The Winding Down of 2012 or Some TV Highlights

My personal TV Highlights of 2012, which isn’t really a best/worst list (or maybe it should be) and it doesn’t help that I’ve really cut back on tv viewing and don’t have Showtime and HBO (so, no Damian Lewis and Homeland or Boardwalk Empire).  And I’m not on the Breaking Bad bandwagon.  In no particular order:

1. Sherlock/Elementary – I decided to combine the Holmesian stuff in one category.  I got a kick out of seeing Irene Adler on Sherlock and credit Elementary for bringing Jonny Lee Miller back on American tv.  Benedict Cumberbatch and Miller bring out different aspects of Sherlock, and while I like how Cumberbatch plays up the clever and anti-social Sherlock, Miller does a nice job on a tragic Sherlock, who won’t admit that he’s tragic.  Elementary‘s not perfect and not as crisp as Sherlock (having a longer season on American broadcast network does drag things out), but a good watch.

2. Community – the season finale was just terrific (note that this is a show that I have raved on the blog previously).  If that had been a series finale, I could accept it and move on, but NBC’s giving me a sense of empty hope of when Community would be back.  Hopefully, we’ll get a triumphant final season soon (I say “final” since I don’t expect a renewal; NBC could surprise me, but who knows?).

3. The summer Olympics 2012.  As I posted here about the Olympics, NBC continues to be an irritation about its coverage, since it has to make a great highlights show already, rather than a bloated half-ass one, but good stuff is still good.

4. Presidential Debates 2012 – the crazy reality show that really affected reality.

5. Fringe – what a weird year of the series, especially as we’re in the last season.  We’ll see how this ends.

6. Suits – Is it a perfect show?  No, but I get a kick out of the characters and the dialogue, as improbable as the plots are.  This priceless line of dialogue this summer really had me guffawing, something along the lines where Harvey Specter (the basically nutty senior partner of the law firm) says: “There can only be one” at the funeral of the founding partner’s wife, and Jessica Pearson (managing partner) replies to him: “You’re quoting ‘The Highlander’ [at a funeral]?!”  That Jessica of all people even knew what Harvey was quoting was ridiculous to grasp.

7. PBS’ Masterpiece – I’m still not on the Downton Abbey bandwagon (gasp!).  But, I’m still on board with Lewis (whatever the outcome of the show with its odd plots, Inspector Lewis, Sergeant Hathaway, and Dr. Hobson are such great characters),  and was kind of happy with the return of Morse (even if it was a young Morse).

8. Justified – US Marshall Raylan Givens might shoot an awful lot, but he still gets around to asking lots of questions.

9. Young Justice – yes, it’s a cartoon, but it’s an animated DC Comics that moved a lot more than I expected. Red Arrow’s sad trajectory (doing the drug storyline without the drugs!) and even Dick Grayson as Nightwing and a return of Tim Drake as Robin – seriously, not what I’d think DC Comics would finally pull off on the (small) screen.  So cool that Entertainment Weekly’s Ken Tucker touched on Young Justice on his blog (at least somewhere on the mainstream covered it).  Definitely a different way to look at whole Young Justice/Teen Titans as one combination (without using the name “Teen Titans” or even “Titans”).

10. Hurricane Sandy tv coverage – well, I didn’t lose electricity, so I probably overdosed on the coverage, especially to figure out whether I could travel or go to work or what.  NY1 did a great job.

Honorable Mentions:

The Walking Dead (I finally got around to watching it this 3rd season, and seeing how nutty it is, at least insofar as how they notched the violence and decreased the melodrama of the relationship of Deputy Rick Grimes and his family);

Archer (ridiculous as ever);

Nova Science Now (David Pogue as host isn’t quite Neil deGrasse Tyson, but still science on PBS continues well and alive);

America Revealed (as noted previously on the blog, it was great for having Yul Kwon and, besides, it covered comprehensively and in a fascinating way a topic that Americans don’t think about: infrastructure of systems);

The Legend of Korra (the continuing saga of the Avatar series – just amazing for a cartoon!);

Doctor Who (linking to the BBC America site; I’m so behind, it’s not funny, but I caught some episodes and clips).

I have also gotten behind on Parks and Recreation, but what a show.

Oh, and Comedy Central’s just killing it with Key and Peele, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,  and The Colbert Report (that Maurice Sendak interview that Stephen Colbert had was just priceless, and so poignant after Sendak passed away this year).

I’m probably forgetting other notable stuff of 2012, but I never promise to be comprehensive!

The professional tv critics have their lists out there:

David Bianculli has the rundown reflecting on the state of tv in 2012 on NPR’s Fresh Air and his list up on his website, TV Worth Watching.

Entertainment Weekly’s Ken Tucker in a video on his Top 10 (check your dead tree issue, too) and the rest of the 10 making his Top 20.

Time’s James Poniewozik with his Best TV, and Best Episodes lists and other lists, along with his Worst of 2012.

There are probably many other persons’ lists I’m missing; feel free to look for your own favorites and share accordingly.

Christmas Eve 2012

Merry Christmas!  It’s that time wherein the folks at NORAD (that Cold War remnant) is on the lookout for Kris Kringle.

Santa Claus traveling via wormholes makes a heck of a lot more sense, though… (Science of Santa, via NPR).

If you’re reading this, you must have realized by now that the alleged Mayan Apocalypse, 12/21/12, did not happen (feel free to check out this interesting PBS NewsHour item on the subject), but hopefully it meant that people had an opportunity to think about the Mayans (and other doomsayers who really doomsaid and didn’t prognosticate correctly (like this item that I shared from FC on Facebook  – where the Economist discusses such doomsayers as… the prophet hen of Leeds, who thought the world was going to end in… 1806. Wonder what happened to her…).

David Stuart is the foremost expert on the Mayans (at least that Nova or Nat’l Geographic episode years ago made it seem that way), so he ought to know and did know what the Mayans might have meant; so, feel free to check out what he said on NPR about what he’d do to celebrate the new baktun: “‘I’ll be here in Austin that night,’ he said, ‘and probably raise a glass of wine to the end of the baktun, and the beginning of a new one.'”

What a nice way to think of the new cycle, whether it’s a multi-thousand year cycle like a baktun or a new year, and after all, remember that the Mayans were/are incredible people, until a lot of other bad other things happened. You know, have a teachable moment.

From the ABA Journal:

Just what we all need: a zombie law casebook. Hopefully answering such questions as “Are you legally responsible for destruction you cause because you have no brains/need brains/fighting those who want your brains?”; what about consequences arising from zombie apocalypse? Etc. Funny thing: I’m pretty sure most of “The Walking Dead” aren’t in the law (not talking about Rick or the Governor either, and yes, I have been watching “The Walking Dead” earlier this season).

ABA Journal on a lawyer with a llama sanctuary.  Seriously, where do they find these stories?  And the headline: “Shama Llama Ding Dong: Attorney Establishes Llama Sanctuary” –  I don’t know whether that’s cute or sad, or a ridiculous of both.

Meanwhile, we still have no hockey because of the NHL lockout, with no end in sight.  NY Rangers fans, as this nifty little post notes, should boo the hell out at NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, because the Rangers aren’t in pursuit of the Stanley Cup at this time of year and Bettman has no resolution to the lockout.

NY Giants are so pathetic, as one wonders whether they should even make the playoffs, as this post asks.  The inconsistency is truly sad, and the recent consistent badness – sigh…  But, at least they’re not the Jets, with copious amounts of quarterback controversy.

I never quite like a year’s in review in advance, since the year’s not over yet and then we’d miss such notable recent passings:

The passing of Dave Brubeck, jazz pianist.

The passing of US Senator  Daniel Inouye  (D. – Hawaii), 1st Japanese-American elected to both House & Senate, & World War II hero, an inspiration for all Americans and an Asian Pacific American pioneer.

(h/t: Angry Asian Man’s Facebook page – I had no idea that Sen. Inouye was into punk rock or at least got involved because his kid was in that field of the music industry. Talk about supportive dad.)

The passing of Judge Robert Bork.  Over at Slate, interesting commentary from Judge Richard Posner, in light of the passing of Robert Bork. (I don’t like how the Bork process got us where we are now with all kinds of Senate confirmations, but politics is a dirty business, and I’m surprised that Bork didn’t realize it at the time of his nomination, or so it seemed to me).

The passing of actor Jack Klugman, formerly Oscar of TV’s “The Odd Couple” and the former Quincy of the tv show “Quincy,  M.E.”  (NY Times obit here).

It has been more than a week after the terrible shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT (see here for the PBS NewsHour coverage – I have found the PBS NewsHour’s work to be the most responsible, after gnashing my teeth over the endless media speculation that came without substantiation during an ongoing investigation over this heart breaking situation), and I’m still getting my head wrapped around the issue of gun control versus the NRA’s non-approach to the issue (see here for the PBS NewsHour coverage on the NRA’s weirdness of last week).

I have especially found these articles interesting on the subject, which I shared on Facebook:

Slate’s Emily Bazelon writes persuasively on what will make us candid about the subject; she closes the article that we need social transformation/cultural shift – it’ll take a lot, but will it happen? I’m doubtful of that (I’ll try to keep hopeful about it), but I did like these paragraphs of Bazelon’s:

We are saturated with 300 million guns but we are not truly a country of guns, because that would means we collectively understood and respected them. [….] In the United States, we’re divided, and we have no universal basic knowledge of weapons. We make it incredibly easy to buy the kind of weapons that shoot and shoot again instantly, but we don’t search people at the doors of schools or malls or movie theaters, and we don’t post armed guards in these places. We have the guns without the safety checks. We call that freedom. We invoke the current Supreme Court’s understanding of the Second Amendment right to bear arms. [….] The cost of this definition of freedom is too high: That’s the point advocates for gun control make, over and over again.

Slate’s William Saletan is quite right, as he writes:

I wish we could pass a magic law that would stop madmen from killing our children. We can’t. There will always be angry lunatics. There will always be knives and shotguns and gasoline. I don’t think banning guns will make the problem go away. We don’t need another all-or-nothing war between pro-gun and anti-gun ideologues. What we need is a frank, precise, constructive conversation about the problem of high-speed weapons. You don’t need rapid-fire weapons to hunt or defend your home. [….] And while it’s true that passing a law against them won’t eliminate them, that’s not an argument against legislation. It’s an argument for going beyond legislation. The community of gun sellers and enthusiasts must act collectively to track and control the technology of mass murder.

The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates raises a good question: how eager are Americans being armed on their own person? And, then how far do we go? Hmmm.

I wonder if we can find something reasonable – can we have sensible gun control, civil dialogue, and better mental health care (not to presume that mental health problems are the cause of mass shootings, but I would posit all factors get to be put on the table, simply to make for a better society); but then again, the Reasonable Person only existed in law school as this abstraction, so who am I kidding?

When we have a year of the consequences of Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy and the tragedy at Sandy Hook (and gun violence is this epidemic that never stopped during the past several years, in all honesty), I’m really hoping that 2013 will be better.  When I’m hearing that Hurricane Sandy victims are giving to help the victims at Sandy Hook – and the idea of paying it forward – it’s kind of heartbreaking, but maybe there is hope amid all the madness.   Let’s hope that we would have a better year next year; I’m always reminded how much hope springs eternal.

I’m also hoping for one more post before 2013. No guarantees of a “best of” list or a year in review, but we’ll see.