Due to some technical glitches, camping out for Les Miserables in our Javert cosplay, and intense Santa hunting (nailed the bastard), our schedule of weekday posting was interrupted on Christmas Eve and Christmas, and this is now a special weekend edition of our Top 100 Everything of 2012. But that's the excitement of live
television television-related blogging! However, we're still on track to finish this dang thing, so let's press on with spots 30 through 21, shall we?
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.
Over its 38 years on the air, SNL has seen dozens (hundreds?) of performers come and go, but only a select few have received proper send-offs (Phil Hartman's final serenade by Chris Farley-as-Matt Foley is one of the all-time greats). What began as a sketch to close out the Mick Jagger-hosted Season 37 finale turned into one of the most poignant and celebratory moments in SNL history when cast members past and present bid Kristen Wiig adieu. If Arcade Fire's performance of "She's a Rainbow/Ruby Tuesday" doesn't get you, then maybe Wiig's curtsy to Lorne Michaels, or her Gilly dance with Seth Meyers, or the look on her face when Bill Hader approaches just might do it instead.
In 2012 the slowly sinking ship that is American Idol took a pause from its inevitable demise to offer up one of the strongest batches of performers in years. The competition came down to two finalists—teenage mini-tornado Jessica Sanchez and aw-shucks heartthrob Phillip Phillips—with the general consensus pinning the win on Sanchez, who was to be the rare female winner in a franchise lately dominated by white dudes. Most of the criticism surrounding Phillips all season involved his similarities to other people: He had the growl of Dave Matthews, the sensibility of John Mayer, and, you know, the gender and race of the previous four American Idol winners. But in obsessing over what Phillip Phillips was, people overlooked what he wasn't: He was not your typical pop idol. He outright rejected a Tommy Hilfiger makeover in one episode. He frequently chose difficult, strange songs. He seemed downright uncomfortable on camera except when it seemed like he was cracking subversive jokes directly over Ryan Seacrest's head. Oh, and he endured EIGHT kidney surgeries throughout the season (which allowed him to thankfully sit out during most of those cheesy Ford commercials). But it was Phillips' subtle charisma mixed with occasional moments of knee-weakening earnestness that earned him that ultimate victory. After Seacrest named Phillips the victor and a guitar was thrust into his hands, he attempted to reprise "Home" (Idol's best-ever original composition, and the best song Mumford & Sons never wrote) amid a flurry of confetti while surrounded by a marching band. If you didn't feel anything when he broke down mid-performance, stopped singing, and fled the stage to find his parents, then we don't know what to tell you. American Idol may be one of the biggest purveyors of artificiality on television, but few moments were as real, moving, and human as that one.
Previously: American Idol: And the Season 11 Winner Is...
Guys, 2012 television was SCARY and VIOLENT and GORY and we loved every bit of it. This year we got The River, 666 Park Avenue, The Secret Circle, and the asylum version of American Horror Story. Plus the continuation of The Vampire Diaries, The Walking Dead, Teen Wolf, True Blood and announcements of Bates Motel, Hemlock Grove, The Following, and Hannibal. Never has television embraced scaring the shit out of us as it did this year.
Parks and Recreation is one of the most solid sitcoms on TV, and it's never more so than when the entire Pawnee gang is united under one goal. Leslie's run for City Council was riddled with obstacles, but we loved the way everything came to a head in the Season 4 finale, "Win, Lose, or Draw." Even though the episode built to Leslie's big moment, every character got a chance to shine, making for a beautifully fun, feel-good finale.
Raylan Givens is obviously the main attraction in FX's Southern drama, but each season, his yin is yanged by a new crop of bad guys. This time around, Neal McDonough suited up as Robert Quarles, a Detroit mobster who liked to lock up human beat-up toys in rooms and smoke drugs with hookers. Not to be outdone, Mykelti Williamson did award-worthy work as Ellstin Limehouse, a butcher who ran things in the backwoods. Bad dudes make television work, and these two made Justified one of the best shows on TV in 2012.
Before sneaking into Irene Adler's flat in "The Scandal in Belgravia," Sherlock instructed Watson to punch him in the face for the sake of their cover story... but things got a little out hand when Watson allowed his "bad days" to get the better out of him. Yes, it was just another way to give the S/W 'shippers something to squee over (replace "punch" with "kiss" and you've got a fanfic!), but it was actually very funny in its own right.
How I Met Your Mother may not be ending this season after all, but even still, certain beats need to be hit and one of those is the union of Barney and Robin, as was foretold at the end of Season 7. After a frustrating start to Season 8, "The Final Page" was vintage HIMYM resolving a major storyline and reminding us of the series' best times.
After two seasons of some pretty raunchy, scandalous stuff, nothing should've shocked us about FX's animated comedy. Except for Archer's new sex plaything: the dope-smoking, cage-fighting, super-back-tattoo-having PAM!
Teen Wolf's triumphant second season did not lack for villains. As the show's mythology bloomed like a wolfsbane blossom, we met a multitude of warring factions: a reptilian monster, two different nefarious puppetmasters, an undead alpha, a gang of newborn wolves, a shadowy cryptozoological agency, and one mean bow-wielding teenage girl. But one character had our full attention during every (outrageously limited) moment she was onscreen: Allison's INTENSE mother, Victoria Argent. Those of you who watch a lot of teen serials know that moms usually come in one flavor: too young, too nice, too buddy-buddy with their kids. Victoria Argent was one of the few TV moms who actually seemed like an authority figure, someone a kid would NOT want to be grounded by. For one thing, she will knife-fight a werewolf. But really it was Eaddy Mays' portrayal of this mysterious lady badass that delighted Teen Wolf fans week in and week out. Not only did she set a new standard for motherly death-stares, but her (devastating!) death scene made us realize there was a human being underneath all that campy glowering. A human being we'll certainly miss.
Last Resort's excellent pilot episode was merely really, really good until Captain Marcus Chaplin (Andre "Where my Emmys at?" Braugher) delivered this threat while all the stories came to a head. Now that is how you get a point across.