Tuesday, August 23, 2011

TV Preview 2011/2012 – 25 Must See Series, Part 2: 20-16

Has television programming ever been better than it is right now? Not in terms of great individual shows, but in terms of lots of really great shows (many of which did not make this list, and I had some tough decisions) on the air right now. This is a list of the best twenty five series in the upcoming 2011/2012 season.

Rank: 20
Genre: Comedy
Network: FX
Creator(s): Jason Gann and Adam Zwar
Cast: Elijah Wood, Fiona Gubelmann and Jason Gann
Premier Date: June 23, 2011
Current Season: First
Plot Summary: The series is about Ryan, a depressed man who feels he has hit an insurmountable wall in his life and plans to kill himself. Then he meets his neighbor’s dog, who can speak to him. Everyone else just sees an ordinary dog, but he sees a man in a dog suit.
Why It Made the List: Wilfred is an odd quirky show. It is based on an Australian series of the same name which also starred Gann as the dog. While this is not a show for everyone, for those that like very dry humor it is quite funny. Wood and Gann have great chemistry and the show works so well due to their ability to play off each other so well. Season one also has a great list of guest stars with Ed Helms, Ethan Suplee and Rashida Jones. FX is not afraid to make gritty and/or unique series, as this would never work on network TV – but if its humor works for you, it is utterly enjoyable and original.

Rank: 19
Genre: Comedy
Network: HBO
Creator(s): Larry David
Cast: Larry David, Jeff Garlin and Cheryl Hines
Premier Date: July 10, 2011
Current Season: Eighth
Plot Summary: The show is about Larry David; a man who has it all but cannot help but nitpick and get himself into terrible awkward situations.
Why It Made the List: Curb Your Enthusiasm is almost completely improvised. Much like the work of Ricky Gervais (who has also appeared on the show), this show creates very uncomfortable awkward situations. Some viewers find this show very uneasy to watch, while others find themselves in fits of laughter. Being a big fan of this kind of humor, I am bias but this has to be one of the funniest shows on TV. One criticism is that every episode is essentially the same, but again if you like the humor this is not a big issue. The show also boasts great guests: Richard Lewis, Ricky Gervais, Susie Essman, Bob Einstein, Michael McKean, J.B. Smoove, and Vivica A. Fox are all set to appear this season. This is not for everyone, but it is excellent for those that enjoy it.

Rank: 18
Genre: Medical Drama
Network: Fox
Creator(s): David Shore
Premier Date: October 3, 2011
Current Season: Eighth
Plot Summary: The series is about Dr. Gregory House, a top doctor is the field of diagnostic medicine. He and his team diagnose and solve the strange and most difficult medical cases.
Why It Made the List: House M.D. is fantastic because of Hugh Laurie and the character he has created. The rest of the cast is very good too. Sadly, Lisa Edelstein (who played Cuddy) is leaving the show, as her character was an important part of House’s life. Odette Annable is set to feature in season eight as a new doctor. The show is a procedural series and thus the narrative structure of almost all the episodes is the same, which does get tiresome. But the writers do enough to keep it fresh and the character arcs both within each season and across multiple seasons are very well done, making this the best procedural on TV. If you like well written characters and procedurals House M.D. is a must.

Rank: 17
Genre: Horror/Action Drama
Network: The CW
Creator(s): Eric Kripke
Premier Date: September 23, 2011
Current Season: Seventh
Plot Summary: The series is about two brothers who battle the forces of evil.
Why It Made the List: Supernatural started out as Sam and Dean battle this week’s big bad (monster, ghost, demon or whatever it may be), but over the series the characters developed and the narrative developed turning it from a fun horror show to watch into one of my favorite shows period. Seasons three through five are among the best seasons of any show. The series can be funny, terrifying, action packed, sad – it has such range. Creator and former showrunner Eric Kripke originally planned Supernatural to be a five season series, but season six changed things up and was quite good, and Kripke does remain hands on as the executive producer. Reoccurring actors like Jim Beaver and Misha Collins are also wonderful additions to the show. The chronicles of Sam and Dean Winchester is a must for all fans of horror, fantasy and supernatural style dramas.

Rank: 16
Genre: Comedy
Network: NBC
Creator(s): Greg Daniels and Michael Schur
Premier Date: September 22, 2011
Current Season: Fourth
Plot Summary: The series is about the employees of a small town in Indiana’s Parks and Recreation department and the antics that they find themselves in.
Why It Made the List: Parks and Recreation is a lot like The Office stylistically, as it is by the writers who developed The Office for America. While season one was not that great, seasons two and three were hilarious. I cannot even look at Nick Offerman as Ron Swanson without laughing now. While the show does not quite have the same level of character work as The Office, it is probably funnier with great comedians like Ansari, Poehler, Pratt, Offerman, and Aubrey Plaza. The guest stars are also great with Adam Scott taking a bigger role in the show and the always funny appearances by Ben Schwartz. If you like The Office you will also like Parks and Recreation.

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