Better late than never are my best TV shows of 2012. It was a big year for TV watching as I actually for the first time ever spent some actual time indoors (a lot of which was spent trying to put together this website). I ended up watching a lot of brilliant TV – here is the best of the bunch for 2012:
American Horror Story: Asylum
Created by the makers of Nip/Tuck and Glee, this show is the one! The first season showed so much promise but ran out of steam very quickly and ended up being quite a let down for me. They seemed to have learned from their mistakes and have gone all out for the second season. Each season is a separate story in itself so you don’t have to have seen the first in order to understand the second. Season 2 is set in an asylum in 1964 run by nuns and contains everything from murder, ghosts, demonic possession, alien kidnapping, mutants, angels, conspiracies & nazi doctors. Both Jessica Lange and Zachary Quinto have returned to this series playing new roles. The show gets better with each episode and as the mystery deepens more craziness is introduced, it never gets boring, always stays surprising and spooky – I don’t want it to end
If you’ve never heard of this show where have you been hiding. The show fictionalises the life of Nucky Thompson, an Atlantic City politician and racketeer during the prohibition era. After the shock ending of season 2, season 3 kicks straight off with Nucky being more the gangster and less the politician – as the trailer says “you can’t be half gangster”. There is the introduction of many new characters as well as a focus on other characters that have previously been more on the sidelines like Richard. The 3rd season is way more explosive and full of action than season 2 and the end of season finale was something else – as much as I’d want to talk about it I need to keep these things spoiler free. If you’ve never seen this show get the box sets and get on the case
Booth at the End
Whoever thought it would be possible to set a series completely in a diner, it be a conversation between just 2 people at a time and for the show to be completely gripping. Booth at the End has shown that good writing is all you need to make a show interesting – exotic locations, action, buff moviestars are secondary to this. Part psychologicak thriller, part scifi/fantasy (of sorts), the series follows a mysterious man played by the great Xander Berkerley who sits in the booth of this diner and is able to grant desires of people provided they complete a task that he gives them, and that they regularly come to the diner and update them on their progress. Some of the people want their children cured from disease, to be prettier, to have a beautiful woman, to find their faith and are given tasks like murder a girl, plant a bomb, rob a bank, protect a child, become pregnant. We never see any of this actually happening we only hear about these things through them talking to the man in the booth. In some great writing the stories of the various people cross over and intertwine, and things get more mysterious – who exactly is this man, is he good or evil, where is his mysterious book from. Its such a great series and highly recommended
Why do they have to cancel good TV award winning TV. Boss is one of the greatest shows ever and has been cancelled for reasons that escape me. The show follows Tom Kane (played by Kelsey Grammer) the major of Chicago who has been diagnosed with Lewy bodies dementia. The series is dark and menacing, there are not many good guys in this show and that’s what makes it so great and absorbing, it received Emmy award nominations and Kelsey Grammer won best actor for his portrayal of Tom Kane. This season doesn’t let up after the first season and is even more gripping. If you are looking for a light series full of laughs this one is not for you, but if you love dark dramas get on this, it is absolutely amazing and it’s a shame it was cancelled. Don’t let this put you off though – they will be making a movie to end the series and is still really worth the watch
Braquo is a cop drama from the belly of France. Its like a grittier French answer to The Shield. It follows a team of cops surrounded by corruption whose lifes are turned upside down when a case goes horribly wrong. This series is hard hitting, gritty and brutal. From the first scene when you see a rape suspect get his eye poked out with a pen you know this is not going to be your run of the mill series. Season 2 continues directly after the first season’s cliff hanger episode so there is no warm up, it goes straight in. The second season is slightly more “Hollywood” than the first but it still some amazing TV and on a cliff hanger was so deep. I cant wait for the 3rd series its going to be so good. The series is directed by cop turned movie Director Oliver Marchal who made the brilliant 36 (which is up for US remake) & MR 73. In many ways this series is better than The Shield
“All hail the king” – the greatest anti hero has returned for the explosive season 5 and is becoming a super villian. Anyone who has seen the show before knows that each series opens with a scene to later be revealed what actually happened, the beginning of season 5 opens with a scene so deep it as big as a cliff hanger at the end of a series leaving you wondering what the hell is going to happen in between to lead to that point. I don’t have to say anything more this is the greatest show on TV right now, never did I think when I started watching it that it would progress to the stage it is at now – amazing!!!
The Bridge (Broen)
Since The Killing there have been a whole host of dark Nordic dramas released – The Bridge is one of the better ones and its a different look at the super criminal genre. When a body is found on the bridge between the borders of Denmark and Sweden. Danish inspector Martin Rohde and Swedish Saga Norén have share jurisdiction and work together to find the killer. As well as concentrating on the hunt for the killer the film also focuses on the relationship between Saga and Martin, which in many places is extremely funny. What starts as a hunt for a serial killer becomes a hunt for a super criminal and the show in places becomes bound by coincidences and a killer who is way too cleaver and in intricate in his methods it doesn’t really seem real, but don’t let this put you off this show is highly entertaining and I couldn’t get enough of it. I hope they return for a second season the show was really fun
….enough with the B’s lets give other parts of the alphabet a chance….
Game of Thrones
The cold winds are rising!!! Of all the shows the year long wait for the new Game of Thrones is the most painful. Season 1 ended in epic proportions and the end of season 2 brought more of the same. There are always the comparisons with Lord of the Rings, but this show is something else. The focus is on the characters & intrigue and not on magic & monsters, also this show is strictly adults only. Tyrion Lannister owns this entire series.
There is also the introduction of many scary new characters, like the Red Witch who is as scary as she is sexy, the show has also done what Lord of the Rings never did and brought in some characters of colour into the show. If you have never seen this show there is something wrong with you
This is one of those shows that hasn’t turned out anything like I expected it to. Initially I thought it would be gritty like its older sister show, the truly amazing Sleeper Cell (which is highly recommended). Homeland takes many of the ideals of Sleeper Cell and Hollywoodises it and the end result is great. I have never been a fan of Claire Danes but she is great as the borderline Carrie and the only other show I had seen Damien Lewis in prior to this was Life which made me wanna rub chillies and salt in my eyes after watching it it was so terrible. In the second season the focus is away from Carrie and Brody playing mind games with each other and is focussed on stopping a new terrorist threat. The show keeps you guessing throughout and introduces new characters like Carrie’s new partner of sorts Quinn. I never thought this show would have enough story to last beyond the first series – I have been proved wrong, with another 3 series already confirmed I can’t wait for the third to start.
What happens when you mix elements of Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire & The Sopranos – Magic City is what happens. Set in late 1950’s Miami it follows Ike Evans – the owner of a luxurious beach front hotel as he deals with crime, the mob, the law, pickets, the collapse of Cuba. It has that same drama & attention to detail as Mad Men & Boardwalk Empire – as well as the action of the later. It also has a bad guy crazier than Boardwalk’s Rozetti, the show’s Ben “The Butcher” Diamond is not the sort of man you would want to mess with. Starz this time were smart enough to renew it for a second season, which I hear will star Rick Ross as a Miami mob chief. The show takes care with its character development and the story really develops over the episodes rather than throwing everything out there from the first episode.
I hated Paranormal Activity and didn’t think it was at all scary, so when I heard that the creators had also made a found footage TV show I wasn’t initially intrigued – until I saw the trailer that is. Any show based around South American mysticism is my sort of show. With Spielberg producing it as well I knew I had to check it out. Its based around a crew on a research vessel are on a quest to find a missing TV explorer in the Amazon. It starts so-so but by the 4th episode I was absolutely hooked. Demonic possession, ghosts, spirits, voodoo magic, zombies – this show has them all. Stupidly this show wasn’t renewed for a second season, don’t let this put you off as this is well worth the watch although you be crying by the cliff hanger finale. Amazing TV
Power to the people!!!! This show was saved from being axed after the first season by the public outcry at the news – it was quickly taken up by TNT and its worked out well for them – the show is now 5 seasons deep. It is like a mix of elements of The Shield, NYPD Blue, Homicide: Life on the Streets and sprinklings of The Wire and is definitely the best cop drama on around right now and one of the most underrated shows on TV. The show follows cops on patrol, homicide and those from the gangs unit and gives a very take on what its like for cops in both their work and home lives. If griity cops shows are your thing this one is for you, forget wack shows like Rookie Blue
The Walking Dead
After the slowness of season 2 and its then explosive ending season 3 has been amazing. Zombies are the new vampires and The Walking Dead has played a huge part in the resurgence . Season 3 has been injected with a whole host of new characters like Michonne – the samurai sword wielding woman who has armless & toothless zombies slaves on chains to carry her equipment everywhere, and the sadistic Governor whose office decorations would raise eyebrows anywhere. Season 3 has moved more towards the threat being from other humans rather than zombies, but don’t let this make you think that there are less zombies
I tried to restrict these top shows to 10 and failed terribly so I may as well add a few honorable mentions as well…..
This is one of my guilty pleasure shows. I never watched Smallville when The Green Arrow was in it but from what I hear it was the best episodes – so naturally he got his own show. Now this show is cliched and cheesy as fuck, but its so amazing – I can’t get enough of it. The show is pretty Bruce Wayne / Batman in places. Despite being pretty mindless its full of surprises. If your after some entertainment for those after work times when you don’t want to think too much then Arrow is for you
The basic story behind this show is nothing new, it quite similar to The Walking Dead but with aliens, but this show is great entertaining fun, and gets more intriguing with every episode. Many of the characters are very cliched but this can be easily looked over as this is such a great show, Spielberg knows how to choose his series. I can’t wait for season 3 to drop
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Now in its 8th season this is the funniest most un-PC show on TV, the leave no stone unturned they have found the funny side of cancer, pedophilia, abortion, racism and a host host of other not so hardcore subject. The show follows a group of friends running a bar in Philly who for the most part are assholes, but loveable assholes and funny ones at that. Each episode the gang which also includes Danny DeVito who plays the twins father get caught up in some crazy new scheme which ends in trouble. The last few seasons of the show haven’t been as good as the start, but season 8 has returned to the days of old
That’s all for now – I clearly watched too much TV over the last year – I’m going to go out and see some art and smell the flowers or something
By Tendai – Cognitive Space