The last week of December I counted down to the new year by introducing a feature I refer to as the Remotely Interesting Retrospective. All week long I wrote about my First Tier and Second Tier series of the year, along with the Other Shows I watched and a collection of the Bits & Pieces I sampled. And while we’re now a week into 2012 I thought I’d post one extra part of the Retrospective. After writing about every 2011 show I watched in the year, I thought it might be fun to do a bonus article on the various shows I caught up on in 2011, despite them not having aired that year. With this last post I’ll have written about every single show/episode I watched in 2011. Hope you’ve enjoyed my 7,000 plus words on my 2011 viewing experience and thanks overall to everyone who read Remotely Interesting during its first year run. It’s been quite the success in my book and I look forward to doing this for as long as I can.
NON-2011 SHOWS I WATCHED IN 2011
(Shows I watched for the first time in 2011 that did not air in 2011)
Adventure Time (handful of episodes): This was a last minute addition to the list. I watched a couple episodes back in spring and enjoyed the quirky cartoon show, but it fell off my radar soon after. It was only when I came across a few episodes randomly the last few days of the year that I really began to watch it more. I don’t really have much to say on the series other than its a fun, fantasy lite highly stylized cartoon. I’ll be catching more of these whenever they’re on and I happen to be free as it’s a entertaining show to pass time, but it’s not something I’ll keep up with heavily. When it comes down to it I just missed watching light cartoons and Adventure Time is one of the most enjoyable on today. A few of the episodes may have been from 2011, but I looked a few up and they were from its 2010 season so I’ll leave this show here even if it might contain a few exceptions.
Archer (S1): Hysterical, truly laugh out loud funny. I watched the pilot back when it first aired, but never kept up. After hearing great things about the second season I decided to go back and watch the first season when it got added Netflix, and I’m glad I did. I already wrote about the show in my Second Tier section so I won’t say much more, other than Archer is one of the crudest and smartest comedies on TV.
Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes (First few episodes): Fine cartoon. Some good action and nicely ties together the Marvel universe. Nothing spectacular in what I saw, but after watching Captain America felt like some Marvel superhero cartoons and it provided just that. No Spectacular Spider-Man though.
Bob’s Burgers (three episodes): I watched a few episodes this is odd FOX animated show when it first aired but wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. The show had an odd, off beat style with a frequent use of the camera zooming in and then quirky out as some punch line was delivered. It wasn’t a show I watched a lot of but I had no qualms with what I saw. I laughed at times and enjoyed the voice work, but it didn’t seem to all be there just yet. I’ll probably check in on it again when its second season airs.
Bored To Death (S2): I stated most of my thoughts on this series in the Other Shows section. I watched the first season back when it first aired, but missed out on the second. On a whim I decided to marathon season two so I could watch season three, and I found the show worked much better in bursts at my own pace rather than week to week. Perhaps its just the relaxed nature of the series. My favorite aspect of the second season is the show’s transition from a realistic version of New York to a heightened reality/fantasy version where really anything can happen at any moment.
Cheers (S1 and two-thirds of S2): As a burgeoning young TV critic/someone who aspires to one day become a showrunner I read a lot of interviews with TV writers and creators, and the number one classic series that always seems to get brought up as an inspiration is Cheers. Dan Harmon (Community) and Mike Schur (Parks and Recreation) have both cited Cheers as one of the most influential series on them growing up, so with this in mind I decided it was finally time to watch this classic. I’ve seen many episodes of the show as a kid through reruns on Nick At Nite, but I never really paid close attention to it. The characters are clearly defined from the very beginning and have amazing chemistry with each other. What strikes me most about Cheers is that it’s kind of an odd show, with at times weird structure and plots that makes it a little strange to have been such a huge mainstream hit. I’ll continue watching the show on and off for some time, being a perfect series to pop in when I’ve got a free half hour or need something relaxing to watch before bed.
Doctor Who (S5): Simply the most fun show I watched all year long. This was my first introduction to the famous, long running British sci-fi series and I could not be happier I started watching. After enjoying Stephen Moffat’s Sherlock (see below) I figured on a whim I might as well check out the other series he’s currently showrunning. Previously I’ve only seen “The Christmas Bride” episode of the series from the Tennant years, but I disliked the episode and was turned off for several years. I love Matt Smith to death, and I have trouble going back to watch Tennant episodes (saw the previous angels and River episodes). While the sixth series is all about the doom and gloom that comes with adventuring with the Doctor, the fifth series is the exact opposite, relishing in just how much fun it is time travel allover the galaxy. And the way Moffat strings all the episodes together into one bigger narrative is truly a masterpiece by the end. I’ve rarely been as impressed by the behind the scenes of a show than in the season final’s reveal that what looked like a minor visual continuity error from early in the season was actually an incredibly clever hint that was planned carefully right from the start.
Flight of the Conchords (S1-2): Instantly one of my all time favorite comedies. The show is simply a delight in every sense of the word. The improv quality to the show pays off in spades throughout the shows run and always leads to big laughs. The show contains some ridiculously talented people, that it’s really a shame most of the cast hasn’t be featured in major roles since. Rhys Darby is incredible, being the breakout character in the show for me. No matter how many times he says “roll call” I immediately burst out in laughter. While the second season doesn’t quite live up to the first, it’s still amazing in its own right and contains potentially my favorite musical segment I’ve ever seen on television (“Carol Brown”). It was after watching the show I know for sure The Muppets was in very capable hands with the series writer/director James Bobin the man behind the wheels and Bret McKenzie pitching in with three original songs. New Zealand is lucky to not only be home of Lord of the Rings, but also home of the Flight of the Conchords.
Home Movies (handful of episodes): This particular viewing was less a part of my experience but rather my roommates, who randomly went on a several months long H. Jon Benjamin phase where he watched Jon Benjamin Has A Van, Archer, and Home Movies all in a row. I’d occasionally sit in with him and watch a few. I enjoyed the episodes I saw, with Benjamin’s performance as Coach McGuirk being the real standout. Laughed at just about every line he said. It’s a show I wish I saw more of, but not sure I’ll ever go back and watch every episode.
Mr. Show with Bob and David (handful of random episodes): I’ve heard about this great sketch show for some time now but it wasn’t until 2011 that I actually began to watch it other than having seen a few random sketches online. As a big Arrested Development and Breaking Bad fan I suppose I was already predisposed to love the comedy duo of David Cross and Bob Odenkirk. While I didn’t end up getting to watch a lot of the show this year, it played an important role in my viewing as it marathoned on IFC for New Years Day and was the first show I watched in 2011. I really enjoyed the few episodes I saw and hope to watch more in the future.
Sherlock (S1): I’ve always loved the character of Sherlock Holmes, but I’ve never found an adaption of the character that I’ve ever really latched onto, that is until I watched the BBC’s Sherlock. I found the recent Guy Ritchie adaption of the character okay popcorn entertainment, but this series is Sherlock Holmes at his best. Taking a classic character and repurposing them to fit the modern age is a risky scenario, but it’s own writer Stephen Moffat and Mark Gatiss perfectly handle. Benedict Cumberbatch simply is Sherlock Holmes in my mind, capturing the character’s quirks and ticks perfectly. As is Martin Freeman as Doctor John Watson. The two actors disappear into their roles, and it’s simply fascinating to watch. My favorite aspect of the series is the way its hyper stylized with text messages appearing on screen next to the phone as people read them, or the way clues are highlighted as Sherlock inspects them. A lot of detective shows have tried similar ideas, but none of done it as elegantly and stylish as Sherlock. While the second episode is actually quite weak, and the third still is stuck under the first’s shadow, all three are worth watching and together make one of my favorite viewings of the year.
The Larry Sanders Show (S1-2): This was a completely random watch for me this year. I’d heard a few things about the show before and the concept interested me, so the day it got added to Netflix I figured why not give it a try. I grew to really enjoy the show and the general feel of the show. It has a certain dated aspect to it, but one that never hinders the series or the jokes being told. Rather it feels like a window into the early 1990s and the world of old fashion late night talk shows. The series is especially interesting though for being one of the first uses of mockumentary style shooting in a TV comedy, using free moving camera techniques and a general fly on the wall approach despite the lack of talking heads.
The Muppet Show (S1): I absolutely love Muppets, so what better way for me to anticipate the release of The Muppets than for me to watch the first season of The Muppet Show. I’ve seen many episodes of the show as a kid, but I’ve never sat down and watched the whole series through. Doing it in this way turned out to be the perfect compliment to the new movie as the first season of The Muppet Show is one of growth and learning. The show undergoes a big retooling for its second season, so it’s engrossing to see the characters in their early stages before they were the wholly confident/recognizable personalities they are today. Sure all the groundwork is there to begin with, but it takes some time before the characters are all properly cemented. I spent most of November watching the first season, with an episode or two before bed. It was my most nostalgic and purely pleasurable watches of the year.
The Wire (S1-2 and half of S3): I’ve watched a lot of TV in my lifetime, but one area I have a severe gap in is HBO shows, or specifically HBO dramas. Game of Thrones was the first HBO drama I ever watched and after it I decided it was finally time for me to begin watching what is often said to be the greatest television series of all time: The Wire. While I really do like the show and see that it’s one of the most meticulously well crafted shows I’ve ever seen, I’m not sure I love it as much as other critics do when I’m actually watch an episode. Perhaps its just that the subject matter is a topic that doesn’t appeal to me as much as to others. All that being said, every time I think back on an episode or moment I realize the show is amazing and that I really really like. I’ve been a lot slower at watching the show than I wanted to, but I hope to finish the series sometime in 2012.
AMENDMENT 1/4/12: Added Bob’s Burgers and Home Movies to the list, which I previously forgotten.