2012 TV Season Wrap-up

Nowadays, courtesy of the Internet information machine, we are privy to what used to be considered “insider” info about the TV biz. We find out in May (courtesy of the “upfront” presentations where the networks unveil their fall schedules) which shows will be returning in the fall, and which ones won’t. We also get a sneak peek at what new series will be added to the schedule as well. Seems like the perfect time for me to wrap up what I thought about the end of this 2012 season: the finales, the cancellations, etc.

This past season didn’t really offer a lot of good new shows as far as I am concerned. I could live happily if none of them returned, but there are a few that I would have liked to have seen more of anyway.

The River was probably doomed from the start. The handheld-camera, quasi-horror series about a crew trying to find a lost explorer in the Amazon was pretty unique — perhaps too much so. Plus, it was introduced in midseason with relatively little fanfare. I liked that there was a magical storyline, and plot twists where people were possessed or came back to life, etc. There was also some of examination of the uglier side of human nature. I am not a horror fan, but being a TV show, this was tamer than your typical big-screen bloodbath. The show finished with an ending but also upped the ante: They thought they were making it out of the uncharted Amazon, but the rivers were actually changing course, potentially trapping them there forever.

I’m also going to miss another genre show that was cancelled a while ago: Terra Nova. I admit some parts were hokey (especially how they created a laughable villain near the end). I was disappointed that they had to go to the “conspiracy” well (like almost every new genre show has done since The X-Files). Nevertheless, I enjoyed the “Jurassic Park: The Series” premise and the family-adventure format. There are not many (if any) shows in this category. Sadly it all came down to dollars, and a big budget was not supported by the size of its audience. I’m sure that when the upcoming, virtually sci-fi-free fall comes along, I will miss Terra Nova even more.

Missing (starring Ashley Judd as a former-spy/mother who hunts for her kidnapped son across Europe) never really got any more sophisticated than its premise, but throughout its short run, I had warm memories of Alias, and that carried me through a lot of the mediocre moments. While the show definitely tried to fit into the same “family issues as spy issues” groove that Alias had done, it was never as smooth about it, and Judd has neither Jennifer Garner’s vulnerability or likeability (plus, her son Michael is kind of annoying). Still, I’ll miss this kind of action (I’ve stopped watching the low-rent Covert Affairs as well), and I’ll especially miss all the awesome European locales. They were the best part of each episode.

The last of the new series that I’m sad to see go is Awake. Part of the recent trend in slightly-sci-fi dramas, the cop show about a detective who is living life in two realities (one where his son survives, and the other where his wife survives the wreck of the family car) was an intriguing concept but it’s been sadly uneven how that premise has played out in the episodes. It was bad when one reality gave him silly clues to a case he was working on in the other reality; but it was good when surprising events caused him to question the nature of reality and his perception of events. The more complex the psychology of the episode, the better. While I feel like the show didn’t get enough time for people to see where its premise could lead, I’m also glad that it’s ending. The direction that the conspiracy angle is taking, it’s going to be disappointing if allowed to go on. (Originally it seemed like the police chief was in on the fact that our hero was in two realities, but now it seems like all she really cares about is keeping him from asking questions about a crime ring that she’s involved in.)

A bunch of other new shows will not be coming back, but if I watched them, I stopped long before now. Those include Alcatraz, Ringer, The Secret Circle, and GCB.

Of the ongoing series that won’t be coming back, I have three examples that I feel very differently about. First, Desperate Housewives came to an end after eight seasons. It debuted in that same awesome year that gave us Lost (among other wonderful shows). I enjoyed it for a few seasons, then gave up, then came back, then gave up again. By last season, I had stopped watching it midway when the same stories seemed to be recurring and the characters were not getting any more interesting. I didn’t watch any of the final season, but I hope it wrapped up nicely. In contrast, I was with Chuck throughout its entire, troubled, five-season run. I agree with many naysayers who felt that the show stretched its premise (nerd with a super-spy-computer in his brain) too far and its humour seemed tired, but I enjoyed the characters and stuck with it to the end. I was glad that the creators could wind down the series in a way that called back to its beginning and focused on the central love story between Chuck and Sarah. Thirdly, I was sad and surprised that NBC did not want to bring back The Sing-Off. I know that it never got the popularity that the other music competition shows got (definitely not like American Idol, and not even like The Voice) but it was the only one that I watched. I enjoyed the acappella group performances a lot and actually rooted for certain groups to win each year (though my choices rarely did). I’m sure it’s not expensive to produce, so I don’t see why NBC didn’t just keep the show going. Oh well.

What about cliffhangers and other such season enders? Not being a “shipper”, I was not keen on Castle and Beckett getting together on Castle. This show is probably closer to 80s dramedy Moonlighting than any other on TV, so I really hope that they don’t suffer the same curse that befell that show after its main characters hooked-up. I was surprised when Elena woke up as a vamp on The Vampire Diaries, and I’m keen to find out how the show will change (Poor Matt and Jeremy! Humans are rare on this show.) I’m also glad that they finally got rid of Klaus, though I was disappointed when they didn’t. However, I’m worried that now that they have dealt with the original vampires, the show can only go downhill. Let’s hope not. Same kind of goes for Supernatural. They’ve dealt with God, angels and now some new semi-made-up enemies in the Leviathans. What more is left to challenge Sam and Dean? Yes, I know they’ve stuck Dean in Purgatory now, but they’ve been to Heaven and Hell and lived to tell the tale, how bad can this really be? I enjoyed the finale of Fringe, with its two worlds colliding, but now that they’ve been renewed for a final half-season, I’m really hoping that they go back to the Observer-future and follow that storyline some more. As one of the few sci-fi shows this fall, they have to kick it up a notch.

Oh, Glee hasn’t ended yet as I write this, but howzabout that preposterous Nationals win? I have rewatched the Vocal Adrenaline performance of “Starships” at least five times and it’s great! Will they open the fall with Mr. Shue in jail for bribing Lindsay Lohan or Perez Hilton to vote for New Directions? Anyway, the final episode airs tomorrow and it’s going to be graduation and goodbyes (which seem hollow since, from what I’m reading, they’re going to find a way to have everyone back next season. I think they’re going to split the screen time between Lima and New York — as if there wasn’t already too little time for the show’s huge cast).

So that’s what I thought of this season’s end. Stay tuned for part two when I share my thoughts on what the fall has to offer by way of new shows (again, sadly devoid of sci-fi).

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