Over the next week or so, we'll be looking back at some of our favorite books, movies and televisions from 2011 as well as some of the things that we missed because there's just not enough time in the world to consume everything.
I watch a lot of television. Compiling this post, I’ve realized that I watch a lot of boring television, but there are some gems. Below are the ten shows that I couldn’t wait to get home to watch, that I counted down days to new episodes, and those shows that I pimped out the hardest to anyone who would listen. Most – if not all – “critically acclaimed” shows are missing. I don’t care. I like fun television. And yes, I did watch Game of Thrones. No, it didn’t make my list.
Favorite Shows of 2011
Season six wasn’t the greatest, but it had a strong last set of episodes fronted by the Castiel-based “The Man Who Would Be King”. Season seven continued that momentum with a fantastic season opener and then squandered it by episode three. It’s had its up and downs, but no matter what, Sam, Dean, the Metallicar and their small world of monster hunters always have a special place in my heart.
The Vampire Diaries
This was the year when the boring one Stefan became interesting (sometimes) and the one with the crazy eyes Damon might have grown a real beating heart. It’s a giant soap opera that, if you attempt to explain out loud to a newbie, sounds ridiculous and convoluted. And yet it works so well. It’s the show that I most look forward to its return in 2012.
Season two wasn’t the greatest. It suffered from too many guest stars, too many songs and too many diluted storylines. What it did give me was Darren Criss. All other arguments are invalid.
I hate procedurals. Unless Nathan Fillion is in them. He can make the most tired scenario seem awesome and new again. Add in the very odd and funny concepts behind single episodes – murders set in the worlds of magicians, soap operas, pizza wars, beauty pageants, superheroes, ghost hunters – and this isn’t your standard procedural. The fact that they balance the crazy with the serious and I’m not ashamed to say that, yeah, okay, maybe I like a procedural.
My reasons for loving this show are so superficial. If you ask me what any given episode is about moments after I watch it, I probably couldn’t tell you. I spend most of the hour trying to figure out how Matt Bomer can be so gorgeous and still be real.
My heart still belongs to the tenth doctor, but Matt Smith has grown on me. With Steven Moffett’s great sense of epic storytelling, the last season of the Doctor’s adventures left me feeling entertained. Rory even grew on me, though I can’t see how the Ponds are still standing after all the horrors they’ve had to deal with. And yet they still travel with the Doctor?
Avatar: The Last Airbender
“Wait, this came out years ago!” you’re probably saying. You’re right. It did. We finally got around to watching it through Netflix and I was quickly addicted. It made me laugh and kept me wondering the entire stretch. If only all kids shows were so well thought out and written like an epic series of novels. We then made the mistake of watching M. Night Shamalan’s The Last Airbender. After the first fifteen minutes, I thought I was going to start crying and had to leave the room.
Prior to 2011, I had never seen 30 Rock. At this moment, I still haven’t seen any of the episodes that actually aired on television during 2011. But man, did we fly through that back catalog on Netflix in a hurry…
Once Upon a Time
I love faerie tales and I especially love faerie tales out of context. Of the two faerie tale shows that started up this fall, Once Upon a Time is the far superior offering. It still feels like a faerie tale and the storylines are already so intricately twisted together. After seeing the pilot at Comic Con in July, I feared that it would be far too whimsical for regular audiences. Thankfully I was wrong. The Lost Easter eggs are fun to find too. I hope the guys behind it can keep the momentum going.
Trying to explain this show to anyone is impossible. Somehow the guys behind Fringe made a show involving parallel worlds with two distinctively different cast of characters (who just happened to look the same) that worked and worked well. Yeah, it got pretty convoluted, but it didn’t matter. Lincoln Lee was around to be adorable and both the Olivias were badasses. I know the show probably won’t be around much longer, but hopefully the team can wrap up the story of the conflict between worlds.
Oh, Chuck, how you have defied all obstacles and lasted five seasons is beyond me, but I’m so glad you did. It could have fallen apart, what with Chuck and Sarah getting married and Casey getting a daughter, but no, it just made it even more interesting. And of course less Jeff and Lester is only a good thing. I’ll miss these guys at Comic Con. It was always one of my favorite panels.
Favorite Hour of Television in 2011
“The Man Who Would Be King” Supernatural, 06.20
I hate Ben Edlund. I hate him and I love him and he singlehandedly saved season six of Supernatural. Yes, the season had many other good episodes, but there wasn’t one that knocked me over the head and left me stupefied. Okay, it helps that the story revolved around my favorite character – who was missing from most of the season – and had all the heartbreak you’d expect after all these years of Supernatural. Misha Collins is a far more versatile actor than his Twitter shenanigans and his gravelly Batman voice give him credit for. I have a few issues with personal character motivation and decisions, but in the end, “The Man Who Would Be King” left me stunned and made me very happy that season six happened (even if the resulting outcome of Castiel’s actions led me to the flailing caused in season seven).
Most Disappointing Hour(s) of Television in 2011
Torchwood: Miracle Day
Take your pick. Every hour seemed to suck more than the previous. With the exception of an episode that focused on a Jack flashback as an immigrant in New York, I really want all those hours of my life back.
Biggest Surprise of 2011
Being Human (American flavor)
I wasn’t the biggest fan of the British Being Human. It moved a little slow for me and we stopped midway through the second season without missing it. I wasn’t sure how it would translate to Syfy, but they did some great casting with Sam Huntington as a neurotic werewolf and the guy who did all the modeling for The Force Unleased Star Wars games as a smoldering vampire. The ghost is far less whiny and her story line developed much quicker in the American version. But above all, it was funny. I didn’t feel like I’d emotionally tortured myself when an episode was over. Despite dealing with a lot of the same dark themes as the original, there was a lightness and humor that was missing from its originator.
Most Disappointing Show of 2011
This should have been my new favorite half hour sitcom. I love Zooey Deschunal in 500 Days of Summer. I thought this would be a goofy, hipster comedy that I would get and would make me giggle for days. Then I watched it and it was uncomfortable. Really uncomfortable. It wasn’t even that funny and by the time they did the chicken dance in slow motion at someone’s wedding in episode three (which I called 15 minutes earlier in the episode), I deleted it from my DVR.