Best of 2012: ‘Jersey Shore,’ ‘Gossip Girl’s’ final seasons disappoint

What does it take to be a “disappointing show”? For our latest edition in our Best of 2012 series, we are actually turning things around and focusing on programs that for whatever reason haven’t lived up to expectations. Maybe they were really good in the past, or maybe they came in with so much hype that you thought they would be better than they are. In case you are wondering why such duds as “Work It” and “Guys with Kids” are not on here, it’s simple: we had no expectations for these shows, so it is hard to view them as failures. (We have a “Worst Show of 2012” coming up later for that.)

In case you are checking out our Best of 2012 series for the first time, here’s how it works: vote for your pick below, and be sure to check back daily for more updates. We’ll be announcing all of your selections on Friday, December 21 (voting closes at midnight), and we will be following with our own choices the following week along with the pick for the elusive Show of the Year.

Most Disappointing Show

“Glee” – Remember when Rachel Berry being in New York was going to give her all sorts of great new stories? Well, it’s instead marginalized the character, and Ryan Murphy has made it feel as though the biggest city in America is a smaller place than even McKinley High. He should have either gone all out with the New York idea, or scrapped it entirely and kept the focus in Ohio. The show is biting off way more than it can chew, and everything is suffering as a result. Our biggest frustration? Some of the best characters on the show (Artie, Will, Coach Beiste, Karofsky) have either been minimized or are gone completely; go back and watch the pilot, and you will see how much the focus has changed.

“Gossip Girl” – When you are in your final season, the expectation is that you will end with a bang. Instead, “Gossip Girl” is suffering a slow and painful death. The Bart storyline was a misguided move from the start, and it feels like the writers are wasting too much time with characters we don’t care that much about (see: Sage). And do we need to even mention Serena and Dan again? Ew.

“Jersey Shore” – Speaking of shows going out as a shell of their former selves, “Jersey Shore” has been at times unwatchable this season … and this is from someone that watches TV for a living. We sympathize with The Situation’s issues and applaud Snooki for moving forward with their lives, but you can’t put on a show and take away the reason why it was popular to begin with: hard partying. The stars have all gotten so famous at this point that the entire charade feels forced, and MTV for whatever reason is insistent on pretending as though these people are ordinary young Americans. You can argue that “Jersey Shore” was never a good show, but it was at least entertaining.

“The Office” – Notice a trend here? Maybe we have too high of expectations for shows in their final seasons. The truth is that “The Office” is better than it was for most of last year, but with Greg Daniels returning to steer the ship we were expecting so much more. Remember when Kevin was more than just a dullard, and when there was some element of realism here? A good storyline for Oscar and Angela does not make up for Andy’s inexplicable boat trip (a move facilitated more for Ed Helms’ film career), Catherine Tate getting promoted and then having nothing to do, and two new male characters who could really have been condensed into one. Plus, don’t even get us started on the Jim / Pam storyline that started off out of character for Jim, and now just feels awkward to watch.

“Revenge” – You could also make a similar sort of argument here for ABC’s fellow Sunday night series in “Once Upon a Time”: both had such a strong end to their first seasons, but it feels almost like neither fully knows where it is going now. “Revenge” is the worst offender given that we just don’t really know how much has been accomplished at all in the past several weeks: Emily’s mother came and went, Victoria is back from the dead, and the revenge plot is still going on. There just hasn’t been any of those cool moments to keep us on Twitter all night long, and we need more substance in our soaps.

“Revolution” – It’s hard to call a new show “disappointing” given that they are just starting out, but we’ll make an exception here for “Revolution.” It had a pretty decent pilot, but a pair of problems have negated the beautiful cinematography and the strong action sequences: an incredibly unlikable female lead in Charlie that acts as story repellant, and a good four or five episodes that were spent either wandering around or rescuing someone from kidnappers. It reminds us quite a bit of another disappointing show in “Falling Skies” over on TNT; you see a few episodes that are compelling, and then you wonder why the rest are not like that.

“The X Factor” – When Simon Cowell hires Britney Spears for $15 million and promises to learn from his mistakes, you expect things to be good. Instead, what we have here is a singing show that is more of the same. Rather than slowly building up contestants to be stars, Cowell throws them out on stage with dancers, seizure lights, and expects them to swim right away rather than sink. In addition to that, there is way too much producer meddling behind the scenes, and most of the artists we feel like we are seeing are manufactured and not particularly great (especially vocally). The worst part of this show, though, are the judges: Britney gives tiny, useless critiques, and there is so little chemistry among the group that it comes across like no one wants to be there. Perhaps the biggest problem here is having your boss sitting next to you in Simon: Nicole Scherzinger was horrendous in America last year, but she may actually be the star of the show in Britain this year.

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