20 Worst TV shows of 2012
This article initially appeared at The Sydney Morning Herald
By Andrew Murfett, Greg Hassall, Daniel Burt, Debi Enker, Paul Kalina, Melinda Houston and Craig Mathieson
There was a lot to like about television in 2012. That's not to say there wasn't some crap served up by the networks, and we're not just talking about The Shire, Being Lara Bingle or Paul Henry's Breakfast.
Here is our list of the worst shows of the year.
20. Why we're torn about Shaun Micallef Is Mad As Hell (ABC1)
For: Federal politics has been certifiably bonkers this year - bleak, joyless farce. But for 10 weeks, at the apex of the carbon tax battle, Shaun Micallef's wilfully perverse news satire provided a weekly dose of pleasurably silly mockery. There were always incidental pleasures in the characters' names (especially Veronica Milsom as reporter Xanthe Kalamazoo), but highlights played on headlines: Francis Greenslade's softly menacing union official; Tony Abbott's ''national hairnet tour''; the dance choreographed to Craig Emerson's ''Whyalla Wipeout''. I loved best the jokes at the expense of Fairfax and the future of print - especially the skit where the fish-and-chip shop wraps the flake in an iPad.
Against: The people spoke and the ABC listened, which is how Shaun Micallef was given a chance to flex his muscles as a writer, performer and avowed news junkie in this eponymous current-affairs satire. But anyone who saw his earlier go-around on SBS, the inventive, cheap and cheerful Newstopia, quickly realised that a polished production and overplayed gesturing didn't value-add. There were some bright spots - enough, evidently, for a return season next year.
19. Hemingway & Gellhorn (Showcase/Foxtel)
Directed by Philip Kaufman and starring Clive Owen and Nicole Kidman (in her first TV role since Bangkok Hilton), this should have been superb. Instead it felt self-important and bloated. You could almost see Kidman acting, while Owen brought little to the role of Hemingway. Ultimately, the movie perpetuated rather than interrogated the myth of the hard-drinking male artist, which seemed a missed opportunity.
18. Bikie Wars: Brothers in Arms (Channel Ten)
The 1984 Milperra massacre offered meaty TV fodder. The event was the culmination of a bikie gang war that erupted into a Father's Day showdown resulting in seven deaths. The tale behind the shootout possessed precisely the kind of ripped-from-the-headlines sensation beloved by TV networks seeking drama projects. The problem with this one, though, was that the story couldn't stretch to fill the required six episodes and ran out long before the finale. Character development was scant as episodes were padded with repetitive scenes of proud packs of men riding the open road, misbehaving in the clubhouses, and posturing and threatening each other.
17. Please Marry My Boy (Seven)
Most men don't bring up the idea of marriage until at least the second date, let alone have the subject broached on television immediately by their mother. In this reality show, three girls moved in with their ''potential'' mother-in-law before being voted out or kept, depending on traits such as their ability to cook. This dysfunctional social experiment was made sadder by the investment of some mothers who were overly hopeful about the prospect of the doomed relationships. Needless to say, Please Marry My Boy failed to fulfil the promise of its title, although one son was discovered bonking a contestant his mother had sent packing.