7. The Office: It’s hard to make a huge argument for the disappointing nature of the eighth season, since “The Office” has been regularly disappointing us for years now. But with the departure of Steve Carell, “The Office” had a real opportunity to change course, resurrect itself, and re-position its characters. What it did instead was to elevate Andy Bernard into Steve Carell’s position and essentially strip what was unique about Andy and leave only those characteristics that were similar to Michael Scott’s. Instead of going in a different direction, the writers simply chose to replace Michael Scott with a worse version of Michael Scott. The show still has its occasional moments, but it’s certainly not appointment viewing anymore; it’s something we watch because it’s there, not because we’re excited about it.
6. The Sons of Anarchy Finale: I won’t argue against the season as a whole; the fourth season up until the finale was nearly as good as the phenomenal second season. It’s just that the dreadful, cop-out chickensh*t anti-climactic finale marred the rest of the season, essentially rendering all the beautifully constructed plot-lines moot. It was an entertaining ride, but I wish someone how told me that at the end of it, Kurt Sutter was going to run his passengers head first into the wall without a helmet.
5. Terra Nova: “Terra Nova” seemingly had everything going for it: A sci-fi series, time travel, dinosaurs, a futuristic dystopia, Steven Spielberg as producer, showrunners that cut their teeth on “Star Trek” series, a guaranteed 13-episode order, and practically an unlimited budget (the pilot cost between $10 and $20 million, and each episode around $4 million). Unfortunately, the producers did a terrible job of casting the series, and ultimately, failed to introduce any novel or interesting ideas, providing instead a safe, conservative, and ultimately boring family-friendly drama that tried too hard to please everyone that it managed to please no one at all.
4. Entourage: It’s hard to argue that “Entourage” broke form in its final season: it remained completely pointless until the bitter end. Still, after eight seasons, most of us expected something besides a hastily thrown together but completely unmemorable happy ending with an inkling of ambiguity so slight that the idea of a movie seems almost laughable. We may endure eight seasons of airy nothingness in 22 minute installments, but it’s hard to imagine anyone willing to pay to see the same in a 90-minute format.
3. Dexter: “Dexter” is not new to disappointing seasons; An argument could be made against any season except seasons one and four, but seasons one and four — in addition to Michael C. Hall’s remarkable annual performances — were enough to keep most of us involved in the series. But this year’s season six was a new low, featuring a terrible villain (Colin Hanks) who was enormously bad at playing that villain; a twist that was telegraphed six episodes in advance; and a plot course so boneheaded that even the shark rolled his eyes as the show jumped over him. Save for the final scene of the season, which will change the direction of future seasons, this year’s installment was a waste, a lost season unworthy of Michael C. Hall’s talents.
2. The Walking Dead: All the signs were there in the first season, and smugger people than I had been repeating them for months leading up to the second season debut. But most of us refused to listen, throwing ourselves headfirst into another season of the show, one already tainted by the axing of its beloved showrunner, Frank Darabont. And what did we get for our faith? Seven excruciatingly slow episodes with thin, unlikable characters; not nearly as many zombies as one would expect from a show ABOUT ZOMBIES; and a sh*tty storyline about a character few cared about that the writers managed to drag out for seven hours chock full of extended, pointless conversations, long walks in the woods, and more commercial breaks than should be allowed under law for a non-sporting event. Was the payoff worth it? No. Absolutely not.
1. The Killing: What makes AMC’s “The Killing” so disappointing is not just a finale that failed to answer the very question set up by the pilot episode — who killed Rosie Larsen? — but that, by that point, the only reason so many of us were even sticking around was to get that answer. The pilot — one of the best of 2011 — drew us in with dreary atmospherics and a slow pace we mistook for intelligence (“The Wire” comparisons abounded) and the first several episodes hooked us. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until halfway through the season before we realized what a glacially paced, excruciating mess the series was. The show, based on a phenomenally reviewed Danish series, apparently had the perfect template to follow and Veena Sud simply screwed the pooch, kicked it down the street, and then ran over it with her car. Seldom has a series burned off its goodwill as fast as “The Killing” managed to do, turning a surefire hit into a series that no one is excited about returning to in 2012.