If you've been reading me a long time, you know I'm a complete wimp when it comes to making lists. Tell me to pick 10 shows, and I'll pick at least 11 — or, if I can, just do multiple lists. (I'm the guy who had to come up with seven different lists to break down the best of the '00s.)
For my list of the best TV shows of 2012, I actually stuck to 10 — and you can see and hear about all my choices in the video embedded at the top of this post — but only because I knew that I would be doing a longer written list next week, featuring my top 20 shows of the year. Like I said, wimp.
In many years past, I would deal with my need to give everyone a trophy by doing separate lists for new and returning shows, but there were only two new shows this year that I felt that strongly about (hint: both aired on HBO, and both are in the top 10 video). The issue I ran into this year is that I had a very clear top six shows that were on every single permutation of the list I tried, and then a collection of 10 or so other shows that I could have put in any order and felt satisfied with having them on or off the list. There are weeks where "New Girl," for instance, makes me as happy as any comedy on television, and yet on the day I had to finalize the list to record this video, it just narrowly missed the cut. Even now, as I write the text for this post, I'm arguing with myself for whether that show, or "Boardwalk Empire" or "Justified" or something else should have slipped onto the main list instead, but ultimately, everything was really close together, and the world likes lists of exactly 10, so that's where I had to cut it off.
One of the things I've been repeatedly asked about on my improvised book press tour is whether the golden age of television I write about in the book has already come to an end. And every time I'm asked that, I think about how hard it was to narrow this year's list down from 20 to 10, and about the incredibly depth of quality TV we have right now. There may not be as many Greatest of All Time candidates on at the same time as there were in the early-mid '00s, but there are more great shows overall, and all over the TV lineup.
So if a show you love (and/or that you expected me to include here) isn't on the list, then wait until early next week for the Top 20 before you yell at me. (Though yelling is certainly invited by any kind of best/worst list.)
Alan Sepinwall may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
1997 | Crime | RSummary: Quentin Tarantino adaptats an Elmore Leonard novel into this story of a few increasingly desperate people scraping to get by.Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster
2008 | Science Fiction | PGSummary: Animated series continues the story of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker as they battle the Emperor Palpatine, Count Dooku and General Grievous, but also takes time to explore other smaller characters in the Star Wars universe.Director: George Lucas (creator)
Cast: Tom Kane, Dee Bradley Baker, Matt Lanter
1995 | Mystery | NRSummary: Denzel Washington plays an out of work WWII vet who takes the wrong job and is soon neck-deep in a mess of politics, murder, and jazz in '40s Los Angeles.Director: Carl Franklin
Cast: Denzel Washington, Tom Sizemore, Jennifer Beals
2013 | Comedy | NRSummary: Insanely funny comedy show created by Amy Schumer, who stars in brilliantly funny sketches about sex, city living, dating, and friendship.Director: Daniel Powell, Amy Schumer (creators)
Cast: Amy Schumer, Kevin Kane, Mike Houston
2013 | Drama | RSummary: Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill have boundless energy in the story of a real-life commodities crook who earned millions through scummy small-time stock trades.Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie
1993 | Sports | PGSummary: Emotionally powerful sports classic featuring Sean Astin as a skinny high school kid with big football dreams and the determination to make his way towards his dream team at Notre Dame.Director: David Anspaugh
Cast: Sean Astin, Jon Favreau, Ned Beatty
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