Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Stephanie's best TV of 2011 part 1

With the 2011 coming to an end. It's time for Tim and I to take a look at our best TV of the year. Part one starts today with 11-21. That's right 21, because I just couldn't narrow it down to 20.

11. "Leverage" - Put simply it's one of the most fun shows on TV. The way the team interacts and the cleverness of the capers they pull off makes this TNT drama one of the shows that I can't miss and genuine appointment viewing. Highlight episodes: "The Long Way Down Job," "The Van Gogh Job," "The Experimental Job."

12. "Downton Abbey" - What more can I say about how good this PBS British import was? It was perfectly cast, with every episode building on the previous one. From Matthew and Mary star-crossed romance to Thomas and O'Brien's manipulations to Maggie Smith's endlessly entertaining Dowager Countess, there was not a single bad moment in the entire series.

13. "The Glades" - This A&E procedural really hit its stride in season two, fleshing out the main characters and making the cases less cookie cutter and more localized. The real draw however is the charm of lead Matt Passmore, who toned down detective Jim Longworth's a-hole exterior and turned him into a true hero. Highlight episodes: "Moonlighting," "Iron Pipeline," "Breakout."

14. "NCIS" - After nine seasons on the air most shows start to feel stale and phone it in, but "NCIS" is the rare show that seems to get better and more popular every year. While constant airings of reruns help it continually gain new viewers, it's the appeal of the team chemistry that makes the show rise above other procedurals. At this point Gibbs, Tony, Abby, McGee, Ziva and Ducky are like old friends that you meet up with every Tuesday night. Plus Mark Harmon still has that "Summer School" charm. Highlight episodes: "Recruitment," "Baltimore," "Engaged."

15. "Modern Family" - It's hard to find a show on television as consistently laugh out loud funny as "Modern Family." What makes it work so well is the absurd reality of the situations the Pritchett/Dunphy clan often finds themselves in. It's also nice to see a family that obviously loves each other despite the hilarious dysfunction of their relationships. Plus who is funnier than Eric Stonestreet, Ty Burrell and Julie Bowen? Highlight episodes: "Caught in the Act," (made me do and actual spit take) "When Good Kids Go Bad," "Phil on Wire," "Express Christmas."

16. "True Blood" - Season four of "True Blood" went deeper into the witch world with vampires fighting against a powerful vengeful witch named Marnie. However, the season belonged to Alexander Skarsgard who gave us yet another reason to fall in love with Eric when he developed amnesia and embarked on the long-awaited love affair with Sookie. Stephen Moyer must also be commended for giving Bill some teeth as the newly crowned King of Louisiana. "True Blood" continues to work because despite its large cast, at some point during the season everyone gets a chance to take center stage. Highlight episodes: "You Smell Like Dinner," "Spellbound," "Soul of Fire," "And When I Die."

17. "Supernatural" - Though season seven has not started out as strong as fans would hope. The end of season six featured some of the cult hit's funniest and most heartbreaking episodes. It also continued the series' trend of poking fun at itself in the most meta ways possible. Highlight episodes: "Like a Virgin," "The French Mistake," "My Heart Will Go On."

18. "Parks and Recreation" - This show is so ridiculously fun that I wish I lived in Pawnee. What "Parks and Rec" does so well is the little in between moments. Sure the big jokes are hilarious, but it's the throwaway lines and moments that will have you still laughing a few days later. Highlight episodes: "Road Trip," "Pawnee Rangers," "Meet 'n' Greet."

19. "Necessary Roughness" - USA continued its hit streak with this drama about a therapist who ends up working with pro football player Terrance "TK" King, which leads her to a client list full of sports stars and celebrities. At first the only thing holding this show up was the performance of lead Callie Thorne, However, it quickly became one of USA's patented character driven shows that thrives on the chemistry between the cast. Highlight episodes: "Pilot," "Habit Forming," "Baggage Claim."

20. "2 Broke Girls" - Though its new, this show has a quirky voice that makes it my new favorite comedy. Most of that is due to star Kat Dennings, who is impossible not to laugh at. She has the ability to make the most mundane task, such as lighting a pilot light, hilarious. Highlight episodes: "And the Rich People Problems," "And the Really Petty Cash."

21. "Spartacus: Gods of the Arena" - When Andy Whitfield was diagnosed with lymphoma and needed time for treatment, Steven S. DeKnight filled out the story with a prequel season. As it turned out the prequel was just as fascinating as the original, even helping to explain some characters motivations. Fans were introduced to new gladiators and early incarnations of established favorites. The series also provided a chance for Lucy Lawless and John Hannah to further explore the depths of the bond between Lucretia and Quintus. And of course there were plenty more kickass fights in the gladiator arena. Highlight episodes: "Beneath the Mask," "Reckoning," "The Bitter End."

So there it is, 11-21. Feel free to hit the comments and let me know what you think of part 1 of my best of TV list. Look for part 2 tomorrow.

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