The irony isn’t lost on anyone who’s been following the television entertainment industry—in the face of the most significant disruption to its business model since cable, television is experiencing another golden age in quality programming. Actors and actresses are actually turning down motion pictures to star in television dramas and comedies, a trend unheard of in the 80s and 90s. Whether or not advertisers will continue to finance these productions is another matter, but until it’s all figured out, we’re happy to share with you the PPBH picks for television in 2012:
BEST OF BROADCAST:
Modern Family – Season 3 ended with a hilarious parody of melodramatic telenovellas as Cam and Mitch’s adoption fell through and Gloria revealed her pregnancy. Season 4 has been a little up and down in comedy writing/acting (as the Dunphy children age, they get less funny), but still remains a compulsively watchable show. Still proud to have Phil Dunphy (Ty Burrell) as our fellow Salt Laker and best Dad ever.
Revenge – Finally, TV execs figured out the prime-time soap opera formula for 80s faves Dallas, Dynasty, Falcon Crest and Knot’s Landing, and successfully transplanted them into our day and age with smartphones and mostly non-feathered hair.
New Girl – What started out as a star vehicle for Zooey Deschanel has morphed into an ensemble comedy where the sum is greater than its parts. Maybe SNL did the show a favor by highlighting Zooey’s incessant quirkiness in this dead-on parody. Don’t get us wrong – we like Zooey, but just in small doses. Max Greenfield’s Schmidt, on the other hand, is stealing the show with endearing douchebaggery.
Parks and Recreation – This show will go down in history as the best unwatched show ever. It’s a shame that the masses can’t get into Ron Swanson’s affectionate tea party libertarian hilariousness, Andy’s charming cluelessness or the episode where Tom Haverford is forced to abstain from technology after a texting and driving crash.
Reality Show Competitions – Ok, it’s tough to admit that sometimes we watch these shows but in 2012, we couldn’t resist a peek or two at So You Think You Can Dance, The Voice or that perennial contender that lives up to its name, Survivor.
Honorable Mentions: Nashville, Scandal, Revolution, 30 Rock, The Office, Mike & Molly, Law & Order:SVU
BEST OF CABLE:
The Walking Dead – Some fans felt that Season 2 was too boring, with lots of talking and little zombie killing. But that was the calm before the storm and Season 3 started off with a bang as our band of survivors waged a zombie genocide, clearing out a prison for their new home. New characters like The Governor, the return of one-armed racist hick Merle Dixon and a bloody birth escalated the tension to unbearable levels.
Breaking Bad – Most addictive show on television. As we spread the BB word to fellow PPBHers over the years, Netflix queues have been bursting at the seams with consecutive seasons and marriages/relationships nearly broken badly as one episode leads to the next, to the next and to the next…
American Horror Story: Aslyum – This is the kind of show that jumps the shark about five times an episode. If you thought Season 1 was over-the-top crazy, Season 2 ups the ante with everything and the kitchen sink thrown in. Already we’ve seen alien abductions, flesh-eating mutants, a serial killer called Bloody Face, a homicidal Santa Claus, demonic possessions, the Maroon 5 lead singer losing his arm (and everything else) and senior citizen actors Jessica Lange and James Cromwell hoping their children and grandchildren are not watching.
Duck Dynasty – If you haven’t been fully mesmerized by the antics of the Robertson clan, what’s wrong with you? Check out A&E’s chronicle of the founding family of the famous Duck Commander duck call. Okay, only PPBH partner Dave Smith was familiar with Duck Commander, but famous is as famous does. No scriptwriter could ever dream up this stuff.
Honorable Mentions: Sons of Anarchy, Suits
BEST OF PAID CABLE:
Game of Thrones – This show is still on? Haven’t they killed off all the characters yet? This show is the most epic fantasy series on the tube worth watching. Forgot about whatever is on Starz or Syfy.
Dexter – This show is still going strong into seven seasons (that’s easy when you only have 12 episodes per “season”). PPBHers still can’t get enough of this well-intentioned serial killer and all his zany slapstick adventures.
Honorable Mentions: Boardwalk Empire (funny, we modeled our Holiday Card after this show, yet few of us watch it), Girls, Boss