21 Best Things on Cable TV in 2012 counts down the top shows, moments, trends and more that made 2012 an unforgettable year in cable TV.
The Biggest, The Best â€¦ And Boo Boo, Too!
If The World Ends In 2012, At Least There Was Something Good On Cable. The Top 21 Shows, Trends, Moments And More That Will Take Us Out With A Bang.
21. Get Angry AND Even
Remember when Charlie Sheen would never work in this town again? Do not doubt the Vatican Assassin Warlock! Sheen landed a starring role in FXâ€™s Anger Management, which became the most-watched scripted comedy prime-time premiere in cable history and got renewed for a whopping 90 episodes.
20. Case Closed
After grilling suspects for seven seasons on TNTâ€™s The Closer, LAPD Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson (Kyra Sedgwick) bid farewell in a fulfilling finale. The Closerâ€™s legacy lives on in the spinoff Major Crimes, which kept 7.2 million rapt Closer fans tuned in to cableâ€™s top new series launch this year.
19. Inmates Run â€śAsylumâ€ť
So they took some cast members from FXâ€™s American Horror Story and made them different characters in a whole new story set in a 1964 loony bin? Thatâ€™s totally insane! And we love it! Having a new story every season guarantees weâ€™ll be scared witless, not bored out of our minds.
18. More as This Story Develops
Aaron Sorkin is going to be Aaron Sorkin, dammit! You might find The West Wing creatorâ€™s shows smug and sanctimonious, but Sorkin stuck to his guns in HBOâ€™s The Newsroom, a provocative drama about idealism vs. realism behind the scenes of a cable TV news show. Season 2 is expected to premiere in June 2013.
17. Hot Wheels
Sundance Channelâ€™s Push Girls smashed stereotypes by documenting the lives of five dynamic L.A. women â€” models, athletes, dancers and musicians among them â€” who are paralyzed from either the waist or neck down. Their stories of triumph over tragedy made for reality TV at its inspiring best.
16. Medium Gets Large
TLCâ€™s Long Island Medium Theresa Caputo hit it big this year, being spoofed on SNL, pitching for Priceline and hitting the road for a nationwide tour. Our dead relatives pester her at all hours of the day, but thatâ€™s the price of fame.
15. Earthâ€™s Frozen Assets
Thereâ€™s more to life at Earthâ€™s top and bottom than polar bears, penguins and Santa Claus. Discovery Channelâ€™s seven-part Frozen Planet exposed the beauty, fragility, adaptability and peculiarity (â€śbrinicles,â€ť anyone?) of nature in the Arctic and Antarctic.
14. Walter White Goes Dark
The story of a cancer-stricken teacher who turns to cooking meth was never sunshine, lollipops and rainbows, but Walter White (Bryan Cranston) and AMCâ€™s Breaking Bad went to really dark places in Season 5. (Sorry, kid on the dirt bike.) The series concludes with eight episodes in summer 2013.
13. Prep School
National Geographic Channelâ€™s most watched series ever, Doomsday Preppers is a fascinating look at the extreme and expensive lengths people go to get ready for the complete breakdown of civilization. Weâ€™re sure these people are nuts, but we are stockpiling booze and ammunition â€¦ you know, just in case.
12. Bullâ€™s Eye!
Of all the sports at the 2012 London Summer Olympics, archery hit the mark with viewers on NBC Sports Network and MSNBC. Olympic archery averaged 1.5 million viewers â€” more than basketball â€” but weâ€™re assuming half of the viewers were 12-year-old Hunger Games fans.
11. LOL NFL
The Green Bay Packers stole the ball but the Seattle Seahawks stole the win on ESPNâ€™s Monday Night Football. The replacement officialsâ€™ controversial game-ending touchdown call sent more eyeballs to SportsCenter than have been there in at least 22 years.
10. You Betcha!
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and her brood can exit stage right anytime. But weâ€™ll never tire of Julianne Mooreâ€™s spot-on Palin portrayal in HBOâ€™s Game Change, the networkâ€™s most-watched original film in nearly eight years.
9. Zou Bisou Bisou
Man Men is so worth the wait. Jessica ParĂ©â€™s smokinâ€™ rendition of the 1961 French pop song â€śZou Bisou Bisouâ€ť totally made up for the AMC hit dramaâ€™s 17-month absence. It was Don Draperâ€™s birthday, but the 3.5 million viewers who watched the Season 5 premiere got the gift.
8. Here for the Beard
You know youâ€™ve arrived when they turn your hirsute head into a Chia Pet. Outdoor-sporting-goods mogul Willie Robertson and his family turned a small idea into a big business â€” and turned that into a captivating, funny reality TV series in A&Eâ€™s Duck Dynasty.
7. The Ricktator
â€śThis isnâ€™t a democracy anymore!â€ť proclaimed Rick â€śThe Ricktatorâ€ť Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) in the Season 2 finale of AMCâ€™s The Walking Dead. The other survivors of the zombie apocalypse fell in line, and so did the 10.9 million fans who returned for more gory goodness in the Season 3 premiere, the largest audience for any drama series in basic cable history.
6. You Better Redneckognize!
Hail Honey Boo Boo, 6-Year-Old Queen of English Shows With English Subtitles! Alana Thompson and her family made TLCâ€™s Here Comes Honey Boo Boo a TV car crash we couldnâ€™t turn away from. Laugh at them if you will, but Boo Boo and Mama will be laughing all the way to the bank. Theyâ€™ll now reportedly get between $15,000-$20,000 per episode.
5. Enemy Within
Itâ€™s no conspiracy. Showtimeâ€™s Homeland is that good. The political/espionage thriller won big at the Emmys, capturing awards for Outstanding Drama Series, Outstanding Lead Actor (Damian Lewis) and Outstanding Lead Actress (Claire Danes). A growing audience ensured this plot will keep thickening, as Showtime ordered a third season.
4. J.R. Gets Another Shot
Resurrecting the Southfork saga was a bold move that couldâ€™ve gone south, but TNTâ€™s new edition of Dallas â€” mixing an eye-catching young cast with the big stars from the original prime-time soap â€” struck oil and drew 6.9 million viewers for its premiere. (RIP, Larry Hagman)
3. Real Girls of NYC
The chances of HBOâ€™s Girls becoming a hit were as slim as seeing a naked Lena Dunham eating cake in a bathroom stall during the Emmys telecast. Fortunately, we got both. Dunhamâ€™s comedy about the poor decisions of twentysomething women in New York was one of the yearâ€™s most buzzed-about shows.
2. Curiosity Piqued
While space shuttles became museum pieces and Neil Armstrong left this Earthly plane, the astronomical success of the Curiosity Mars rover landing in August kept our chins up and eyes pointed to the heavens. Shows like National Geographic Channelâ€™s Martian Mega Rover and Discovery Channelâ€™s Mars Landing 2012: The New Search for Life revealed the rocket science involved in the historic project.
1. Themâ€™s Fightinâ€™ Words
Historyâ€™s Hatfields & McCoys miniseries starring Kevin Costner and Bill Paxton shed new light on the decades-long, old-timey clash between the clans. It was watched by more than 62 million viewers and won five Emmys out of its 16 nominations. The three installments rank as the top three entertainment TV shows of all time in ad-supported cable history.