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TV 2012

Most of the TV I watch is via the DVR or On Demand. I like the convenience of watching on my own schedule and being able to get through an hour-long show in 45 minutes or so is also pretty darn appealing. A side effect of consuming shows this way is that the DVR is often quite full (it's down to about 56% thanks to a week off of school) and, consequently, I tend to miss shows. I tried out Ben and Kate and The Mindy Project this fall but never followed through on recording or timely On Demand watching. I completely missed out on Elementary and Arrow in the fall - complete catching up will have to wait until some indeterminate future time.

Still, I did watch plenty this year and found a lot to like...

1. Breaking Bad - Yes, there were only 8 episodes this year (and only 8 more to go) but they were great episodes - daring, inventive, and dark with a hell of a plot twist as the show went on hiatus. The acting, writing, and directing continues to be outstanding. If you haven't watched this show, you have time to get caught up before the end. I suggest you do it.

2. Mad Men - This season explored Don's marriage to Megan, Roger's dabbling in drugs, Lane's descent into depression and worse, Pete's ongoing scumbaggery, Peggy's fight to be recognized for her contributions, and Joan's surprising decisions as she struggled to gain independence in more ways than one. My favorite episode, however, focused on Ken Cosgrove and his desire to be a writer. In fact, "Signal 30" might be my favorite episode of television this past year.

3. Louie - While this season wasn't quite as good as the previous, I still loved it. Louie's trip to Miami and his brief bromance was perfect and the arc with Parkey Posey as his new girlfriend was funny and distressing. The three-part story about his chance to replace David Letterman was tremendous. My favorite episode, however, might have been the one when he was going to see his dad - it was true to the emotions involved if not exactly depicting what happened in any real way (his escape had me laughing for a while). How amazing is it that we get a show like this?

4. Parks & Recreation - This comedy has the best ensemble on TV and the show is a machine built to make you laugh. The show goes beyond mere comedy - Leslie voting for herself in the city council election was an emotional highlight of the year...or was it Ben's proposal a month or so back? As far as comedy goes, though, I'm not sure anything made me laugh as much as "The Comeback Kid" when the gang was going out on the ice with Leslie at a PR event and they all kept falling...while "Get On Your Feet" played over the P.A. Amazing.

5. Cheers - Yes, I know this show has been off the air for almost 20 years, but on a whim I started watching the series from the beginning via Netflix Instant a few months back and I have not stopped. Let me tell you - the show holds up. The characters are great, the writing is sharp, and I'm fascinated by the direction of James Burrows - the way he moves the camera around the bar is quite interesting. The show still makes me laugh and I've greatly enjoyed falling for its charms as an adult.

Honorable Mentions
Archer - So wrong and so funny.

Children's Hospital - "Chief's Origin" was awesome.

Community - The amazing "Remedial Chaos Theory" alone puts it on the list.

Cougar Town - I got into the show for the first time this year and found it quite funny.

Fringe - They take such interesting chances on this show but it remains grounded in the character work, particularly John Noble as Peter Bishop.

Game of Thrones - I could watch this show if it were just Tyrion and Arya but there is so much more to it.

Girls - I quite liked the debut season and look forward to another season.

Justified - While it may not have scaled its Season 2 heights, there was still plenty to love in Raylan's world.

Happy Endings - Here's another great ensemble who just make laugh. The Christmas episode was particularly great.

New Girl - After giving up on this show in its first season, I decided to give it another chance. Boy, I'm glad I did because here's another tremendously funny ensemble. The show gave us three great episodes this fall - "Fluffer," "Menzies," and "Santa."


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