The Year That Was: Highlights of the Small Screen

HomelandWell, we are screeching at headlong pace towards the end of 2012, and a whole new year to start very soon. Pleasingly, the 21st of December was not indeed the end of the world as we know it, but rather just the date that the Mayans ran out of space on the stone they were making their calendar out of. So, we have a chance to look back on the year behind us and assess what went well, and what went not so well. Being a realistic idealist with an optimistic bent, I will focus on the positive and eliminate the negative. So, here are my Top Five Best TV Shows of 2012. (Note: they are shows I watched in 2012…I will admit I am behind the times in some regards!).

  1. 1.       Homeland: Much has already been written and blogged about this fantastic CIA v terrorism show that just finished its second season on TV3. I have been an addict since day one, and will freely admit I didn’t mind at all the slightly implausible and chaotic nature of the second season. I am able to forgive plot holes where they come packaged with fantastic performances and edge of your seat drama, which this show certainly does. The stars here – Claire Danes, Damian Lewis and Mandy Patinkin – make this a smarter than your average bear kind of show, and are assisted by top rate dialogue and an always intense and twisty plot. The finale demonstrated all of those things to elaborate effect – with Mandy Patinkin (aka Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride) delivering some of the best lines of the season, and setting himself up for a Golden Globe statue next month. If you haven’t seen this show yet – why?? Do it now. You won’t regret it.


2.       Parks and Recreation: I will admit I have dipped in and out of this show over the past couple of years, but this year it has become one of my ‘must watch’ shows. The comedy – which just wrapped up its fourth season on Four – is set in the Parks and Recreation department of a local council in Pawnee, Indiana. It is populated with a cast of colourful characters, all played by masters in the art of comedic timing. Amy Poehler I have mentioned before on this blog, as one of the fabulous women in Hollywood currently reminding people how freaking hilarious women can be. But she isn’t the only star here – with Rob Lowe, Aubrey Plaza, Adam Scott, Rashida Jones and Aziz Ansari – stealing more than their fair share of scenes. But the highlights for me here are Chris Pratt (who you will be bound to recognise from something – he is EVERYWHERE right now – even Zero Dark Thirty) and Nick Offerman. The latter as Ron Swanson has succeeded in making moustaches cool again. And in having the best one-liners on telly. And this show isn’t just funny – it has a pulsing heart and the final made me cry (not an easy feat – trust me, I am tougher than I look…). Bring on Season 5.


3.       Girls: I think the best way to describe this show, which disappointingly only screens on Soho, is, unfortunately, to compare it to Sex and The City – but in a good way. It is a way more realistic, self-aware and relatable Sex and the City – a tale of four young women trying to make their way in New York City – but without all looking like they have stepped out of the pages of Vogue, and without all apparently having trust funds. Creator Lena Dunham is ‘so hot right now’ – and has recently sold a book on dating advice to Random House for over $3 million. Nice. But, I don’t hate her for it. If anything, it gives me hope. Hope that Hollywood puts faith in a young, different, not size 6 female voice who has something (often hilarious) to say about what it is like making your way in America these days. The show is an addictive and amusing watch, even if you aren’t a Girl 😉


4.       Justified: I will admit to being well behind the eight ball on this show – I have just finished watching Season 2 and it is up to Season 4 in the States. This I blame on TVNZ, who yanked it from a prime time slot, hid it late at night, and then disappeared it all together. Bring it back please I ask you!!! Why? Because it is a smart, gripping and action-packed cop show that has the incredibly handsome Timothy Olyphant as its star. Describing it isn’t easy – on the face of it ‘US Marshal Raylan Givens is transferred back to his home town in Kentucky’, doesn’t sound like a gripping drama. But trust me, it is well worth a look. The second season was fantastic, with a well spun plot involving local crime families at war and a coal company trying to buy up land coming together in another brilliant finale. And Raylan Givens seriously is one of the coolest cats to wear a Stetson. Check it out, I tell ya.


5. Revenge: There always has to be a guilty pleasure on the list, and this is definitely it. The first season of the show followed the exploits of Emily VanCamp, a young girl with revenge on her mind and a massive bank account to fund it. Playing out in the Hamptons, it is populated with rich and callous individuals – with Madeline Stowe’s Victoria as their matriarch, but also with salt of the earth ‘real people’ who are just trying to make a living  – like Nick Weshler’s Jack. Every week Emily would be plotting revenge on one of the community of people who allegedly had her father imprisoned (and eventually killed) for a crime he didn’t commit, and every week it would be a riveting watch. The highlight for me was Gabriel Mann’s Nolan Ross – a sexually ambiguous young IT tycoon who tries to reign Emily in while also wanting to see what she is capable of. Season 2 has just started in the States, and will be showing on TV2 in the New Year. Can’t wait.


Obviously these aren’t the only great shows on TV right now – other honourable mentions include Game of Thrones, New Girl, Raising Hope, The Walking Dead and The Almighty Johnsons. And there will no doubt be new shows in 2013 that raise the bar even higher. So we can comfort ourselves with that warm thought, while blatantly ignoring Reality TV and competitive singing and cooking shows. Just like dust, if I don’t look closely enough, it is like they are not even there 😉 Girls


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