Old delusional people halfway to senility say the 60s are the new 40s, and we're inclined to agree. That's what happens when TV is as good as it was in 2012. We can already imagine the comments: "[Random entry] is ranked at [random higher number that doesn't do it justice]?!?" Yes indeedy. There was so much to get excited about this year that we may need do a Top 1,000 next year, even if it means we'll have to get started on it NOW. In the meantime, here are the new 40s!
We'll trot out our picks 10 at a time, every weekday through the end of the year, so check back regularly to see what else made the cut or to learn how to count down from 100.
Want to know a good way to convince someone NOT to watch a sitcom? Describe it as a "sad comedy." But sad comedy is exactly what works for NBC's Go On, a series that aims to make its audience cry, both through laughter and poignant looks at sadness. What makes the show is truly unique—especially for network television—is how that sadness permeates the series. There are no comedy beats, minutes can pass without a single joke, and montages can be heartbreaking. But episodes always end up feeling uplifting as the show's true theme of healing shines through.
Previously: NBC's Go On Is Touchy, Feely, Funny
Previously #2: Q & A: Go On's Creator Talks Love, Laughts, and Tears
As talented as he is, we almost don't want TV's go-to guest star to get his own starring gig because we love seeing him pop up all over the place. In this year alone he played Lucifer on Supernatural, the ghost of a vampire on Being Human, and a Fulchrum agent on Chuck. He also played a radical author in Hemingway & Gellhorn. And then he played a mob boss AND the mob boss's grandson on Castle. And then he played a were-coyote (sorta) on Grimm. And he recurred as a militia commander who let a bunch of his men run out into the open, one by one, so a sniper would run out of bullets on Revolution. And most recently, he played a grumpy husband who tried to have his wife killed on Person of Interest. Keep up the good work, MP.
Whoever shapes the Arrow star is good at their job. And what's more, the show itself is one of the standout new offerings of the fall.
TV engaged in some serious substance abuse this year. Roger Sterling dropped acid in the memorable Mad Men episode "Far Away Places," Walter Bishop dosed himself in "Black Blotter," and the Workaholics guys finished out the LSD trifecta on a business trip. Even some witches on The Secret Circle got ripped on the made-up Devil's Spirit. Just a few examples of some good, responsible mind and body expansion on television.
But you know what's even better? TV characters getting drugged accidentally, by themselves or someone else. Harold Finch danced with a microwave while on ecstasy on Person of Interest, Tommy got body-blazed after eating pot candy on Ben and Kate, and Shoshanna smoked CRACK on Girls. Remember kids, it's only okay when it's funny; don't do drugs unless it's going to be hilarious for others.
It usually takes a cast at least a few episodes to jell, but the ensemble of HBO's new political comedy emerged from the womb ready to crack wise together. Led by Julia Louis-Dreyfus (who officially crushed the Seinfeld curse), the group features the grown-up version of My Girl's Anna Chlumsky, My Boys's Reid Scott, improv master Matt Walsh, Arrested Development's Tony Hale, and hilarious newcomer Timothy Simons. Their backgrounds may be different, but you'd never know they haven't been besties for years.
Mickey's newest outstanding animated program is Gravity Falls, one of the best new animated series of the year. The two main characters, voiced by Jason Ritter and Kristen Schaal, are young siblings who play with time machines, magical arcade games, and clones in their uncle's weird Oregon town. Plus, in an awesome nod to the series' mystery-solvin' nature, the intro to each episode features audio loops that, when played backward, reveal clues necessary to unlock a cryptogram in the closing credits... which in turn offers hints about the next episode. Whooooooa.
This "special" episode of FX's surprisingly psychological comedy had everything we could possibly ask for: questions pertaining to Ryan's sanity, Wilfred's buddy Bear as a getaway driver, a Robin Williams cameo (and a Good Will Hunting gag), and a sweet sneak-a-bong. It was equal parts moving and thrilling, an example of Wilfred at its best. However, we're still puzzled over why FX chose to launch the episode a week before the season premiere press push behind schedule-mates Louie and Anger Management.
Previously: Wilfred "Progress" Review: Back to Work
With so much of the early vitriol toward Girls focused on the entitled women of HBO's love-it-or-hate-it new series, Hannah's boyfriend Adam was merely the guy who berated her and gave it to her doggy-style even though no one asked to see Lena Dunham having sex. But his pent-up rage and abusiveness paved the way for a stunning late-season turn into the man we always knew was there. He was still a dick, but he was a charming dick who actually cared. And he finally put on a shirt.