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Hercules Picks The 11 Best Scripted Hourlongs Of 2011!!

Published at: Jan. 1, 2012, 1:12 a.m. CST

 

Scripted Hourlongs

11. HOMELAND (Showtime)  Writers (and composer Sean Callery) behind “24” craft a TV-MA pay-cable series about a counter-terrorism unit. Morena Baccarin cavorts nakedly. Claire Danes as a slutty, bipolar Jack Bauer assumes her sexiest role ever. (No, I’m not forgetting how sexy she was in “Temple Grandin,” you swine.) And it’s got the great Mandy Patinkin – who has fled everything from “Chicago Hope” to “Dead Like Me” to “Criminal Minds” -- to masterfully inhabit the key role of CIA vet Saul Bereenson. Like “24,” it is a series full of great twists. I’ve no idea where this thing can take Carrie and Company next season. Maybe they’ll leap ahead five years just as Secret Muslim Sgt. Brody has secured his party’s nomination for president?

 

10. FRINGE (Fox) Consigned to the Fox Friday Death Slot that brought a dozen other sci-fi shows to untimely ends, “Fringe” no longer seems to be bothering with trying to find new fans; rather it seeks to challenge and service the fans it has left. I wonder if showrunners would have contemplated a third alternative universe – one in which Massive Dynamic cyborg executive Nina Sharp has long served as Olivia Dunham’s mother figure – had it not been for J.J. Abrams’ alternative timeline success with “Star Trek.” The last two episodes – about a man (Stephen Root) using time travel to cure his wife and another man (Tobias Segal) who goes to extraordinary lengths to get noticed in an elevator – demonstrate this series still carries a lot of emotional juice.

 

9. DAMAGES (DirecTV). Ever wonder where Vice Dean Laybourne might go if he perceived Dean Pelton as more insolent? Laybourne might better resemble brutal, murderous war profiteer Howard Erickson. Throw in a cowboy version of Dylan Baker plus Judd Hirsch, Griffin Dunne, Fisher Stevens, Keir Dullea and “Bridesmaids” star Rose Byrne’s giant bangs and you’ve got yourself another big tub of lawyering excitement.

 

8. THE WALKING DEAD (AMC) The second season is already better than the first in almost every respect. But I wonder if we’ll ever learn what we lost with the first 2011 episode scripted by Frank Darabont, writer-director of “The Shawshank Redemption,” “The Green Mile” and “The Mist.” That intended second-season premiere (remember the zombie herd that swarmed the highway?) was cut down from a full hour to about 20 minutes and blended into what became a 90-minute season premiere. It also apparently led to Darabont’s firing. 2011 brought the last few episodes written while Darabont was still actively involved in the scripting. Robert Kirkman, who wrote the “Walking Dead” comic books and remains on the AMC payroll, says things have been awesome since Darabont’s firing. We’ll see how the 2012 episodes fare without Darabont’s proven stewardship.

 

7. PARENTHOOD (NBC) This one routinely makes me laugh and makes me cry. Jason Katims, busy until last year as showrunner on “Friday Night Lights,” had more time to focus on his other NBC dramedy, and said dramedy improved markedly. Katims wrote last April’s second-season finale and repeatedly brought enormous emotional resonance to the hour. No scene was more moving than the one shared by Craig T. Nelson’s Grandpa Zeek Braverman and Mae Whitnman’s granddaughter Amber. Katims’ script was superbly served by both actors as Zeke offered his grizzled-vet version of Martin Luther King Jr.’s most famous speech. On the other hand, Jason Ritter (star of “The Event” and grandson to the great Tex Ritter) continues to demonstrate he is not man enough for Lauren Graham.

 

6. CAPRICA (Syfy)  The final five (as opposed to the Final Five) episodes aired Jan. 4, 2011. I found the final two, written or co-written by “Star Trek”/“Galactica” vets Michael Taylor (“Virtuality”) and Jane Espenson (“Buffy,” “Angel,” “Firefly”), thrilling and redemptive of the series as whole. (I adored Bill Adama’s kitchen-happy grandmamma.) I came to care about the plights of Lacy Rand and the Greystones and the Adamas.: The final act of the final episode telescopes five years forward, and makes Syfy’s decision to redlight a second season all the more saddening. (The DVD contains a finale commentary by writer-producer Kevin Murphy, who indicates the Vancouver Olympics prevented a first-season episode in which Zoe communed in virtual reality with a member of “Galactica’s” Final Five Cylons. Could have been Saul Tigh! Heartbreaking!)

 

5. JUSTIFIED (FX) This was the season of the Bennetts – Dickie, Doyle, Coover, Mags and would-be adopted daughter Loretta McCready. I think my favorite season-two episode – and the one that hewed most closely to the series’ Elmore Leonard roots – was the one about Rachel’s brother-in-law, a halfway house escapee desperate to reconnect with his son. This was also the season that explored – via a forgotten load of evidence-room cash – the depth of Raylan Givens’ commitment to his fabulous ex-wife. It’s interesting that Leonard’s next novel, “Raylan,” features a coal-mine exec named Carol Conlan (not Carol Johnson) and dope-dealing brothers named Dickie and Coover Crowe (as opposed to Dickie and Coover Bennett or Dewey Crowe).

 

4. BOARDWALK EMPIRE (HBO).  People who complain about the casting of Steve Buscemi confuse me; his work as Nucky Thompson manifests the number-one reason I tune in. The series is otherwise thick with great characters: Gillian Darmody, Manny Horvitz, Esther Randolph, Arnold Rothstein, Leander Whitlock, Lucy Danziger, Chalky White, Mickey Doyle, Richard Harrow and The Commodore. I can’t wait to see what they do with puritan fugitive Nelson Van Alden in Capone’s Illinois next season.

 

3. BOSS (Starz) This mesmerizing tale of a complex, monstrous Chicago mayor isn’t yet as good as “The Wire,” but for me it fills the vacuum left by “The Wire” much more capably than “Treme.” Like “Boardwalk Empire,” this is a tale of gangster-politicians. If you’ve been enjoying the saga of Nucky Thompson, I strongly encourage you to pursue the tale of Tom Kane.

 

2. BREAKING BAD (AMC)  Walt continued his evolution into Heisenberg Badassery, and the show got so much better as the characters of “Better Call” Saul Goodman, Mike Ehrmantraut and Gus Fring began to assert themselves. Hank Schrader was the most improved of the first-season characters this year; I once dismissed Hank as a dim, loutish swine of an overcompensater, but Hank turned out to be The Real Thing.

 

1. GAME OF THRONES (HBO) Wow! Love love LOOOOOOVE this thing. It’s been a long wait for a series with characters as rich as the ones that inhabit this tale of a fireproof dragonmistress and snow zombies. Every week seemed to introduce a new land baron or bridgekeeper or woodland crazy to fall in love with. All hail Robb, Drogo, Baelish, Tyrion, Snow, Tywin, Theon, Arya, Daenerys, Joffrey, Hodor and The Hound. Even the evil, murderous Jamie Lannister proves consistently entertaining.

 

0. MAD MEN (AMC) Is not on this list because it offered no new episodes in 2011. Not one.

 

 

 

Bonus!! Scripted Half-Hours!!

Futurama  
Ugly Alien Space Giant
www.comedycentral.com
Comedy Central Funny Videos Funny TV Shows

10. FUTURAMA (Comedy Central)

 

9. NEW GIRL (Fox)

 

8. ENLIGHTENED (HBO)

 

7. THE OFFICE (NBC)

 

6. PARKS AND RECREATION (NBC)

 

5. COMMUNITY (NBC)

 

4. SOUTH PARK (Comedy Central)

 

3. LOUIE (FX)

 

2. CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM (HBO)

 

1. BEAVIS AND BUTT-HEAD (MTV) 

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

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Readers Talkback

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  • Jan. 1, 2012, 1:20 a.m. CST

    FX

    by batjac

    Archer-pound for pound one of the funniest shows on the air. Wilfred- you either loved this show or hated it. Twisted dark humor.

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 1:23 a.m. CST

    Other hour longs

    by batjac

    The Glades-Entertaining and fun American Horror Story-Does not get stranger And I know I'll get flak for this but.... Once Upon a Time and Ted Danson led CSI are both good hours spent.

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 1:24 a.m. CST

    Game of Thrones

    by mrbonefish

    Just wait until the second season...you ain't seen nothing yet. Best story ever told.

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 1:25 a.m. CST

    Also..

    by mrbonefish

    American Horror Story...wow, great stuff.

  • B&B's return is welcome, but I'd hardly call it the 1/2 hour of the year. Curb and Louie are right where they should be though

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 1:26 a.m. CST

    Beavis & Butthead

    by Waspo

    Funnier than they ever were in the 90's, and I get a consistent laugh out of the show every episode.

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 1:52 a.m. CST

    Great hourlongs list, Herc, but ...

    by Toe Jam

    I'd have "Sons of Anarchy" instead of "The Walking Dead." The former has steadily improved, while the latter quickly became an absolute Dumpster fire of a show. Also, I'd have to swap No. 1 and No. 2.

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 2:14 a.m. CST

    Mad Men

    by Symposium

    "but whyyyyyyyyyyyyyy" :D

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 2:30 a.m. CST

    well i halfway agree with your list

    by ottomatic

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 2:35 a.m. CST

    SPOT FRIGGEN ON list.

    by gotilk

    And for all the right reasons. Fantastic. Only thing missing? Moffat's Doctor Who. And Sherlock(not an hour-long, so my bad). And Luther. And the better-than-it-should-have-been The Fades. As well as... Shameless (US). I would put Who at the top ... but the others (with the exception of the 90min Sherlock) at 12 to 14. So with only one real exception, I think your list is PERFECT. First time ever I've had that opinion, but it's come close. And HAPPY NEW YEAR!

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 3:43 a.m. CST

    DAMAGES

    by TopHat

    I don't have DirectTV or Netflix. Can someone please tell me how I can view this season? I used to watch it all the time on FX.

  • This year was crazy good for TV. My personal favorite was HOMELAND. Loved every direction it took, even the finale (I was shocked to see that some people hated it). Walking Dead and Sons of Anarchy were fantastic, but just not quite the top of the pack this year. Most underrrated show: DAMAGES. As good as Cranston and Grammer were in their respective shows, I would say my favorite performance was from Dylan Baker. Game of Thrones is just SO good. Probably the only thing that could top Breaking Bad, in fact. I would personally put BB's S4 in my top seasons of all time (up there with THE WIRE S4), however. Mrbonefish (and everyone else): A Game of Thrones is good. A Clash of Kings is great. A Storm of Swords is amazing. Working on A Feast for Crows right now, and loving it.

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 4:22 a.m. CST

    GoT Season 2 (no spoilers here, don't worry)

    by Gene Cowan

    The direction that Martin takes in book 2 is some of the best material we'll see in the series. This isn't to say S3-4 won't be phenomenal, but the climax (we'll call it: 'BoBR') of S2 has some serious potential to just blow people away. Some say it might be unfilmable, but I believe in the showrunners to make it happen.

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 4:49 a.m. CST

    Good list, Herc BUT NO to Caprica and Boss!

    by HollywoodHellraiser

    Instead Son Of Anarchy and Spartacus!

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 5:21 a.m. CST

    Instead of South Parks Humancentipad

    by tomdolan04

    The doc 'Six Days To Air' should have been included - insightful and pretty surreal. I'm not sure whether I agree that Park and Stone should treat their day job as the homework that they forgot to start the night before they've got to hand it in, but they work and gel together very well so fuck it why not? <p> Besides I preferred the one this season where Lemmiwinks brother was mocking the Wikileaks scandal, or the musical one where Randy got blowjobs for theatre trips.

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 5:46 a.m. CST

    Walking Dead

    by judge dredds fresh undies

    Cannot fathom Hercs adoration of this first half of season 2. Almost everyone else seems to agree it was pretty lackluster although the mid season finale was very good.

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 5:57 a.m. CST

    The Fades

    by Johnboy40

    had no right to be as good as it turned out. Despite some ropey casting and the one really ropey character (Paul's best mate). Just a pity it was hidden away on BBC3...the beeb could have put it on BBC1 and have a huge hit on their hands.

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 6:06 a.m. CST

    Hooray for Damages, BE,GOT and TWD!!

    by Stalkeye

    Although I am a bit disappointed in last Season's Sons of Anarchy. Horrible finale and the events that led up to the very end was a letdown.Juice goes through all that trouble (being a mole for the DA, Killing one of the Sons after being caught with a stash of Coke, and attempting suicide.) because he didn't want SAMCRO to know that he's actually Black?!? Clay beats the shit out of Gemma, Kills Opie's dad Pinny and attempts to Kill Tara only to get a few slugs in his chest and.....Live?!? Not to mention he still gets to have a say/vote in the club. The writers dropped the ball on this one I'm afraid. Oh, and I'm not too happy about Jimmy getting killed off in Boardwalk Empire either.

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 6:09 a.m. CST

    Speaking of killing off Major characters....

    by Stalkeye

    ..I didn't see Edward Stark's Beheading coming. What The Fuck!

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 7:22 a.m. CST

    I think season 2 of TWD has been far superior to season 1.

    by Nerd Rage

    Lost of great moments in season two so far. Season one was really bogged down by the CDC episodes which didn't really gel with the rest of the season. Plus there were fewer "holy shit" moments. Say what you will about "the farm" but it was been a great staging area for drama and conflicts.

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 8:02 a.m. CST

    stalkeye...

    by MatrixMonkey

    Prepare yourself mentally for the shitstorm that will hit in Season 2 and especially in Season 3. If you thought Eddard's demise was a WTF moment, then you have a ton more coming your way. Winter is coming.

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 8:53 a.m. CST

    American Horror Story - (also contains BE spoilers)

    by theGoldbergV

    is my suprise package of the year. The promos made it look terrible but the cast sparked my interest. Jessica Lange was awesome throughout, the tone was widly insane and the interractions between the ghosts were great. It kind of ran out of steam towards the end but as a self-contained season of TV it was pretty spectacular. Love the idea of anthology type seasons, it'll be interesting to see what they do with season 2. Otherwise, it'll be the usual suspects, GoT, Fringe, The Walking Dead - I agree with Herc, season 2 is much better than s1, even if the budget restraints are glaringly apparent Boardwalk Empire - even though they killed off who I thought was the main character Treme - which grew into something really special this year and I only caught up with Spartacus: BaS this year so that makes my list. Never have I seen a programme grow from such a shit pilot into something so good. Of course Mad Men returns this year to blow everything else out of the water

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 9:02 a.m. CST

    stalkeye

    by Gene Cowan

    I think the scene you speak of is necessary for the series, because it basically makes you realize that no one is safe, no matter how significant of a character they are. I'm through book 4 so I know what's coming, but I anticipate some very tense moments on-screen!

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 10:53 a.m. CST

    Agent Provocateur

    by rakesh patel

    Walking Dead Season 2 Better than Season 1 you say? *golfclap* well played sir. American Horror Story deserved to be on that list. But apart from that i'm in broad agreement. Happy New Year!

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 11:02 a.m. CST

    tophat

    by fuzzy_dunlop

    icefilms

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 11:07 a.m. CST

    Raylen's wife is fucking hot, NOT fabulous!

    by Judge Briggs

    Herc, 'fabulous?' Really? Curb, Beavis & Butthead, Parks, and Community were the best 30 mins shows on TV ...

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 11:28 a.m. CST

    Herc doesnt care for SOA, but I think its well written

    by sunwukong86

    Its certainly better written than Dexter has been for the past two years.

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 11:47 a.m. CST

    Dexter Writing

    by tomdolan04

    Exclusive: Partial Script from Season 7 Premiere: <p> Dex: "Errm Debs. I just found mopey Tom Hanks' son tied to a table in this site I didn't think would be of interest to you despite being a pretty much key crime scene in the scheme of the villain arc. Despite being tied to said table, a knife found it's way into my hand. I fell over and plunged it into his heart. <p> Debs: "Hmmm...OK Dex. I believe you. Just don't fall over again yes, otherwise me and the other crack team at Miami Metro may think something is amiss other than you never, EVER being at work and leaving your son with childcare 24/7" <p> The dialogue seriously is getting to this level. Series 3 and as a whole it's had it's goofy moments, but after series 4 it's jumped off a cliff.

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 11:50 a.m. CST

    And I loved Dexter Series 1 and 2

    by tomdolan04

    They've somehow made a vigilante manic serial killer more formulaic and monologue ridden than your average soap opera.

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 11:51 a.m. CST

    And the parallels to how Dexter may turn out

    by tomdolan04

    into the face of respectability of Lithgows character within series 4 was very clever. I remember liking the twist of Dex following Lithgow home and him being welcomed into his home by a loving family

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 12:18 p.m. CST

    props for calling out caprica

    by palewook

    the series started out too slow. not focused. the break syfy gave the series killed it. yet, caprica did finish strong. the final 5-6 episodes did make one nice case for a second season.

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 12:22 p.m. CST

    Reven8e is the return of the prime time soap

    by thelordofhell

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 12:23 p.m. CST

    Archer......Archer......Archer......Archer.......Archer

    by thelordofhell

    Did I mention Archer?

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 12:28 p.m. CST

    Spartacus. Archer.

    by torontoxic

    Mad Men is fucking lame. <P> No way in Hell are Homeland, Boss, Damages, or Caprica anywhere near Spartacus.

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 12:28 p.m. CST

    Not a bad list, but I'd have had Shameless

    by Itchy

    on the list, on the strength of Emmy Rossum's constant lingering tit shots alone. It should replace Homeland, since Claire Danes didn't strip down once all season.

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 12:28 p.m. CST

    Also Hell on Wheels

    by torontoxic

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 12:30 p.m. CST

    I watch exactly two shows in total from both lists

    by Jaka

    Boardwalk Empire and Game of Thrones. I watched much less TV this year, mostly because I think a lot of it is crap. And honestly, I'm totally OK with that.

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 12:50 p.m. CST

    I hate Herc's description of Homeland

    by hector

    It's such a great show-to the point I think it should be higher than this, but make it seem like the best part of the show is getting to see boobs and slutty girls does a disservice to the it.

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 2:05 p.m. CST

    Blood and Chrome

    by Captain_Ridley

    I hope that SyFy get their act together better than they did on Caprica. Nine episodes in and they decided to have a six month break??? Jesus wept. I still find that incredible. Don't show Blood and Chrome until you've got a least a dozen episodes in the can.

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 2:26 p.m. CST

    American Horror Story was a flaming pile of dogshit

    by Nasty In The Pasty

    I gave up after four episodes. Horrifying in all the wrong ways.

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 2:27 p.m. CST

    Don't hate the list, but

    by Tim

    Homeland should be higher. It's far more compelling than Walking Dead, and also better written. I haven't seen some of the sci-fi shows, and I'd switch Breaking Bad and GoT...but I can see someone who hasn't read the book being blown away more than I was by GoT.

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 3:52 p.m. CST

    beavis and butthead

    by ahughes8491

    #1? what the fuck? and no modern family? awful.

  • But I won't be the one to do it. What about American Horror Story? I thought it was pretty good.

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 4:50 p.m. CST

    I don't think

    by Truxton Spangler

    Damages has been able to capture the same level of intrigue as that first season, but the performances from the cast, and especially the guests they bring in each season, have been consistently good. Dylan Baker and John Goodman kept the streak going last season, and the final season should be good as well. The dozens of viewers should be happy if it goes out on a high note.

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 5:11 p.m. CST

    Glad SoA isn't on there.

    by Audio_of_Being

    Sons of Anarchy's season finale this year was a complete cop-out and completely anti-climatic. Jax is also becoming a wildly inconsistent character and the story has fallen off the tracks. Fuller refuses to let this show progress organically. I knew I should've stopped watching after season 3's missing baby plot-line and gimmick finale. South Park and Beavis and Butthead shouldn't be ahead of Community. South Park, for the last few years, has often been putting it's preachings before it's comedy, and Beavis and Butthead is still hit or miss cause not every situation you throw a couple of slackers into is gonna be entertaining.

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 5:13 p.m. CST

    thank you for including enlightened

    by unclejoe

    no one watched...i wish they had

  • Beavis & Butt-head is genius. Respect. Now.

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 7:07 p.m. CST

    breaking bad, boardwalk empire and game of thrones

    by JaredP

    best shows on tv

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 7:42 p.m. CST

    no The Middle, Modern Family?

    by Dharma4

    And Justified trumps everything you had on your list, Herc.

  • ranks as in stinks.

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 8:23 p.m. CST

    Stargate Universe was really good.

    by Charlie

    In the first half of the first season it was a mess, but after that it was really good. When you watch season two, you really see how great the show was becoming. It's a huge shame that didn't get another season.

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 9:12 p.m. CST

    Archer and Always Sunny missing

    by The Goat

    That list needs to be Thundergunned! Hourlongs is pretty solid tho

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 9:20 p.m. CST

    Breaking Bad, ugh

    by CountryBoy

    Too many eps devoted to Jesse moping around playing video games and racing go-Karts; Walt declaring "This time I'm killing Gus once and for all! Not like those other times!" and failing again; Hank's weeks-long, episode-devouring dead-end investigation based solely on a Pollos Hermanos bag; the interminable Saga Of The Car Wash... Ugh.

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 10:11 p.m. CST

    game of thrones=1?

    by jsfithaca

    id say breaking bad and boardwalk were definenetly better. havent finished boss yet. what about the killing? i actually really liked that even though it got a lot of hate. and sons of anarchy was great this season. and this guy bitching about spartacus not getting mentioned but then hates on breaking bad? funniest, stupidest person ive ever seen on this site. can't tell if hes serious

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 11:33 p.m. CST

    Game of Thrones

    by bloody_shit_on_my_dick

    Wait til Jon Snow dies, makes Eddard Starks death seem insignificant. You fan boys will be shitting bricks.

  • Jan. 2, 2012, 1:07 a.m. CST

    I dare all of you to explain to me

    by centilope

    Why Game of Thrones deserves the top spot, with shows like Homeland and Breaking Bad on the air. That's right, you can't. I'm not saying it's not good, watchable, because it is. It's just impossible to give legitimate reasons for it being the BEST show on tv this season.

  • Jan. 2, 2012, 1:08 a.m. CST

    Caprica was in 2011?

    by centilope

  • Jan. 2, 2012, 1:13 a.m. CST

    Walking Dead is still shit

    by centilope

    It's so bad in fact, that American Horror Story deserves to be in it's place on Herc's list. If only for Jessica Lange's terrific performance.

  • Jan. 2, 2012, 1:15 a.m. CST

    yes Game of Thrones is #1

    by WINONA_RYDERS_PUSSY_JUICE

    Beyotch!

  • Jan. 2, 2012, 1:20 a.m. CST

    fuck man all these people praising Homeland

    by WINONA_RYDERS_PUSSY_JUICE

    I kind of want to watch it. But there's 1 major problem. It's based on a bunch of lies the US government told us so they could take trillions more of our tax dollars to give to their friends who build the war machine. Because 9/11 was obviously an inside job, Infowars.com It's disgusting propaganda. Let me guess, this time the terrorists are white Americans right?

  • Jan. 2, 2012, 6:55 a.m. CST

    Having finally watched my DVR'd episodes of Boss...

    by American Mythos

    ... I think it has a lot of potential, but there are a few problems. Besides the episode "Remembered", nothing I saw in the series approached the greatness of the pilot, especially with Kane bringing Mata to his knees (Kelsey Grammer was MAN ON FIRE in that scene). But it was still the second best show I watched all year, behind Breaking Bad. As the season progressed, it became a little more soap opera-ey, especially Kane's wife plotting against him with Zajac. And Kitty's pregnancy. And Kane making Zajac beg on his knees. And Kane betraying his daughter. The writers need to watch a little more West Wing and learn the art of nuance. Your audience doesn't need punched in the face with plotlines and twists and verbal telegraphing -- by that I mean the overly simplified bit of diolog between Kane and his wife at the beginning of the finale ("By the time this day is over, everyone who moved against me will feel the full force of my wrath"). There are times BOSS feels like truly cerebral political intrigue, and other time it feels like a high school senior's idea of cerebral political intrigue. Put the breaks on the stereotypes and add some dimension to these characters -- internal conflict, that sort of stuff. So far everyone only cares about their own interests. Even the hero reporter Sam Miller became an unsympathetic ass by season's end. The one redeemable character, Ezra Stone, wasn't even fleshed out enough to let us see his journey from Kane's advisor of thirty years to his greatest enemy. We should have been given greater insight into his thinking and his values, not the simple verbal exposition of his rationale for betraying Kane. These are just some friendly suggestions. I'm still stoked in anticipation of season 2, I just hope the writing improves.

  • The Walsh character (Zajac's opponent for governor). She has a British chief of staff. Really? How many American state-level politicians have British chiefs of staff? It seems a little hokey is all. And why do these politicians, aside from Kane, have only one main aide? That's what I liked about West Wing. Arnold Vinick and Matt Santos were surrounded by TEAMS of operatives. Even Leo (Santos' VP nominee) had a team. It gave the show a feeling of authenticity. Having been involved in a few local elections in a small town, I've seen some pretty unimportant campaigns manned by sloughs of aides and volunteers.

  • Jan. 2, 2012, 7:10 a.m. CST

    *slews

    by American Mythos

  • I realize that a list like that is based solely upon a single person's subjective interpretation of what they think is quality tv programming. But, I was stunned to see shows such as Fringe, Caprica, Boardwalk Empire, Boss, and Breaking Bad on the list. Good grief, have some people lost all sense of what makes for engaging television? The Walking Dead is correctly placed on the list although it is in no way a great show. American Horror Story, ridiculous plot holes and all, should also be on the list. I can't really comment on Game of Thrones because I haven't seen it yet. I haven't seen it yet because it always makes me question the quality of a show when legions of social recluse Miltons and Trevs start shouting "Best Show EVER!" I've been duped a number of times by the impassioned 'advice' of these hermits - most notably in the case of Firefly and the movie Serenity.

  • Jan. 2, 2012, 9:54 a.m. CST

    Fringe and Caprica do not deserve to be on this list.

    by Harlock999

    And Fringe better than Homeland?!? The Walking Dead better than Homeland?!? Where is The Killing? I realize these lists are purely subjective, but Herc? Both of your lists seem a little "fanboyish" to me. Just sayin'...

  • Jan. 2, 2012, 10:34 a.m. CST

    Surely Time Trax is ripe for a comeback..

    by Nerfee

  • Jan. 2, 2012, 5:48 p.m. CST

    Caprica had it's moments, but it was too ADHD

    by Rob0729

    That show never really knew what it was. Was it a family drama? A mob drama? A Terrorist Thriller? A straight SciFi show? A Matrix rip off? I don't think it could ever be considered one of the best hour longs of 2011 because it never found its voice at least not until the very end when it was too late.

  • Jan. 2, 2012, 6:47 p.m. CST

    WD season 2

    by PlayerHater_of_the_year

    was total dogshit.

  • Jan. 2, 2012, 6:48 p.m. CST

    i

    by jsfithaca

  • ur top 10. however saying walking dead is the only deserving show on the list over breaking bad and boardwalk shoe maybe u don't know what decent televsion is.

  • Jan. 2, 2012, 7:02 p.m. CST

    Some good picks on the list...

    by veritasses

    Though I was routinely bored/disappointed with Caprica so I gave up on it mid season so it's hard for me to imagine that it improved enough to made anyones's list. Not sure about Boss coming it at #3... It had some good performances and ended strong but it had some weak-ish episodes mid-season. I've never seen Parenthood but maybe I'll give it a shot.

  • Jan. 2, 2012, 7:30 p.m. CST

    christ countryboy, u still on that kick?

    by proevad

    Thought u died when Fring did. Go away.

  • Jan. 2, 2012, 7:34 p.m. CST

    Game of Thrones shouldn't have been in the top 3

    by Jon Snow

    I'd put it at 4. Way too much foreshadowing of things to come.

  • Jan. 2, 2012, 7:56 p.m. CST

    LOL

    by XJDavid

    Fringe? Caprica? Walking Dead is BORING, and the only people who think Game of Thrones was the very best show this year are the ones who know where the story is headed. I liked it, it was great, but I haven't read the books so to me, it was just a "Yeah, this might get good." I mean, for being 10 hours long you can sum up the first season fairly quickly. Also, American Horror Story should be on this list.

  • Jan. 2, 2012, 8:57 p.m. CST

    proevad, only 'cause Herc rated it so unjustifiably high

    by CountryBoy

    btw, I actually liked Gus's death. They got him! No they didn't! YES THEY DID! Cool...

  • it'd be best to back away because that thing is going to taint anyone with kind words for it for years to come.

  • Jan. 2, 2012, 9:26 p.m. CST

    Walking Dead is better?

    by nemov

    I'm usually in line with Herc on stuff, but wow... The first half of season two has almost killed any interest I had in the show. It's been painful to watch.

  • Jan. 2, 2012, 9:57 p.m. CST

    Gotta love the hyperbole in here

    by Cartagia

    easily the worst TV fiasco in 50 years

  • Jan. 2, 2012, 9:59 p.m. CST

    Sigh... not even apostrophes work

    by Cartagia

    easily the worst TV fiasco in 50 years ? Worse than Cop Rock? The Jay Leno Show? New Charlie's Angels? New Knight Rider? Viva Laughlin? It may not be your cup of tea, but the amount of hate that gets leveled at the show baffles me.

  • Jan. 2, 2012, 10:55 p.m. CST

    Walking dead season 2 better?

    by Gezoes

    Herc. Please. Nine, ten? episodes to look for that damn Sophia while it nearly lost all fans because of that? Please. Nice list though. I watch 7 of those 11.

  • If you think about it, you'll understand that I'm correct. In no particular order, these were the best scripted hourlong shows in 2011. None of them were outstanding: American Horror Story Supernatural The Walking Dead A Michael Bublé Christmas CNBC's American Greed Smallville certainly would have made the list IF the lovely Lana had been brought back for the final season.

  • Jan. 3, 2012, 1:24 a.m. CST

    Just fnished BOSS

    by MorganLeafy

    Holy shit! That should have been nr.1. It's definitely very cynical but I haven’t seen anything that beats in terms of acting, writing and just general intensity. Modern Shakespeare. GoT and Breaking Bad on the other hand are overrated if you ask me. GoT isn’t bad I guess but I just do not have the patience to keep waiting for something that still hasn’t come.

  • Jan. 3, 2012, 4:16 a.m. CST

    Walking Dead? Really?

    by eveelcapitalist

    Herc might be the only one who likes season 2. Herc must be getting the special critics only edition as opposed to the rest of us who are getting the fucking horrendous piece of shit version. How much you gettin' paid for plugging it, Herc?

  • Jan. 3, 2012, 4:18 a.m. CST

    Walking Dead is like Heroes

    by eveelcapitalist

    Great first season followed immediately by massive disappointment.

  • Jan. 3, 2012, 8:07 a.m. CST

    NO SONS OF ANARCHY?!!!?!

    by JBouganim1

    Are you nuts? I'm going to email Kurt Sutter.

  • Jan. 4, 2012, 5:20 a.m. CST

    Lost all credibility

    by SuperXY

    The idea that this year's Fringe and the crapgasm that was Caprica (or maybe it was just crap compared to BSG) are better than Homeland is laughable. There's fanboy and then there's just stupid. You crossed over to stupid on those.

  • Jan. 4, 2012, 12:58 p.m. CST

    What number is "Bob's Burgers"?

    by jim

    Hercules, January 9, 2011: "...Fox’s “Bob’s Burgers” is, to me, perhaps the funniest half-hour currently airing on broadcast TV and an absolute lock for my 2011 top-ten list of funniest half-hours." http://www.aintitcool.com/node/47991 Absolute? Lock? I do not think those words mean what Herc thinks they mean. So Hercules, what happened?

  • Jan. 5, 2012, 3:14 p.m. CST

    No Person of Interest?

    by whatevillurks