So, the regular TV season is drawing to a close and people are mostly excited about the return of Game of Thrones, which is understandable; it’s a very good show. And Community seems to be getting a reprieve and possibly a renewal, so that makes me happy. Thanks to Netflix, Nicole has burned through most of The X-Files for the first time and we are both enjoying The United States of Tara.
Other stuff I enjoyed this past season include:
Happy Endings: in many ways just as good as Community (they have the same producers), a great ensemble cast gets away with some pretty dirty jokes and wields its diversity far more effectively than the overrated Modern Family.
Suburgatory: charming high school comedy about a girl who gets moved to the suburbs by her overprotective dad. The premise falls down a bit when you see how level-headed they both are, but it doesn’t really matter. Who knew Jeremy Sisto could be funny?
Archer: the animated heir to Arrested Development just keeps getting better.
The League: Paul Scheer and company in another excellent ensemble comedy that is theoretically about a fantasy football league, but is actually about men, their various types of relationships, and their cluelessness.
Revenge: sweet little Emily Van Camp is pretty badass in this modernization of The Count of Monte Cristo, set in the Hamptons.
American Horror Story: the heir apparent to Twin Peaks in terms of sheer weirdness and audacity, it hit hard with its pilot episode and did not let up. The strategy of keeping the same cast for subsequent series set in new locations is intriguing.
Hart of Dixie: no one will ever award it an Emmy for writing, but if there was one for hot bitches, Rachel Bilson would surely win. The writers and supporting cast have created a small southern town that is reminiscent of Stars Hollow from Gilmore Girls.
Justified: Timothy Oliphant continues to be a wryly hilarious menace to the community of idiot criminals in Kentucky. This season featured a splendid new villain.
New Girl: a little Zooey Deschanel goes along way, but the writers seem to have realized quickly that anytime supporting actor Max Greenfield is onscreen, magic happens. The show has turned out to be an overachiever thanks to him and some sharp scripts.
Hawaii Five-O and NCIS: the two well-oiled action machines from CBS have a formula and they are sticking to it. If you don’t like these shows you are a goddamn commie.
Person of Interest: also pretty solid, I like to pretend that the main character is Ben Linus from Lost and that Jim Caviezel has taken over for Sayid. It’s The Equalizer, basically.
Supernatural: it is still hanging in there, but floundering without creator Eric Kripke.
Louie: painfully honest and hilarious slice-of-life from Louis CK.
Homeland: had a rough start but turned into a quirky and compelling political thriller, like a mirror-universe version of 24. Damian Lewis and Clare Danes did a good job.
The Vampire Diaries: uneven but solid year for a show where shit happens so fast that it actually matters if you miss an episode. It is fascinating to see the writers paint themselves into corners constantly and then find a way out, and the cast is fun to watch.
The Walking Dead: it wouldn’t have been too hard to improve on the first season, and thankfully the new writing situation yielded some satisfying episodes among a lot of filler. It is a frustrating series to watch as a fan of the comics, because you know that the show would be so much better if they would simply follow that plot as closely as Game of Thrones follows its source material. Maybe next year.
Eastbound and Down: some good moments but not as solid overall as the first two seasons.
Sherlock and Doctor Who: the BBC adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle continued brilliantly. Stephen Moffat runs Doctor Who as well and Matt Smith had a good second series.
So, I’m sticking with those series for the time being. Here are the shows that I dropped:
2 Broke Girls: stupid class comedy, and a waste of Kat Dennings.
30 Rock: I actually haven’t dropped it completely, but it is not what it used to be.
Torchwood: Miracle Day: dull, low-budget miniseries that might have been a decent single episode.
Californication: boring, repetitive, surprisingly sex-negative for a show that purports to be about a libertine.
Dexter: had its moments, but like 30 Rock has lost the spark that made it great.
Terra Nova: so boring!
The Secret Circle: I gave it a chance thinking it might turn out like The Vampire Diaries, but no luck, and not surprising really.
There were several other non-starters this season, like Awake and the US version of Free Agents, that either didn’t grab my interest or got cancelled after a week or two (or both). I also gave Downton Abbey a try thanks to all the hype of its last series but after about half a dozen episodes, I gave up. It’s boring as shit, although I grant that it is probably several times more exciting than the usual PBS fare.
The upcoming fall season is not on my radar yet apart from Aaron Sorkin’s new show, which looks a lot like his old shows, but since it’s on HBO this time perhaps it will work. I have started the new season of The Killing and am just barely interested. As mentioned earlier, Game of Thrones is fine. South Park keeps going strong with hilarious and contemporary scripts. A great new all-ages show is the sequel to Avatar: The Last Airbender, entitled The Legend of Korra. I am hoping that Community gets renewed for a fourth and presumably final year; it would give them enough episodes for syndication, it would complete the logical four-year arc of a college degree, and so on.