<p>Aubrey Plaza as April on &quot;Parks and Recreation.&quot;</p>

Aubrey Plaza as April on "Parks and Recreation."

Credit: NBC

HitFix First Look: The best of Aubrey Plaza on 'Parks and Recreation'

Bask in the deadpan, misanthropic splendor of April Roberta Ludgate

When I wrote about why "Parks and Recreation" was my favorite show of 2011, I chose the clip from April and Andy's wedding ceremony to represent the reasons why. That whole episode was, to my mind, maybe the best the show has ever done, and a time capsule-worthy sitcom episode (certainly moreso than "Time Capsule" itself was). Both the episode and April and Andy's decision to get married on the spur of the moment were both incredibly silly and incredibly romantic, and the way the show turned April from a cynic sneering at everyone into someone who is reluctantly forced to acknowledge that she actually cares about a lot of people and things has been one of the best, most gratifying character evolutions the show has done. The April Ludgate of season 1 laughed at Leslie behind her back. The April Ludgate we know now thinks Leslie is awesome but doesn't like to admit it. Her heart has grown three sizes, but she keeps it hidden behind a cold, deadpan exterior. Like Nick Offerman, Aubrey Plaza's performance is all about minimalism, and because the acting is so small and quiet, any tiny deviation from the norm seems like a much bigger deal than when a louder, more emotional character like Leslie changes her mood.

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<p>&quot;American Horror Story&quot;&nbsp;brought out the gimp one more time in its season finale.</p>

"American Horror Story" brought out the gimp one more time in its season finale.

Credit: FX

The 'American Horror Story' finale: And they died happily ever after?

The FX horror series ends its first season in a mostly upbeat fashion

I bailed on "American Horror Story" a half-dozen or so episodes into the first season. Just not for me. But my professional curiosity - coupled with a lack of original viewing options last night - led me to check out the season finale just to see what Murphy and Falchuk did in terms of wrapping up the season and setting the show up for the long haul. I'm mainly curious for the opinions of those who watched all the way through, but I have a couple of thoughts coming up just as soon as Lady Clairol and I get too chummy...

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Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 108: Best TV of 2011, plus 'Homeland'

Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 108: Best TV of 2011, plus 'Homeland'

Dan and Alan offer their picks for the best shows of the year and discuss the 'Homeland' finale

The

It's time for the Firewall & Iceberg Podcast to count down our favorite shows of 2011. You already know what my top picks were, but now I can discuss them with Dan, here where his choices and/or rankings differ from mine, and listen to Dan's absolute dismay as I express my disinterest in his favorite character on a show on his list. Plus, at the end we break down our thoughts on the "Homeland" season finale.

The line-up: 

TV's Best of 2011 (04:15 - 01:13:00)
"Homeland" finale (01:13:15 - 01:31:00)
 
As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. Or you can always follow our RSS Feed, download the MP3 file or stream it on Dan's blog.
 
And as always, feel free to e-mail us at sepinwall@hitfix.com and/or dan@hitfix.com if you have questions you want answered on the show. Please put the word "podcast" in your subject line to make it easy to track them down amid the hundreds of random press releases we get every day.
<p>Even Laura Dern may be a bit surprised that HBO&nbsp;spared &quot;Enlightened&quot;&nbsp;on a day when &quot;Hung,&quot;&nbsp;&quot;Bored to Death&quot;&nbsp;and &quot;How to Make It in America&quot;&nbsp;were canceled.</p>

Even Laura Dern may be a bit surprised that HBO spared "Enlightened" on a day when "Hung," "Bored to Death" and "How to Make It in America" were canceled.

Credit: HBO

HBO renews 'Enlightened,' cancels 'Hung,' 'Bored to Death' & 'How to Make It in America'

A good news/bad news afternoon for HBO's boutique half-hours

This afternoon's HBO announcement that "Enlightened" had been renewed while "Bored to Death," "Hung" and "How to Make It in America" had been canceled was like a case study in how to manage the release of bad news.

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<p>Brody (Damian Lewis) feels nervous in the &quot;Homeland&quot; season finale.</p>

Brody (Damian Lewis) feels nervous in the "Homeland" season finale.

Credit: Showtime

'Homeland' - 'Marine One': Wait til your father gets home

The season builds to a harrowing, satisfying climax

"Homeland" just wrapped up its outstanding debut season, and I have a review of the season finale coming up just as soon as we're all out of paper towels...

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<p>Ellie (Sarah Lancaster)&nbsp;and Awesome (Ryan McPartlin)&nbsp;have a memorable night out on &quot;Chuck.&quot;</p>

Ellie (Sarah Lancaster) and Awesome (Ryan McPartlin) have a memorable night out on "Chuck."

Credit: NBC

'Chuck' - 'Chuck vs. the Curse': Spy game

Ellie and Awesome's pretend spy adventure turns very real

A review of tonight's "Chuck" coming up just as soon as the CIA brings me wine...

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<p>&quot;The Life &amp;&nbsp;Times of Tim.&quot;</p>

"The Life & Times of Tim."

Credit: HBO

Reminder: HBO's 'The Life & Times of Tim' returns

Animated comedy of embarrassment survived cancellation

HBO's "The Life & Times of Tim" returns from cancellation tonight at 9, and you can be forgiven for not even realizing the show was canceled. The animated comedy has always existed well below the radar, airing in latenight for its first season and on Fridays for its second. It has its fans - I happen to be one of them - but they seem neither as vocal nor numerous as, say, the people stumping for "Archer" or various Adult Swim series.

So it was a disappointment but not a shock when HBO declined to order a third season back in June of 2010, and then a pleasant surprise when the decision was reversed a month and a half later after the show was shopped elsewhere. It's rare to see shows comes back from the dead, and the low-key fashion in which the whole saga played out seemed oddly fitting for such a simple, deadpan comedy.

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<p>Kit Harington as Jon Snow in &quot;Game of Thrones.&quot;</p>

Kit Harington as Jon Snow in "Game of Thrones."

Credit: HBO

Rookie watch: the best new TV shows of 2011

A few great newbies at the top, then a lot with obvious pluses and minuses
Welcome to the conclusion of my look back at the best shows of 2011. On Tuesday, I gave my list of the best 11 overall shows. On Wednesday, I did the best 10 returning shows.
 
Today was supposed to be a similar top 10 list of the best new shows of the year, but the more I thought about it, the more I began to realize that there was a very large gap between the two that were already on the overall list - "Homeland" and "Game of Thrones" - and everything else. Of the other shows, some I liked parts of but not the whole, some I liked uniformly but didn't love, and all of them felt like they should be fighting it out for spots 7-10 on a list in a much deeper year.
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<p>Jeffrey Donovan and Kristanna Loken in &quot;Burn Notice.&quot;</p>

Jeffrey Donovan and Kristanna Loken in "Burn Notice."

Credit: USA

'Burn Notice' - 'Fail Safe': The things we do for love

The season climaxes with Michael and Anson trying to outmaneuver each other once again

"Burn Notice" just wrapped up its fifth season, and I have some thoughts on the finale and the current state of the show coming up just as soon as I'm smarter than a keypad...

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<p>Sweet Dee puts on her old back brace in the &quot;It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia&quot;&nbsp;season finale.</p>

Sweet Dee puts on her old back brace in the "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" season finale.

Credit: FX

Season finale review: 'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia'

The gang wraps up a terrific seventh season with a two-tiered dance number

"It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" wrapped up its seventh season in style tonight, with the gang trying desperately to show up their tormentors at their high school reunion. The switch in perspective in the final scene was one of the biggest laughs the show gave me all year, and that's saying something, considering how strong this seventh season was. There was only one outright bad episode, "Frank's Brother," and even there I can respect that they were at least trying something different that didn't work. (That, or I can again note that Frank tends to be much more useful for generating stories than generating laughs.) 

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