Best of 2012: TV Shows

the staff looks at their favorite TV shows of the past year …

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Who doesn’t love lists?

We here at Pop-Break were raised on lists. We love them like we love bears, cookies and all things pop culture.

So as we do every year, we present to you our personal favorites in film, music (albums and songs) and television.

This year we’re also debuting a new category: Pop-Break Live, our live performance we were a part of.

And this year we’re excited by the fact we’ve added a whole new slew of writers plus we’ll have two special contributors: Maria Mar of 95.9 WRAT’s Jersey Rock and Popblerd! Editor-in-Chief Mike Heyliger.

Here’s Who is Contributing to this Year’s List:

Bill Bodkin – Editor-in-Chief, Trailer Tuesday Columnist, Singles Party Columnist
Sue-Ann Bodkin – Contributor
Brent Johnson – Managing Editor, Lost Songs Columnist, Singles Party Columnist
Jonathan Elliott – Marketing Coordinator, Staff Writer
Jason Kundrath – Senior Editor, Indie Music Editor, Singles Party Columnist
Joe Zorzi – Senior Editor, Music Content Coordinator, Singles Party Columnist
Maxwell Barna – Senior Editor, Photography Editor
Logan J. Fowler – Senior Editor, Trailer Tuesday Columnist, Link to the Past Columnist
Jason Stives – Senior Editor, Music & Film Content Coordinator, Dr. Who Columnist
Lauren Stern – Assignment Editor, Senior Writer, Singles Party Columnist
Daniel Cohen – Film Editor
Ann Hale – Staff Writer, Horror Editor, Film Content Coordinator
Michael Dworkis – Staff Writer, Wrestling Columnist
Lisa Pikaard – Staff Writer, Music Content Coordinator
Kimberlee Rossi-Fuchs – Staff Writer, Featured Columnist
Luke Kalamar – Staff Writer, Walking Dead Columnist
Kelly Gonsalves – Staff Writer, Singles Party Columnist
Erica Batchelor – Staff Writer
Brendan Williams – Contributor
Nick Porcaro – Contributor, Web Designer
Joel Wosk – Contributor
Brendan Hourican – Contributor
John Lawrence – Contributor, UFC Columnist

Jonathan Elliott

1. Homeland
At the end of Season 1, I thought this show could go no further — and then it did, blowing my mind every week as a mentally-ill CIA specialist and an American hero-turned-Al-Qaeda sleeper agent circle one another in a sexy, scary, terrifying game of cat-and-mouse. Claire Danes is awesome, as is Mandy Patinkin as her shrewd, compassionate boss — but Damian Lewis is the real gem of this show, a jack-knife of an actor who is both endlessly charming and unpredictable. No show in recent memory has inspired this much conversation in my life, and I’m consistently amazed and enthralled. Season three can’t get here fast enough.


2. Parks And Recreation
We all want to be Ron Swanson, and it’s CRIMINAL that Nick Offerman doesn’t yet have an award for this role. Parks and Rec proves, with every episode, that it’s possible to make optimism cool, smart, and funny at the same time, as Leslie Knope and her friends continue to make life better in Pawnee, Indiana. This is what joy feels like as a TV show, friends. And it’s better than ever.


3. Modern Family
Every week, this show just feels like a big, warm hug, with the highest level of comedy polish possible. It gets some flack for being sentimental, but you know what? Sometimes, that’s okay. And every Wednesday night. Modern Family leaves me happier than I was a half-hour earlier. It’s still going strong. Also, I’m pretty sure Cam and I own at least three of the same shirts …


4. Dexter
We have one year left, and the writers are making it count, as Dexter’s serial killer lifestyle and newly humanized personal life continued to collide and implode. Jennifer Carpenter’s Deb and Michael C. Hall’s Dex continue to circle one another as adopted siblings who may have the hots for one another–and now that the cards are all on the table about Dex’s extracurricular activities, there’s so many ways this story can end. And who saw the finale shocker coming? I didn’t know Deb had it in her…


5. How I Met Your Mother
This show gets a lot of flack, for not being “smart” enough to make it on some lists, and not being “baudy” (like Chuck Lorre shows) to make it on others. But it is somehow the most earnest comedy on TV, and after eight years of continuity, we’ve watched a gang of five New Yorkers in this love story in reverse become two couples and a single guy, and as it nears its endgame, it’s wistful and fun to see how it all comes together. We’ve got another season and a half left, and while there’s signs that this show might not be what it used to be, the midseason finale “The Final Page,” and its heartbreaking, cheer-inducing last five minutes, are as good as any moment in the show, including season two’s “Slap Bet.” There’s still life in this show, and I’m excited to see where it goes.


Maxwell Barna
1. Boardwalk Empire, 2. The Walking Dead, 3. Sons Of Anarchy, 4. Breaking Bad, 5. (tie) It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia and Louie


Erica Batchelor
1. American Horror Story: Asylum, 2. Game of Thrones, 3. True Blood, 4. Gossip Girl, 5. South Park

Bill Bodkin
1. Homeland, 2. The Walking Dead, 3. American Horror Story: Asylum, 4. Dr. Who, 5. Happy Endings

Sue Bodkin
1. Homeland, 2. American Horror Story: Asylum, 3. Happy Endings, 4. Shahs of Sunset, 5. Catfish: The Series

Kimberlee Rossi-Fuchs
1. Game Of Thrones, 
2. Girls, 
3. Louie, 
4. Boardwalk Empire, 
5. RuPaul’s Drag Race

Ann Hale
1. The Walking Dead, 2. American Horror Story: Asylum, 3. How I Met Your Mother, 4. Dexter, 5. ACC Basketball (Go Duke!)

Mike Heyliger
1. Happy Endings, 2. Go On, 3. Modern Family, 4. Parks And Recreation, 5. The First 48

Brendan Hourican
1. The Walking Dead, 2. It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, 3. Breaking Bad, 4. Community, 5. Parks And Recreation

Luke Kalamar
1. The Walking Dead, 2. The Big Bang Theory, 3. Dexter, 4. Breaking Bad, 5. Revolution

Jason Kundrath
1. Girls, 2. Game Of Thrones, 3. The Newsroom

Michael Dworkis

1. Transformers Prime
Alright, alright, I can feel you rolling your eyes. Have you seen the show? The second season is certainly better than the first. The animation, story, and even evolution of the characters are pretty intense, for a “cartoon.” The show is actually CGI-rendered, and if you remember Beast Wars, you will see technology has advanced a long way since then. There is betrayal, death, tragedy, and even a glimpse of hope, but the long war between Optimus Prime and his Autobots against the vile and villainous Megatron and his Decepticons have taken it up a notch as the fate of two planets rest in their hands.


This season started off with a big bang. Specifically, the destruction of NCIS headquarters. What originally was thought to be a terrorist attack linked to overseas turns into terrorism spawned right here in the United States. A rich, influential man loses his son in the service, so he puts all his wealth and power into waking up the U.S. government, his way. Gibbs and his team pull out every trick they know, and even that is not enough. This season has shown more intense character development, mostly with secrets unveiled and tragedies unfolding. These challenges leave the NCIS team shaken, but not out of commission.


3. The Big Bang Theory
Who does not love this show? A nerd goes to space, another has a relationship with a model-yet-devoid-of-brain-cells girl, and Sheldon is hysterically insane. The series continues to entertain as each character is maturing and progressing to a new stage of life. Even nerds grow up, but still can be nerds.


4. Pawn Stars
I learn more United States History from this show than I ever did in high school. I really do not care for the family banter segments, although at time it leads to some entertainment. Seeing customers bring in old articfacts from American history are very cool to see and the viewer does get a brief history of the origin. Some people come in hawking items they think are valuable, while in reality is junk. I often wonder how much, if any is scripted though. Some of these people come across believing what they have is true treasure, while in reality it is nothing more than what it is.


5. Young Justice
Oh, there goes Michael again, picking another “cartoon” for his top five. You know what, Young Justice may be a cartoon, but it is the best superhero show on television right now. Do not get me started on the train wreck that is Arrow. Young Justice shows the birth of another Teen-Titans-meets-Outsiders team and how the future of the Justice League looks with these upcoming heroes. From season one into season two we watch them mature and develop into young adults, first being kids with powers, then learning the responsibility and risks involved with what they do. The second season continues in January 2013, and we have seen our young heroes grow up to take their rightful spots in the Justice League, and we also get introduced to the next generation of heroes.


John Lawrence
1. Doctor Who, 2. Supernatural, 3. Sons Of Anarchy, 4. The Walking Dead, 5. Face Off


Lisa Pikaard
1. NFL, 2. Castle, 3. Once Upon A Time, 4. NCIS: Los Angeles, 5. Leverage

Maria Mar
1. The League, 2. Family Guy, 3. Tosh.0, 4. Two And A Half Men, 5. Chelsea Lately

Nick Porcaro
1. Parks and Recreation

Lauren Stern
1. The Newsroom, 2. Dexter, 3. The Mindy Project, 4. Law & Order: SVU, 5. The Big Bang Theory

Jason Stives
1. Mad Men, 2. The Walking Dead, 3. Boardwalk Empire, 4. Veep, 5. Sherlock

Brendan Williams
1. The Walking Dead, 2. The League, 3. Parks And Recreation, 4. Modern Family, 5. How I Met Your Mother

Joel Wosk
1. Bob’s Burgers, 2. Archer, 3. Superjail!, 4. It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, 5. The Walking Dead

Joe Zorzi:
1. Breaking Bad, 2. New Girl, 3. Shameless, 4. The Inbetweeners, 5. House Of Lies

Brent Johnson

1. (tie) The Newsroom
Naysayers can bark all they want. There’s a long list of reasons why Aaron Sorkin’s new journalism drama is the best hour you can spend watching television: 1. Like George Clooney’s excellent film Good Night, And Good Luck, it reveals the tense, gripping melodrama that surrounds the behind-the-scenes world of broadcast news. 2. The performances — especially from a never-better Jeff Daniels — are top-notch. 3. So is Sorkin’s writing, of course. 4. Have you seen the opening five minutes of Episode 1? Wow. 5. More than anything, it’s a probing look at the celebrity-obsessed, patience-lacking universe we now live in. And we should all be thankful someone is commenting on that with such intelligence — even if Will McAvoy’s speeches get more preachy at times than a Sunday sermon.

The Newsroom

1. (tie) It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia
No show since Seinfeld has been this consistently funny this late it its run. Which isn’t surprising: Both are about a twisted set of friends who make you laugh out loud at how depraved they can get. (Plus, with the exception of Nick Offerman, no one on television delivers lines are hilariously as Glenn Howerton — who plays Dennis, who happily says the narcissist things many of us merely think.)


2. Parks And Recreation
Sunny gets the top spot simply because it’s the most entertaining TV show week in and week out. But Parks is the most consistently brilliant — funny, smart, and sweet at the same time. We’ve yet to see an episode that’s anything less than solid. Oh, and it’s got Ron Swanson, the greatest TV character in history.


3. Community
A show about community college students — with episode about a paintball tournament and two characters who host a fake morning talk show? So wacky, it’s visionary.


4. Suburgatory
It’s a rare show that manages to be both offbeat and human. This tale about surviving life in the suburbs is one of them.


5. The Office
The last few seasons have often been painful. But in its final year, the show that was once TV’s greatest comedy seems to be re-finding itself with a series of pleasantly quirky episodes. A nice surprise.


Founded in September 2009, The Pop Break is a digital pop culture magazine that covers film, music, television, video games, books and comics books and professional wrestling.