All hail the “Idiot box”: my top 5 favourite TV shows of 2012

 

I know.

You’re thinking to yourself how on earth did I choose just five – five I tell you! Just five – TV shows to be deemed the favourites in a year where you couldn’t move for high quality sitcoms and dramas?

How did I have the guts to go all Sophie’s Choice on this vast amount of brilliant television and not feel deep recoiling guilt that will haunt all my waking days and …

The answer … the answer dear readers is that I looked deep within myself and after wondering how I could possibly eat so many brownies in one sitting, I then considered carefully and with Tibetan monk-like calm, which shows I had actually looked forward to seeing, to the point where I would rush home to make sure they were safe on the PVR?

Once I was in that frame of mind, picking just five was marginally easier.

Just marginally.

And here they are …

 

THE WALKING DEAD

 

The Walking Dead (image via fanpop.com)

 

Right so you probably saw this choice coming a mile off.

(Unlike some of our hapless survivors who don’t see the zombie ambling behind them till it’s too late.)

It makes the list not simply because it is grade A drama that challenges, entertains and engages week after week, and not just due to its stellar cast and top notch direction, but also due to the fact that it is a show that went from can’t-watch-zombies-freak-me-out to must-see-TV in a matter of weeks once I finally watched an episode … and then three … and then them all.

As good an indication as any that it has totally got under my viewing skin is the fact that I am counting down the days till February 2013 when it starts again.

Trust me, though I follow and enjoy a lot of shows, that doesn’t often happen.

Even so, I don’t think I will having zombies over to dinner any time soon …

* Here’s a beautiful rendition of the show’s theme music from YouTube user, ShiftYoungAdults.

 

 

GRIMM / ONCE UPON A TIME

 

Once Upon a Time (collider.com)

 

Grimm (image via themortonreport.com)

 

OK I know.

I am cheating a little here but if I can’t bend the rules a little on my own blog, then where can I?

I have grouped these two excellent but wholly different shows together because they both take an imaginative postmodern take on fairytales and the mystical world that surrounds them.

I have become a real fan of shows that fold long held mystical beliefs and traditions into a modern narrative and these shows, along with others like Warehouse 13, do it exceptionally well.

Once Upon a Time, which centres on the town of Storyville which is, or rather was (things changed greatly at the end of season 1) populated by fairytale characters who have been transported from their magical kingdom to our more grim real world and robbed of their real memories by a curse did a wonderful this year – Australia has only just started season 2 so this is in reference to season 1 – of balancing their current lives with their far more exotic backstories.

It brought the fairytales alive for me in ways that still entranced and delighted as traditional tales but with a gritty robustness that comes from expertly marrying them to modern sensibilities.

Plus they simply told damn good stories!

 

 

Grimm is a completely different animal but no less watchable or cleverly put together.

This time the focus is on the story tellers, not the stories themselves, with the Brothers Grimm the ancestors of a noble line of warriors who have fought down through the stories to keep mankind safe from the “wessen” (creatures who can move between humans and animal physiologies with ease).

They weave in elements from the Brothers Grimm’s tales, which are far darker than Disney ever portrayed them, and add in an engaging hero Nick Burkhardt who discovers out of nowhere that he is part of the Grimm lineage.

While the news comes as a complete shock, it neatly dovetails with his professional role as a police detective, and so far the show’s creators have done a fine job of marrying the mystical with the police procedural to craft a television program that sits in a genre all its own.

It’s nice to have some magic back in my life …

 

 

NEW GIRL

 

New Girl (image via celebrity-oz.com)

 

I really liked this show from the word go.

I am real sucker for quirky, offbeat characters with some intelligence and backbone – total airheads aren’t fun to watch for too long let’s be honest – and Zooey Deschanel’s Jess is the perfect embodiment of someone who is trying to be different; they simply are and are totally comfortable with it.

But I didn’t truly fall in love with it, although there were signs of growing infatuation towards the end of season 1 when there were some brilliant episodes that perfectly balanced comedy and drama without compromising either, until season 2 when it truly came alive.

That’s happened with a few shows for me – Stargate SG1, Fringe – but it’s the first time I have seen a promising but inconsistent sitcom suddenly find its feet and blossom into a show that is consistently hilarious, heartfelt and profoundly well acted week after week.

I would happily live with Jess and the gang.

Yep I like them that much.

 

 

WEDDING BAND

Wedding Band (blog.zap2it.com)

 

A little hasty with this aren’t you?

To which I say (a) it’s odd that you’ve turned this blog post into some sort of weird chat room, feeling free to pepper me with questions as you please, and (b) no, not in the least.

It’s show I liked from the word go, and though we’re only two episodes in, I am glad I decide to add it to my crowded roster of shows, even though I was initially quite reluctant to do so.

The funny part was I voiced this reluctance on Twitter saying that while I’d heard it was wonderful and I really wanted to see it, I was tired and may give it a miss.

 

The guys from the Band – Harold Perrineau Jr (Stevie), Brian Austin Green (Tommy), Derek Miller (Barry) and Peter Cambor (Eddie) (image via midwesttvguy.com)

 

To my surprise, one of the stars of the show, Peter Cambor, who plays the married guitarist in the band, Eddie, tweeted back assuring me it was worth watching and I must watch it.

Now normally I’d dismiss that with something along the lines of “well he would say that wouldn’t he?” but there was something about the genuineness of his response and the fact that he answered me not once but twice – very few stars are that responsiveness of Twitter despite what you might have heard – that persuaded me to give it a go.

And I am very glad I did.

The scripts are witty and clever, the rapport between the cast, especially the four band members who are the emotional core of the show, palpable, and it’s not afraid to wear its heart on its sleeve which is refreshing since it must have been highly tempting to make them all cynical jaded musicians stuck playing in a wedding band and resentful they never got their big break.

But they love what they do, and consequently we love watching them do what they do.

Now all I have to do is persuade them to play at my wedding.

 

 

THE BIG BANG THEORY

 

The Big Bang Theory (image via fanpop.com)

 

I started watching The Big Bang Theory in 2009, when it was heading into its third season, largely because it was one of the best options on Air New Zealand’s inflight entertainment.

I had seen snatches of the show before that but oddly hadn’t been overly impressed with it, consigning to the almost-good-but-not-quite-there camp.

But somehow on that flight to Los Angeles where I consumed all the episodes they had on offer, which was about six if I recall, I fell in love with the four nerds who make up the nucleus of the show – since augmented by wives and girlfriends including Mayim Bialik as the very funny Amy Farrah Fowler – and haven’t looked back since.

What amuses me is that I ever thought the show was lightweight and not up to scratch.

It is actually one of the smartest sitcoms around at the moment with fully three dimensional characters who aren’t simply nerd cliches and the butt of everyone’s jokes.

 

A season 2 promo pic. It was one of the two seasons out on DVD in Canada that I snapped up after falling in love on a plane flight (image via bigbangtheory.wikia.com)

 

They are instead fully fleshed out people who are given a chance to realise the full extent of their personalities and as a result the show relies far less on obvious set up jokes and far more on humour flowing from highly believable interactions between the various characters.

That is a mark of intelligent comedy and likely what is keeping the show at the top of the ratings.

Currently in their sixth season, the show is going from strength to strength, and I heard cast members and even the show’s producers allude to the fact that they hope the show goes for at least ten years.

I fervently hope that that is the case.

 

 

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