Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Best and Worst of 2011: TELEVISION!

by Laurie K., Sara N., Meghan B. and Megan S.

When we didn't have our noses crammed into a book, we were planted right in front of the TV. Here's our rundown of the best (and worst) genre shows on television in 2011!

Sara N.'s Picks


Community on NBC - I will physically fight anyone who claims this isn't a genre show. Its homages have included Doctor Who, D&D, Batman, zombie tropes, space disaster movies and, in the best episode of this season, alternate timelines. It's consistently funny, clever and self-referential. If NBC doesn't bring it back this season and renew it for next season, I will team up with Inspector Spacetime to travel back 100 years to be certain that the forebears of the NBC execs responsible for this decision are deported, incarcerated or otherwise unable to bear children whose offspring will someday grow up to work in network television.

Game of Thrones on HBO - I fretted for months over how in the world the showrunners would be able to translate George R.R. Martin's sprawling, confusing, violent and sexual books to the small screen. As it turns out, the interpretation was flawless, and the world now has a new favorite character in the form of Peter Dinklage's brilliant Tyrion Lannister.

Once Upon a Time - Holy cow, has this show grown on me. I enjoyed but wasn't blown away by the first episode or two of this fairy tale amnesia show, which, like Game of Thrones, features the writing talents of the brilliant Jane Espenson. Since then, the show has weaved the character storylines together in unexpected and often heart-breaking ways, similar to the intricate, interlocking plotlines on Lost. Here's hoping the show has more episodes in store for us that have an impact as wrenching as the recent The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter.

American Horror Story on FX - Audacious and over-the-top, this show kept me asking, "Oh my God, they're not really going to do that, are they?" And they did, each and every time. How bananas will next season be?


The Walking Dead on AMC - Look, if I wanted to watch people cry and worry and mope, I'd watch ... I dunno, Desperate Housewives? I'm struggling to come up with a mean enough comparison. What veiwers wanted from this season was more struggling to survive against the zombies while dealing with tensions from fellow survivors. What viewers got was stalled momentum as the survivors bickered and fretted at Herschel's farm. There were a few interesting moments Shane's betrayal of Otis and the final minutes of the finale but overall, the show suffered in season 2. I don't know if it was due to the departure of showrunner Frank Darabont or a decrease in the budget or a loss of direction overall. But I have two suggestions for fixing season 3: Michonne and The Governor. Without some changes, I fear the show will be as dead as its shuffling villains.

Megan's Picks


Fringe - Sometimes I feel like a broken record. I try not to mention Fringe or Pacey Joshua Jackson on S4 that often because I start to bore myself (and I figure if I'm bored by something I'm writing, you must have been ages ago) BUT THEY'RE SO GOOD. The Fox show took a season and a half to become something truly great but once it got there, it stayed there episode after episode. Fringe's consistency in awesomeness is due in no small part to the acting, especially by John Noble as the dotty mad professor Dr. Bishop (why hasn't that man been nominated for an Emmy?!). The actors must achieve just the right mix to keep the storylines (made of equal parts highly implausible junk science and heart-wrenching drama) from being ridiculous, and they do. It all culminates in an excellent 44 minutes of television each week.

Haven - Come for the 'Troubles'- of-the-week, stay for the multi-season long mysteries surrounding the main characters' pasts. I love the dynamic between Audrey, Nathan and Duke as well the supporting cast, especially the two brothers that run the newspaper. Haven is loosely based on Stephen King's The Colorado Kid but didn't suffer the same fate of most of his other stories, becoming poorly-realized made-for-tv snorefests.

Psych - Psych falls into that same category as Castle and Community's first season. The show is so stuffed to the gills with science fiction and fantasy references that it earns itself an honorary place in the genre. Psych episodes can be overly goofy sometimes or fall a little flat, but I still love the adventures of Shawn and Gus.

Misfits - Don't mind me while I plagiarize myself. (That sounds really inappropriate, doesn't it?) Anyway... "Misfits...[is the] story of an unlikely group of English superheroes/miscreants performing community service for minor crimes who banded together after receiving troublesome powers during a freak storm. It's chock full of sex, drugs, rock and roll club music, British slang, and highly addictive storylines so considered yourself warned."

Meghan's Picks


Doctor Who - The strange alien in a blue box will never get old to me. Although this season was hard to swallow and featured some of my most hated plot lines and episodes, it also featured some of the best TV I've seen all year. The crowning achievement of this season was Neil Gaiman's heart-wrenchingly brilliant episode, The Doctor's Wife. I sobbed like a little girl at the end of that episode. I have high hopes for next season, but even the Doctor's worst episodes are better than most TV out there.

Cartoons (various) - I'm a HUGE fan of cartoons, and this year has been completely amazing for new series. First off, there is the completely insane Adventure Time! show on Cartoon Network. I have never seen anything like it. I mean, it is completely out of its mind. Finn the human and his talking dog Jake go around the world of Ooo and get into trouble and have adventures. Every single character in this show is just hilarious and hilariously wrong. I'm often shocked it's for children. Another startlingly original cartoon is the internet favorite My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. I doubted that a show based on toys I used to play with as a child would be any good at all. How wrong I was. These ponies are a sassy bunch, with shockingly funny one liners and catchy songs. Again, I have no idea how this is marketed to children. Adult cartoons also had a banner year, with the triumphant return of more episodes of Futurama and Archer. 

Oddities - A little known show on the Science Channel all about people who run a very strange antique shop. It's your one stop shop for weird Victorian medical devices, mummified hands, two-headed animals in jars and other bits of bizarre history. Every episode leaves you in shock and awe and the clients are just as weird as the merchandise. Truly an amazing show!

Happy Endings - While not a genre show, it's still the funniest thing out there next to Community. It's like a more messed up version of Friends with the quick wit of Gilmore Girls. Constantly funny and outrageous. It follows six friends as they go through horrifically failed relationships, jobs, and every day insanities. My world stops when it comes on. Seriously recommended if you enjoy Community and need something to watch as you wait for it to come back (and it is coming back!). (A note from Sara: I adore this show, too, and in season 1, they had a zombie preparedness test. Ergo, it gets to be included!)

Laurie's Picks


The Vampire Diaries - Yes, I love me some TVD. I've gone on and on (and on) about this show since watching it from episode one earlier in the year. Season 3 has not disappointed. I always knew that Stefan wasn't the sweet Edward Cullen type that he seemed to be. Little hints of badass-ness (staring down vampire Logan Fel where Damon hadn't managed to intimidate him) and downright cruelty (threatening to turn Uncle John into a vampire if he didn't GTFO of Mystic Falls) had shown in bits and pieces. We finally got to see exactly where that came from and just how much Damon isn't the bad brother. Plus, Klaus - how could you not love Klaus?

Sunday Night Football - I know this is weird. But along with my love of vampires, computers, and video games, I also love NFL football. I'm a huge Packers fan, and I also really enjoy watching the Falcons and the Broncos. Due to a very bizarre off-season, Monday Night Football has been pretty much lame, and most of the action has been on Sunday night. I spend my Sundays parked on the couch, watching giant dudes tackle the shit out of each other and it is glorious.


Supernatural - I'm just gonna let this picture do the talking.
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  1. That's some epic vagina dentata going on in the Supernatural picture.

  2. I was oh so happy to see the return of Futurama (after ALL these years) and of Archer! I also like the breath of fresh air from American Horror Story, and I appreciated that whenever I missed an episode, I could always find it free on I completely agree with Sara N.’s choice of The Walking Dead for the worst of 2011 because this season dragged a lot slower than the well made-up zombies. Coming from a girl who has read The Walking Dead comic book series from the start, and now a woman who works TV with DISH, AMC has dropped the ball with season 2 and I hope that they fix things come season 3. Great reviews ladies!

  3. Hooray I am not the only person who loves Haven. It started out a little shaky but I really like how it has grown. Ans I love my some Psych, Fringe and Misfits (though I miss Nathan).

  4. Nara, I'm sensing a TV marathon, holiday sock and saki bomb evening in our future should we ever get the chance.

    PS, I don't like the new guy on Misfits. He has no endearing qualities whatsoever so far.

  5. Mox you are on! But we need tamales too.
    Yeah.... that's the stuff