We’re nearing the end of December here meaning it’s time for everyone to say goodbye to 2012 and welcome in the new year. 2012 was a big year for the site as it reached nearly 30,000 total views and my article on HBO’s now defunct series Luck was used as a required reading at University of Oregon. Sadly, work and personal things interfered with the blog in the later half of the year, but I figured I’d try and make up for things with the second annual Remotely Interesting Retrospective. This time I’ll be breaking down my favorite TV series into three categories: First Tier, Second Tier, and Third Tier. Any of the five shows in the First Tier could easily be number one given the episode. The Second Tier consists of my five “second best” series of the year and the Third Tier is to highlight five additional shows that were particularly outstanding and deserve some extra recognition. And don’t worry, all the write ups will remain spoiler free, dealing with only broad strokes rather than fine details, so go ahead and read without fear.
(Best shows of the year)
Adventure Time: Continuing what has been an amazing year of animation, is the Pendleton Ward created post-apocalyptic, candy coated series Adventure Time. If one show were to define 2012 for me it’d probably be this one as a I binged through the first three seasons at the start of the year and the year brought us all of season four and a the first batch of season five. As the show’s gone on it’s only gotten more complex, detailed, and well weird. The Ice King has gone from a goofy villain to one of the most complex and rich characters in animation. We’ve gotten some major glimpses into his backstory this season and he only become more tragic. There truly is nothing else like Adventure Time on TV. The two part season opener is by far the strangest thing I’ve ever seen. My mind could barely take it. But I loved every minute of it.
Highlight Episode: “Lady & Peebles”, which includes an entire minutes of a rainbow unicorn creature talking Korean with no subtitles or translator. The episode also works as a great metaphor about the struggle of being a young woman in modern society. But I’m going to cheat here and also single out “I Remember You”, which includes the scene I laughed the hardest at all year with the Ice King singing his own renditions of Marceline’s Fry Song with Gunter’s name thrown in.
Awake: The one season wonder of 2012 that just barely missed out on my top ten lists. After a fantastic pilot, it takes a little to get into it, but sticking with it despite it’s obvious impending doom was one of my better decisions this year. The last two episodes of the season were intense, intellectual, and all around stimulating television. While we may never fully know the truth of what happened to detective Malfoy, the journey was more than worth it. Hopefully the show gets added to Netflix Instant, you should watch it immediately.
Highlight Episode: “Two Birds”, which puts aside the show’s procedural component to focus on the central mythology and Britten’s emotional journey. It’s a highly thrilling hour that kickstarts the unfortunate end of the series.
Cougar Town: It was a long wait for Cougar Town’s third season, but it was certainly worth it. The season opener works perfectly as a beginning point for new viewers as it sets a new clear path for it’s characters that ensures the term “cougar” will truly have nothing to do with the show ever again. While the season feels brief and compressed for time, Cougar Town is one of TV’s most enjoyable comedies. It’s breaking no new ground, but every moment spent with the Cul-De-Sac Crew is a pleasure.
Highlight Episode: “Ain’t Love Strange”, which includes potentially the show’s strongest scene to date with [SPOILER] Grayson’s proposal to Jules. The panning shot showing all the characters reactions is as good as it gets. The power and emotion on Bobby’s face as he puts his head down in pain is incredible, especially coming from a general cartoonish character who lives on a boat stuck on land. He’s happy for both of them, but he can’t help but be full of regret that this should have been him. All that told in one subtle action.
New Girl: I’m genuinely shocked New Girl is on this list. I still find the show to be generally a B+ comedy at best, not must watch TV, but enjoyable nonetheless. But there is one element in the show that is so outstanding that I couldn’t help but put it here, even if I think the rest of the show is merely “good” to “okay”. And that element is Nick Miller. Almost out of nowhere Jake Johnson became the funniest actor on television. Nick is unlike any other character on modern sitcoms, he’s a 30 year-old law school drop out whose afraid of life and everything in it with the attitude and mindset of a 75 year-old grandpa who can’t help but rant about how the world has fallen apart. He spends a good portion of his time in the second season in his own little B/C plots and they are some of the funniest bits on TV. Maybe I’m a little biased as I’ve come to realize I’m basically him before he lost his enthusiasm for his career, but regardless 2012 was the year of Nick Miller. I continue to find Zooey Deschanel mostly annoying and miscast in the role of Jess, Winston to be rather pointless, and Schmidt to be funny but just a slightly different take on Barney Stinson. But Nick Miller is pure gold.
Highlight Episode: “Menzies”, in which Jake Johnson’s entire plot is him befriending an old Asian man who doesn’t talk and through their friendship discovers he needs a new outlook on his life. The other plots also mostly hold up here. Also check out “Models” for the Nick plot in which he’s suspicious of why Schmidt would buy him a cookie for no reason, but skip through the Jess plot which is just painful, blatant product placement.
Happy Endings: Hands down the most laughs per minute of any show on TV. The jokes are rapid fire and seemingly never ending. The characters, while not deep and complex, are hysterical and simply enjoyable to spend time with. The plots are never memorable, but the jokes always are. It’s currently the most enjoyable friends hanging out sitcom on TV, and a must watch if you haven’t seen it yet. Though the third season hasn’t been as strong as the second thus far, causing it fall into this tier rather than remaining on my second like last year.
Highlight Episode: “Cocktails & Dreams”, which includes the greatest Dinosaurs reference ever uttered by human lips. It also features a highly amusing, and bizarre, guest appearance by Colin Hanks as himself. Often Happy Endings pairs off the gang in their own separate storylines, but this is one where they intersect wonderfully while still retaining their own plots.