Every major network listens to hundreds of television pitches each year. A small percentage of those receive a script order, a small percentage of those receive a pilot order, a small percentage of those actually get picked up, and hilariously, an overwhelming majority of those are still not very good. Most new television programs barely make it the full season let alone get picked up for another go around. Fortunately, there are always a dozen or so that somehow navigate through all of those trappings and actually work. This list is a celebration of those television programs.

The following list contains ten shows that premiered in 2012. Some of them are already among the best shows on TV. Others have shown enough snippets of incredible promise to make more astute viewers tune in for the sake of what the show could become. TV Blend stands behind every single one, and while there’s no way to tell where they might go from here, what we do know is that each of their outputs over the past year was damn good.

Here are TV Blend’s best new shows of 2012…

2012 New Shows
There’s not a ton of new television fodder set to air during any given summer months. Thus, creating a brand new procedural set in the wide and open landscapes of Wyoming and featuring a conflicted sheriff returning to the job after months of drunken mourning following the death of his wife was a welcome addition to A&E’s normally reality-heavy lineup in 2012. Signing on Battlestar Galactica’s Katee Sackhoff, Smallville’s Cassidy Freeman, and veteran actor Lou Diamond Phillips was also a stroke of genius, and probably helped lead to Longmire’s summer success on the air.

Detective Walt Longmire (Robert Taylor) is legitimately old school, and the show often focuses on guns, women, and Reservation politics. Add a procedural format, and you get a show that somewhat skews to older viewers but still has enough punch to pop up on this list as one of 2012’s best new series. The veritable tug of war constantly going on between the Res police and the Sheriff’s department also adds a little something extra to the procedural format, as Native American politics often get in the way of investigations and those living on the Reservation prefer to keep their mouths clammed shut. Longmire may not have the budget that some of its cable counterparts have, but it is still a welcome addition to the summer lineup, and speaks highly of the new direction A&E has been working to go in.
2012 New Shows
It wasn’t necessarily the easiest freshman year for Girls, but the complaints initially launched at Lena Dunham and her new comedy rarely had to do with the series’ quality. The detractors probably avoided examining the on-air aspect of the HBO addition (you know, the important bit) because it being a stand-out, fresh and funny show didn’t fit into any of their various negative or disparaging narratives. It’s much harder to argue that the driving voice behind Girls only achieved success because of nepotism or criticize the characters’ lack of likability when the product is so damn good. Of course, Dunham is the main reason for the comedy’s success thanks to her sharp writing and deft direction, not to mention her often brave performances, but she’s certainly not the only thing the love about Girls.

Like most Judd Apatow produced projects, the HBO series was able to find a great group of actors to surround Dunham’s stubborn, once-spoiled Hannah with Allison Williams perfectly cast as the model-beautiful but anal best friend Marnie and Jemima Kirke as Jessa, the returning wild child who never found herself. The real standouts, however, are Zosia Mamet as the high strung virgin and Adam Driver playing Hannah’s odd, to say the least, love interest. And to top off the hilariously honest storylines and empathetic if unlikable characters, Girls also manages to be beautifully shot and soundtracked, offering a great look at a subsection of New York City. Dunham’s often uncomfortable yet surprisingly warm show is not just one of the year’s best new series but, as most awards shows will attest, one of the best comedies period.
2012 New Shows
Shonda Rhimes has done it again. Much in the way Grey's Anatomy grabbed our attention years back, delivering must-watch episode after must-watch episode - at least in its first couple of seasons - ABC's Scandal has become a new not-so-guilty-pleasure drama for TV watchers. The first season began in 2012, introducing us to Kerry Washington's Olivia Pope, an attorney who uses her law expertise in her work as a public image-fixer and scandal manager. Of course, her and her staff of fellow fixers' lives are, in some cases, just as dramatic and messy as their wealthy clientele. That includes Olivia's secret, steamy relationship with the President of the United States. Her involvement (both business and personal) with the White House adds a layer of mildly political drama to the show, which helps the series stand out among other primetime soaps.

(Spoiler alert!) Season 1 introduced us to the work Pope does and the personal conflicts of Olivia and her staff. And Season 2, which debuted this fall, didn't lose a step, launching forward on the first season's momentum and leaving us on the edge of our seats as we watched Fitz get shot, Huck get blamed and Olivia caught in the middle of it all. Exciting, dramatic, romantic, and suspenseful, Scandal is captivating and addictive in all the right ways and great addition to dramatic television in 2012.
2012 New Shows
While Smash may have had less to prove than its predecessor in the musical television genre, Glee, it still had to prove it wasn’t just a copycat. It quickly became clear that singing and dancing aside, Smash wasn’t another Glee. Giving us a window into the behind the scenes drama of a Broadway musical, it quickly became one of the most talked about series of 2012. Yes, Smash was over the top at times, but this is Broadway, and the egos, the romances, the betrayals and the scheming and jostling for the chance of stardom are a must for any show that wants to take on the personalities who populate the live theater. Smash did just that, and in spite of some criticism for it, stayed dedicated to the style it started out with.

Right down to the last moment, Smash stuck to the go-big-or-go-home attitude, leaving two aspiring stars, one a veteran, one a newcomer, locked in the battle for the role of a lifetime – that of Marilyn Monroe – in the production of Bombshell. Smash’s success was made by a stellar cast, including Debra Messing and Jack Davenport, but perhaps especially Katharine McPhee, who quickly proved American Idol voters were wrong. In 2012, Smash gave us fabulous melodrama, characters to love and hate, underdogs to cheer for and of course, some fabulous musical numbers. What Season 2 will bring now that creator Theresa Rebeck has moved on is anyone’s guess, but Smash was among 2012’s best.
2012 New Shows
If the pressure of the Presidency has a way of turning powerful men into either heroes or villains, the utter pointlessness of the Vice Presidency has a way of turning formerly powerful men into bored and frustrated versions of their former selves. No show has ever tapped into that concept quite like Veep, a biting satire so clever and brilliant that it realizes the awfulness of the occupation supersedes even the fact that Selina Mayer is the first woman in the history of the United States to earn the title.

Of course, “earn” is an extremely generous term for how Selina ended up in the office. She tried to run for the Presidency prior to Veep’s first episode and failed in spectacular fashion, forcing her to accept a charity VP gift from a man she knows damn well doesn’t even like her. That scenario leaves her with both a disdain and an obsession with pleasing her boss, and the show utilizes it to maximum effect. Between filibuster reform bills and new silverware, she constantly rearranges her priorities and her courses of action depending on whether she’s more in the mood to be a team player or to further her own agenda. Someday she might figure it out and find happiness, but that definitely won’t happen as long as she’s the swearing, hysterical Veep many fell in love with for the first time in 2012.
2012 New Shows
Call The Midwife
Set in East London in the 1950s, Call the Midwife is one of the UK’s finest imports to US audiences. The BBC-to-PBS series follows a young midwife trying to determine where she fits in to the world while she works in some of London’s worst slums. Hospital dramas are a dime a dozen on television, but by taking away the hospital itself, and focusing solely on prenatal care, Call the Midwife brings some fresh medical premises to the table and also gives audiences a fine historical perspective.

Still, all of this would be boring without the addition of a likeable and amusing cast. Newcomer Jessica Raine and the nymphish Helen George are charming for very different reasons (the latter reminds me a bit of All the Way Mae in A League of Their Own), but it is comedian Miranda Hart who really shines, transforming the bumbling Chummy into a witty worker, willing to crack a joke but still fight hard for what she believes in. Really, there’s nothing this series is missing. The post-WWII settings are astonishing, the fashion is fun, and the show has even managed to nab Academy award winner Vannessa Redgrave to narrate. A second series is already in the works, and if you can manage to maneuver your remote all the way to PBS, you might be pleasantly surprised by what you find.
2012 New Shows
Heir apparent to the network’s successful Superman inspired Smallville, The CW’s Arrow is having a great first run. Run. That’s what they call it in comics. And while we’ve yet to see all of Season 1, Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim and Andrew Kreisberg’s adaptation of DC’s superhero (usually called “Green Arrow”) is already impressing fans and critics alike with only nine episodes under its utility belt. Okay, so Oliver Queen doesn’t wear a utility belt but you’d be only lying to yourself if you deny the obvious influence that Batman, specifically Christopher Nolan’s uber successful Dark Knight Trilogy, has had on the show.

Not that the inspiration is in any way not welcome since the gritty and realistic approach to handling the vigilante’s adventures has made Arrow one of the most exciting new action series of the year. Stephen Amell is perfectly suited to play both the flamboyant playboy and the physically demanding side of the titular character while the rest of the cast performs admirably and seem similarly well suited for their roles. So the acting isn’t the number one reason to watch The CW superhero series but it the well shot and choreographed action. In addition, the always engaging storylines that include compelling flashbacks and DC criminal cameos make the wait between issues extra hard. Issues. That’s what they call... nevermind because Arrow isn’t just for comic book fans, everyone should be watching the Starling City vigilante try to clean up his city every week. Season 1 resumes on January 16.
2012 New Shows
While nothing can truly replace Jack Bauer or 24, Fox gave Kiefer Sutherland back to us last winter with the arrival of Tim Kring's Touch, a drama that stars Sutherland as the father of a child with an extraordinary gift for numbers. Though Martin's son Jake doesn't speak, Martin soon discovers that his child can communicate through numbers and find patterns that connect people in unusual ways that might seem totally random to the average person. Much in the way Kring's series Heroes brought characters from all over the world together, the people featured in Touch, who are connected through these seemingly coincidental occurrence, come from all over the globe.

With Martin and his son at the heart of the story and the connections formed within the stories of the other characters, Touch is emotional, suspenseful and like nothing else on television in the way it tells its story. Fox took a chance on the series and it paid off in its first season, using its unique premise to build suspense throughout the season as Martin attempts to understand his son's gift and follow the patterns to see where they lead and what they connect. There's certainly the chance that Touch will eventually get tangled up in its own plot, but its first season realizes some of the potential delivered in the pilot, contributing to some of the most intriguing drama TV had to offer in 2012.
2012 New Shows
Go On
If there’s one thing you can say for Matthew Perry it’s that the man doesn’t give up easily, and it’s a good thing, because otherwise 2012 wouldn’t have brought us Go On. A comedy with an initially not-so-funny premise about a sportscaster sent to group therapy to deal with the death of his wife, Go On premiered in the shadow of Perry’s previous failures, Mr. Sunshine and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, and it’s among the best new shows of 2012.

Go On is the show that Matthew Perry needed. It lets him use his trademark sarcasm and dry wit as well as surrounds him with the kind of quirky characters he plays off so very well. Yes, there’s still something of Chandler about his portrayal of Ryan King, but in Go On, it seems right and not so distracting that we expect Joey to walk in the door at any moment. Of course, only half a season in, Go On still has a lot of work to do to prove itself, and Matthew Perry still has a long way to go to show there is life on television for him after Friends. So far, however, things are looking good. Go On is a solid comedy with a funny cast and a feeling of darkness that is unusual in network series. There’s hope for the future of this one. Congrats, Mr. Perry.
2012 New Shows
Ben & Kate
People often bring up writing as the most important element of a comedy, but actually, without good bantering chemistry between the leads, the quality of the writing is meaningless. Freshman laugher Ben & Kate still has a few kinks to work out in terms of how seriously it wants to address real issues, but in just half a season, it has already managed to establish a realistic, likeable and hilarious rapport between adult leads Dakota Johnson, Nat Faxon, Lucy Punch and Echo Kellum. Throw in some great work by Maggie Elizabeth Jones as the youngest member of the clan, and there’s really not a weak point in the mix cast wide.

To this point, there really hasn’t been a weak episode either. From high school grudges to scavenger hunts to missed 21st birthdays, Ben & Kate has consistently churned out exciting, humorous premises well conceived to both maximize the comedy and give us a bit of backstory about the lead characters. The ratings haven’t exactly blown people away, but given the potential and the quality already exposed, it would be a real shame if this show gets chopped before it’s able to really hit its stride. Thanks to some excellent casting and a natural charm, Ben & Kate is one of the best new shows on television, and ten episodes in, it’s only getting better.
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