As the year comes to a close, here are my top ten shows of 2012, with an honourable mention to The Daily Show, which made my list last year and remains outstanding, as well as Wilfred and Life’s Too Short that were on the fringes of making the top 10.
10. Boardwalk Empire
While HBO’s Boardwalk Empire did not reach the heights of last season’s epic power struggle between Jimmy Darmody and Nucky Thompson, this year’s conflict between the show’s anti-hero and his new adversary, Gyp Rossetti (Bobby Cannavale) built to a crescendo with the final few episodes being amongst the best the series has done. However, the first half of the run struggled to accommodate Boardwalk’s large cast effectively and great characters such as Chalky White (Michael Kenneth Williams), Nelson Van Alden (Michael Shannon) and Richard Harrow (Jack Huston) were not utilised as much as I would have hoped in the early part of the season.
I was a late comer to NBC’s Parks and Recreation and only caught up with the show around this time last year. Nevertheless, it has quickly become one of my favourite comedies, even though I did not feel that the run of episodes that were aired in 2012 matched the heights of seasons 2 and 3. Leslie Knope’s campaign for City Council had hits moments (especially her debate against Bobby Newport, played by Paul Rudd) but it did not provide the comedic heights that the show has reached before when the gang were fully involved in resolving a minor problem in the Parks Department of Pawnee, Indiana.
8. The Hour
BBC America’s The Hour has not yet completed its second season, but the five episodes (of six) that have been shown in 2012 have surpassed the level that the show reached in its debut last year. With the spy story element now complete, The Hour has been able to focus on immersing us in 1950s London and that has made it stronger. Peter Capaldi – known to those who have watched The Thick of It or In the Loop as the foul-mouthed Malcolm Tucker – has joined as the much more mild-mannered, but equally persuasive, Randall Brown, further strengthening an already excellent cast.
Like Boardwalk Empire, Justified’s third season did not reach the level’s of its second, mainly due to the absence of Mags Bennett (Margo Martindale), but it still remained one of the most watchable shows on television this year. Any time that US Deputy Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) shares the screen with Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins), Justified is electrifying viewing and with Ellstin Limehouse (Mykelti Williamson) now in the mix, season 4 – which premieres on FX January 8th – promises to be as compelling as the show’s first three years.
6. Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee
The concept is as simple as it gets – Jerry Seinfeld drives a classic car, picks up a fellow comedian and takes them to get a coffee. I came to this web series to watch the episode with Ricky Gervais, but was instantly hooked and would wait for each week’s new episode with as much anticipation as any show that was on network or cable television this year. The installments with Gervais and Larry David are where to start, but the one with Colin Quinn and Mario Joyner is perhaps the best, while the “season finale” with Michael Richards was fascinating and moving. I have never been an aficionado of web series before, but this one is a great modern-day view of Seinfeld, better even that the funny Twitter feed @Seinfeldtoday. Continue reading