* The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Thursday, January 5, 2012 - 3B
Best TV Shows of 2011
2. Parks and Recreation
The greatest thing about NBC's "Parks and Recre-
ation" is how easy it is to adore every character. And
now, "Parks" has become one of the most beloved TV
Season four represents what "Parks" is all about.
The relationship between Ben and Leslie gets direct
attention. It's refreshing to see them face the music
and answer for the office romance instead of finding
some sitcomm-y loophole.
And how on earth can we pick the finest hour of
Ron Swanson? Maybe it's when he gives his Paw-
nee Rangers a handbook with just one instruction:
Be a man. Maybe it's when his mustache "falls off"
courtesy of Tammy One, or when he throws away
the invasive and satanic device, AKA his computer.
Whatever it is, the man can do no wrong.
The fact that "Parks" has yet to win any big-name
awards is shameful. Still, it has cemented itself a
place with the comedy greats of our time.
2011 has been rough for cult hit "Community,"
which is on indefinite hiatus. But creatively, the
show has been brilliant.
While the first half of the second season was a
little uneven, the part that aired in 2011 was insane
in the way only "Community" can be. The Christ-
mas claymation psychodrama in 2010 led into a
sequence of episodes in which the show's self-
aware mode of joke-telling supplemented the deep
characterization and became a part of it.
The best episodes of "Community" are gimmick
episodes: a bottle episode that calls itself a bottle
episode and episodes with multiple timelines. But
what "Community" does with these gimmicks is
more than just clever. The show's tricks help us
understand the characters and has become excel-
lent at balancing sharp writing, clever references
and character moments. Treasure it while it's still
here, because "Community" might not last long.
5. Downton Abbey
Having concluded its heartstoppingly suspenseful
fourth season, "Breaking Bad" has evolved from its
"Weeds"-esque premise into something utterly differ-
ent: A life-or-death competition full of shock value and
brutality, an elaborate chess game tempered by guns,
organizedcrime and of course, methamphetamine.
Walt's struggle with his drug-lord boss Gus comes
to a head. After Walt packs yet another victim of
Gus's pragmatic, throat-opening rage into a barrel
of acid, the writing's on the wall - Walt's a dead
man. As Walt plots his survival, and ostensibly, that
of his loyal underling Jesse, Gus runs into his own
problems - the Mexican Cartel is hijacking his ship-
ments and daringto declare war.
The pressure exerted on all parties slowly comes to
a boil until it finally explodes, literally, in the season
finale. For the moment, the formerly benign Walt, as
he says, "is the danger." Whether he maintains this
status as the show continues is a different story.
"Downton Abbey" is the runaway hit of the
year. The lavish series proves that a period piece
can still kick ass. Produced by the BBC, each epi-
sode is soap-y, yet totally refined.
The series has managed to mix delectably dishy
drama with an in-depth look at the English class
system. It provokes real intellectual effort while
sparking up deadly arcs and delicious intrigue. It
follows the twists of the well-off Crawley fam-
ily and their considerably less well-off servants.
The first season starts off after the sinking of the
Titanic, exploring the ins-and-outs of the caste
system and rules of society.
The drama is a resounding achievement as the
most successful British costume drama in almost
30 years. Collecting a bundle of awards for its first
season, including several primetime Emmys, the
series doesn't appear to be slowing down anytime
soon. Bring on the fancy hats!
And the Best of 2011 content
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