Year in Review: Robert Lloyd's top new TV for 2011
Thirteen favorite things new to TV in 2011, in 10 entries.
"Enlightened" (HBO): Mike White and Laura Dern’s numinous, luminous comedy on the difficulties of spiritual reform.
"Portlandia" (IFC): Site-specific countercultural sketch show, from an “SNL” stalwart and an alt-rock rock star, examines the attitudes of doing right.
"New Girl" (Fox): Zooey Deschanel stays up on the tightrope her costars keep taut.
"Downton Abbey" (PBS): Julian Fellowes’ post-Edwardian upstairs-downstairs, country-house comedy-drama is a digest of British literary and TV traditions.
"Homeland" (Showtime) / "The Killing" (AMC): Hazy mysteries trap the attention of troubled, talented female investigators (Claire Danes and Mireille Enos, respectively, as good as can be but better).
"Mildred Pierce" (HBO): Todd Haynes’ languorous, detailed adaptation of the James M. Cain novel is lifelike and larger than life.
"The Hour" (BBC America) / "Page Eight" (PBS): Hugely satisfying British thrillers; the first jumps like an Aston Martin, the second purrs like a Rolls.
"Boxing Gym" (PBS): A little symphony in pugilistic percussion from Frederick Wiseman, 81.
"George Harrison: Living in the Material World" (HBO) / "Woody Allen: A Documentary" (PBS): Great big films about artists easy to take for granted.
"Wilfred" (FX): Brainy low humor with a sweet streak as awesome Jason Gann (in a dog suit) leads Elijah Wood hectically toward the light.
A low point: After 45 years, Jerry Lewis is clumsily cashiered as the public face, and telethon host, of the Muscular Dystrophy Assn.
For more, here's an essay on TV in 2011.
-- Robert Lloyd
Photo: Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein putting a bird on it in "Portlandia." Credit: Scott Green/IFC.