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One Critic’s Sweet 16 Entertainment Shows

It is time for another annual list because it’s a new year and I‘m still a little lazy and need an easy blog for you to slog through.

This is going to be my Sweet 16 list of my favorite TV shows of 2012. I should note that since I have other duties – teaching and freelance writing chief among them – I don’t have time to watch as much TV as I used to watch. And I don’t make enough money from this blog to feel an obligation to watch any reality program.

I now primarily watch what I enjoy and occasionally try something that my friends say is worth my while. Even then, I don’t often have time to check out their suggestions. One of my good friends sings the praises of FX’s “Justified,” which always seems to debut a new season when I’m really busy. It premieres again next week. Here is my Sweet 16.

1. HBO’s “The Newsroom”: Aaron Sorkin’s show set inside a cable newsroom is a little preachy but it improved as the episodes went by. And the episode dealing with the coverage of the death of Osama bin Laden was more involving than the year’s most over-rated movie – “Zero Dark Thirty.”

2. NBC’s “Parenthood”: A family show about how messy life can be is always moving and occasionally funny. I’m glad to see WNYers seem to embrace it as well.

Hugh Laurie

3. ABC’s “Modern Family”: It hasn’t lost a step in another very funny season and has inspired some clones that show it isn’t easy to make it look so easy.

4. Showtime’s “Homeland”: The implausible moments are now equal to those of another show about terrorism from the same producers – “24”—but it is often compelling viewing anyway. The end of season 2 was so implausible ( a bomb could be planted in a car placed in front of a building where the head of the CIA is speaking and nobody noticed) that it confirmed my view the series should have ended after this season.

5. HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire”: Steve Buscemi is terrific in this  unpredictable, violent series about 1920s booze-running mobsters in Atlantic City, New Jersey. This season also had a great guest star turn by Bobby Cannavale and a high body count that makes you wonder what next season is going to be about.

6. CBS’ “The Good Wife”: Despite a truly dumb story line featuring Kalinda’s abusive husband, the legal story lines remain top notch on a weekly basis and the series attracts top-notch guest stars.

7. AMC’s “Mad Men”: The “Zou Bisou Bisou” dance by Jessica Pare made the past season worthwhile all on its own. It also  was pleasant to see Don Draper (Jon Hamm) be the good guy this past season. I doubt that can last for another season

8. PBS’ “Downton Abbey”: I spent the holidays watching all 15 episodes of the first two seasons of this soap opera about this rich early 20th century British family and will explain later this week why it made me eagerly await Sunday’s start of season three.

9. HBO’s “Luck”: Buffalo native David Milch’s series set inside the horse racing world was looking like a winner when the pay-cable network pulled the plug because of some bad publicity over the death of horses during its production. I think the series starring Dustin Hoffman and Nick Nolte could have become a classic if it had been allowed to run further.

10. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart: It had the most amusing coverage of the unintentionally funny 2012 presidential campaign.

11. CBS’ Sunday Morning With Charles Osgood: My favorite Sunday show has just the right tone for the end of the week and is loaded with compelling stories about all forms of culture.

12. NBC’s “Smash”: The series set on Broadway had a starmaking performance by former “American Idol” participant Katharine McPhee but from what I’ve seen of the second season it will be tough to keep it fresh and interesting.

13. The Buffalo News’ “The Bucky and Sully Show”: Buffalo’s version of ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption” with Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon features Buffalo News sportswriters Bucky Gleason and Jerry Sullivan in what seems to be in a competition to see who is the biggest jerk. I mean that as a compliment. So far, Gleason is winning. The show deserves to be on a local station to heighten awareness.

14. Fox’s “House”: I was surprised the series’ final episode in May in which Dr. Gregory House (Hugh Laurie) rode into the sunset didn’t win an Emmy. I miss the series. So does Fox, which couldn’t find a quality drama to replace it this fall.

15. The Wallenda Walk on ABC: Nik Wallenda’s high-wire act was a tense spectacle on a beautiful summer night in Niagara Falls. It got a huge local audience, but its national viewership was exaggerated. Still, it was a very good show that might help tourism some.

16. ABC’s “Revenge” (Season One): The series starring Emily VanCamp about a daughter out for revenge over the death of her father was a guilty pleasure in season one, but lost me early in season two with all the new characters ridiculously complicating things.


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2 responses to "One Critic’s Sweet 16 Entertainment Shows"

  1. Joe says:

    I loved Boss and was sorry not to see it on your list. I thought it was well acted and well written. It was too bad it appeared on such a minor network, unseen by the adoring cable masses of HBO and Showtime followers. Ah well, it now “swims with the fishes.”

  2. Mike says:

    I’m glad you called out season 2 of Revenge. I loved watching season 1, but one of my new year resolutions is to cut out TV that I watch, but don’t like, and Revenge in on my list!

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