Last week, we gave you our ten favorite shows of the year. Here are five more worth checking out from 2012, which include personal favorites that would have made our individual top 10’s.
It didn’t take long for Bob’s Burgers to transform itself from that bland little show with the bad title that somehow crashed Fox’s Seth FcFarlanefest into a weekly delight that continues to find original storytelling avenues in a familiar format. Whether it be Bob going on a drug-fueled rampage to one-up an arcade-game store (set by arch-rival Jimmy Pesto) or inadvertently befriending a bank robber he’s trying to negotiate with, Bob’s is able to put new twists on existing animation tropes. It doesn’t hurt that the voice cast- with special shout-outs to Kristen Schaal, Eugene Mirman, and Dan Mintz as the three Belcher children- is so aware of how strong it is, it’s able to use the great H. Jon Benjamin as nothing more than an elevated straight man. The chemistry between the cast is the key to making it all work, giving Bob’s an almost improvisational tone. It puts you on edge in a way where you can never see the next big laugh coming. -Drew
After a captivating second season that hashed out a decades-long family feud, the third season of the pulpy, compulsively watchable Justified tried to top itself by taking a chess board, tossing all the pieces up in the air, and delighting in watching them land. Alliances turned into broken alliances, which turned into new alliances, which undoubtedly made things messy at times. But seeing characters like Walton Goggins’ ambiguous criminal (mastermind?) Boyd Crowder and Neal McDonough’s sociopathic businessman Mr. Quarles wage war over Harlan’s criminal empire was an uncompromising, bloody ride I was glad to catch up on in time for last night’s fourth-season premeire. They even found a way to give hapless lowlife Dewey Crowe (Damon Herriman) not only his own showcase, but his own version of Crank, as he recklessly tore up the Harlan streets, trying to steal enough money to buy back his stolen kidneys. And while there may be more nuanced protagonists out there than Timothy Olyphant’s Raylan Givens, not a one is more fun to watch. -Drew
Nothing reliably repels me quite like stodgy “modernized” adaptations of old or classic stories. It’s the reason I never bothered with the Robert Downey Jr.’s “I can be a smart alec in any historical period” Holmes movies, nor CBS’s “not-so-secretly our same old procedural in disguise,” Elementary. It’s also why I foolishly put off watching this wonderful BBC series despite its extensive acclaim.
Steven Moffat’s whip-smart scripts, a deftly stylized visual style reminiscent of a slightly-toned-down Edgar Wright film, and the inexhaustible chemistry of sudden, justifiable movie stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman all combined for a hugely rewarding experience. The highlight of series 2 (the format of which was three 90-minute episodes) was the premiere, A Scandal in Belgravia – perhaps the most thrilling and head-twisting installment for any show this calendar year. After an excruciating cliffhanger, the lengthy wait for resolution only serves as a constant reminder how much the show has stuck with us. -Bryan
If you’ve seen Armando Iannucci’s BBC series, The Thick Of It, the premise of his HBO comedy probably seemed familiar. Essentially the same show in a slightly-altered locale, Veep proved the endless well of humor available to the premise, so long as the cast is up to the task. Filmed in overlapping handheld camera takes, and featuring lots of actor improvisation, the show feels vital and exciting amid the most banal of circumstance. It’s an endless showcase of Washington’s borderline-bumbling ineptitude – a lampooning of the self-serving practices that fuel all politics and professional interaction. Thanks to Julia-Louis Dreyfuss and a brilliant supporting cast, it’s also downright hilarious. -Bryan
The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead’s diehard fanbase went into Season 3 polarized. Season 2 traded in zombie kills for human drama, taking a slower pace to focus on developing its wide cast of characters. But those hungry for blood got their prayers answered once Rick Grimes and his merry troop of survivors found an abandoned penitentiary. Ironically, season 3 is no holds barred, with more action and swarm killing than ever. But its success doesn’t come from brainless KO’s. Showrunner Glen Mazzara found a way to amp up the excitement without sacrificing characters. Oh, and speaking of sacrificing characters, Mazzara boldly kills off plenty without warning, taking away any safety net viewers had. Such a daring move gives the show the proper tension it deserves. No one is safe. Though sadly, that applies to Mazzara as well, who recently parted ways with the series after creative disputes with AMC. What goes around, comes around, I suppose. -Giovanni