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The Best TV Series of 2012

By Bert Ehrmann

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Fort Wayne Reader

2012-12-20


With TV this season, it was the best of times, it was…you know the rest. While the crop of new shows in the 2012-13 season might be bland, that doesn't mean that there's not loads of great TV series out there, just not so much on network TV…

… with one exception that is. The best TV series this year is the same as it's been the last three years; Community on NBC. It's a shame that the previous season of Community will be the last for the show creatively at least. To be sure, Community is set to return for one more season this February, abet without the creator of the show Dan Harmon. So whatever will follow, be it good, bad or mediocre, won't be the same as what's come before. Community was the rare show where creator Harmon actually tried to push the boundaries of the traditional sitcom. And while a few episodes of Community each season didn't work, when they did work, they could be groundbreaking.

Game of Thrones: This season HBO seemed to be riding another creative high with their original series, the best of which I thought was Thrones. It's hard to describe Thrones and not at least mention “fantasy.” And while Thrones is certainly a fantasy series, it's also a complex drama with interesting characters that works with or without all the dragons, magic and White Walkers. If there's a single theme of Game of Thrones it's that we live our lives at the whim of others.

Sherlock: I couldn't leave Sherlock on PBS off this list, even if at two hours an episode and only three episodes a season it's far from the typical show. Sherlock was the first of two different series to bring the title character to modern times, and is certainly the better of the two shows. The only problem with Sherlock is that it stars one of Hollywood's hottest actors these days in the title role; Benedict Cumberbatch. Which makes me wonder if the next season of Sherlock, due sometime in 2013 or '14, will be the last with Cumberbatch making a permanent move from TV to feature films.

The Walking Dead: The Walking Dead on AMC has made some serious improvements this season over the last, with the survivors of the zombie apocalypse decamping from the farm they used to occupy and setting up base in a relatively safe prison. Plus, this season has seen the introduction of some new characters, giving the writers of The Walking Dead a few more stories to explore.

Veep: I've been a huge fan of series creator Armando Iannucci with his other political series The Thick of It and film In the Loop and continue to be a fan with his hilarious US political series Veep about the Vice President of the USA on HBO.

The Newsroom: Featuring one of the least likeable lead TV series characters ever, Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels), The Newsroom, also on HBO, explores the insane nature of the 24 hour news cycle and what happens to people when they try to change the nature of news and journalism in general.

Whitechapel: Series that air on BBC America can be hit or miss. When the shows are good, they are very good. When they are bad, they are very bad. Whitechapel is one of the good. Much like Sherlock, the seemingly truncated six episode season of Whitechapel doesn't seem nearly long enough, but perhaps being truncated what makes for a great, tightly focused story.

Mad Men: I'm not sure if it was the extended break that returned Mad Men on AMC to its former glory or not, but this latest season of the series was a return to fine form for the series.

Falling Skies: The second post-apocalyptic series on my list this year, this one about an alien invasion on TNT, Falling Skies continues to explore the idea of holding onto hope in a world when the obvious thing to do would be to embrace despair.

Young Justice: Young Justice, on Cartoon Network, is one of the best explorations of the superhero genera on TV, in print or in the movies. Period.

Inside Men: This series on BBC America about the planning and robbery of a British money counting house was told over the course of a six episodes. Which sounds like something that could be boring and drawn out. However, using the storytelling techniques of Lost mixed with the pathos of Breaking Bad mades Inside Men different and interesting.

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