Saturday, December 31, 2011
Best of 2011 - Television
1. Downton Abbey (PBS/ITV). Season one deftly introduced us to the stately Crowleys and their servants, while season two pulled our heartstrings even tighter as the story progressed into the perils of World War I. Fast-paced, beautifully filmed and perfectly acted, Downton Abbey gave off-the-air Mad Men a run for its money for the title of television's best period serial.
2. Happy Endings (ABC). What started as a mid-season replacement with little buzz has, by now, grown to become the funniest show on television. The ensemble cast is uniformly great, especially the uber-expressive Damon Wayans Jr. (wisely choosing this series over the vastly inferior New Girl) and Casey Wilson as zany Penny. But of course I also love control-freak Jane, her goofy sister Alex (Elisha Cuthbert, finally moving past the cougar), wacko post-gay Max and straight-guy Dave.
3. Modern Family (ABC). Moving into its third season, Modern Family isn't as fresh as it used to be, but it's still the best family sitcom on television.
4. Parks and Recreation (NBC). Unlike most shows, Parks and Recreation just keeps getting better, with Amy Poehler proving she's a comic genius to rival her pal and former coworker Tina Fey. After a few cast tweaks last year, the show has really hit its stride.
5. Project Runway (Lifetime). Runway continues to prove itself the best reality show on television, making fashion's behind-the-scenes antics a compelling watch as guided by Heidi, Tim, Michael and Nina.
6. Walking Dead (AMC). Walking Dead may have felt like a stall this year, as the action took place almost exclusively in and around a rural farmhouse, but it was really the perfect boiler to watch the tensions between the characters simmer and boil over once they discovered the pastoral estate's secret.
7. Top Chef (Bravo). Tom, Padma, Gail and friends took their Project Runway in the kitchen to Texas this year for a spicy, southwestern third season.
8. Glee (Fox). Glee has definitely slid in quality. The third season got off to a particularly rocky start, although it picked up near the end. About the best decision they made this year was making Darren Criss a regular. He's fantastic.
9. American Horror Story (FX). The most bizarre show on television, with credible actors Dylan McDermott, Connie Britton, and especially Jessica Lange making the gruesome head-scratcher a tasty treat.
10. 30 Rock (NBC). It's not what a it used to be, but when it's on, it's great TV.