After posting thoughts about 11 movies I loved and loathed in 2011, I realized I should do the same thing for TV shows. This isn’t a list about “quality” TV – although all the shows on this list are well-made – these are the shows that I enjoyed watching; felt like rushing home to watch; or was willing to actually program the DVR to see. These are the shows I liked the most. These are my opinions, and I feel comfortable with them.
If your favorites aren’t on this list, don’t automatically assume I hated it; your fave might be, say, No. 15 on my list. Or, maybe I did hate it! Or maybe I simply don’t watch it. I watch a lot of TV, but I cannot follow everything that’s on. For example, I used to love THE GOOD WIFE, but I fell out of watching it this season, so I really don’t have anything to say about. Similarly, I’ve never watched MODERN FAMILY or RAISING HOPE or HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER, and I’d never even heard of DOWNTON ABBEY until it started winning every award possible. Plus, after I decided on the “11 in 2011” theme, I could only include 11, so, there’s that. And if I put something else in, what would I remove?
So, without further ado, here is my list of 11 series I enjoyed:
- DOCTOR WHO (BBC America): Quite simply my most favorite show of all time. And it has never been better, with a terrific cast (Matt Smith is the 11th Doctor) and writers that this year used the universe’s greatest hero to examine the concept of what it means to be a “hero.”
AMERICAN HORROR STORY (FX): Kudos to this series for being off-the-wall and uncompromisingly weird. It featured a compelling mystery and actually boasted some jolts.
- STARGATE UNIVERSE (SyFy): My favorite “hard SF” series, SGU placed a group of humans in the vastness of space and challenged them to understand the even vaster universe. And not die. The cancellation of this series was one of the great tragedies of early 2011.
- THE WALKING DEAD (AMC): This season, the pace has been slowed considerably, but WD still packs more suspense than any other TV series, and the feeling that anything can happen (Is there another series out there willing to kill children?) still pervades everything.
- GAME OF THRONES (HBO): It may have been tough slogging at the start, but the political intrigue eventually meshed perfectly with the adventure – and Tyrion Lannister is a new breed of TV character (Peter Dinklage rules, and deserves every award he gets).
- TORCHWOOD: MIRACLE DAY (Starz): While not up to the standards of the chilling TORCHWORD: CHILDREN OF EARTH, this was still better than most of what’s on TV. And Bill Pullman turned in the most amazing (unrecognized) performance of the year in the most underappreciated role of the contemptible Oswald Danes.
PRETTY LITTLE LIARS (ABC Family): Okay, they’re good girls, but they do bad things. For good reasons. And lie about it. Somehow, the powers-that-be manage to keep stringing viewers along with the same tropes week after week, and it works. And, I guess having such a charismatic cast helps a lot.
- MAKE IT OR BREAK IT (ABC Family): It’s a guilty pleasure, but I really have come to enjoy the characterizations of these elite gymnasts and the drama of their small-scale internecine battles set against the larger picture of trying to qualify for the world stage at the Olympics.
- LOUIE (FX): Most TV comedies are not very funny to me, but LOUIE always makes me laugh – when I’m not cringing, that is, because his stories feel so real. It’s the funniest show about… well, about sadness… that’s you’ll ever see.
- SURVIVOR: SOUTH PACIFIC (CBS): This and THE AMAZING RACE are the only two so-called “reality series” I can stomach. I was never a big fan of Ozzie until I saw everyone gang up on him, and I began to realize he really has been a superior player.
- HOMELAND (Showtime): I didn’t pick up on this series until it was nearly over, so I have to go back and watch it from the beginning. But Claire Danes was absolutely mesmerizing as her character gradually lost her mind.
Looking back at this list, it really doesn’t resemble any others I’ve seen, so what does that say about me? And what do you have to say? Do you agree or disagree with any of this list?