Tip Of The Cap/Wag Of The Finger: 2011 In TV

When I posted my list of the Top 10 TV Shows of 2011 on Saturday, I mentioned that there was another TV post on the horizon, wherein I planned to discuss the shows that narrowly missed my list as well as some of the worst offerings from this past year. After a bit of debate, I decided that another list simply wouldn’t suffice. Instead, I’ve chosen to take the “tip of the cap/wag of the finger approach.” Those of you who read TV Guide should be familiar with the format, as they use it for their Cheers and Jeers column. If this style of commentary is one that you guys enjoy, let me know in the comment section, and I’ll try to make it a somewhat regular feature of the site.

      • Tip of the Cap to The CW Network. I was only able to make room in my Top 10 for 1 of The CW’s shows, but 2011 has been a strong year creatively for the fledgling network. Both Hart of Dixie and The Secret Circle have been welcomed additions to my lineup of shows, and Nikita continues to impress me with the way it balances serial and procedural storytelling. 2011 also saw the appointment of Mark Pedowitz to the post of Network President. An industry veteran, Pedowitz has managed to snag pilots from J.J. Abrams, Krista Vernoff, Eric Kripke, and Michael Bay, among others. Pedowitz has also made a concerted effort to reopen the network’s comedy department, and he’s made headway with The CW’s effort to reduce the number of reruns they have to air. Early last month, I got a chance to discuss The CW’s future, among other things, with Cory Barker on the TV Surveillance Podcast. Check that out HERE.
      • Tip of the Cap to Phoebe Tonkin. As bad girl Faye on the aforementioned CW drama The Secret Circle, Tonkin was  the breakout star of Fall 2011. YouTube is sadly wanting for TSC clips, but someone was kind enough to upload the “Sexy Witch Doctor” scene from the show’s Halloween episode, so I’ve included that below.
      • Wag of the Finger to Celebrity Apprentice. Once an incredibly fun diversion from scripted TV, the spring 2011 cycle of Celebrity Apprentice was bloated and boring.
      • Wag of the Finger to the America’s Next Great Restaurant judging panel. Chefs Bobby Flay, Lorena Garcia, Curtis Stone and Chipolte owner Steve Ells spun a good yarn this spring about their plans to nurture America’s Next Great Restaurant winner Jamawn Woods’ Soul Daddy franchise but, as soon as the cameras stopped rolling, they hung him out to dry. Two months after the conclusion of the show, which I actually liked quite a bit, all 3 of Woods’ Soul Daddy locations had been shut down, forcing him to sue Chipolte for unpaid wages.
      • Tip of the Cap to underrated cop dramas The Chicago Code, Prime Suspect and Southland. It pains me that none of these three quality cop dramas were able to net bigger audiences in 2011. The Chicago Code and Prime Suspect were both one and done series that had great ensembles and fantastic lead performances from Jason Clarke and Maria Bello, respectively. Southland was granted a stay of execution by TNT and will return on January 17th. Make sure to tune in!
      • Wag of the Finger to Chuck. More often than not, I can overlook Chuck‘s deficiencies. But, even I can’t excuse last spring’s incredibly misguided Vivian Volkoff story arc. What started as a promising Nature vs. Nurture story became a comically bad tale of government corruption and bruised egos. Thankfully, this fall’s offerings have, for the most part, been much better. Last Friday’s “Chuck Versus the Baby” was particularly fun.
      • Tip of the Cap to Parenthood. Much of the first two seasons of Parenthood kept me at an arms length. For every great story they did, there was an equally agitating one. This fall’s batch of episodes, however, have been so strong that the show nearly made my Top 10 list.
      • Tip of the Cap to Fringe. Another show that was close to making my Top 10 list, Fringe had a very strong 3rd season that saw them split the narrative between multiple universes and time periods. A lack of Joshua Jackson has dampened the 4th season’s quality thus far, but I’m still very excited to see where they go next.
      • Wag of the Finger to Off the Map. I saw a lot of truly dreadful drama pilots in 2011 (The Cape, Combat Hospital, Terra Nova) but none were worse than this ill-fated ABC medical drama. Another ill-fated ABC drama, Pan Am, would be a close second.
      • Tip of the Cap to the NBC comedies I couldn’t find space on my list for. Community, 30 Rock, The Office, and even Perfect Couples all had really terrific episodes air in 2011. Of the 4, I was most upset that I couldn’t find space for The Office on my list. I know The Office has fallen out of favor but I enjoyed most all of the episodes that aired in 2011. Paul Lieberstein and company deserve praise for the way they handled Steve Carell’s victory lap, in particular “Goodbye Michael.”
      • Wag of the Finger to Ryan Murphy. In 2011, Glee co-creator Ryan Murphy managed to alienate members of his cast, lie to the media on multiple occasions, release a Glee concert movie that flopped, and launch the truly deranged American Horror Story. I want to like Glee. I think that’s pretty well documented, but Murphy makes that very difficult. Glee had a few strong episodes this fall like “Asian F” but, on a whole, it’s been continuously underwhelming. As for American Horror Story, I’ll hold my tongue.
      • Tip of the Cap to House. The changes facing House at the start of the season could easily taken the show to new lows. Instead, they inspired a creative resurgence.
      •  Tip of the Cap to Justified, and more specifically Margo Martindale. The first season of Justified made my Top 10; this year the show finished just outside of it at #11. Even still, I actually thought Justified improved qualitatively between seasons, in large part due to Martindale’s Mags Bennett. It will be interesting to see how the show fairs without her.
      • Wag of the Finger to Pretty Little Liars. I’m not really sure why I’m still watching Pretty Little Liars, Yes, the four leads are gorgeous, but the show itself is insanely frustrating. After 30 something episodes, the fact that we still don’t know who “A” is confounds me. It would be one thing if the mystery surrounding “A” had continued to evolve, but it really hasn’t. Instead, the show offers a ton of wheel spinning. Moreover, for a show that fancies itself edgy, Pretty Little Liars is exceptionally chaste. You can’t have it both ways.
      • Tip of the Cap to Top Chef: All Stars. Regularly one of the best reality shows on TV, 2011’s “All Stars” season was damn fine TV.
      • Tip of the Cap to second tier HBO programming. Both Boardwalk Empire and Game of Thrones made my Top 10, but HBO aired several other programs of note in 2011. Treme grew significantly in its 2nd season, Enlightened blended tones beautifully, and How to Make It in America continued to impress me with its unique mix of serial storytelling and humor.
      • Wag of the Finger to Skins (US) for managing to botch a bought and sold concept. Every two years, Skins (UK) overturns its cast, starting fresh with a new group of ingenues. Because of this, Skins (US) seemed like a natural idea. Rather than introduce the world to a new group of characters, however, creator Bryan Elsley unleashed pale imitations of his first group of kids from the UK on the world. Meanwhile, over in the UK, his son assumed the reigns of Skins (UK) and successfully launched a third generation of the series. Episode 503 of Skins (UK), “Mini,” was one of my favorite hours of TV from 2011. It dealt with teenage sexuality in an honest and different way than is often shown on the small screen.
      • Tip of the Cap to Men of a Certain Age for going out with grace. The season finale of Men of Certain Age’s 2nd season was not intended to serve as the show’s series finale. And yet, it managed to bring the show to an entirely satisfying conclusion. I’m sad Men of a Certain Age won’t be returning this month, but I’m glad those characters got to walk gracefully into the sunset.
      • Tip of the Cap to Breaking Bad. I watched all 46 episodes of Breaking Bad in 2011, and was really impressed by the show. I don’t love it as much as most critics do, and I think season 4 was incredibly uneven, but Breaking Bad‘s highs and VERY high. Also, Aaron Paul for ALL the awards.
      • Wag of the Finger to cable dramas that couldn’t stick their landing. Several cable series failed to stick their landing in 2011, but the two that most easily come to mind are The Killing and Sons of Anarchy. Both had solid seasons that culminated in truly awful finales. Either commit to telling a story or don’t, but do so before you break a season long arc and trick me into watching.

2 Responses to Tip Of The Cap/Wag Of The Finger: 2011 In TV

  1. fantastic points altogether, you just won a emblem new reader. What may you recommend about your put up that you made some days ago? Any certain?

  2. Nice tribute to Men of a Certain Age, but so many plot points were moving forward and the truly required a third season and beyond to absorb.


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