December 26, 2011

Top 5 TV Let-Downs of 2011

So, I've already put together my Top 5 List of TV shows, news, developments, etc. that were pleasant surprises, but the post-Christmas funk (not really, I just needed a reason to be negative) has me ready to throw out my Top 5 TV Let-downs of 2011.

5. Torchwood: Miracle Day
Admittedly, I'm not really a fan of this Dr. Who spin-off despite all of the good things I've heard about it, but I was excited for Starz's continuation of the series with Miracle Day. I even binged on Torchwood: Children of Earth as a way to prep for the series' debut, and that might have been a misstep because Miracle Day had no chance of following in Children's footsteps. From the start, even I could notice that something was missing, and the fact that MD tried to veer away from what made the franchise special (Captain Jack) during the early episodes in favor of hammy caricatures and a twisty but uninteresting plot didn't help the show's case. Now, Miracle Day did have some bright spots, but overall it was a dud. With that said, I'd be OK if the series was given another chance to right the ship.

4. The 1960's
On the surface, the 1960's felt glamorous to me, but I blame Mad Men's stylized look and all of the hype that surrounds it for this halo effect. Because of this, I was somewhat excited for the two Mad Men rip-offs that were gracing network television in 2011. Now, NBC's The Playboy Club was a bad show out of the gate, but I still gave it a shot, and while it wasn't as bad as all the critics were saying, it was clear that it was not long for this world. On the other hand, ABC's Pan Am was a major let down because it had more potential and really didn't capitalize on it. The few episodes I watched focused on the nostalgic aesthetic over interesting character and story, so I quickly lost interest. Since the two shows never caught on, and Mad Men's continued ratings slump (even by cable's standards), it's clear that the 60's are over and we all need to move on.

3. The first-half of The Walking Dead: Season 2
One of the Internet's primary functions is to be an outlet for outraged viewers to complain about TV shows, and while I do that from time to time, I try to keep things mostly positive on my blog, but it's hard to give the first handful of The Walking Dead's second season episodes a pass. After a stellar premiere episode, The Walking Dead quickly got stuck in the mud and spun its wheels until the mid-season finale, and instead of getting plot and/or character development, audiences were subjected to endless debates about morality, faith, and leadership. Now, spending time on these topics should be interesting, and some of the scenes were ... the first three times we watched them. Now, I'm not sure how much of The Walking Dead's sophomore slump has to do with the change of showrunners, or the cut in budget, or AMC's need to split the season into two chunks, but so far Season 2 has not been able to deliver like Season 1 was able to do. Thankfully, we still have the second half of the season, and hopefully the show will able to make things right.

2. CBS
Oh how the mighty have fallen ... out of my good graces but not out of its ratings dominance. While I was never a big supporter of CBS, I did watch my fair share of shows like How I Met Your Mother, The Big Bang Theory, and Hawaii Five-0, so I did have some vested interest in the network so much so that I was willing to give its new sit-com, 2 Broke Girls, a fair shot. To date, I've been so disappointed by the Eye that I've either given up on shows (Hawaii Five-0), taken them out of my regular viewing rotation (The Big Bang Theory), or stubbornly hung on the belief that the show will improve (2 Broke Girls). No show has bummed me out more than How I Met Your Mother, which was No. 2 last year, because it insists on spinning its wheels while throwing red herrings and insulting twists at the fans. Watching HIMYM is no longer a joy, but rather a chore yet I keep coming back with hopes that it will return to its glorious roots. But I said the same thing last year.

1. The Benching of Cult Favorites
I'm not one of those television viewers who has unrealistic expectations of the medium. I know that TV is a bottom-line business, which means that some times good shows get unfavorable treatment, but usually that treatment is justified. On paper, I can understand why ABC and NBC would bench its two critically acclaimed but ratings-challenged comedies, but as a fan of Cougar Town and Community, it's a hard pill to swallow. I get why they have been put on indefinite hiatus, but that doesn't mean I have to be happy about it especially when they're replaced by Work It and Are You There, Chelsea? Luckily, those two shows feel like flops, so we might have the Cul-de-sac Crew and the Study Group back on our TVs sooner than later.

There you have it, my Top 5 TV Let-downs of 2011. I'll be honest, it took some time to come up with this list because 2011 was a pretty decent year for television, and here's to hopes that 2012 will be too.


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