Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Best TV of 2011

Just like any other self-appointed TV expert, I feel obligated to create a "Best Of" list as 2011 comes to a close.

It was a strange year for TV. Folks stopped watching Glee (thank you) but kept watching the Kardashians (inexcusable). The big networks continue to struggle while the smaller cable networks innovate with new content.  HBO and Showtime made statements with two incredible original series. And NBC might be turning things around by hiring my boss to judge America's Got Talent.

The good news is that there's still plenty of great television out there.  Taking only this year's episodes into consideration, here are my top 10 shows of 2011:

10.  The Walking Dead (AMC)

The second season was not as good as the first, but the tension on Herschel's farm was gripping. The last episode of 2011 was memorable as Rick became the guy we loved in the comics. The upcoming final half of the season without Darabont's influence will make or break this show.

9.  Modern Family (ABC)

Still the class of network comedies and it makes me laugh every time I watch it, but cliches are starting to creep in. They never should have replaced Lilly.

8.  Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO)

Everyone loves Louis CK.  I don't, but I will try watching Louie again.  I love Larry David.  From Bill Buckner to Palestinian chicken, Curb followed up its Seinfeld reunion with a hysterical season in NYC. Give me more Funkhauser and Leon. Please.

7.  Sons of Anarchy (FX)

FX is gaining on AMC for can't miss original programming. Sons got back to Charming and had a crazy season where you didn't know what to expect every week. Kurt Sutter makes bold choices, and his actors deliver solid performances, especially his wife.

6.  Boardwalk Empire (HBO)

I have mixed feelings about Boardwalk.  Buscemi is perfectly cast, and all the men have great backstories and eat up the screen. I don't love the female characters, other than Jimmy's mom (Gretchen Mol) who has issues of her own. I applaud the bold choice made at the end of the season, but it will be tough to move on from here. Great season, great show.

5.  Justified (FX)

Man do I love this show. I'd be there for the adventures of Raylan and Boyd, but it's so much more than that. Margo Martindale gave the best performance of the year and brought the intensity each and every week. Justified has hit its stride, and could move up this list next season.

4.  Parks & Recreation (NBC)

The funniest show on television takes place in Pawnee. Great characters, fun situations, and a little bit of love to go around. Amy Poehler and crew gel so well. This show reminds me of how good The Office used to be (you won't find that show on this list).

3.  Homeland (SHOWTIME)

I'm not sure if Claire Danes is acting or really that crazy. I got to interview Damian Lewis, so I know he's acting and he's been brilliant. Mandy Patinkin is the icing on this government pursuing terrorists cake. It's got the twist and turns of 24 but seems grounded in reality. This is the best show Showtime has produced since Dexter.

2.  Game of Thrones (HBO)

An epic. Perfectly made for TV. So many characters to follow with fabulous storylines. It looks great. No one, and I mean no one, is safe week to week. This was the best new show of the season. And I've read four of the books now, so I know what's on the horizon and it's fantastic. Winter is coming.

1. Breaking Bad (AMC)

It doesn't get any better than this.  You can't take your eyes off Bryan Cranston, unless you're watching Giancarlo Esposito as Gus Fring.  Aaron Paul more than holds his own. Even Anna Gunn didn't annoy me this season. The best acting and writing on TV was right here once again, all the way to the end.

I hope you all have happy holidays, and here's to a great 2012.  What's Worth Watching returns with Cougar Town/Scrubs/Spin City/Clone High creator Bill Lawrence on January 5th.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Television Feast

Thanksgiving traditionally means three things - family, turkey and football.  But there's a fourth option that must be considered: the quality TV that will appear on your small screen during the holiday weekend.

Sadly, What's Worth Watching won't be on Howard 101 this Thursday, but that doesn't mean we won't tell you what you should be viewing as you gobble down your turkey and stuffing.

Note that these aren't ALL the programs that are airing - just the ones worth watching.


Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Chiller, 6 am – 4 pm) 

James Bond Movies (Syfy, 8 am – Friday, 5:30 am) 

Star Trek: The Next Generation (BBC America, 8 am – Friday, 5 am) 

American Guns (Discovery, 9 am – 8 pm) 

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (NBC, 9 am – 12 pm) 

NCIS (USA Network, 10 am – 8 pm) 

The Godfather & The Godfather: Part Two (AMC, 11:30 am – 8 pm) 

The National Dog Show (NBC, 12 – 2 pm) 

NFL Football (FOX, 1 pm) Packers vs. Lions | (CBS, 4:30 pm) Dolphins vs. Cowboys | (NFL Network, 8:30 pm) 49ers vs. Ravens

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (ABC, 8 – 8:30 pm) 

A Very Gaga Thanksgiving (ABC, 9:30 – 11 pm) 

This Is It (VH1, 10 pm – Friday, 12:30 am)

Charlie Sheen & Donald Trump Roasts (Comedy Central, 10:34 pm – Friday, 1:37 am) 


SpongeBob SquarePants (Nickelodeon, 7 am – 9 pm) 

Top Gear (BBC America, 8 am - Saturday, 6am)

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (Encore, 8 pm – Saturday, 5:30 am) 

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 25th Anniversary Concert (VH1, 10 pm – midnight)


Battlestar Galactica (BBC America, 6 am - 9 pm)

Firefly (Science, 9 am - 8 pm)

Ghost Whisperer (WEtv, 10 am – Sunday, 1 am) 

Deadliest Catch (Discovery, 11 am – 8 pm) 


Mad Men (AMC 6 - 9am)

Pawn Stars (History, 8 am - 3 am)

The Walking Dead (AMC, 2:30 - 9 pm)

These shows were pulled from the full Thanksgiving Marathon list provided by TV Line. Great stuff!

Friday, November 18, 2011

What's Worth Watching Notes - November 17, 2011

What's Worth Watching show #15 will replay Sunday at 7am Eastern on Howard 101.  At least that's what they tell us.

- Jenny's TV News 
{NBC lineup shakeup}
- Interview with Steve Rannazzisi from The League
- This Is The Week That Was 
{The View, Rock Center, South Park, Homeland, Modern Family, The Walking Dead}
- 140 Seconds with Ronnie Mund
- What's Worth Watching: November 17 - November 23

Steve Rannazzisi (
- Huge Howard fan who prepared for WWW with some help from Paul Scheer
- Agreed with Jon that NBC never got Thursday nights right from the get go
- Jason Mantzoukas (Raffi on The League) is the funniest guy he's ever met in his life
- The League works off an outline like Curb Your Enthusiasm with plenty of takes
- Admitted to awkwardness being married on the show to Mark Duplass wife
- Creators of the show walkie in conflicting directions at times on the set
- Shoot 3 1/2 days for 1 episode which is high pressure for any show
- You need to hate your friends, not love football, to enjoy The League
- Confirmed Paul Scheer can never be baffled. Ever.
- The show's low budget led to branding a circle on his crotch
- Explained how guest star Matthew Berry was an idea man on the set
- Gets hit on by drunk frat dudes since he's the guy on The League
- Tried to work "Whoa, whoa, whoa, stop the clock" into the show
- Excited for Charlie Sheen to join the FX bowling event with SoA team
- The cast freely gives away lines to each other that work for those characters
- The NFL will not let The League use its logo, but loves the players coming on
- Revealed Chad Ocho Cinco has four cell phones for different functions
- Never misses an episode of 60 Minutes to get smart
- Insists that Showtime should get an app
- Called out Jason Kaplan for claiming to invent the Ziploc bag in the shower
- Accepted Jason's apology who then accused him of lifting shooting the porno

Ronnie Mund (
- Upset with Jon not taking his phone call earlier
- Loved the dude with the crossbow getting shot on The Walking Dead
- Enjoyed NCIS:LA set visit and when LL Cool J plays an investigator
- Turned down an opportunity to appear on The League

JD Harmeyer (
- Thinks Raffi on The League is 1 of the 5 best characters on TV
- One of the fans who pauses The League to critique a TV show's draft

Steve Brandano (
- Pulled Homeland clips which haven't spoiled the show but can't wait to watch
- Can't wait to see what happens to the hoodies on How To Make It In America

Jenny Hutt (
- Revealed she had a Sandusky moment at an early age
- Elizabeth Hasselbeck makes her feel badly about being a girl
- Picked The League as what to watch because Steve was sitting there
Jon Hein (
- Thinks NBC doesn't have a clue but is glad Community will eventually return
- Feels The League wouldn't work as well as it does if on a major network
- Doesn't miss the NBA at all
- Invited Steve & Paul to return when in town for their bowling event
- Thinks Jason's apology to Steve Rannazzisi was lame

What's Worth Watching
November 17 - November 23

8p          20/20: Katie Couric & Regis Philbin (ABC)
              The X Factor (FOX)  {Jenny's pick}
              Community (NBC)
              The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
              Thursday Night Football (NFLN) Jets vs Broncos  {JD's pick}
830p      Parks & Recreation (NBC)  {Jon's pick}
              Rules of Engagement (CBS)
9p          The Office (NBC)
              Person Of Interest (CBS)  
              Grey's Anatomy (ABC)  {Ronnie's pick}
10p        It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia (FX)
              Beavis and Butt-head (MTV) 
              Burn Notice (USA) 
1030p    The League (FX)  {Steve's pick}

9a         Regis & Kelly (ABC)  {Jenny's pick}
8p         Chuck (NBC) 
             Geek Charming (DIS)
             A Gifted Man (CBS)
9p         Fringe (FOX)  {s4 Fall finale}  {Steve's pick}
             Grimm (NBC)   {Jon's pick}
10p       Blue Bloods (CBS)   {Ronnie's pick}
             Boss (STARZ)  
11p       Strike Force (SHO)  {JD's pick}

8p         College Football (ABC)  {Jon's pick}
             COPS (FOX)  {JD's & Ronnie's pick}
11p       Donald Glover: Weirdo (COM)
1130p   Saturday Night Live (NBC) Jason Segel/Florence and the Machine {Jenny's & Steve's pick}

7p         60 Minutes (CBS)  {Steve's pick}
8p         Sunday Night Football: Eagles vs Giants (NBC)
             American Music Awards (ABC)
9p         The Walking Dead (AMC)  {Ronnie's pick}
             Boardwalk Empire (HBO)  
             The Good Wife (CBS)  {Jenny's pick}
             Dexter (SHO) 
             Woody Allen: A Documentary {JD's pick}
10p       Homeland (SHO)  {Jon's pick}
             Hell On Wheels (AMC) 
             Hung/How To Make It In America (HBO)  {Steve B's pick}

8p         Terra Nova (FOX) 
              How I Met Your Mother (CBS)
830p     Monday Night Football: Chiefs vs Patriots (ESPN) {JD's pick}
              2 Broke Girls (CBS)  {Jenny's pick}
9p         House (FOX)  {Jon's pick}
              Bored To Death (HBO)   
10p       Hawaii Five-0 (CBS)  {Ronnie's pick}

8p         The X Factor (FOX)  {Jenny's pick}
830p     Man Up (ABC)  {JD's pick}
9p         Dancing With The Stars (ABC) {13th season finale}
              NCIS: LA (CBS)  {Ronnie's pick}
10p       Sons of Anarchy (FX)  {Steve's & Jon's pick}
              Unforgettable (CBS) 

8p        Survivor (CBS)
9p        Modern Family (ABC) {Jenny's, JD's, Steve's and Jon's pick}
            Inside The NFL (SHO)
            Criminal Minds (CBS)  {Ronnie's pick}
10p      American Horror Story (FX)
            South Park (COM)
            Whitechapel (BBCA)  
            Revenge (ABC)

Friday, November 11, 2011

What's Worth Watching Notes - November 10, 2011

What's Worth Watching show #14 will replay Sunday at 7am Eastern on Howard 101.  At least that's what they tell us.

- Jenny's TV News 
{Piers Morgan leaves America's Got Talent, Oscars changes, 20th Duggar child, Regis leaves and Kelly signs for 5 years}
- This Is The Week That Was 
{Jeopardy!, Hell on Wheels, Gossip Girl, Homeland, Saturday Night Live, Dexter}
- 140 Seconds with Ronnie Mund
- Interview with Kal Penn
- Favorite TV Doctors
- Most Memorable Deaths
- What's Worth Watching: November 10 - November 16

Kal Penn (
- Revealed none of the actors knew which of the 14 would get hired on House
- Can't believe he pulled off the big medical words used on House
- Found out Kutner was committing suicide one week after revealing Obama job
- Feels the writing and characters keeps viewers coming back to House
- Loved the opportunity to shoot guns and play out some drama on 24
- When confronted by Kiefer had a self realization he was on 24
- Didn't know he was getting killed off and not returning to 24
Favorite TV Doctors
- Greg House
- Doogie Howser (Jenny's & JD's choice)
- Cliff Huxtable (Steve's choice)
- Quincy (Jon's choice)
- Bones McCoy
- Jack Shepherd
- Hawkeye Pierce
- Doug Ross
- Perry Cox
- Mark Craig
- Mike Seever
- Dr Katz
- Frasier Crane
- Rob Corddry
Memorable TV Deaths
- Stringer Bell (JD's pick)
- George Constanza's fiancee Susan
- Random Growing Pains minor character drunk driving (Jenny's pick)
- Charlie Pace (Steve's pick)
- Henry Blake (Jon's pick)
- Rosalind Shays
- Jack Arnold & Dan Conner
- Mr. Hooper
- Teri Bauer
- James
- Eddie Jay Thomas
- Omar & Wallace
- Romano & Lucy Knight
- Rita
- Bobby Simone
- Eric the Midget
- Phil Hartman
- Mrs. Landingham 
- Kenny
- Maude Flanders
- JR Ewing
- Adriana
- Coach
- Ned Stark

Ronnie Mund (
- Called in on his way to the NCIS: LA set in Hollywood
- Thinks it's Chuck's baby and the Prince is in deep shit on Gossip Girl
- Feels Sons of Anarchy looks like it's coming to an end but it's not
- Now enjoys Mandy Potamkin on Homeland

JD Harmeyer (
- Hopes Gelman cries when Regis leaves his show
- Disappointed in Kardashian sketch and holds SNL to a higher standard
- Loved YCDTOTV and couldn't remember "I Don't Know" to get slimed
- Had a crush on Doogie Howser's girlfriend Wanda

Steve Brandano (
- Likes SNL, particularly the cast, and will stand by it
- Revealed Clarissa Darling's dad plays Pete Campbell's dad on Mad Men
- Mourns the kid who played with the gun on 90210

Jenny Hutt (
- Vouches Brett Ratner is a good guy and feels he's being grilled
- Moved by fringe characters on comedies dying off
Jon Hein (
- Doesn't think Piers Morgan focus on CNN will help his show
- Wonders why the native american was white on Hell on Wheels
- Called out Kurt Sutter to speak his mind on WWW
- Got to say differential diagnoses to Kal Penn
- Wants to see Ronnie dead on NCIS: LA

What’s Worth Watching
November 10 – November 16

730p      Thespians (SHO)
8p          The X Factor (FOX) {Jenny's pick}
              Community (NBC)
              The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
              Thursday Night Football (NFLN) Raiders vs Chargers  {JD's pick}
830p      Parks & Recreation (NBC)  {Jon's pick}
              Rules of Engagement (CBS)
9p          The Office (NBC)
              Grey’s Anatomy (ABC) {Ronnie's pick}
10p         It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia (FX)
               Beavis and Butt-head (MTV)
               Burn Notice (USA)
1030p     The League (FX)

8p         Chuck (NBC)
             Geek Charming (DIS)
             A Gifted Man (CBS)  {Jenny's pick}
9p         Fringe (FOX)  {Jon's pick}
             Grimm (NBC) {Steve's pick}
930p     Last Play At Shea (SHO)
10p       Blue Bloods (CBS) {Ronnie's pick}
             Boss (STARZ) 
             Real Time with Bill Maher (HBO) {9th season finale}
11p       That Metal Show (VH1C) {9th season premiere}{JD's pick}

8p         College Football Stanford vs Oregon (ABC) {Jon's pick}
9p         UFC Fight {JD's and Ronnie's pick}
11p       TJ Miller: No Real Reason (COM)    {Steve's pick}
1130p   Saturday Night Live (NBC) Emma Stone/Coldplay {Jenny's pick}

7p         60 Minutes (CBS)
8p         Sunday Night Football: Patriots vs Jets (NBC)  {JD's and Steve's pick}
              Once Upon A Time (ABC)
9p          The Walking Dead (AMC)  {Jon's pick}
              Boardwalk Empire (HBO) 
              The Good Wife (CBS)
              Dexter (SHO)
10p        Homeland (SHO) {Jenny's and Ronnie's pick}
              Hell On Wheels (AMC)
              Hung/How To Make It In America (HBO)

8p         Terra Nova (FOX)
             How I Met Your Mother (CBS)
830p     Monday Night Football: Vikings vs Packers (ESPN)  {JD's pick}
             2 Broke Girls (CBS) {Jenny's pick}
9p         House (FOX) {Jon's pick}
             Bored To Death (HBO)  {Steve's pick}
10p       Hawaii Five-0 (CBS)

830p     Man Up (ABC) {JD's pick}
9p         New Girl (FOX)  {Jenny's and Steve's pick}
930p     Raising Hope (FOX)  {Jon's pick}
10p       Sons of Anarchy (FX) {Ronnie's pick}
             Unforgettable (CBS)

8p        Survivor (CBS)
            The X Factor (FOX)  {Jenny's pick}
9p        Modern Family (ABC)  {JD's and Jon's pick}
            Inside The NFL (SHO)
            Criminal Minds (CBS) {Ronnie's pick}
10p      American Horror Story (FX)
            South Park (COM)  {Steve's pick}
            Whitechapel (BBCA)