Earlier this week, I did a review of new sitcoms and a review of new dramas. Now it's time for my other honors, a few miscellaneous awards - some for real and some for fun as we finish the 2011-12 season tonight. Enjoy!
I gave this award to the same show last year but season 4 of Parks and Recreation was just as satisfying as season 3. The show is simply the wittiest show on TV with the best ensemble (yes, that's including Modern Family). The story arc of Leslie Knope's run for City Council gave the show so many new avenues to explore and gave us great recurring guest roles from Paul Rudd and Kathryn Hahn (thank goodness Hahn's dreadful Free Agents was cancelled early in the season because she was brilliant in this). I know people say this is a niche show like 30 Rock and Community but I really think it could have broad appeal. I wish it had a bigger audience.
Runners-Up: Modern Family (ABC), Criminal Minds (CBS)
ABC's glamorous pilot drama set in the Jet Age of the 1960s got a lot of pre-season buzz due to its high cost pilot from people who had done The West Wing and ER. But ultimately it wasn't anything special. The beautiful settings and high production quality were offset by boring stories that never went anywhere. The show had a real chance but didn't (pardon the pun) take off. I was more excited about this show than any other going in but by the fifth or sixth episode, I had given it up on it. Period dramas can work on network TV but they need to be better than this.
Runners-Up: Terra Nova (FOX), Alcatraz (FOX)
At one point in time, The Office was hands-down my favorite show on the air and it wasn't even close. Now I wouldn't even put it in my top ten. You can't fault them and NBC for trying to carry on the show after Steve Carell's departure last spring but in my opinion, it was a miserable failure. The show added some new characters but James Spader fizzled out after a promising start and Catherine Tate has only made things worse. The cast seems tired and the show feels stale. It's sad to watch a once great series in its twilight and even more sad that the creators and NBC won't just call it a day and let it go out in dignity. I shudder to think what next season will be like. Right now I watch it out of obligation, I don't even know if I can do that next year.
For a show that's supposed to be about putting on a Broadway musical, there sure is a lot of backstabbing and cheating. I don't know why they feel the need to have more cheating than a daytime soap opera. Just an unofficial count of characters who have cheated on their significant other: Julia, Derek, Ivy, Dev, and Michael Swift. Then there's Ivy's constant sneakiness against Karen and Ellis' all-around creepiness. The show is at its best when its focused on putting on the musical but it has wasted so much time with these silly side stories that only serve to make nearly every character unlikable. On Revenge, that's the point. On Smash, that's the problem.
While we're on the topic of Smash, I must take a minute to address the single biggest problem with the show and that is Emory Cohen's portrayal of Leo Houston, the teenage son of two main characters. His acting is worse than the worst community theater production. How did he get in this cast and why are they insisting on keeping him there? Nothing he says, I mean nothing, seems natural. I feel like I couldn't be that bad even if I was trying to deliver the lines poorly. I'm not one to pile criticism on one poor person but come on. He ruins every scene he's in.
Everyone bashed The Playboy Club going into the season and then it was three episodes and out as the ratings were terrible. But I watched all three episodes and I have to say it wasn't that bad. Yes, the pilot dragged but each episode got better and by episode three, I was feeling connected and engaged in the story. In fact, I think it was the better period drama over Pan Am because it seemed like the stories were going somewhere. I think it might have had a chance if people didn't write it off so quickly.
The people behind Modern Family decided to recast baby Lily this year and they struck gold with Aubrey Anderson-Emmons who added so much to the show and made Lily more than the prop she was in the first two episodes. Her two best moments - cursing during the wedding and saying "kill the baby" offscreen when she didn't want a new brother or sister were two of the best moments of the entire season for the whole show.