The Best TV Shows Running in 2012
*** If something is on this List, it's here because it's *different* and stands out from its genre!
(And if you're a movie buff, you might also want to have a look at my new List-in-progress, "MOVIES: Excellent, Offbeat, Quirky, Eye-Candy, Heart-Shredding, and Dark Films of the New Millenium: 1990s-2000s-2013-Present".)
*** This list (and my taste) leans towards:
* Themes of social justice, charitable humanity, and original, innovative, ground-breaking or quirky themes;
* "Authentic" or quirky characters; highly-talented or charismatic actors (either as a single lead or a "team"); and
* Shows starring a lead character or group with a "special gift" of some sort (e.g., hyper-intelligence or professional or supernatural talent).
Although the list may seem top-heavy with crime-themed shows, there are also off-beat dramas, comedies, and several animated series.
Don't "judge a book by its cover" here: Some of the show names, ID pix, and one-line synopses you'll see here may "look like a dozen others," but they're not--again, if something is on this List, it's here because it's *different* and stands out from its genre.
The real kicks in this show come from watching Patrick's "seeing right through" suspects and telling them (quite untactfully) who they really are and whatever thoughts they're hiding--simultaneously embarrassing both the suspect and Jane's superiors (who, while baffled and even outraged by his methodology, "put up" with his "antics" because he is the best case-closer in the California Bureau of Investigation [CBI]).
Whether his hunches about who's the true culprit are right (which is 95% of the time) or wrong, he uses his uncanny ability to read people to set personalized, elaborate traps that manipulate the bad guy into revealing himself.
It's enjoyable watching Patrick in action: despite his calculating (and sometimes ruthless) professional mind, he has an endearing and disarming boyish charm and is an old-school gentleman. He's also mischievous and enjoys pranking people when someone's bugging him. A born showman, he always "fills the room" no matter what's going on, and that's the real appeal of the show: enjoying watching Patrick Jane being his various selves, and eagerly waiting to see just what he's going to pull out of his sleeve next.
Character background: Patrick Jane has zero police training, and is paid by the CBI as a "consultant." Jane was raised by "carnies" in a traveling carnival, and his father was also a con-man, who had Patrick running cons with him from childhood--an early education which left Jane with his trademark finely-honed people-reading (and -manipulating) skills. ” - Clockwork Eyes
(listed further down)
This late-nineties series totally rocked when it originally began airing in 1997, and now, 13 years later, it still rocks. Unlike many shows 10+ years old, this Nikita series does not on any level feel "dated". The dialogue and idioms are not anachronistic; the cinematography still holds its own in 2012; costuming (clothes and hairstyles) look just like the here-and-now; and the slick musical score is as current as any of today's music (largely because--to support the ambiance of the "dark plot"--someone really smart chose to score every episode with indie and "alternative" music tracks, and music from little-known, progressive groups).
Another reason the "look" of the show is timeless is because, in this "prequil" to the 2010 series, Nikita (blonde, and played by stunningly beautiful Australian actress Peta Wilson) and Michael are both working inside Section 1 (renamed "Division" for 2010) for the duration of the series, which means lots of "look" changes when these characters are on ops that require disguise or impersonation. This Nikita owns dozens of pairs of sunglasses of all colours, uses wigs of all colours, lengths, and styles, and dresses in cutting-edge fashion, both on and off the job
This show is very different from the 2010 reincarnation, because "this Nikita" is slave-driven and working under duress in every episode. Section 1 is under the thumb of "Operations" (reincarnated as 2010's "Percy")--a sinister, ruthless man who keeps Nikita under a microscope for her "unique style" of operating (i.e., Section hasn't broken her humanity, and she routinely deviates from and even blatantly defies orders in order to preserve her own humanitarian agenda). She lives under constant and repeated threats of being "Canceled" (executed in-house) by the fear-mongering. Machiavellian "Operations."
Many elements of Nikita 1997 were very "dark": they were shocking then, and are still shocking today.
The show pushed the violence envelope farther than any show of its time, specifically, showing graphic, horrific torture, usually performed by a sinister pair of Section torturers. The steel restraint chair in "Containment" (Section's torture room) makes us witness the unthinkable. Most everyone unlucky enough to survive a Section "strike" is hauled back to Section, where they are tortured for information in Containment. Under Operations' iron rule, even the characters we know well and sympathize with (Nikita, Michael, Birkoff, Walter, and others) have all had their own turns in that dreaded chair in Containment.
The 2010 reincarnation is a lot easier to watch in some ways. We are spared the horrific inner workings of Section 1 as the "new Nikita" (Maggie Q) is free of, and operates outside of, that malevolent environment. ” - Clockwork Eyes
No-nonsense Special Agent Gibbs (who is old enough to be the father of everyone on the team) is a distinguished, masculine role-model for men and possibly an attractive father-figure type for women. Gibbs relies upon his polar opposite, Abby Sciuto, for genius-level forensics and hot-shot computer skills. Abby is the highlight of the show: brilliant, beautiful, and routinely showing up for work in Goth-to-the-nines attire, complete with studded dog collar. It's hard to talk to Abs because she works with headphones on with the music cranked unimaginably loud. Other refreshing treats in the show are the dazzling array of movie-references constantly spouted by film buff Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo, and Israeli expat Ziva entertains by getting English idioms wrong in every other sentence. DiNozzo is a shameless womanizer who we love to hate, and Ziva routinely astonishes with her finely-honed close-quarters combat skills (acquired in Israel, where she was formerly a Mossad agent with a high-ranking father in the Israeli political scene). ” - Clockwork Eyes
Firstly, Kudos! to Executive Producer Anne Marie LaTraverse! It is rare to see a woman "behind" an action/crime show. But it is perhaps precisely because a woman is in charge of this show that it stands apart from most crime shows.
"Flashpoint"--although revolving around a "SWAT Team"--is no mere "break the door in and shoot all the bad guys" copycat. Rather, this special police team is an elite "Strategic Response Unit" (SRU), all of whose members have been additionally trained in the deeper aspects of "negotiating": Psychology, sensitivity training, you name it--with the result that they are able to resolve most stand-offs without a single shot fired.
Nevertheless, this superb show manages to induce a high level of viewer interest and involvement in every episode: it achieves a high level of humanistic and dramatic tension, along with edge-of-your-seat suspense.
To quote an oft-repeated negotiation lead-in offered to "subjects" by team-leader Sgt. Greg Parker: "Nobody has to die here today. We can all get to go home today."
And Parker's equally-life-affirming message to his SRU teammates when they are heading into an unusually dangerous situation:
"Let's go save lives, people." ” - Clockwork Eyes
(listed further up) ” - Clockwork Eyes
(not in this list) ” - Clockwork Eyes