Top 10 TV Disappointments, 2012

Posted on December 26, 2012 

For me, there are two kinds of bad TV shows. One is the shows you automatically know aren't going to be good -- say something involving anyone named Snooki.

But others, you hear good buzz, you have actors whom you've liked in the past, and you have reasonable expectations that your time spent watching will be worthwhile.

For these 10 shows, not so much:

10. "The Firm" (NBC): This sort-of sequel to the bestselling book by John Grisham and movie starring Tom Cruise was almost dead on arrival. It posted some of the lowest ratings imagineable, but because the network shot a lot of episodes, they were forced to burn off the season on Saturday nights. Josh Williams and Molly Parker are good actors, but the material wasn't all that great.

9. "Alcatraz" (Fox): This was supposed to be the next big thing for sci-fi fans, and given a strong cast that included Sam Neill, Jorge Garcia and Sarah Jones, it started off promising. But the prisoner-of-the-week format seemed to drag along for too long without giving the viewers answers. JJ Abrams and his writing staff couldn't recapture the same magic they had on "Lost."

8. "The Mindy Project" (Fox): I'm a huge fan of Mindy Kaling -- the writer and the actress -- so I had high hopes that her going from a supporting character in "The Office" to a lead in a show she built would be one of the best sitcoms on TV. It wasn't. It was somewhat predictable and uneven, with Kaling playing the same one-note, self-centered character.

7. "Wilfred" (FX): I was a big fan of this offbeat Australian remake in Season 1, in which a suicidal young lawyer (Elijah Wood) bonds with his neighbor's dog, whom he talks with as a man in a dog suit (Jason Gann). But Season 2 was a little too trippy and mean-spirited for my taste.

6. "Copper" (BBC America): Despite the pedigree of producers Tom Fontana ("Homicide," "The Wire"), I found the pace of this series -- set in 1860s New York -- to be plodding to the point where I gave up halfway through.

5. "Last Resort" (ABC): I'll pay attention to anything Andre Braugher does, but this highly anticipated thriller about a US sub captain who hides out on an island after failing to obey a suspicious order was incredibly uneven. Despite a good cast, the storytelling was maddeningly inconsistent and often over-the-top, with many characters making moves that didn't make a lot of sense. ABC has cancelled it, and is burning off the remaining few episodes.

4. "Smash" (NBC): Speaking of all over the place, "Smash" could drive a viewer crazy with a bunch of useless characters and musical numbers that seemed to pop out of the blue (please no more Bollywood productions). Katherine McPhee emerged as a credible actress to go along with her terrific voice, but there's a reason why the show is undergoing a major overhaul for Season 2. Good riddance, Ellis, maybe the worst character ever on TV.

3. "Girls" (HBO): I find it laughable that this dreck has made most critics Top 10 list. Perhaps the most buzzed about new comedy of the season, it lacked something fundamental in a comedy -- it never made me laugh. After four episodes of the idiot shrill whining of the four main characters, I gave up. There wasn't a single character I was remotely interested in, let alone rooted for, and if star/creator Lena Dunham is the voice of her generation as most critics have said, it's a doomed generation indeed.

2. "The Newsroom" (HBO): The most utterly pretentious and unrealistic crap on TV, watching this show was a form of self-torture -- I hated it on every level, but I couldn't turn away. Any time Aaron Sorkin writes for TV, you have high hopes for the show, but this bloated, self-important nonsense seemed like a tired mix of deleted scenes from "Sports Night" and "The West Wing." I actually loathed the characters despite a solid cast, and I actually found myself rooting against them. I could write an entire column of all the stuff about journalism Sorkin got wrong, and I detested the characters in their personal lives. Worse, in most episodes, Sorkin telegraphed his punches, so there wasn't even any twists to maintain my interest.

1. "Homeland" (Showtime): OK, did I hate "Homeland?" No, but gee whiz the show had storytelling problems this year, which I've enumerated in other postings. While the final two episodes had some interesting bits, and the acting was always stellar, I couldn't help but feel the show had become exactly like the mocking "SNL" skit that starred Anne Hathaway. "Homeland" deserved its accolades from Season 1, but Season 2 was mostly a "24"-style story of faux twists, secret agendas and characters doing things bordering on the ridiculous (there are too many to mention, but some of my favorites: the terrorists ordering Brody to skip a speech in order to hide a bombmaker; killing the VP using his pacemaker; and anything involving Brody's daughter Dana). I'll likely give "Homeland" one more chance in Season 3 given how great Claire Danes, Damian Lewis and Mandy Patinkin are, but the show needs a major rebound.

What were the biggest TV disappointments for you this year?

WEDNESDAY'S BEST BETS: If you got DVDs for Christmas, tonight might be the night to pop one in.

The only things of note are the Kennedy Center Honors, which air on CBS at 9 p.m., and a new episode of the enthralling "The Hour" (BBC America, 9 p.m.)

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