I must admit, when tasked with coming up with my favorite television moments of 2012, it was a bit formidable. Sure, there were great moments - plenty of them. But one of the problems with coming up with this list as opposed to, say, doing the same for movies, is that a movie is two hours, self-contained, and the good and the bad separate themselves pretty easily. Not so with television. You might have an episode that was great, but if it is surrounded by a number of average or even sub-par episodes, it gets lost in the shuffle. I have the benefit of having detailed notes from virtually every episode of genre television that aired in 2012, but even still, it is hard to think back to the beginning of the year, when we are on the tail-end of the 2011-2012 season, when you are already halfway through the 2012-2013 season, and finding a lot of old favorites and natural fallbacks have gone downhill.
So here it is, in no particular order, my top 10 series and episodes from 2012. These are the moments/events/series that really popped for me. Did I miss anything?
American Horror Story: Asylum
I like this season a lot better than season one. Is it ridiculous? Yes, of course. But it is also bat-shit crazy, in a wonderfully entertaining way. Somehow they managed to make alien abductions and an Anne Frank who survived the Holocaust not cheesy. Season two manages to propel forward at a breakneck speed while still pacing itself. Highlight of the season? Ian McShane. ‘Nuff said.
The Walking Dead
The season is only half over, but so far, season three has restored my faith in the series. Season one was revolutionary; season two was dull. Season three has been action-packed and fearless. Few TV shows would kill off a main character in the middle of a season; when they do, it is usually because the actor and the producers had a well-publicized disagreement. But in this case, it better served the story to have Lori die, and so she did. I love that nowadays, being a series regular does not necessarily mean that you won’t die (see also: Rita in Dexter, Bobby in Supernatural, Jenna, Vicki, and Alaric in The Vampire Diaries.)
I liked this re-imagining of The Munsters. It was a little sappy at times, but it was visually stunning, had some great monster-y moments, great performances by a surprisingly well-cast troupe, and a thick dose of humor. I can only imagine what Mockingbird Lane could have been had NBC decided to continue the series past the pilot.
Season six ended with the greatest cliffhanger in Dexter history. For the most part, season seven did a bang-up job carrying that storyline on. The season finale was a tiny bit of a let-down, but only because it was following in such prestigious footsteps. Deb really came into her own this season. I am impressed with how well the writers were able to introduce Dexter’s real life to Deb, and have her react in a way that was very true to the character we have known for the last seven years.
Teen Wolf Episode 210: “Fury”
Teen Wolf has gotten immensely better in its second season. It is no longer cheesy teenage trash; it is a bona fide, layered television series with enough different aspects to appeal to a number of different demographics. That said, season two wasn’t perfect. It had its slow moments, it’s hokey, sappy, teen angst moments. But episode 210 was a stand out. In my original review of the episode, I wrote, “It’s almost like with this episode, Teen Wolf became a Man Wolf.” It was well-paced, really propelled the story in an interesting and honest way, and didn’t fall back onto tired teenage tropes. Let’s just not speak of the severely problematic season finale.
The Simpsons “Treehouse of Horror XXIII”
I know I pick The Simpsons’s annual Halloween anthology every year. Even if the segments aren’t really horror (like the Mr. & Mrs. Smith parody), it’s still The Simpsons, and there is always something to like. This year, the 23rd installment of the Halloween classic, included a great Paranormal Activity spoof, a great Back to the Future spoof, and a great sciencey black hole segment. Plus, they threw in a little Mayan apocalypse for the doomsdayers.
Fringe, the back half of season four
I have been a little disappointed in the less-than-rousing finale season of Fringe. I am just holding out hope that they are saving all their mojo for a crazy series finale. But the second half of season four was very satisfying. They shut the door (so to speak) on the alternate universe for good, in a way that wrapped up the storyline nicely, was sentimental without being sappy, and set the entire timeline right again.
The Vampire Diaries, the back half of season three
Much like Fringe, I thought The Vampire Diaries finished out their third season strong. I really liked getting more background on the Originals, and spending more time with them. I like that TVD has no problem killing off main characters - this time, it was Alaric (though it wasn’t a surprise because actor Matt Davis already had another gig lined up with Cult.) Elena becoming a vampire in the last few seconds was predictable and I fear it is leading to the show’s downfall (the first half of season four has not been stellar, though it is picking up.)
Psych Episode 611: “Heeeeeeeeere’s Lassie!”
I have long championed Psych and their proliferation of pop culture goodness. Every season, they do at least one horror spoof, and this season, it was The Shining. One of the show’s detectives, Carlton Lassiter (who is often called “Lassie” against his will) moves into a condo which may or may not have driven the former tenant to suicide, and it seems that Lassie might be going down that path. Numerous homages to The Shining included similarly-patterned carpet, a kid riding a tricycle down the hall; a pair of twins that look suspiciously like the elder versions of Kubrick’s twins; and of course, Lassie doing his very best Jack Nicholson impression - through a splintered door. Interestingly, there is a touch of Rosemary’s Baby splattered in this episode, with a pregnant character named Rose-Marie Farrow, who was the spitting image of Mia Farrow’s Rosemary.
For canceling 666 Park Avenue.