Don't stop now! You're almost at the halfway point! Every item after this gets to tell its friends it was in the top half of the 100 best things about television in the whole of 2012! Everything on this list will probably say something like, "Oh, I was in the top half too," and then under its breath mutter, "...of the 120 best things about all of television for the whole of 2012." Nice try, 60 through 51, but there ain't no shame in almost the Top 50. Besides, if ten items in the Top 50 die, you get promoted! So give that Cuban hit squad a call and make it happen. (Note: TV.com does not condone violence among Top 100 items.)
We'll trot out our picks 10 at a time 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.
Normally ads are totally UGH but this spot for Google's new Chrome browser had us mesmerized every time it aired. The commercial features a college chick, her dad, some video-chatting, and their attempts to stay in touch and keep her late mom/his late wife in their thoughts while she's away at school. Hold on a sec, we have to go Google "How do you get tear stains off your shirt?"
Adult Swim's The Eric Andre Show comes from a production studio that's run by Tim & Eric, so it shouldn't be surprising that the show's opening is what it is, which is totally weird and awesome. Bonus for the contrast between the entrances of Eric Andre (yep, the guy from Don't Trust the B----) and Hannibal Buress and the fact that each week the sequence is slightly different.
One of the creepiest images of the year came from ABC's short-lived The River, which we think was about a jungle in the Amazon that was full of well-placed security cameras? The found-footage ghost story had its moments, but none made us freak out more than this screeching monkey wearing a doll's head, which revealed itself in the weirdest way possible.
Previously: The River Is Ridiculously Fun
Quick question: WHERE ON EARTH did Lucy Punch come from? We gather she's European (or wherever it is Britain is located these days) but did she just spring fully formed out of Zeus's head, or was she made in a laboratory, like some kind of genetic hybrid of Cheryl Tiegs and Jennifer Saunders? How does someone look like that but also wield such talent for throwaway one-liners and awkward line deliveries? You know what, it's time to stop asking questions and just appreciate the one-woman force of nature called Lucy Punch. There is legit nobody like her on TV right now, and if you're not watching Ben and Kate you're missing what has essentially become a weekly study in her future superstardom. (The rest of Ben and Kate is pretty good too!)
Blake, Ders, and Adam got absolutely hammered on a rooftop in "Real Time," as they're wont to do. But in this afternoon-into-evening-into-night, they spent the hours making prank calls to their boss and calling her all sorts of you'll-get-fired-for-this names. The next morning was not kind to them, but hangovers were avoided because they were still drunk, so they came up with a plan: Keep drinking, stay juuuuuust drunk enough to stave off the hangover, and get to work as fast as possible. Which obviously means a BMX bike race against some future hotties.
While the Altmans represent the audience's window into the world of Chatswin and the Royces represent all that is wrong with the place, it's the Shays who've become Suburgatory's best family. Ana Gasteyer and Chris Parnell are amazing as buttoned-up parents Sheila and Fred, Allie Grant plays their captive teenage daughter to perfection, and adopted Adonis Ryan (Parker Young) has come around as one the show's best surprises. Yeah, most of the show's action happens at Chez Altman but screw them, we're most excited when we head across the street to the Shays'.
In the post-Lonely Island age of Saturday Night Live, something unexpected happened to the pre-taped sketches: They stayed good! No offense to Andy Samberg and Co., but the team at SNL has more than picked up the slack when it comes to high-quality digital shorts. From Jamie Foxx's Tyler Perry parody to the Jeremy Renner Mexican-stand-off trailer, this season has not been lacking for viral potential. But two segments in particular really stood out: A truly bizarre Taran Killam character (and his sloppy strut), plus a decidedly poignant short starring Bruno Mars in a mouse costume. No, really.
Through two seasons of Shameless, viewers' sympathies were firmly with Fiona as the Gallagher family caretaker battling against poverty, her alcoholic father, and a whole lot of bad luck. Emmy Rossum's nuanced performance is already criminally underrated in the awards arena, but quickly rivaling it is Jeremy Allen White's performance as her brother Lip, an angry, frustrated genius who can't seem to get out of his own way. His loud confrontations with Fiona over dropping out of high school resulted in Season 2's best scenes, with Lip hitting an absolute rock bottom before a heartwarming pay-off. If he keeps it up in Season 3, Showtime might soon have to re-think its marketing to place both Rossum and White front and center.
The Walking Dead is best known for zombie violence, but this rumble between Season 3's two new human characters was by far the most memorable. The enemies went primal on each other as they skittered across the floor, avoided snapping zombie heads, and smashed heads into walls (and fish tanks). We'll call Michonne the winner since she put a shard of glass through the Governor's eye, but this was clearly just Round 1. Also worthy of a mention: Glenn's fight against the walker while he was taped to a chair, Maggie versus the SWAT zombies, and Rick's psychotic rampage in the bowels of the prison.