Ranking the Shows That I Watch – 2012 Edition: 33-31

1 Feb

So, finally, we’re ready to get into the rankings for real.  Check out my intro for the details on qualifying for the list. Shows 33, 32, and 31 follow.

33.  Suburgatory

The dangers of suburgatory

If I was to create a television version of WAR (Wins Above Replacement, an all-encompassing measure of a baseball player’s worth that counts how many wins he is worth in a season above a fictitious replacement player), Suburgatory would be a great stand it for the replacement player.  It was right at the border of whether I’ve seen enough episodes to put it on this list, and frankly this was the only show that was a difficult call in terms of making the list at all – generally, I either had seen almost every episode of a show, or just one or two.  I decided eventually to keep it on as a marker, if nothing else, of the exact current limit of my viewing.  I pretty much never go out of my way to watch Suburgatory but if I’m cruising the on-demand section of my TV and find nothing else new, there’s a fair chance I’ll throw one on.  It could easily be replaced by something better, but there it sits.  It’s not particularly laugh out loud funny, and it’s over the top cartoonish drawing of a posh suburb can be a little bit unsubtle and on the nose, but I really like the two leads, Jane Levy and Jeremy Sisto, who are by far the two most normal people in the town, and the best characters, as they both struggle to fit in.  Maybe there’s something to be learned that in this show, the super quirky characters who are pretty much designed purely for humor are significantly less interesting, and funny, than the two major more well developed characters.  Suburgatory could still get better, but will probably stay the same, which is okay.  This is where it belongs.

32.   The Office

Strange poster

This season of The Office may actually be worse than Suburgatory, but I do watch The Office every week, so that alone will keep it ahead.  I’ve complained loudly and often about The Office’s recent struggles, and how they’ve gone from a hitter with a mere slump to a player on his way to retirement  and as we all know by now, retire The Office will, in just a few months, and thankfully so.  I still hope the last few episodes will be better because I don’t want a show of the caliber of The Office to go out on such a down note.  Many other shows I’d simply stop watching, but The Office has had such a strong run over several years, that I’ve given it far more benefit of the doubt than I would to many other shows.  This leeway The Office has pretty much showed it doesn’t deserve by just totally running out of new ideas, creating serial plots which viewers have no interest in, and reshuffling the characters in ways, after Steve Carrell’s exit, that just don’t make sense.  Even if they didn’t realize it before, they should have been able to figure it out by now, and shift things around, since it’s been two seasons of slightly lower than mediocrity, but they haven’t reacted as I’d hoped.  Dwight’s still funny; so there’s something nice about the show.  While the other characters change personalities, or grow, or are just boring, Dwight pleasantly remains the same.

31.  Top Chef

Seattle

Every season I’ve watched Top Chef, which is since the fourth, I’ve gotten into mini-bouts where I get kind of obsessed with the show, and heavily invested in who wins; like in sports, I take an emotional hit if my guy loses, and especially if my arch-enemy wins.  This peaked in Top Chef Season 8, All Stars, in which I rooted fiercely for Richard Blais to win, and was thrilled when he actually pulled it off.  That peak though was short lived, and as so often happens, my obsessiveness largely fell away quickly after, in the next season Top Chef 9, where a string of gimmicks helped to siphon my interest, along with a top group of contenders which only featured one person I actually wanted to win.  That contestant did win, thankfully, but it was more of a relief than euphoria, especially since the last couple episodes featured some out and out terrible challenges which were often based on elements other than the contestants’ ability to cook, such as chiseling ingredients out of ice and hitting targets with rifles to acquire ingredients; thus if you were bad at marksmanship, you’d have trouble cooking (I shit you not).  The season ended and left a bad taste in my mouth.  I started up this new season with less hope, and though I dutifully watched the first few episodes, I found myself often falling behind, only watching the previous episode once I was planning on talking to my friend who is also a viewer, to discuss the episode with him, rather than for my own edification.  Anyway, odds are about even as to whether I’ll finish the season, though I don’t think it’s been as disheartening a failure as The Office, which is why it’s higher, but not much.  You’ll notice a pattern, that this tier of shows on my list I all watch dutifully, but ambivalently, and Top Chef fits right in.

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