Making a list of the best tv shows of 2012 is a lot harder than it looks. For one, it can’t just be HBO or cable shows. As good as they are, it’s almost unfair to include them because for the most part they don’t have to deal with the concerns that regular networks have to deal with such as censorship, sponsors/advertising and 22-episode schedules – it’s almost as if they’re a whole other thing. It’s also unfair to include foreign shows such as Sherlock, Luther or MI-5, because in making such a list we’d probably exclude some excellent shows because they’re in another language and we haven’t heard of them. As a result the list would end up being very anglo-centric, which would be unfair. Surely, a list of the best British tv shows could stand by itself.
For best shows of 2012, we’ll concentrate on North American shows and do our best not to just focus on shows that are on cable. Amongst the regular network schedule, there are surely several shows that belong on our list of the best TV shows of 2012.
Based on the popular comic book series The Walking Dead by writer Robert Kirkman, this show (now in it’s second season) continues to be great entertainment. An epidemic has swept the globe causing the dead to rise up from their graves and treat us almost as a food source. Society has collapsed. There’s no more TV, no stores to shop in, no government in place. Mankind is forced to survive in rag tag packs of survivors. We must keep one step ahead of the undead if we’re to survive. It’s more a story of surviving the worst, than it is about zombies. Zombies are almost secondary. Sometimes, just knowing that they’re out there and we always have to keep them in mind, is scary enough.
Mad Men is a show about American society and culture of the 1960’s from the perspective of a Madison Avenue advertising agency Sterling Cooper (later Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce), whose job is to sell the American Dream to these “hungry” post-war consumers. It’s a time where you’re just as likely to slap your secretary’s ass while drinking a glass of whiskey as you are doing a campaign to tell consumers that their “light tasting” cigarettes are better for them. It’s a world of players, where you have to be ruthless and pitch your clients like you’re a warrior.
Hospital drama’s have been a staple of television since it started broadcasting and there’s at least 2 or 3 major medical shows on at any time. Grey’s Anatomy, about a bunch of interns at the fictional Seattle Grace Mercy West Hospital in Seattle. It’s as much about the soap-opera-ish relationships and going-ons between staff members as it is the “case of the week”. At this point, it’s almost impossible to find two doctors who haven’t slept with each other yet. Imagine ER, but three times “soapier”. It’s a show that transformed Patrick Dempsey from “geeky teen star” to “handsome leading man”. and had had as much craziness behind the scenes (one actor screaming at another actor about his sexuality, leading to him being fired) as their is on the screen. It’s a show that knows how to entertain it’s fans and keep them glued to the screen. A few years back, there was a shooting in the hospital that ended in the death of several characters. This season, a plane crashed with several of the doctors, leaving them stranded in the middle of nowhere and one major character dead. It’s a “must watch” show.
People aren’t born bad. Every child is born pure and becomes who they are from the choices that they make in response to the situations that they’re in. We all make choices in life. When chemistry teacher Walter White finds out he has terminal cancer that will certainly kill him leaving his family with nothing, he decides to become a meth dealer to make ends meet. He’s joined for his descent by his former student Jesse Whitman. Walter starts off as a poor sick man struggling to make ends meet, by the end he’s a a ruthless drug dealer willing to kill. He’s Breaking Bad.
The descent into evil is a slippery slope.
Based on the Elmore Leonard short story Fire in the Hole (and following novels Pronto and Riding The Rap), Justified is the story of U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (played by Timothy Olyphant, fresh off his success in another western Deadwood). Marshal Givens was working in Miami when he ended up shooting a violent mobster. The shooting was deemed “justified”, but suspicious since Raylan had warned the guy to leave Miami in 24 hours or be shot. While the shooting was “justified”, the Marshall service in Miami washed their hands of him by sending him back to Harlan County in Kentucky, the rural area where he grew up. It’s an old school western with a modern day twist of drugs, gangs and violence in the mix.
Based on the successful Danish series Forbrydelsen, The Killing is about the murder of a young girl in Seattle and the police investigation that follows. We see how the crime effects everybody from the family to the police, as well as the politicians connected to the case. A single case is explored in depth as the series continues, we’re still not sure what the truth is after all this time. The case is in danger of becoming cold and unsolvable, we’re racing against time. The constant raining of Seattle, almost seems like another character on the show it’s so prevalent. A young girl was murdered, and all we’ve ended up doing is get cold and wet. The case is getting colder…
Fringe is a show that is hard to explain – even to someone who watches the show, we do know it’s great. The high concept explanation is X-Files by way of Lost. A government team investigates mysterious and unexplained incidents, that may be related to an incident created by the existence of a parallel universe. It should be noted, that these incidents may be the fault of one of the members of the team, who ripped a hole in the fabric of another universe in an attempt to save his dying son. Kind of. Our very future is threatened by what’s going on, hopefully they can solve things before it goes from bad to worse.