Remember all that stuff we said about the last five installments of our Top 100 being good and all that? Those were lies! No one cares about the bottom 50, it's all about the TOP 50. Who can honestly tell number 57 from number 89? We sure can't, and we're the bozos who made this list! So now let's get to the REAL good stuff: TV.com's Top 50 Everything of Television 2012!
We'll trot out our picks 10 at a time, continuing 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.
Miller has been poised to break out in America for a long time now, but he wasn't going to do it without the right role and the right accent. Miller is British, and his Americanese on Eli Stone just didn't work for audiences. But on CBS's new drama Elementary, the man's New-York-by-way-of-London Sherlock Holmes can go full-on "Jolly Ho!" and "Crumpets" all he wants, and it works.
Despite some critics' complaints that 30 Rock has gotten too cartoonish in its old age, we think it's been as strong and as sharp as ever this year, and we love that the series is pulling out all all the stops in its final season. "Mazel Tov, Dummies!" took Liz and Criss from living together to engaged to married in 22 minutes thanks to their hastily planned, out-of-nowhere nuptials—which were inspired by the Beeper King's ability to easily adopt a child just because he was hitched. The pair exchanged their "I Dos" in a City Hall ceremony only 30 Rock could pull off, one that was perfectly matched to both the show and the happy couple. Plus the whole ordeal executed a pretty spot-on send-up of the wedding industry and "women want to be princesses" culture.
The excellent "Another Ham Sandwich" was was rife with confrontation not to mention such delights as Wendy Scott Carr completely losing control of her grand jury ("I have the emails right here..."), Will and Diane dancing in victory, and Alicia doing what she could to prevent her affair with Will from becoming public record and known to her kids. And that slap, hoo boy, that slap—leave it to The Good Wife to pull off something as soapy as a public face-smacking in a shockingly believable way.
The series finale of Fox's medical drama put a lid on eight seasons' worth of odd diseases and vicious putdowns in sappy but appropriate fashion when we saw the good doctor in the window of a burning build which collapsed and then, just for good measure, exploded. OMG House died! And we legitimately believed it! Until he texted his dying BFF Wilson in the middle of Wilson's snarky eulogy. Then the pair rode off to live the rest of their lives, one of them soon to be dead and one of them presumed to be dead.
Previously: House's Series Finale: Cancer's Boring
Whether or not Bryan Fuller's Munsters remake ever becomes a series is beside the point. We're just thrilled that a network decided to air something that it had already paid for that we all wanted to see. Will other networks follow? We hope so. And we especially hope NBC will eventually show us that damn Wonder Woman pilot that got away. As for Mockingbird Lane itself, it was surprisingly good! And it featured a kid in a yellow sleeping bag exploding!
NBC's consistently underrated family drama makes us cry like no other show on television, and while there've been plenty of big "events" this year—including Crosby and Jasmine getting married and Ray Romano's Hank showing up and exploding Sarah and Mark—Kristina's breast cancer arc rules them all. Before this season, we probably hated on Adam and Kristina more than anyone else on the show, but the gravity of Planet Cancer has pulled us off that course for good. We not only have new sympathy for those two characters, we're rooting for an underdog Emmy nomination for Monica Potter, because her performance has been flat-out awesome.
Integrating music as a vital component of a scripted television series is tough to pull off without entering cheeseball territory, but ABC's new country soap excels at it by thematically connecting the music and the narrative in a way that seems natural. And nothing is working better than the show's duets, like Rayna and Deacon's at the Bluebird (above) or Scarlett and Gunnar's impromptu mutual serenade.
New Girl really hit its stride in 2012, with the end of Season 1 and the start of Season 2 transforming the young Fox comedy from an "adorkable" freshman to a seriously funny (and sweet) sophomore sitcom. The show has given us so many good moments as of late—that ridiculous Russian cracker commercial, Winston's dramatic reading of Nick's zombie novel, Schmidt's "va-genius" description of how to pleasure a woman—but for us, the gang's True American drinking game, from Season 1's "Normal," still tops them all. Not only was the game hilarious, the episode itself was one of last season's best. JFK!
Previously: New Girl "Normal" Review: Trouble in Paradise
Based on its reputation, you wouldn't expect Boardwalk Empire to be the show that delivered one of the most shocking moments on TV this year. However, when Steve Buscemi's Nucky opened a mysterious package in the middle of the night to find the dead body of his number-two Owen stuffed inside, it blindsided both Nuck and the audience. Buscemi and Kelly MacDonald's performances nailed the perfect mix of fear, shock, and regret as Boardwalk reminded us once again that no character is safe, no matter how much we want them to be.