Television letdowns of 2013:
1. Murder as installation art: This has become a real personal peeve, as shows like NBC’s “Hannibal,” Fox’s “The Following,” AMC’s “The Killing” keep treating a crime scene like it’s an MFA thesis exhibit.
Murder is horrible enough all on its own (BBC’s “Broadchuch” made it as simple as a boy’s body at the foot of a cliff); it doesn’t need art direction, wires, costumes, paint, glitter, branches, antlers, feathers, etc.
The idea of the killer-as-curator is a desperate (and now cliched) byproduct of writers who think they need to outdo other crime shows in the gore department.
2. “Mad Men” Season 6: A finger-drumming, do-nothing wait for something — anything — to happen. It did, when Don melted the Hershey’s account, and possibly his career.
Also, I was stunned to see “Mad Men,” with its reputation for details, appear so clumsy with costuming hippies and psychedelic fashion trends.
3. “Behind the Candelabra”: A sordid, unfeeling and certainly overpraised HBO movie about the sad end of Liberace. I guess viewers were distracted by the stunt casting, makeup and bedazzled hissy fits.
4. “Girls”: The second season of Lena Dunham’s endlessly discussed HBO dramedy left me feeling underserved. But I could be lured back with a season focused mainly (only?) on Adam Driver’s portrayal of Hannah’s moody ex-boyfriend. In which case the show could be called “Guy.”
5. “Homeland”: Showtime’s anti-terror drama still has its occasional moments (I loved the episode where much-missed fugitive Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) arrives at the Caracas slum-scraper), but just about everyone agrees this season has been a real mess.
And, honestly, with some recent real-life diplomacy breakthroughs with Iran, is this such a good time for a TV show to be sending a fictional Marine to Tehran to take out the leadership?
6. “The Walking Dead”: Walking in circles, mostly, despite its huge popularity (and, I admit, a satisfyingly disruptive midseason finale last week). Still, though, raise your hand if you wanted to get in that station wagon with Carol (Melissa McBride) and see what else could be found.
7. The fall season: Networks continued their skid toward oblivion with tepid offerings, especially in the comedy department. Among the worst: “Dads” (Fox), “Welcome to the Family” (NBC), “The Goldbergs” (ABC), “We Are Men” (CBS), “The Michael J. Fox Show” (NBC) … need I go on?