27 March 2012

Good and Bad of 2011: Television

This has been one stellar year for television programming, absolutely stellar. There honestly has not been a better time this last decade to be a TV addict, as I have shamefully become. As a result, my movie watching has suffered. My bad, ladies and gents, my bad indeed.

Often, when a show hits its fourth season, the Idea Well starts to dry up, and the series just isn't as memorable as it used to be when everything was fresh and creative and original and bloody amazing. Surprisingly, this was not the case with Breaking Bad, a series that entered its fourth year in 2011 and delivered one solid episode after another. More than that, Breaking Bad gave us the most holy freaking shit! and did that shit really just happen?! moments of the year. The writers constantly pushed the envelope, delivering episodes that defied expectations, that went places no other show had gone before, and sprung on us a finale that was methodically paced and then smacking us in the face with one hell of a conclusion to an ongoing storyline. More than that, the last three episodes of the season is perhaps the most magnificent examples of excellent, nearly flawless television writing of all time. It will be difficult to trump what happened here.

Tommy Gavin is a character very much like Vic Mackey, in that I feel you can’t stop him, he doesn’t have an ending point outside of the very finality of death (at least in the real world). So how would Denis Leary and Peter Tolan, the creators of Rescue Me, conclude this seven season series? I knew there was no way Vic was going to die in The Shield, it would have been tremendously unsuiting, and the same can be said for Tommy Gavin, because his death would be nothing less than a cop out, a lazy move. What we have instead is actually a pretty decent series finale, but it’s not everything it could have been. To its credit, “Ashes” has some pretty clear ties to the pilot, and closes out several storylines in a nice, neat bow. But there's something immensely unsatisfying about this series ender. Be that as it may, Tommy ends as a new father, with a new direction in life, and sober. So happy endings, all around. Minus the big death. Just should have been more impactful - more meaningful.

BEST NEW SHOW OF 2011: New Girl
Not a show I was expecting to fall in love with, but hell, it grabbed me pretty much instantaneously. Zoey Deschannel is one of those comedian actresses you either really love or really hate, with very little in between. Luckily, she uses her charm brilliantly here, being the absolute perfect Jess. Her flatmates Jake Johnson, Lamorne Morris, and Max Greenfield are also just as brilliant. Johnson and Greenfield steal the spotlight from Deschannel at pretty much every chance, and are absolute highlights. 20 episodes in, the show is (understandably) still finding its footing, but on the occasions where everything comes together, its comedy is unmatched on TV today. Jake Johnson's Nick just spouting off random phrases is comedy gold, Deschannel has harnessed Jess' awkwardness, and Greenfield has proven himself a shameless, fearless comedy actor. Marvelous show, here.

SCI-FI FAIL: Torchwood: Miracle Day

Don't get me wrong. I love Torchwood. Will continue to love Torchwood to the end of my days. That said, Torchwood has been absolutely dreadful for a good portion of its fourth series run, the 10-episode Miracle Day that ran on STARZ during the summer. This is one of those circumstances where a pretty cool idea - that death stops for everyone everywhere - is dreadfully executed and nearly ruins the entire show. With the exception of, say, three episodes, the rest of the batch are abysmal. Just ridiculous padding until the conclusion comes about. Characters are annoying, subplots are so completely stupid and worthless, and at times I was wondering if showrunner Russell T. Davies had suffered some severe brain trauma which resulted in his poorest series of a show to date. The whole middle area of Miracle Day is crap. But the beginning and end? Damn good writing and acting. Oh, there's still loads of problems in both the good and bad, but not nearly as detrimental to the enjoyment factor. Major drop of the ball, but mind, I'll still be there for whenever a fifth series of Torchwood hits the airwaves.


What a overall FANTASTIC season, only to be brought down by this ridiculous and highly disappointing finale. The Smallville finale gives credence to the 'an ending can ruin your enjoyment of the whole' argument. Ten seasons, most 22 episodes a piece, of Clark Kent fighting bad guy after bad guy and loads of soap operaness, us fans clung to the notion this would all be good in the end, because Mr. Tom Welling will grace the Superman suit and take up the mantle of the Man of Steel. It would happen, it would be extraordinary, and it would be one hell of an event. Now, Smallville has a limited budget, so I kept my expectations at a minimum. Besides, the finale was more of a delight for me because of the return of a one Michael Rosenbaum, who over seven seasons delivered what I consider to be the definitive portrayal of Lex Luthor - nemesis to Superman. But I wanted Tom Welling in the Superman suit. Just give me that, and everything would be great. You could have Superman farting on Apokolips and whatever asinine conclusion to the show you want, as long as we get to see the Superman suit. Nope. What we get is some CGI mess of bullshit. It's been nearly a year since the finale, and this cop out still rubs me wrong. I hate this, I hate this, I hate this. Poor move, guys. I don't know why he wasn't shown in his full glory - this moment that we've been waiting for over 100 episodes - but nothing can be done about it now. Season 10: GREAT year, HORRIBLE ending.

Maybe it's because I'm still a kid, really. Maybe it's because I'm a sucker for relationship drama and messed up characters. But I liked MTV's Skins. It wasn't even remotely as risque as every imaginable news outlet made it out to be, and was - honest to blog - the best show MTV had on its roster [which doesn't sound like much, I know, but it's a compliment]. The writing may not have been stellar, and the performances not jaw-dropping amazing, but Skins presented a raw, clever look into the lives of these teenagers, and it was damn good. It's unfortunate a show like this gets canned but One Tree Hill can run on for nearly a decade. The show is currently streaming on Netflix - give it a try.

  • "Crawl Space", Breaking Bad, season 4, episode 11
  • "Day of the Moon", Doctor Who, series 6, episode 02
  • "Remedial Chaos Theory", Community, season 3, episode 04
  • "Box Cutter", Breaking Bad, season 4, episode 01
  • "Let's Kill Hitler", Doctor Who, series 6, episode 08
  • "Bloodline", Fringe, season 3, episode 18
  • "Eura; Everyone", Skins, season 1, episode 10


And that concludes 2011! My thanks to everyone who came to the Geek to read up on closing the book on 2011 and lookin' forward to the future. See y'all next year.

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