By David Hiltbrand
The Philadelphia Inquirer
Let’s get the bad news out of the way first as we recap the year in TV.
In 2012, we lost Mayberry’s Sheriff Andy Taylor, J.R. Ewing, George Jefferson, two dance-party kings with the initials D.C., Barnabas Collins, the cutest Monkee, the skipper of PT-73, and “Family Feud’s“ kissing bandit.
The good news? We gained Honey Boo Boo.
You do the math.
TLC’s tiny, tubby yahoo was a rebuke to all of you who wrote me declaring that TV could not get any lower than “Jersey Shore.“ Ha! If there’s one thing my job has taught me, it’s that TV can always go lower.
At this moment, reality TV producers are out there scouring the underbrush. They will not rest until they find personalities who combine ignorance and arrogance so recklessly that they make Honey Boo Boo look like Audrey Hepburn.
By the way, I don’t think Honey was the only one hopped up on Go-Go Juice this year.
Professional apoplectic Gordon Ramsay had about 46 different shows on at the same time.
“Today“ exhibited suicidal tendencies, managing to make a martyr of Ann Curry and later to ignore the national moment of remembrance for 9/11 in favor of an interview about boob jobs with Kardashian brood mare Kris Jenner.
Not coincidentally, “Today“ ended a streak that made Cal Ripken look like a slacker: 852 consecutive weeks atop the morning show wars.
Always to be outdone, the “CBS Morning Show“ responded by pointlessly shuffling its hosts once again. The show’s new motto: “Charlie Rose - He’s Not Just to Put You to Sleep Anymore.“
The prime-time talent competitions were all playing very expensive games of musical chairs. Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez will judge no more (if that’s what they were doing) on “American Idol.“ A nation breathlessly awaits the arrival of their replacements: Nicki Minaj, Mariah Carey and Keith Urban.
Howard Stern took Piers Morgan’s chair on “America’s Got Talent.“ Britney Spears and Demi Lovato stepped in for Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger on “The X Factor.“ Now L.A. Reid has announced that he will not return. And Christina Aguilera and Cee Lo just finished their rotations on “The Voice.“ Shakira and Usher are slated to take their places.
Not one of these programs has yet figured out a way to replace its defecting viewers.
This was a year when Americans were forced to pick sides: Hatfields or McCoys? The modern-day Sherlock on PBS or the one on CBS?
The very institution of TV was rocked. The Emmy Awards is contemplating changing its name to the Cable Ace Awards, as broadcast networks were shut out of a record number of major categories on TV’s big night.
A number of old favorites - “One Life to Live,“ “Desperate Housewives,“ “House,“ “Weeds,“ “Chuck“ and “The Closer“ among them - winked out. Some shows that have overstayed their welcome, including “How I Met Your Mother,“ “Glee“ and “Mad Men,“ refused to take the hint.
Poppy Montgomery’s series “Unforgettable“ was canceled and then, like Frankenstein, revived. Charlie Sheen had an even more unlikely comeback, landing a new series, “Anger Management.“ Just goes to prove you can’t keep a good maniac down.
A lot of 2012 was taken up with events that just seemed to go on and on, like the Summer Olympics. How many nights can you spend watching people do laps in a pool before you lose your mind?
That opening ceremony that dramatized each stage of England’s evolution from agrarian Eden to modern techno-power seemed to unfold in real time. And when it came to the closing ceremony, let’s face it, any pursuit that climaxes with a Spice Girls reunion is bound to be a bitter disappointment.
Don’t even get me started on the eternity that was the election. If that was a TV series, it would have been canceled after Herman Cain’s cameo.
There you have it - 2012. What was the good news again?