Ho hum, I guess we’re all partied out heading into the weekend, huh? I’ve been looking for a place to squeeze in my top 10 TV shows of the year, and this seems like a good place to do it before we get swallowed into Oscar nominations next week (they’re on Thursday).
A couple things for the weekend:
Last week the George Lang Trio was supposed to be at the new Ciro’s Bistro on Main Street in Stroudsburg, but they had to cancel because of the snow. Now the show is Saturday.
3 is going to be up at the Jubilee on Route 940 in Pocono Pines, even though the band was supposed to be down at Whispers in Stroudsburg. And now the Facebook chatter is that Whispers has caved and gone back to being a dance club without live music. Boo, boo, boo. Boo.
The Living Room at the Sherman Theater is getting back to its art thing with a For the Love of the Art night from 6 to 10 p.m. on Saturday. In addition to the art programs — your submitted art with a chance to get it showcased at Starbucks or a couple other locations — they’re got a three-performance night starting at 6:30 with the acoustic show Public Displays of Rejection. The dancing chicken from Cluck-U, Dequan Waters-Smith, will perform at 7:30 (you heard that right) and at 8, some guys I haven’t seen or heard from in a while, The Clubber Lang Gang is playing. Great guys, great sound. I interviewed them about four years ago, they were a blast, especially when they tout their sound dubbed “space folk.” Not sure I even remember what that means.
Yup, that’s about it. Make sure if you have something going on to send the PopRox Facebook page an invite.
I love doing my top 10 TV shows of the year. I love seeing how TV changes from year to year, what has changed in what I like, all that good stuff. This year it’s sitcoms, or at least what creative minds now believe sitcoms are. It’s changing almost every week.
The usual disclaimers apply. I don’t have premium channels like HBO (no Boardwalk Empire, Girls, Luck, Newsroom, Eastbound and Down, etc., even though I meant to watch the DVDs of Girls and Eastbound and Down that just came out), Showtime (no Homeland or Dexter, which I checked out of a couple seasons ago anyway from DVD catch-ups) or Starz (no Boss, Spartacus or Magic City). So if you’re looking for people who did get those channels and probably watched a lot more than me, get over to Metacritic, which this year supplied a compilation of the top 10 lists from TV critics across the country.
Other than that, I tried to give a whole crapload of stuff a chance this year, and here’s what I came up with:
1. MAD MEN (AMC): I made it known how stupid and silly it was that Mad Men didn’t get a Golden Globe nomination. Because it is. This was by a somewhat wide margin the best show I watched in 2012, and I’m not sure what more I can say about it at the risk of giving it the same praise for the millionth time and boring the crap out of everyone who doesn’t watch it. Suffice it to say, if you’re not watching, you’re missing out. Even that is something I’ve said a million times. See! You’re bored.
2. BREAKING BAD (AMC): Is it just me, or did it seem like the season started and finished before we could even blink? AMC didn’t do us any favors by breaking up the fifth (and final) season into two halves, so that this year’s edition was only eight episodes. That’s barely long enough to get used to the glare from Walt and Hank’s heads, and now you’re taking it away from us? Sheesh. Even though it was a good half of the season, it felt empty just because it went by so quickly. Walt’s sure-to-be-ill-fated descent into his role as The King is now complete, even though we all know he won’t be able to rest until he’s either taken down or he’s amassed enough money to fill that storage bin, not just cover its floor. I’m guessing “taken down” ends up befalling him before “Oprah money” does.
3. NEW GIRL (Fox): When Seinfeld finally became a hit, networks tried for years to duplicate the “a bunch of 20-or-30-something friends sitting around doing next to nothing” formula of ensemble sitcoms. Only Friends and The Drew Carey Show really flourished, but who knew it would take networks 15-20 years to come up with some good facsimiles? Happy Endings, Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23 and New Girl all fit into that category, and they’re all hysterical. But New Girl has separated itself this year because if you put all of those three shows’ 13 characters together, the two funniest — Nick and Schmidt — would be from New Girl, and it’s not even close. That’s more a credit to New Girl than a slight on any other show, because there really isn’t an unfunny character on any of them.
4. THE GOOD WIFE (CBS): How is it the only network drama worth watching is on CBS, the same channel that has gone out of its way to ruin the entire genre for every other network? Is it the network’s mea culpa that it stays on the air even though it’s consistently the network’s lowest-rated returning show? Whatever. It’s probably best we don’t think about it, or else CBS might yank it just because we’re vocalizing our questions. Let’s just all keep our mouths shut and enjoy the fact that it looks like the whole Kalinda’s husband thing is finally over.
5. PARKS AND RECREATION (NBC): It’s hard to hold on to the “Funniest Show on TV” perch. Something new is always waiting right around the corner to knock you off, and when you’ve been doing it for for years, the jokes fall a little flatter than they did the first two years. Just ask 30 Rock. Parks and Recreation has stayed pretty close, but it was bound to fall off at some point. Luckily, the drop isn’t as dramatic as some of its contemporaries. Umm, like 30 Rock. It’s a risky bet to anchor next year’s Thursday night lineup, which is why I have the sneaking suspicion that Go On will be doing it next year if NBC keeps its 30-year tradition of a sitcom lineup on Thursdays.
6. WALKING DEAD (AMC): It did the same thing as Breaking Bad, teased us with 7 episodes, then pulled it away. but at least we know we only have to wait two months for new ones instead of 10 months. Those seven episodes gave us new villains to cheer against, and these ones actually eat something other than brains! I don’t like the governor. Not because of how bad he is, or how crazy he is, but more because he’s an annoying actor whose pretty annoying overall. You know how you get the feeling that Jen Aniston would just be annoying in real life (don’t lie, you do). That’s the way I feel about the guy who plays the Governor.
7. ARROW (CW): Hey, did someone say “comic book dork”? The bad part of Arrow is that so far it’s been a nine-episode carbon copy of Batman Begins. It’s like they’re not even bothering to disseminate the difference anymore, they’re just going with it in the hopes that people will end up liking the show so much they’ll just conveniently forget about the League of Shadows = the Triad, Ra’s al Ghul = Yao Fei, Rachel Dawes = Laurel, Catwoman = Huntress, and all the other glaring similarities. Whoa! I knew those all off the top of my head! Their little plan must be working on me, this show is sinking in! It’s the only new show worth watching this year, it has the hottest breakout actress of the year (Katie Cassidy), the best new actor of the year (Stephen Amell in the title role), and all of that is good enough to make a top 10 list. As long as it doesn’t turn in to My Name is Earl or something, crossing off a list name every week.
8. AVENGERS: EARTH’S MIGHTIEST HEROES (Disney XD): I don’t know if I thoroughly enjoyed a show more than this Disney XD cartoon this year. Part of it is because my 4-year-old daughter LOVES the show and we can share it together. Another part is because I’m a comic book and TV geek who love when one translates to the other with such fantastic success. This one did, the likes of which haven’t been seen since the 1994-98 Spider-Man cartoon series. But the other part was just that this was a really, really good show under the creative direction of some of Marvel’s top minds that had the integrity of the characters in mind. We still watch the reruns OnDemand in the Sadowski household, and we probably will be watching them for a while.
9. (tie) BILLY ON THE STREET (Fuse) and WORKAHOLICS (Comedy Central): If you’re tried these shows, and you weren’t amused at either of them at all, then we probably can’t be friends. Normally I’d say you have to like both of them for us to be friends — because they’re both hysterical in really subversively subtle ways despite how loud they both are — but for some reason my wife can’t stand Workaholics, so I have to be careful. Maybe I’ll just grandfather her in and say I can’t hang out with any new people unless they like both shows. Yeah, that works.
10. JUSTIFIED (FX): I have no idea why I always end up making tough choices on what to eliminate from this list based on what network they air on. This choice came down between Justified and Sons of Anarchy, FX’s two best shows. Justified left me more fulfilled, even if it left me with more questions than answers. SOA gave me the feeling more times than not like the show was leaving something on the table. Like it wasn’t giving us its all, it was doing just enough to keep us all entertained. That, and the whole “Rico” thing that made me cringe by the end of the year. Someone should splice together a YouTube video of every time someone said “Rico” over the last two SOA seasons. It would be like 10 minutes long even though it takes a split second to say the actual word.
Honorable mention: Sons of Anarchy, Suburgatory, Modern Family, Wilfred, Children’s Hospital, Southland