New Girl
First, it’s worth noting that this New Girl is still very new indeed. The FOX comedy may be in the middle of its sophomore season but to make the 2012 list, it meant also including the back half of its freshman year. Do you remember your freshman year? Sloppy. Not to worry, the Elizabeth Meriwether created series didn’t need much time to find its groove (Stella!) and even in its infancy delivered more than enough quality episodes to warrant inclusion in any ‘best of.’ And it’s even harder for a network show (of any genre) to make these kinds of critic’s list when they have to go up against the unrestrained landscape of cable television. There is always an interesting opportunity to create art out of the prime-time limitations and, like most of the rewarding sitcoms, the writers and rad cast - Zooey Deschanel, Jake Johnson, Max Greenfield, Lamorne Morris and Hannah Simone - are able to play a little with the form or content boundaries.

The back half of Season 1 started with Lizzy Caplan’s amazing arc as Nick’s new girlfriend and ended with Jess alone after ditching Dermot Mulroney (with a Justin Long re-appearance in there too), Schmidt and Cece sitting on their feelings and Nick ending things with Caroline, again, which kept the roommates together heading into Season 2. Oh, and Winston had that bad job. So the replacement character still wasn’t all that well developed just yet but by the winter break in the second season, “Santa” (yes, last week), everything was firing with Winston himself driving the episode with his childlike wonder. “Black Santa!” Jess’ joblessness and sexual exploits with David Walton have also been great as well as Cece dangling the oh-so normal Robby (Nelson Franklin) in front of Schmidt and Nick refusing to be the emotional fluffer before finding a recent spark with Olivia Munn. The season is off to an excellent start, obviously, and New Girl resumes Tuesday, January 8 at 9 p.m. ET on FOX.

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