Oooo, I like this. And when I say “this,” I don’t mean this post, per se, but the brainstorm I got to change my annual “best and worst” lists into my “most and least enjoyed” lists. I think it makes it more personal and credible.
Just like last year (and the prior two decades) television continues to be consistently better than films. That’s abundantly clear in terms of comedy, but this is the (non-pay-cable) drama post, so I won’t belabor the point.
The following shows can do it for me (and another barometer; most of my “worst” shows have already been canceled).
Commanded by Vince Gilligan
Starring Bryan Cranston
In the latest season, this masterful character study has gone from being a “I hope he gets away with it” series to a “I hope he gets slaughtered” show. In either case, it remains an exceptional examination of the excuses people make to go evil, and the rationale they use to stay that way.
Commanded by Steven Moffat
Starring Matt Smith
The longest running science fiction series in the world. Watch it and you should know why. The love the cast and crew have for the show is abundant and apparent, and that love spreads to its increasingly devoted audience. Real science fiction, real heart, real soul, real good.
Commanded by Matthew Weiner
Starring Jon Hamm
I don’t care what anybody (least of all the Emmy voters) say. The latest season remained engrossing and fascinating in its examination of the misguided America Dream.
Commanded by Edward Kitsis & Adam Horowitz
Starring Jennifer Morrison
Hey Lost and Heroes? This is the way you write a fantasy/superhero show. You move things along. You don’t stretch things out to maintain your few non-surprises. You don’t hold onto concepts as a crutch. And you have respect and affection for your characters and audience.
Commanded by Kurt Sutter
Starring Charlie Hunnam
I confess: I didn’t like this show before. I don’t enjoy it now. But it’s done so well, and so fervently that I can’t help but watch and respect it. There’s really no one to root for, and the town it takes place in now resides in a hyper-violent Twilight (war) Zone, but, like Hamlet, I’ll stick around ‘til the last body falls.
Honorary mentions: Elementary, The Good Wife, Justified, Parenthood, Walking Dead
Commanded by Ryan Murphy
Starring Jessica Lange
Got bad news. This isn’t “horror.” I’ve been bemoaning the state of horror films/TV since Friday the 13th, and this is precisely what the redefinition has wrought. There is nothing scary here. Gross, brutal, psychotic, mean-spirited, homicidal, unrelenting, negative, destructive? Yes. Horror? No.
Commanded by Ron Koslow
Starring Kristin Kreuk
That’s your idea of a beast? A scar? A minor scar at that. And apparently Kristin learned nothing from Streetfighter 2. Stop acting the living heck out of every line. It’s tiring to watch.
Commanded by Dana Calvo
Starring Janet Montgomery
The concept is bad enough: a brilliant, beautiful Jersey lawyer gets persecuted just because she comes from outtastate. If they had done the TV version of My Cousin Vinny, they had a shot. But the casting of the glorious Janet Montgomery made everybody off-set go “fuggetaboutit.” No way her discrimination was, is, or ever will be, credible.
Commanded by Josh Berman, Ron Felber, & Rob Wright
Starring Jordana Spiro
This one vied with Emily Owens MD for the least ingratiating new medical series of the year, but this one “won” for its high concept low ball of mixing deese-dem-dose mafia types into the mix. Annoying in and out of the operating room.
Commanded by David Wilcox
Starring Terry O’Quinn
This mix of Fantasy Island and American Horror Story started okay, but you could chart its descent from the look on O’Quinn’s face as the episodes progressed. It was obvious he was one unhappy camper as the plots degenerated, and he represented its dwindling audience as well.