homeland, season two finale
smith-rubio family xmas update, 11th annual edition

teevee 2012

Here is my annual television wrap-up. I don’t make a Top Ten list, I just look back and some of the things I wrote since the last time I did one of these (December 20 of last year). (See if you can find this year’s Karen Sisco Award winner in what follows. If you remember what the Karen Sisco Award is. If it helps, previous winners were Terriers and Lights Out.)

Downton Abbey. “Hopes for Season Three: A. Expectations for Season Three: B-.”

Luck. “Get powerful creators like Michael Mann and David Milch, sign up big names like Dustin Hoffman, Nick Nolte, and Michael Gambon (not to mention Dennis Farina), get Steven Rubio hooked on the show, and then, just like that, cancel it after one season.”

Portlandia. “At the start of the season, I wrote, “I rarely laugh at Portlandia. But I enjoy watching it.” At the end, only the first half of that sentence remains true.”

Shameless. “Last season, I gave the series a B+, and Emmy Rossum an A+. In Season Two, the series started to catch up with its radiant star.”

Justified. “It’s just a joy to watch well-drawn and acted characters on a weekly basis, and Justified rarely falters. At some point, every series hits a wall, gets to a point where it’s time to quit. Justified has such a casual, yet deep, feel to it that I can imagine it running for years.”

Game of Thrones. “The fascinating characters mean I eagerly watch each episode, just to see what they are experiencing. The plot could enter a black hole, and I’d still tune in so I could see Tyrion, Dany, and the rest.”

Longmire. “Katee Sackhoff in a supporting role is the only reason I watched it.”

House. “Hugh Laurie was never less than excellent, and I’m happy to note (spoiler warning) that House leaves the series just as much an atheist as he was when it started. But it was time for that show to be over with.”

Mad Men. “If I gave Season Four an A, and Season Five only an A-, well, there aren’t many shows that ever get that high. I look forward to Seasons Six and Seven.”

Girls. “The nice thing about Girls is that it doesn’t bother to convince us that the characters are fundamentally ‘right’. They are fucked up in some unhealthy ways. But they are also deeper, more complete characters than the norm, because they are given the chance to be good and bad, to succeed and to fuck up, to be self-absorbed and a good friend. They are, in short, a lot like most of us.”

The Newsroom. “Aaron Sorkin dialogue without the speechifying is a joy to hear; with the speechifying, what you get is mostly sanctimonious.”

True Blood. “It will always have lots of beautiful men and women getting nekkid and having sex, and it will always have lots of vampire gore, and thus, it will always be worth watching, even or perhaps especially because in the end, it’s not worth watching.”

Boardwalk Empire. “I look forward to it every week, and I am never disappointed. Yet something keeps it from achieving the heights of the greatest series, and I’m not sure why that’s the case.”

Treme. “I find it quite joyous on a regular basis. That it manages to convey that joy in the midst of a portrait of post-Katrina New Orleans that doesn’t shy away from harsh realities lifts Treme to a level most shows never reach.”

Last Resort. “Braugher is so good, he could carry the series by himself.” [Note: this one’s been cancelled, with a few episodes to finish it up in January.]

The Walking Dead. “Paradoxically, by limiting the amount of time the characters sit around and talk about their lives, we learn more about them. At least, that’s how it seems to me, who has always liked the adage that by your actions you are known.”

Sons of Anarchy. “Most of the awfulest happenings involve Otto, a jailed club member who, over the course of five seasons, has a mop handle jammed into his only good eye, gets revenge by twisting a screw driver into the neck of his assailant, kills a mobster with a scalpel, murders a nurse by stabbing her with a crucifix … you get the picture. What I haven’t mentioned is that Otto is played by … yep, Kurt Sutter.”

Homeland. “I found myself less interested in Brody, and no amount of chemistry was going to save it. I wanted Brody gone by the end of the season, and didn’t really care anymore how they got rid of him.”

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