TV in 2011 brought America a fair share of idiocy, often attached to a Kardashian or Sheen. There was no shortage of laughs, from Jimmy Fallon to Louis C.K. to Zooey Deschanel.
And Atlanta was the home to more zombies, werewolves and vampires than you could fend off with a battalion of “Real Housewives.”
Cable continued to feed viewers complex, character-driven programs, engaging and confounding them, often at the same time. Two notable examples: AMC’s “The Killing” and Showtime’s “Homeland.” Successful new broadcast dramas veered more on the soapy, whimsical side, with ABC’s “Once Upon a Time” and “Revenge” capturing the most buzz.
Reality programming didn’t break much new ground, generating even more variations of “Pawn Stars” and “Real Housewives.” And two singing competition shows (”The X Factor” and “The Voice”) tried to one-up “American Idol” with mixed results.
Here are some highlights of TV in 2011 following the 140 characters or less constraints of Twitter, which is increasingly used as a home for viewers to feed real-time commentary of TV shows, from the MTV Video Music Awards to the finale of “Breaking Bad.”
- Oprah Winfrey left her millions of die-hard syndicated talk-show fans for her OWN cable network. Most haven’t followed her – yet.
- Viewers ate up AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” shot in metro Atlanta, even after creator Frank Darabont leaves under mysterious circumstances.
- Clueless move? Atlanta-based VH1 drama “Single Ladies” dropped Stacey Dash after one season. She’s replaced by lesser-known soap star.
- Atlanta scored another hit show in “Necessary Roughness,” a USA drama about a psychiatrist who treats athletes.
- BET brought old CW sitcom “The Game” back from the dead, shot it in Atlanta and hauled in network record ratings.
- Oscar winner Mo’Nique lost her Atlanta-based talk show. Why? BET and Mo’Nique won’t say.
- Atlanta’s Alton Brown voluntarily retired his Food Network show “Good Eats” after 12 years and 249 episodes. It’s been a yummy ride!
- From Tebow to Rodgers to Brees, NFL is more popular than ever. Result: networks pay billions more to air the games.
- Bravo’s “Real Housewives of Atlanta” refused to go away, remaining as popular as ever in its fourth season.
- Most popular YouTube video: Rebecca Black’s inane and insanely catchy “Friday.” Now we know what day comes after Thursday!
- Ricky Gervais hosted the Golden Globes and annoys mainstream Hollywood with nasty barbs. Results? Golden Globes invites him back in 2012.
- E! reality star Kim Kardashian’s $10 million “marriage” lasted 72 days. She doesn’t even deserve 140 characters.
- Paul Ossmann lost his 11 Alive weatherman job, his home and his wife in the same month. The eternal optimist is now selling real estate.
- Fox 5’s “Good Day Atlanta” revamped lineup, brought back Gurvir Dhindsa, added Buck Lanford, dropped Stacey Elgin, improved ratings.
- “American Idol” revamped, revived itself with better talent and a new and improved judges panel featuring Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler.
- Hyped to high heaven, Simon Cowell’s “X Factor” suffered from a robotic host and over production but still generated possible stars.
- NBC surprised with “The Voice,” a refreshing “Idol” variant, featuring lively current acts as judges e.g. Cee Lo Green, Adam Levine.
- Ageless wonder Regis Philbin, unhappy with his next contract, left his talk show after 28 years but at age 80 has no plans to retire.
- Andy Rooney, at age 92, stepped down as “60 Minutes” resident curmudgeon. Retirement was short lived. He died a month later.
- Atlanta’s Richard Blais took home the “Top Chef: All Stars” crown with determination, good humor and creative, delicious food.
- Marietta’s Melanie Moore danced away with the “So You Think You Can Dance” victory. Her formula: grace, emotion and technical prowess.
- Georgia double victory on “Dancing With the Stars” thanks to football star Hines Ward in the spring and war hero J.R. Martinez in the fall.
- Atlanta’s Nancy Grace rode the Casey Anthony trial to new ratings heights, then boogied to the final five on “Dancing With the Stars.”
- Best reality show of the year: the series of Republican candidate debates, lifting some (New Gingrich) and sinking others (Rick Perry)
- And thanks, Charlie Sheen, for feeding us a raft of now tiresome catchphrases after a most public meltdown. Come 2012, no more tiger blood!
By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk