I've never done this before, but I thought I'd make a personal list of the triumphs and tragedies I witnessed during my journey through television in 2011. This is by no means comprehensive, and there are many great shows that I just didn't get to. So take this with a grain of salt.
This is part one of my two part series on what I thought of the 2011 television programs. Tomorrow I'll discuss the shows I loved, but today ... I give you the other end of the spectrum.
Worst Television of 2011:
3. Whitney - NBC
Whitney was one of two shows created by comedian Whitney Cummings that made it to network this fall, the other one will be discussed right below this. It was pushed hard by NBC like a desperate pedophile pushing candy onto children. Everywhere I looked there were commercials and ads. They absolutely saturated the market, but like an easily influenced kid, I watched.
It was bad. But I saw a nugget of potential in it so I gave it five episodes to find its footing. It never did. The biggest problem is how antagonistic Whitney (playing her namesake) and her boyfriend Alex (Chris D'Elia) are towards each other. Their cast of friends are no better, and somehow end up being more irritating than Whitney and Alex. If this is how NBC is trying to reclaim the comedy glory it once had they're doing a terrible job.
2. Two Broke Girls - CBS
Another show co-created by Whitney Cummings, that stars Kat Dennings as Max, a poor working class girl with a chip on her shoulder barely making ends meet, and Beth Behrs as Caroline, the daughter of a Madoff style ponzi schemer who loses everything when daddy is arrested and must work for the first time in her life.
Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to clicheville. It's like a female version of The Odd Couple, but with vagina jokes, blatant racism, and horse shit humor. You think I'm kidding but I'm not. Caroline rescues her horse, which lives in their back yard and shits a lot. That's one of the big jokes of the show. Their dream is to open a cupcake shop together and pull themselves up by the boot straps. After three episodes, I didn't care to find out what happened next.
The characters hate each other, they hate themselves, and the writers clearly hate the audience.
1. The Paul Reiser Show - NBC
This was hands down the worst show I've seen in a really long time. It only lasted two episodes before NBC yanked it off the air, and I may be one of the only people that actually watched them both. It was created as a low rent Curb Your Enthusiasm for network television, but borrowed so bad from Curb, that it actually guest starred Larry David musing that he just played an asshole but Reiser was an asshole in real life.
The show is about Reiser being bored at home looking for the next thing to do with his life. Reiser is no Larry David, and the show was a sad shitty copycat of Curb. Having Larry on the show was a desperate reach for comedic cred that ended up looking pathetic. Cringe worthy from beginning to end, here's hoping that Reiser (who wrote both episodes) stays retired and doesn't pollute the airways with his shitty vision anymore. As a bonus it would be nice if whoever greenlit this show was fired.
4. Bored to Death - HBO
Jonathan Ames created an amazing show with Bored to Death when it first aired. I loved everything about the first two seasons and had big hopes for season 3. But something was off. The show veered away from what had made it so fun and quirky. The individual cases that were so entertaining and fun in the first two seasons were replaced by a season long arc dealing with Jonathan's (Jason Schwartzman) search for his real father.
It went over as well as a fart in a sauna, and was promptly cancelled by HBO. It's too bad, because with better focus it was a fantastic show. It just fell apart.
3. The Killing - AMC
Here's a show that started off with so much potential but ended up being crushed under its own weight. I was enthused by how great this show was when it started. It was based on a Danish series, and its mood and atmosphere were intoxicating. It focused on the death of a young girl, Rosie Palmer, and the mystery of who murdered her. Every character was possibly the killer, but it was the detectives that made the show so good.
It became clear narratively around the middle of the season that the writers were making it up as they went along. They took pages from the original show, lifted a lot from Twin Peaks, but never were never able to be original and creative with the great material they started out with. The Showrunner, Veena Sud, said they had no idea how they were going to end the show when the pilot aired. It showed. After awhile no one cared who killed Rosie Palmer, and the shitty twist of the finale was a groaner.
It did get renewed for a second season, but they have a lot of work ahead of them to woo back viewers.
2. True Blood - HBO
Oh True Blood, what the hell happened? You'd always been mildly campy, but that was what made you fun. The fourth season was so bad I stopped watching halfway through. They introduced a coven of witches, a necromancer, Faeries, Eric's Amnesia, Sookie and Eric's relationship, and my complete and total not giving a shit.
This series has run its course and should be given a stake to the heart. Sadly the ratings are too high, so they'll continue beating this dead horse for a long while.
1. Dexter - Showtime
Here's another show that should be put to rest. It was good for the first couple of seasons, but then it got way too repetitive. Season six brought the Doomsday killer and a big twist everyone could see coming from a mile away. It was obvious to the point of being stupid. The other ridiculous thing it introduced, was Dexter's step sister falling in love with him. There wasn't a single hint of it leading up to the moment her psychiatrist asked her if she had feelings for him then presto, like magic she figured out she loved him in an Appalachian kind of way.
I wasted 12 hours of my life on this show when I could have just watched the last two minutes and gotten as much out of the season. Now that Deb witnesses Dexter kill someone where are they going to go next? Kill Deb? They'd have to, but they've ordered two more seasons, so who knows what boring and sloppy story telling they'll resort to.
Finding Bigfoot - Animal Planet
This show is so bad it's good. The characters are so unbelievably ridiculous, that I don't care if they find a Bigfoot or not. They've introduced the word "squatchy" into my vocabulary, and watching them give Bigfoot calls in the middle of the night will delight anyone.
There's Matt Moneymaker, the leader of the group who thinks nearly everything they see or hear is a Bigfoot; Bobo ( I shit you not), a 6 foot 5' inch behemoth that they use to reenact every Bigfoot sighting; Cliff Barakman, an investigator and school teacher; and Ranae Holland, the skeptic. Together they travel North America investigating Bigfoot sightings without finding much of anything but the strange fringe people who make up this nation we all live in.