Ranking the Shows That I Watch – 2012 Edition: 15-13

15 Feb

Here’s one piece of my ranking of all the shows that I watch in 2012 – the rules are here, and 15, 14, and 13 follow.

15.  Sherlock

Sherlock and Watson

Sherlock is the show with the most unusual airing schedule, as it only airs three episodes a season, but those three episodes are virtually movies, at an hour and a half each.  I seriously considered whether or not Sherlock should be considered, but it is a television show now with multiple seasons, and the length of the combined episodes is just about the length of a ten episode season of an HBO comedy, let alone a standard British comedy season.  It’s the second of two British shows on the list; as mentioned in the intro, I look forward to catching up on Peep Show and The Thick of It (and a couple of other British shows I’m far farther back on) but I’m not there yet.  There’s something about the Sherlock Holmes character the world has always loved and this new adaptation showcases that while smartly updating the show for modern times.  It takes enough from the actual stories for originalists to appreciate it, while adding enough to keep it fresh and current.  At the heart of any adaptation has to be the actors behind Sherlock and his assistant, John Watson, and their interactions, and Sherlock shines here as the work from Benedict Cumberpatch and Martin Freeman is exemplary.  Cumberbatch plays Sherlock as aloof and insensitive enough for some to despise but slightly caring and fascinating enough for Watson to look up to and care for.  The episodes are not even in quality, and the first and last has tended to be better in each season than the middle episodes, but overall it’s compelling television.

14.  Louie

Louie

I’ll admit to having a change of heart on Louie.  I was way behind the curve initially (and many will say I still am, ranking the show a lowly 14), but I’ve come around, slowly but surely.  I think I was initially put off by some combination of not understanding what the show was trying to be, in particular not being a big fan of the first couple of episodes I saw, and being a little bit turned off by the amount of stand up in the show (while I’m not immune to good stand up, it’s not my favorite form of comedy).  I’ll admit that it was my personal hang up for trying to put Louie in a box, and I struggled initially to figure out whether the show was trying to funny or serious or important or dry.  Eventually I just came to the conclusion that, well, Louie is a different show in different episodes, and that’s okay.  Some veer on uproarious, while some are deadly serious and not funny at all.  The first couple that I saw, I felt were a little bit too outlandish for the look and feel of the show, and seemed like they were unsuccessfully trying to be a less funny, more real Curb Your Enthusiasm.  However, after seeing some really winning episodes, particularly in the second season, I’m a full fledged fan, if not a fanatic.  Because of its nature, some episodes are vastly superior to others, but when it hits all the right notes, there’s some seriously poignant television that is definitely like nothing else on the air.  Louie specializes in a reality based awkwardness; unlike Larry David in Curb or David Brent in The Office, Louie is generally the reasonable character in his situations.  My favorite segments are less the ridiculously awkward ones than some of the amusing vignettes, such as the last season episodes where he and Robin Williams attend a funeral together, and when he apologizes to Marc Maron.

13.  Bob’s Burgers

Bob and Family

If you told me a year ago that I’d be ranking Bob’s Burgers here, I’d have told you you were crazy.  In fact, I’d have told you, I hadn’t even ever seen Bob’s Burgers, because, well, it looked pretty dumb, I didn’t have a lot of people I knew or respected telling me to watch, and it was buried in a network slot in a way that I largely forgot about its existence after the first wave of commercials that came with its debut.  I’m not sure why though; when I looked even a little deeper, I realized it’s by Home Movies co-creator Loren Bouchard and features voice actors H. Jon Benjamin, Eugene Mirman, and Kristen Schaal, all of whom I’m fans.  After some prodding, I took the plunge with some friends, and while the first one I saw wasn’t great, it had enough to get me on to a second episode.  From there I just couldn’t believe how much I liked the show for a show I had, until then, not even seriously considered watching; it wasn’t merely that I just hadn’t gotten to it but had meant to.  It’s a pure joy to watch.  Many of my favorite shows are heavy or awkward or serious but Bob’s Burgers is none of those things and that makes it a great show to put right before you go to sleep to leave you with a smile on your face.  It’s constantly funny, and every single character gets a moment to shine.  While I probably prefer Bob, Louise and Gene, they’re all great, and I think, like in great shows like Arrested Development, any given person could have a different favorite character order.  When I recommend this show, I have found other people equally surprised by how much they like it, and I plan on keep spreading the wealth, pleased by the fact that when many of my favorites shows are getting cancelled, Bob’s has been renewed for a fourth season.

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