If there's anything better than the year's top rated TV moments (and by "rated," I of course mean what we critics deem as the best and not actually numerical evidence), it's lists reminding you of the year's top rated TV moments. However, I wanted to do something different from all the other critics' top 10 rundowns. So I came up with a totally unique approach: this top 13 list of TV's most memorable moments in 2012. From Clint Eastwood's fun with furniture to multiple zombie snack attacks to Deter Morgan's killer comeback, here's a look back at the year.
The Walking Dead Kills Off Lori.
There was no more shocking moment on TV's most shocking series than when young Carl (Chandler Riggs) had to shoot mom Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) after she gave birth to his sister. It certainly makes sense that, in a series that's pretty much all about death, main characters get killed off almost every week. Still, it was tough to get used to the fact that our heroes had the life expectancy of Clint Eastwood's partner in a Dirty Harry movie.
Mad Men Kills Off Lane Pryce.
When you live in a world of zombies, it's not surprising that important people die. When you live in a world of 1960s ad execs, though, the worst you can expect is seeing the stars suffer the occasional hangover. So, when cable's most acclaimed drama offed the kindly but troubled Lane Pryce (Jared Harris), it was the most shocking moment in a season that shook things up with everything from Roger Sterling's (John Slattery) acid trip to the departure of Peggy (Elisabeth Moss), the ad firm's heart and soul.
Dexter Exposed. Or, Dex-posed, if you will. The end of last season left viewers hanging as Serial Killer For Good Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) was caught in the act by sister/cop Debra (Jennifer Carpenter). This season began with Deb realizing and learning to live with the truth, and ended with her taking an innocent life herself. The stuff in-between, especially the time wasted on the Russian mob subplot, wasn't great but the bookends made for a killer season.
Louie's Louis Ends Up Alone. Sort Of.
Pretty much any moment of this amazing show stands out as one of the year's best. I don't think there's ever been a series that better captures the silliness and the sadness of life, often within the same scene. Still, it's impossible to forget the heartbreaking moment in the season finale when divorced dad Louis C.K. said goodbye to his kids for two weeks and realized he had to face the holidays alone. And it's important to remember the downright spiritual moment at the end where he sat in a Chinese house enjoying the New Year with a family that didn't even speak English.
Olympics ceremonies, before and after.
Sure there was a bunch of spectacular swimming and running and jumping and dancing (at least for horses) sandwiched into those two weeks in London, but let's face it. When you look back on the 2012 Summer Olympics, chances are you won't remember them as a showcase for the world's most amazing athletes. Rather, it's more likely you'll remember the event as the biggest TV variety show ever, kicking off with a sketch wherein James Bond and the Queen parachuted in and ending with a massive, non-ironic production of Monty Python's "Always Look On the Bright Side Of Life."
Breaking Bad's Walter takes care of Mike.
It's a rare show where you can watch a high school chemistry teacher (Bryan Cranston) shoot down a vicious, unrepentant killer (Jonathan Banks) and feel more sorry for the latter character. But that's Breaking Bad, the darkest and most complex drama on television. Watching Cranston's Walter White take out his main tormentor – cold-blooded baddie Mike Ehrmantraut – represented the final step in his dark transformation and laid the groundwork for the upcoming final season.
House dies, House lives.
You knew the end was coming. Fox and Hugh Laurie made it clear all year that it was the final season for the ever-dependable House. And considering what a morose medic Dr. House (Hugh Laurie) had become by the end, I fully expected him to end up as a chemical experiment by the final scene. So, when it turned out he faked his own death to ride off into the sunset with cancer-stricken friend Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard), it was the most surprising TV redemption since Charlie Sheen got another sit-com.
Knope defeats Newport on Parks And Recreation finale.
Certainly that election we went through in November was worth paying attention to, but the more entertaining race happened back in the spring. That was when the sweetest and most clueless politician in America, Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler), proved that nice candidates can indeed finish first. Her victory over the equally clueless but far richer Bobby Newport (Paul Rudd) was not only funnier than the presidential election. Strangely, it also seemed more real.
Liz Lemon does the impossible on 30 Rock.
From the beginning of this series, the odds of Tina Fey's sad sack character ending up happily married were about as good as consummate capitalist Jack Donaghy's (Alec Baldwin) chances of tackling a mission for Greenpeace. So to watch her finally get her wedding – albeit, wearing a Princess Leia outfit – was as much of a surprise as it would have been to see Liz Lemon battling a zombie apocalypse.
TV's other bachelor settles down on How I Met Your Mother.
This sit-com doles out plot points with the same urgency that PBS NewsHour broadcasts Jennifer Aniston baby watch stories. However, just when you figure it's never going to get around to any big reveals, you learn that the Godfather Of All Bachelors, Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris), and Robin Scherbatsky (Colbie Smulders) are getting hitched. Can the identity of the Mother be far behind?
Honey Boo Boo changes the course of TV history.
She came. She saw. She ate cheese balls. And little Honey Boo Boo became the summer's most buzzed-about celebrity. Here Comes Honey Boo Boo was like, say, that chocolate covered bacon you tried at the county fair: both are odd, trashy and things you'd never publicly admit to trying. And once you sample either, you'll never be able to totally forget the experience no matter how hard you try.
Lindsay Lohan has another accident. This latest travesty, however, did not involve bars, cars or any other stars. Instead, if involved her playing Elizabeth Taylor in the Lifetime movie Liz & Dick. Unlike her multiple arrests, however, this crime will be harder to escape. The film was so unintentionally hilarious that unless Lohan plans on a future career in comedy, her chances of landing another acting gig are not great.
Clint Eastwood Vs. Furniture. Adding this to the list should in no way be construed as an endorsement of one party or another. Rather, I'm just paying tribute to one of the most talked-about TV events of the year, and one that kept late-night comics busy for months afterward. Whatever Eastwood was going for when he pretended President Obama was a chair at the Republican National Convention, it was the most entertaining human/furniture performance since Pee Wee Herman introduced us to Chairy back in the 1980s.