. MIA flipped us the bird during the Super Bowl XLVI halftime show. RIP Whitney Houston, Dick Clark and Donna Summers. GMA took down Today after a 16-year top ratings run. And hello, Hunger Games!

It’s inevitable that some great shows, actors and moments will be left off this list which is part of the reason I focused on superlatives instead of a top ten. And of course, not everyone will agree with my opinion, but if we were all attending the Nisi School of TV, this is what the superlatives page in the yearbook would look like.

BEST BOW-OUTS: Gossip Girl and One Tree Hill
There were only a few shows that were truly given the chance to wrap up their series runs (sorry definitely not-in-contention Weeds), and since shows like Fringe and The Office haven’t officially closed up shop yet, I had to shine a light on two long running CW shows that gave fans a fairly successful goodbye. Both may have overstayed their welcome, but when GG and OTH finally had their curtain call, you could say I was a little bit emotional. I honestly grew up with these characters, and was pleased that the writers chose to end both shows in a way that really allowed us to reminisce over the past and not wonder about the future. We even got to see a bunch of familiar faces. Was the Gossip Girl reveal fully satisfying? Not exactly. Did OTH turn in one last super thrilling, killer finale before slapping on a big, red bow? Kind of the same old stuff. But those last moments left me thinking about emotional or funny or completely crazy parts of the show that I’d grown to love and chose to stick with until the bitter end.

We all knew Work It had a short shelf life from the jump, but Smash was going to be something different. Yes, it was risky. But Glee had proven that niche genres can break through on television if their smart and different enough. Glee’s star may have dimmed since its debut, but Smash’s Broadway lights never got any power. The songs were a little too generic, though there were some sleepers produced. The guest spots never really generated any buzz, and most were given boring characters. (Poor Uma Thurman without her Tarantino!) Megan Hilty broke out, but she was never the lead, and the lead Katherine McPhee never popped off the screen. To doubt that she could ever be Marilyn Monroe, when she was supposed to be the protagonist we were rooting for, is never a good sign. And this is coming from someone who loves most musicals and even owns the soundtracks to both Camp Rocks. At least the Hollywood Foreign Press showed them some love.

BEST TRANSPORT: Sherlock Holmes
Whether via PBS’s Sherlock – which I still have yet to Netflix and catch up on but can’t stop hearing amazing things – or Brit Johnny Lee Miller’s Sherlock on Elementary, it’s clear that the revival didn’t end with Robert Downey Jr. and the films. I’m just happy that Miller (Eli Stone) gets an opportunity to act with his real accent and show what a talented gem he is. He gives alcoholic, broody, genius Sherlock an intensity, not too big for a CBS procedural, but just big enough to make him interesting and believable as the legend. Plus, Lucy Liu makes an interesting female version of Watson.

Seriously, I’m not a fan of adult gross, animated humor. I was into South Park for about a season before I couldn’t handle it anymore, and I’m sure, by now, I’d be utterly too disgusted to even make it through an episode. I also thought Beavis and Butthead were just dumb. But there are cartoons like Daria, Family Guy, and Home Movies that I find to be smart and quirky and witty and just hysterical. Since those, I haven’t found a cartoon that I can watch on a weekly basis, until Archer. It’s dirty, it’s ridiculous, and it’s a complete parody, but it’s done so well.

DRAMA KING & QUEEN: Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) and Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis)
I had these two as my biggest comebacks a few years ago, and if you’ve watched Season Two of Homeland, you wouldn’t be surprised that they had to make another joint reappearance after a season of redemption and twisted love. Both Carrie and Brody were under constant stress as they struggled to understand their feelings for each other and how an ex-CIA agent and ex-terrorist fit into the real world. (Can you even be an ex-terrorist? Reformed terrorist?) We all knew the answer to that question, but I have yet to see anyone claim that they called the events of the final episode. Brody ending up alive, may have been a cop out, but it’s easy to understand how the writers may not have been ready to give up on Lewis and the fantastic chemistry he shares with Danes.

BEST COMEBACKS: The Walking Dead 
I didn’t mind season two of The Walking Dead, but I did agree that the entire farm storyline felt slow and drab and way too filled with exposition and not enough zombies. Though in a long-term story, I believe there are bound to be valleys and peaks. That’s the struggle of adapting a work of literature for the episodic form of television. Even a movie version of the show would be easier. But with an arc ramping up to discovery of a possible home in the prison and a confrontation with Woodbury and the Governor, the writers had the best of both world – an interesting storyline about the human character and serious zombie slaying. It’s no wonder that The Walking Dead is still slaying ratings.

VILLAIN YOU LOVE TO HATE: Scandal’s Cyrus Beene (Jeff Perry)
When Mellie tried to threaten Cyrus, he told Mellie, “You may be a beast, but I’m a monster!” I certainly believe it. We all know he’d do anything to protect President Fitzgerald and the country, but I still find myself shocked and completely titillated by the lengths he’s willing to go. We’ve already learned about his involvement in a voting rigging scheme that got Fitz elected, and though his love for his husband is evident, he’s more than happy to use a baby to keep him in line. I know I’m not the anyone who’s hotly awaiting a look at what he’ll do next.

BIGGEST CRAZE RUN AMOK: Watching TV Under the Tweeting Influence
We saw it slowly beginning to happen. It started with a #Fringe tag on your screen at the beginning of an episode. It was an additional push for the networks to get buzz for some of their hurting shows. Then, it turned to an all episode event. On reality shows, we could watch the judges’ (or their assistant’s or their PR assistant’s) tweets on screen as they watched the competition along with us. Then, we were given #hashtags on screen to prompt immediate discussion what we’d just watched on screen, since we couldn’t think of a hashtag on our own, of course. It was an even better way to get us speaking a common language while promoting watching our favorite show. Before you knew it, we were actually happy about our small part in the fact Grey’s Anatomy was trending… like right now! As we were watching and tweeting about what we’re watching, we were just as quickly responding to all the responses over what we were watching via Twitter. Read that last line again. When you think about it, it really is crazy.

BEST ‘OH NO THEY DIDN’T’ MOMENT: Almost anything on Girls
What’d we get this year? A guy peeing on his girlfriend in the shower, and that’s not even the grossest thing he did all season. He also somehow showed a ton of redemptive qualities by the end. Mommy-Daddy bathroom sex act gone wrong. A Daddy-Nanny affair. The best campaign for cracking being wack. Way too much nakedness. You may not agree with the things Lena Dunham chose to place on TV. You may not even like her at all, but she’s certainly paving her own path on her own terms. At her age, being a girl with the things she’s trying to say about her self-indulgent generation, it’s not an easy thing. And she’s quite successful at it. In my opinion, I find her incredibly hilarious and honest.

HOTTEST COUPLE: Fitz and Olivia (Scandal)
BIGGEST BREAKOUT: Jonathan Banks (Breaking Bad) & Jessica Paré (Mad Men)
CUTEST RIVALS: Rayna Jaymes and Juliette Barnes (Nashville)
BIGGEST BADASS: Richard Harrow (Boardwalk Empire)
BEST VOCAL COMPETITION REALITY JUDGES: Adam, Blake, Cee-lo and Christina (The Voice)
SEXIEST SUPERHERO: Oliver aka The Green Arrow
MOST ANTICIPATED 2013 RETURN: Fringe’s last three hours
2012 TELEVISION MVP: The Fab Five, the US gymnasts who took the gold and popped up all over TV

2013 is right around the corner. Will we still remember Made in Jersey or The Mob Doctor in the spring? Do you miss already Last Resort as much as I do? Will we get more Nicki Minaj-Mariah Carey brawls on American Idol? Are you as excited to see the end of Fringe as I am? TV is one year older, folks, and I couldn’t be more ready!

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