December 21, 2012 at 05:00 AM EST

1. Work It, ABC
It was Bosom Buddies without the fun — and without the talent of a Tom Hanks or a Peter Scolari. Actually, you’d think in these more enlightened, transgender-friendly times, someone could come up with an intriguing TV show about men passing as, and reveling in becoming, women. But this was the year’s most pointless new show.

2. Animal Practice, NBC
Justin Kirk and JoAnna Garcia Swisher didn’t deserve to be stuck doing these tedious monkeyshines. Promoted by NBC as though it knew that the network’s only shot at success was to make a star out of Crystal, who played monkey medical assistant Dr. Rizzo, Animal Practice was 2012’s silliest botch.

3. Anger Management, FX
After his “Winning!” tour in 2011, Charlie Sheen made a thudding return to television this year as a womanizing therapist on a show designed to surround him with amusing eccentrics. It didn’t work, but no matter — some mixture of curiosity and fondness for Sheen’s previous work attracted sufficient ratings for FX to commit to 90 episodes, although I doubt I’ll ever watch another.

4. House of Lies, Showtime
It’s easy to pick shows that were worse than Lies2 Broke Girls and Kourtney & Kim Take New York, for example — but the squandered promise of this production is what lands it on the list. How could a show with such a talented cast be so boring? When you take performers as beguiling as Don Cheadle, Kristen Bell, and Ben Schwartz and turn them all into smug, oily management consultants, that’s a bit of an artistic crime.

5. American Idol Season Finale, Fox
A fitting end to a lousy season: tedious judging, little suspense, and a fine-grade-sandpaper-voiced winner in Phillip Phillips, who was also, unfortunately, very bland.

Dozens of shows died — or rather, were mercy-killed —in 2012. Here, we commemorate some of the year’s most short-lived series by noting when they left us, and how many episodes they aired.
Pan Am
ABC, Feb. 19, 14 episodes
CBS, March 1, 8 episodes
A Gifted Man
CBS, March 2, 16 episodes
The River
ABC, March 20, 8 episodes
I Hate My Teenage Daughter
FOX, March 20, 7 episodes
FOX, March 26, 13 episodes
Are You There, Chelsea?
NBC, March 28, 12 episodes
THE CW, April 17, 22 episodes
ABC, May 6, 10 episodes
The Secret Circle
THE CW, May 10, 22 episodes
The Finder
FOX, May 11, 13 episodes
ABC, May 17, 10 episodes
NBC, May 24, 13 episodes
The Firm
NBC, July 14, 22 episodes
NYC 22
CBS, Aug. 11, 13 episodes
STARZ, OCT. 19, 18 episodes
Animal Practice
NBC, Oct. 24, 6 episodes
CBS, Nov. 12, 13 episodes

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