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Thanks to imports and cable channel choices, the year in TV was very interesting indeed. Where else can classical detectives meet with their updated complements, or sullen 20-somethings smirk at their ancient societal/criminal betters? Oh, and don’t forget squid.


 

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Squidbillies

Cast: Stuart Daniel Baker, Daniel McDevitt, Dana Snyder, Patricia French, Bobby Ellerbee, Todd Hanson, Scott Hilley

(Cartoon Network/Adult Swim)

35


Squidbillies
Cartoon Network/Adult Swim


While the humor is often uneven in this clever countrified satire, the voice work is beyond impeccable—especially the raging redneck resplendence of musician Unknown Hinson (aka Stuart Daniel Baker) as the tentacled family patriarch, Early Cuyler. With is backwoods, Auburn-hating hilarity and nonstop desire to party and procreate, this is one salacious squid. Still, the focus on ancillary elements, like a sheriff who seems impervious to criticism (or death) and a despotic local tycoon with the oddball name of Dan Halen turns what would be a one note nod to the boondocks into something sublime. Bill Gibron


 

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The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

Cast: Jon Steward

(Comedy Central)

Review [1.Jan.1995]

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The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
Comedy Central


After certain segments of The Daily Show during 2012, you could see host Jon Stewart look visibly upset, depressed, and completely over what he’d just had to riff about for the past six or seven minutes. Partisan political screaming on both sides of the aisle continued to escalate this year, as was bound to happen in an election year, and it clearly took a toll on Stewart and the Daily Show’s team. It all came to a head late in the year, when the show began its series, “Chaos on Bullshit Mountain”, which stands up with the best work the show’s ever done at exposing partisan hackery.


Also notable about the year on The Daily Show: the correspondent segments became fewer and fewer, but no less impactful. A winning series right before the election featured ace in the hole John Oliver and Jason Jones showing off the seedy business of political consultants (a well The Daily Show went to multiple times throughout the year) by participating in a student council election. It’s part of the brilliance of The Daily Show that the mainstream news media doesn’t seem to understand: they break down what’s going on and make it relatable. Just because it’s punctuated by a dick joke doesn’t make Jon Stewart’s comedy anymore incisive or impactful. Steve Lepore


 

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30 Rock

Cast: Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, Tracy Morgan, Jane Krakowski, Jack McBrayer, Scott Adsit, Judah Friedlander, Katrina Bowden, Keith Powell, Lonny Ross, John Lutz, Kevin Brown, Grizz Chapman, Maulik Pancholy

(NBC)

Review [16.Jan.2008]

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30 Rock
NBC


The last season of the critically acclaimed series is the equivalent of realizing that geek you dated in high school has grown up to become stunningly attractive without losing any of his wit. After winning every award out there, Tina Fey’s ratings-challenged satire entered a period where it was considered a has-been; so the creative team behind it came back with a vengeance to deliver what’s been one of the most flawless seasons of any TV series in recent history. Fey axed stories that weren’t working, brought back a few precious characters for their swan song and has, in Jenna Maroney (Jane Krakowski), created one of the greatest characters of all time. When this show goes off the air in 2013, we might just never recover. Jose Solis


 

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It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

Cast: Glenn Howerton, Charlie Day, Rob McElhenney, Kaitlin Olson, Danny DeVito

(FX)

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It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
FX


In Season Eight of the FX network comedy, no get-rich-quick plan is off limits to the gang from Paddy’s Pub—not even schemes involving death or mortality: Charlie’s mother pretended to have cancer, prompting her son and his friends to cash in with a charity beef-and-beer. Dennis and Dee pondered pulling the plug on their dying grandfather—a former Nazi—while the rest of the gang raided the old man’s stash of WWII artifacts to sell. And Frank managed to put down the can of wine long enough to trick Dennis and Dee into digging up their dead mother as revenge for insinuating he was going senile. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia tips polite society’s sacred cows with utter (udder?) abandon, skewering pop culture headlines (bath salt zombies, anyone?) and making society’s dregs downright likeable despite their lack of moral fiber. Lana Cooper


 

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Grimm

Cast: David Giuntoli, Russell Hornsby, Bitsie Tulloch, Silas Weir Mitchell, Sasha Roiz, Reggie Lee, Bree Turner, Claire Coffee

(NBC)

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Grimm
NBC


Grimm is one of those shows that flies under the radar, but is a true hidden gem, combining elements of a procedural cop drama with supernatural fantasy. Portland homicide detective Nick Burkhardtlearns he is part of a long line of monster hunters known as “Grimms”. Although the show’s cadre of creatures—humans with animal attributes known as “Wesen”—are rooted in old fairy tales, Grimm’s writers create their own mythology and run with it. In addition to solid writing, the ensemble cast delivers strong performances. (Silas Weir Mitchell is outstanding as Nick’s reformed Wesen sidekick.) On paper, Grimm’s concept seems a bit ridiculous, yet, the show’s writers and actors take it quite seriously, offering compelling stories that weave a complex web of intrigue in both human and Wesen society. Lana Cooper


 

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The Newsroom

Cast: Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer, John Gallagher, Jr., Alison Pill, Thomas Sadoski, Dev Patel, Olivia Munn, Sam Waterston

(HBO)

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The Newsroom
HBO


Aaron Sorkin’s latest creation, The Newsroom, addresses the dilemma facing all those currently attempting to ply the trade of true journalism without stumbling into sensationalism. As self-described moderate Republican cable news anchor Will McAvoy, Jeff Bridges delivers one of the best performances of his career alongside a brilliant ensemble cast. He finds himself questioning his political stance and life choices when his liberal former lover (Emily Mortimer) becomes his executive producer. Behind the scenes relationships of the entire cable network’s staff are equally a part of The Newsroom’s mix, as are real-life news events of the recent past. Interspersed with the characters’ personal dramas, The Newsroom artfully showcases the difficult balance of reaping those all-important Nielsen ratings and doing so with integrity (and confirmed sources). Lana Cooper


 

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Wheeler Dealers

Cast: Mike Brewer, Edd China

(Velocity)

29


Wheeler Dealers
Velocity


Leave it to the British to turn even the most mundane exercise—in this case, the buying and restoring of classic cars—into a joyful combination of cheek and DIY. Main presenter Mike Brewer got his start in the automotive trade, and along with master mechanic Edd China, makes it a point to pick iconic vehicles and bring them back to stunning, on the cheap life. Most of the material is as dry as a drive shaft, especially when the duo focus on perplexing performance elements and weird wheel calibrations. But with a few minutes, their winning personalities and earnest honesty win us over, creating an addiction that goes beyond the need for speed. Bill Gibron


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