Sound on Sight’s Best TV of 2012

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Once again the SOS staff have voted on their favorite TV shows of the last 12 months. As per usual, the results reflect our staff’s geographical spread over North America and the UK, with severa key British series sneaking into reasonably prominent positions. Two one-season wonders made it in as well, along with at least one veteran series that isn’t likely to return. Competition was fiercer this year, as making it in required more votes than last year thanks to more contributor voting, but ultimately our #1 won out pretty soundly. For more 2012 retrospective talk, tune into The Televerse over the coming weeks.

*****

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24. Fringe

As it approaches its series finale, which will air mid-January, Fringe has remained a beacon of intelligent, character-based sci-fi at a time when sci-fi has all but disappeared from network television. Anna Torv, John Noble, and Joshua Jackson gave fantastic performances over the course of the year, bringing nuance and depth to characters we’ve come to love and yet still managing to surprise us. The final season jumped forward significantly, taking quite a risk in the process, yet this transition has gone far smoother than one might have expected, bringing new challenges, both physical and emotional, to our characters while still keeping true to the core of the series as a reflection on family and the choices we make to preserve the ones we love. (K.K.)

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23. Bob’s Burgers

It may have taken some time to catch on, but Bob’s Burgers has finally started to get the accolades it deserves, at least among critics. 2012 saw all of season two as well as a significant chunk of season three, including the fantastic three-pack holiday specials “Full Bars” (Halloween), “An Indecent Thanksgiving Proposal” (Thanksgiving), and “God Rest Ye Merry Gentle-Mannequins” (Christmas). With inventive voice casting and some of the most infectiously enthusiastic characters on television, the past year has solidified Bob’s Burgers as among the most reliable and entertaining network series going. (K.K.)

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20. (tie) Doctor Who

With a mini-season of five episodes, each crafted as a specific genre-influenced short film, Doctor Who ditched the arcs of late in favor of standalone adventures. Thriller, monster movie, western, slice-of-life, and noir, each episode brought distinctive flair in its script, performances, and cinematography. This year also saw the departure of the Ponds who have been the longest-lasting Companions of the new series and a mainstay of the Steven Moffat years. The rapport between Karen Gillan (Amy Pond), Arthur Darvill (Rory Williams), and Matt Smith (the Doctor) will be greatly missed, but as Whovians know, the next adventure and Companion (Jenna-Louise Coleman) is right around the corner, the Christmas special “The Snowmen”. (K.K.)

20. (tie) The Fades

Created by Jack Thorne (whose previous writing credits include Skins, This Is England and Shameless), this six-part, youth-skewed, supernatual horror series which originally aired in the UK on BBC3 last year, only arrived on BBC America in 2012. Those hungry for dark science fiction, look no further. This highly ambitious, big-scale-small-budget series is a mad apocalyptic genre mash-up of the living versus the dead. The storytelling in The Fades sprinkles with wit, originality and charm. What may seem to kick off as your run of the mill horror setup (a young hero with a supernatural gift, who’s recruited by mysterious people fighting a clandestine war against evil), quickly evolves into something far more interesting. Make no mistake about it. People die and they die horribly. Apart from Game Of Thrones, no other series has ever raised the bar in stakes quite as high as The Fades. If the end of the world wasn’t enough, everyone and anyone can die, including some of your favorite characters. The Fades plays host to legitimately frightening scenes of horror and violence, and yet there’s a playful and comedic tone injected through it all. The series has often been described as the closest we’ve ever come to having a British Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Due to poor ratings, The Fades will not return next year. Instead it will join the ranks of Firefly, My So Called Life, and Freaks and Geeks as a “one-season wonder”. (R.C.)

20. (tie) The Daily Show

Comedy always seems to benefit from election years and 2012 for The Daily Show was no exception. Featuring extended coverage of both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, not to mention the campaigns, Jon Stewart and the rest of the team focused mercilessly on fact-checking the candidates and attacking less-than-journalistic election coverage from CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC. The Daily Show correspondents continued their excellent work and, unfortunately, this year saw the end of Wyatt Cenac’s tenure on the series. For many, this series may be a non-starter thanks to the political priorities and views of the writers, but for those able to overlook this, or who agree with it, The Daily Show provided some of the most useful and reliable news coverage this year. (K.K.)

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