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. Read more of this post

Armchair Scheduling: FOX Fall 2011

The end of pilot season is upon us, and that means speculation about what shows will go to series is about to begin. Yesterday, the somewhat elusive @BigTVFan posted what he thinks FOX’s fall schedule will look like and,  earlier today, Deadline Hollywood ran their first of several articles charting the rise and fall of pilots.  With Upfronts Week still a month out, any armchair scheduling done by myself or others is largely speculative. It’s based on trends we’ve seen, things we’ve heard, and sometimes (at least in my case) wishful thinking.

As BigTVFan noted in his piece, FOX is probably the easiest to pencil in, simply because they have fewer hours to fill than their competitors. X-Factor will make its triumphant debut this fall and fill close to 3 hours a week, leaving precious little real estate for new scripted programming. But, given the buzz surrounding nearly all of their drama pilots, FOX president Kevin Reilly may actually have the hardest job in town. That being said, down below I’ve included my thoughts on what FOX’s schedule might look like when its unveiled May 16th. Read more of this post

2010’s Top TV Series: The Prelude

Most every critic will tell you that 2010 was a great year for television but, in reality, it was mostly just a good year for cable television. Broadcast networks saw their ratings continue to decline overall, and a number of high profile shows failed out of the gate. Qualitatively, this was one of the weakest pilot seasons in recent history, producing duds like Outsourced, The Defenders, Outlaw, The Whole Truth, and Feces My Dad Says. However, amidst the unimpressive fare, there was some truly great TV in 2010, which made the compilation of a Top 10 rather difficult.

I’ve never been one for the “everybody gets a trophy” approach, but I do think it’s worth noting several shows that just failed to make my list. Southland, Louie and The League were all tough omissions, though for different reasons. Southland’s unintentionally abbreviated second season was tremendous, but suffered from the fact that it only had 6 episodes to strut its stuff. Louie deserves commendation for its ability to change shape every week. No show kept me guessing in the way Louie did, and that’s a real compliment. And then there’s The League, which was probably the funniest show of the fall.

As aforementioned, there were a handful of shows canceled in 2010, before they got the chance to find their feet. Fox pulled the plug on Lone Star after only 2 episodes, and ABC did the same with My Generation. Arguably the two best pilots of the fall season, the shows deserve a tip of the hat. Then there’s Fox’s Running Wilde, which may or may not get to complete its run sometime in the future, and their already discarded Sons of Tuscon. Both series showed real potential but failed to attract enough viewers. The same could be said of ABC’s Better Off Ted and Scrubs: The New Class, which were funnier than anything else the network has aired in 2010 but suffered from criminally low numbers.

House, which has frequently found itself near the top of my list in previous years, fell out of my Top 10 in 2010. Last spring House was limping towards the union of House and Cuddy, and it became painfully obvious to those watching. This fall, the show has suffered from the loss of both Olivia Wilde and Jennifer Morrison.  Heroes, which at one time was my favorite show on television, ended its run in 2010 with several strong episodes. But, even though it rebounded from a messy 3rd season, it was in no way strong enough to make my list. Contrarily, Lost ended its run on a low note for me. The vast majority of its final season revolved around the flash-sideways, which proved to be a highly unsatisfying mechanism. The show’s lackluster finale also didn’t help.

Finally, it seems as though I should address why several shows that have found themselves on other critics’ lists didn’t make my own. Since I’ve yet to catch up on Breaking Bad, you will not find it on my list. That isn’t a knock against the show, but rather a knock against me for failing to watch the show from its start. Similarly, I missed the boat on Dexter, though I’m told this season wasn’t list worthy anyway. 2009’s breakout comedies Modern Family and Glee both failed to make my list, because of the incredible unevenness of their 2nd seasons thus far. Glee has received the brunt of the backlash, but Modern Family hasn’t been much better. Airing episodes out of order since the 2nd season premiere, Modern Family has lacked both narrative consistency and laughs. Glee continues to underutilize the vast majority of their cast, while meandering through unrealistic storylines. The best new comedy of 2009, Community, also failed to make the cut. Although Community continues to be one of television’s better comedies, for much of this fall, it seems as though the show has been chasing after the magic of “Modern Warfare.”

Note: I also decided to forgo the inclusion of The Pacific since my list is meant to applaud the best series of 2010, and that was a mini-series.