It’s the end of December which means its time to look back on the year an evaluate the various television shows that aired throughout 2011. Yesterday I posted my Second Tier series of the year, but rather than go ahead and post my First Tier series right away, I thought I’d list my thoughts on all the other shows I’ve been watching all year. These are the shows that I watched every single episode of that aired in 2011, but didn’t make my top ten list.
(Shows I watched but didn’t make the above lists)
Bored to Death: My favorite season of the show yet. I’ve always been disappointed by the series lack of ambition, but the third and final season is the closest it ever got to living up to its potential. The danger was increased and the humor was sharper than ever. “Gumball” is most likely my favorite episode of the show and features some of the best non-sequesters I’ve heard all year in the form of Ray’s gumball dream. Knowing now that its season finale is actually the show’s series final I think the end looses a few points in my book as it ended on a kind of an uncomfortable, unknown situation for its three leads. While I won’t really miss Bored to Death, I’ll certainly miss the odd pairing of Ted Danson, Zach Galifianakis, and Jason Schwartzman, especially when they wear matching robes.
Chuck: One of the biggest disappointments of the TV season for me has been the continued existence of Chuck. I loved the series for its first two seasons and enjoyed the majority of season three, but four in my book was a wreck. It took all the bad aspects of the show and dialed them up to eleven. It also burned through its interesting plots in a quarter of an episode, but dragged out the boring ones. The final season airing now hasn’t wowed me yet either. I rarely find myself enjoying Chuck anymore, watching the last few episodes out of obligation rather than dedication. But I’m hoping the series surprises me in the end and maybe makes all the boring parts worth it.
Curb Your Enthusiasm: Season seven was one of my favorites the series has ever done, so I was eager to see what Larry David would try next. It took me a little bit to get into the season as it decidedly went against the show’s norm by not having a season long storyline. It was more of just a slice of the fictional Larry David’s life. Eventually LD went to NYC, but the show downplayed the move and let the location remain in the background. Overall the season was still great though with some all time classic episodes. The season finale was one of my favorites (I love any appearance by Michael J. Fox) and Palestinian Chicken is Curb at its finest.
Fringe: With this one I’m cheating a little as I haven’t actually seen every Fringe episode of 2011. I’m three behind on season four and I just can’t get myself to watch them yet. It’s not that Fringe has been bad lately, but it hasn’t been great. Earlier in the year Fringe was amazing though. I loved the third season with there only being two episode I can easily recall disliking. One of which is the season finale, which I felt set up a disappointing season four. I’ll keep watching Fringe because it always has the potential to be amazing television, but with a boring fourth season I can’t bump the show any higher.
How I Met Your Mother: Earlier I referred to Chuck as one of the most disappointing shows of the season, but perhaps I spoke to soon. Last year season five of How I Met Your Mother was flat out bad except for maybe the first handful of episodes, but what made season six so disappointing was that it does contain a few classic episodes that reminded me of why I loved the show so much to begin with. “Last Words” is my favorite episode of the series in a long time (and continues to be my most read article on here for some reason). The last stretch of season six was particularly bad continuing to try to sell Zoey as an interesting character (something she isn’t) and forcing down a terrible metaphor about the Arcadian building. Season seven has also had its fair share of issues with unnecessary drama and soap opera like plots, but just the same its had one or two highlights (“The Ducky Tie”). How I Met Your Mother is a series far past its better days and is a show that needs to be quickly put out to the pasture.
New Girl: My favorite new comedy of the Fall 2011 season. New Girl has had a hard time figuring out what kind of show it is exactly, but it’s the usual growing pains every new comedy goes through. The important thing is that in its first batch of episodes the series shows potential, and a lot of it. While Zooey Deschanel is the initial draw, at times she can be the weakest aspect. Whenever the series focuses too much on this goofy version of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl it becomes significantly worse than when its an ensemble hanging out comedy. And while Schmidt is the most erratic character on the show, with different episodes showing different interpretations of the character, he is the most reliably funny aspect of the show and Max Greenfield is willing to do anything in the role. I’m expecting the show to move from B range good levels of TV to something higher in 2012, and here’s to hoping I turn out right.
Psych: I once loved this show as a fun summer comedy when there was nothing else on, but as time has gone on I’ve become more and more disillusioned by it. Perhaps its USA’s decision to move it to the fall and spring when there are far better comedies available that caused my change of heart, or maybe its just the goofiness of the series has finally caught up to me. I still enjoy Gus and Lassiter, but Shawn has just become more obnoxious over the years and I dread most moments he’s on screen. It’s a show I should have dropped back in its fourth season, but for whatever reason I can’t seem to give it up.
Star Wars- The Clone Wars: While I watch a lot of TV there’s one section of television I sadly don’t get time to watch much of anymore, and that’s animation. I’ll always have a soft spot for animation, whether it’s film or TV, but in 2011 the only animated show I stuck with was Clone Wars. Star Wars was a huge part of my childhood, like any good kid’s, and even though the franchise has been diluted heavily with the prequels I still have a soft spot for it. During most of the first season I watched the show out of loyalty and the hope that it would at some point get better, and I’m quite happy I did because the second season was pretty amazing with some surprisingly dark stuff. Unfortunately the third season was a slight step back. It contained some cool ideas (the Force family stuff in particular) and good episodes, but also a lot of filler and boring plots. Sadly Clones Wars is a show that I might be forced to drop for good now as my viewing methods have been recording them all at my home and marathoning them when back for break, and due to my mother upgrading our DVR system the show was erased from the recording schedule I missed a huge gap of the season. Feels like a sign that I should move on and focus my time elsewhere but I will miss my time spent with Obi-Wan and the Star Wars universe, but not really Anakin because he mostly sucks.
Suburgatory: My other favorite new comedy of the Fall 2011 season. This was a show I had zero interest in until I decided to give the pilot a try, and I’m quite happy I did. While the show is not great, like New Girl it has a lot of potential. The chemistry between Tessa and her dad is off the charts, to such a degree that it is almost creepy and plays off more romantic than its certainly intended to be. While some of the characters still remain stereotypes, the show has a lot of fun building the crazy cartoonish world around them that I’m willing to wait it out until more citizens of Chatswin are fleshed out. The show has the chance to do to suburbs what Parks And Recreation did for small towns, and considering the creator of Suburgatory use to work on Parks I’d say there’s a good chance that could happen.
The Chicago Code: It’s been a hard time for showrunner Shawn Ryan lately. Last year Terriers was cancelled, which he produced, and then this year his own show got cancelled; both with only one season. That being said Chicago Code was a highly enjoyable show, one that I don’t regret having spent any time with. No it wasn’t amazing television, but it was good fine TV. TV I really would have wished could have continued. Thankfully the show wraps up the majority of its plots by the end of the season and works on its own as a miniseries.
The Office: Season seven continued both one of the worst and best episodes The Office has ever done. Anything related directly to Michael Scott and his departure was fantastic, everything else was truly dreadful. While the show should have ended a few years ago, it presents one of the best passing of the torches a TV series has ever done. “Goodbye Michael” is an all time great episode, perhaps the best the show has made. Greg Daniels return to writing is felt strongly throughout and has some wonderful direction from Paul Feig. And then the episode after that is the worst episode in Office history. Will Ferrell turned out to be a disaster, but not because of the actor’s performance but rather the writers never quite knew who his character was. Rather than being an actual human being, Deangelo Vickers was a bunch of random ideas thrown onto a dart board. Everyone was eager to see what a Michael Scott free Office would be like and season eight reveals that it’s actually pretty boring. The Office had a chance to shake up its very dynamic and finally pump some fresh blood into the aging series, but rather than do anything drastic the writers decided to play things safe and leave everything as close to normal as possible. Because of that its been a disappointing season, but one I can’t say I’m surprised by.
30 Rock: Another show I once love, but have lost a lot of interest in. Thankfully the last season of the series was a big step up from season four, but still 30 Rock is still a joke machine that doesn’t always feature the best jokes. I like a lot of people involved and at this point I’m more interested in them moving on and doing something else as at times it feels like 30 Rock has covered all the ground it really can. That being said if season six continues to build on the improvement of season five, there’s a chance 30 Rock could return to its former glory. But as of right now I’m not really anticipating the show’s return in 2012.