December 22, 2011

Top 5 TV Surprises of 2011

Last year, I put together a list of my top five TV surprises and let-downs, and I figured I'd do again for 2011. Keep in mind, this really isn't a "best of" list, rather just my thoughts on some of the events/shows that occurred over the last year.

5. Grimm
According to almost every TV critic I read, Grimm was supposed to be one of the worst new shows of 2011, but it had enough going for it to interest me. I'm a sucker for genre fare and police procedurals, and on the surface Grimm tapped into all of those categories, so I had to check it out. I've said many times that Grimm's by no means a good show, but I find myself being entertained by it every time I watch it. Sure, it could be better (a different leading man would do wonders), but I'm not asking it to be the next Wire (or some other highbrow drama that people love to claim they watch). I just want to enjoy watching the show, and so far Grimm is meeting that expectation.

4. Homeland
Usually, I'm not a fan of slow-burning dramas (which is why I haven't been able to finish catching up on Mad Men or Boardwalk Empire), so I didn't go into the 2011 TV season expecting to give Homeland much of a shot, but I kept reading how great it was so I checked it out. It quickly became one of my must-watch shows because of way it brilliantly created tension without relying too heavily on gimmicks and explosions. So far, it's been a top-notch thriller with interesting characters and mesmerizing twits. While it's still airing at the time of this writing, I'm confident enough to say that Homeland is not just the new best drama of 2011, but probably the best new television show of the year. Period.

3. Happy Endings
I know that I've written a lot about Happy Endings (how it shouldn't have been picked up for a second season and how it's become my favorite comedy), and I don't want to keep repeating myself, but I can't help myself. A few years ago, Happy Endings wouldn't have made it past its first few episodes based on ratings alone, but ABC decided to give it another shot for some unknown reason, and I have to give it a lot of credit for doing so. Right now, HE has the right mix of jokes, off-the-wall moments, and cast chemistry which makes it a special show. I doubt it'll ever be the greatest sitcom ever made, but for my money it's been one of the better ones to debut over the last year, and I hope that ABC continues to have faith in this little show.

2. Emmy Award Winner Kyle Chandler
People love to bash NBC, but it's kept some shows alive longer than it should have, and one of those show was Friday Night Lights. With the exception of Season 2, FNL was one of the best dramas on television, but it never got the recognition that it deserved. Seemingly out of nowhere, Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton were nominated for Emmys in 2010, but we all knew they weren't going to win. Then they were nominated again in 2011, but many thought they were honorary nominations since the show wrapped up its final season, and then Kyle Chandler was named the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series. I never thought it would happen, and then it did. It was a magical moment that I'll never forget. Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose.

1. Chuck's Fifth Season Renewal
Much like last year, I was ready to say goodbye to Chuck. The ratings never really picked back up, and it was clear to me that Season 4 was going to be its last. Then all of a sudden NBC decided to give it one final go-around to give the fans the closure they deserved. Sure, we can point to NBC's dismal performance over the last couple of years as a reason why Chuck was renewed yet again, but I want to believe that they understood what this show meant to a small band of followers, and they wanted to give them a last hurrah for their continued support. Whatever the reasons were, this show has meant a lot to me, and I'm so happy that it got to go out on its own terms which is so rare in this business. Thank you Chuck.

While I try to stay positive on this blog, stay tuned for my list of TV happenings that were somewhat disappointing.


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