June 18, 2011

The Top 10 TV Series I Watched This Year

Only a few more hours until the season finales of two of my favorite TV series will air, and I can't wait to see them. Many other shows are currently on vacation, so I wanted to give you a quick look at the ten best shows I watched this year.

– Beware of possible spoilers! –

10. Durham County

Current State: Ended after season 3
Acclaimed Star: Hugh Dillon
True Star: Justin Louis
Latest Season Rating: Skip it
Prediction: It's good the show has ended
Trailer »

Durham County is a low-budget thriller series with a small fanbase, and I can see why. It doesn't start too bad; actually, the first season and the first few episodes really give you the creeps and come off rather interesting. You won't find an innocent person in this show.

Well, just too bad they had to drag the storyline into boring oblivion and add two more, pretty dire seasons that made us hate every character around even more. Justin Louis (Ferreira) as the jovial but psychopathic bad guy was a great sight, but most of his appeal vanished after the anticlimactic season 1 finale.

9. Rubicon

Current State: Canceled after season 1
Acclaimed Star: James Badge Dale
True Star: Probably James Badge Dale
Latest Season Rating: Can't rate yet
Prediction: Looks good, but got canceled anyway
Trailer »

I still can't say too much about Rubicon; I read many positive articles about it, but it still got canceled after a presumably very promising first season, which just couldn't bring in enough audience numbers for a continuation.

I have just watched the pilot episode and the story looks exciting and substantial enough. I expect many twists along the way and I already like James Badge Dale's acting a lot, so let's see how this one turns out!

8. Luther

Current State: Shortened season 2 is running
Continues: Tue, 6/21 with S02E02
Acclaimed Star: Idris Elba
True Star: Ruth Wilson
Latest Season Rating: Above average
Prediction: Could become stale
Trailer »

I'm halfway through the first season of this BBC series and enjoy the storylines and acting by both Idris Elba and Ruth Wilson. Though Elba describes his troubled detective character as some mix between Sherlock Holmes and Columbo, I believe his testosterone levels surpass both by miles. It's exciting to see more and more of Luther's darkness come to light, and I hope the season finale will be adequately thrilling.

Season 2 has just started in the UK with four instead of six hour-long episodes, and maybe that's a good move. I like Luther's cases, but I'm afraid the series might develop some sort of staleness during further seasons.

7. House

Current State: Deep in storyline and cast turmoil
Continues: This fall with season 8
Acclaimed Stars: Hugh Laurie, Lisa Edelstein
True Stars: Hugh Laurie, Robert Sean Leonard
Latest Season Rating: Well over the top
Prediction: Let's just hope they won't murder it
Trailer »

House's seventh season showed us everything that can go wrong if you're way past your prime: The Huddy storyline angered those who opposed a relationship between the two main protagonists, and the sudden breakup angered the Huddy shippers. But we also got a whole lot of nonsensical storylines, irrational behavior, characters we came to like were cast out again, some of House's antics went way over the top, and we even got the probably worst season finale ever.

Lisa Edelstein's unexpected departure from the show seems like a reasonable move, although it will leave the writers with some nuts to crack for...yet another and presumably last season. But hey, at least Olivia Wilde is back!

6. Supernatural

Current State: Break before second overtime
Continues: This fall with season 7
Acclaimed Stars: Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki
True Stars: Mark Sheppard and the Winchesters
Latest Season Rating: Unnecessary addendum
Prediction: Hope for the best, expect the worst
Trailer »

While Supernatural's sixth season delivered quite a handful of exciting and funny episodes, even breaking the fourth wall once, you never knew where exactly the writers wanted to take the story. While the first five seasons closed the main storyline as planned, season 6 felt like it was planned poorly, with a lot of out-of-character behavior from the cast and the worst season finale to date.

Castiel a new god? Umm...meh. No, that's certainly not why I continued to watch Supernatural. At least they brought Mark Sheppard back for some of Alastair's most furious scenes since we came to know him. Then again, they can only bring back so few characters until fans stop giving a shit about any of the protagonists and their charismatic opposing forces.

5. Sherlock

Current State: New mysteries are lurking
Continues: This fall with season 2
Acclaimed Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman
True Stars: Sherlock & Watson of course
Latest Season Rating: Pretty good!
Prediction: Follows up with more strong cases
Trailer »

As a vivid Sherlock Holmes supporter, I was pretty excited about Sherlock, which takes the classic stories and moves them into our times. This works surprisingly well, and the great acting from the majority of the cast and especially the main protagonists are a delight.

The series consists of movies rather than episodes and each new edition takes its time to develop their characters and include a whole lot of funny insiders for fans of the original canon. If you ever wondered if a guy like Sherlock Holmes could work in modern times, look no further. Good news: we'll get three more movies later this year.

4. Dexter

Current State: Anything is possible
Continues: This fall with season 6
Acclaimed Star: Michael C. Hall
True Star: Michael C. Hall
Latest Season Rating: Felt more like an interlude
Prediction: Will return to gritty goodness
Trailer »

Anyone who expected a raging Dexter season after the brutal climax of last year's finale was pretty bummed after the writers went for a slow and steady season, which introduced a new female co-lead and felt more like an interlude between something actually happening.

Fortunately, we also got new co-stars like former RoboCop Peter Weller as a menacing ex-cop, who found out about Dexter's secret. Unfortunately, this thrilling sidestory was squashed and left us rather unsatisfied. The season finale was average with clumsy writing and its low-key ending, but at least Jonny Lee Miller made a terrific appearance throughout the season.

3. The Killing

Current State: Season 1 about to end
Continues: Sun, 6/19 with S01E13
Acclaimed Stars: Bill Campbell, Michelle Forbes
True Stars: Joel Kinnaman, Mireille Enos
Latest Season Rating: Grew into a weekly delight
Prediction: Let's hope it stays as strong
Trailer »

Starting slow, the Canadian crime drama The Killing doesn't go for new mysteries each week, but instead focuses on the murder of one girl in a small town, which is affecting pretty much anyone. But you keep watching – each episode comes with new twists, revelations, dark secrets and well-done cliffhangers. Known faces like Michelle Forbes and Brent Sexton deliver top-notch performances, but you'll especially love Linden and Holder, the two assigned detectives, who need some time to grow together and each have their own demons to bear.

By now, we are one day away from the first season finale, and although last week's cliffhanger may have told you everything, it probably hasn't! Seems like the true killer will be revealed only in the final episode, and we still have no idea if they will catch him at all – or if season 2 is going to continue with the same case. Rest assured if you've seen the Danish original series, Forbrydelsen, though: they picked another killer for Rosie Larsen.

2. Fringe

Current State: Game is changing right now
Continues: This fall with season 4
Acclaimed Stars: Anna Torv, Joshua Jackson
True Stars: John Noble, Jasika Nicole
Latest Season Rating: Made sure to blow your mind
Prediction: Continues to blow your mind
Trailer »

Fringe really took its vast storyline to a whole new level during season 3 and delivered some top-notch episodes before leaving fans with a pretty mindblowing and unexpected finale, which erased one leading character from the whole series timeline. The acting and writing became key factors to Fringe's third-season success and made for some of Anna Torv's and especially John Noble's best series performances.

Fans are still puzzled where the next season will take us, but J. J. Abrams already announced to blow our minds even more. I hope he doesn't mean by showing us even more new and exciting ways to include product placement, but by actually telling us how they could just erase Peter from the series. That ending was ballsy.

1. Game of Thrones

Current State: Season 1 about to end
Continues: Sun, 6/19 with S01E10
Acclaimed Stars: Sean Bean, Lena Headey
True Stars: Peter Dinklage, Ghost
Latest Season Rating: First-class!
Prediction: Shall rule for years to come
Trailer »

This adaptation of George R. R. Martin's epic fantasy novel A Game Of Thrones (the first book in his A Song of Ice and Fire saga) is the big surprise of 2011 and candy for the eyes and ears. Blessed with a vast budget and breathtaking cinematography, not only Sean Bean makes this series look like the little brother of The Lord of the Rings. A superb cast including stunning actors like Peter Dinklage as the charismatic dwarf Tyrion Lannister or Aidan Gillen's sneaky Petyr Baelish turns the well-written episodes into something you'll be craving week after week. And I haven't even mentioned all these nagging cliffhangers and brutal twists.

The series was renewed after the pilot episode, which is the best thing that could happen. The viewers approved: With the ratings climbing to new heights each week, there are many more now who will eagerly anticipate the second season, which will be based on Martin's second novel in the saga, A Clash of Kings. This series definitely blew me away more than any other series I watched this year, and I hope the Emmy committee won't shun it because of its medieval fantasy content.

What are your opinions or recommendations? Feel free to speak up in the comments!

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