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Sure 2011 was a big year and it's hard to say goodbye, if only because it means we're all getting older. But hey, there are some things happening in 2012 that we can be excited about! Here are five of them.

Smash

In February, NBC is unrolling its latest great bright hope, a drama with music set on the Great White Way. While the promos certainly make the show look pretty darn cheesy, we've seen the pilot and, yes, it is cheesy, but it's good cheesy. There's a surprising level of smarts at work on the show, owed probably to the fact that celebrated playwright (and TV screenwriter) Theresa Rebeck is in charge. Cast-wise, Debra Messing is neurotically winning as always, and though the whole "Introducing..." nonsense is silly considering she was second place on American Idol a few years ago, Katharine McPhee can certainly belt it out with the best of them. Other exciting TV of 2012 includes the long-awaited return of Mad Men, the less-long-awaited but still anticipated second season of Game of Thrones, and Aaron Sorkin's new show about cable news. (Smash premieres Monday, February 6)


The Hunger Games Movie

Speaking of entertainment, at long last the movie adaptation for the first in Suzanne Collins' brutal teen gladiators (sort of) book trilogy arrives in theaters in March. Sure the whole thing could be a debacle, adaptations of beloved books often are, but the first trailer sure is nifty and the cast seems solid. It's odd to be excited in a happy, giddy way about watching teenagers brutally murder each other, but there you have it. And hey, if dystopian teen melees aren't exactly your thing, 2012 is chock full of other big movie releases. There's the final film in Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy, Ridley Scott's return to outer space Prometheus, dueling Snow White movies, new features from Judd Apatow and Quentin Tarantino, World War Z, a new Spider-Man, and of course Peter Jackson's return to Middle Earth, The Hobbit. The new year promises good viewing. (Hunger Games opens March 23)


The London Summer Olympics

Sure over the years the Olympic Games have been overly commercialized, and NBC's coverage is frustratingly edited and slanted toward American favorites, and so far no Phelpsian superhero has emerged to get us patriotically excited (though it is still early). But c'mon, it's the Olympics! What's more fun than two weeks of international togetherness and friendly competition all set to John Williams' drum-rumbling music and narrated with Bob Costas' easygoing gravitas? Though we're partial to the homey Winter Games, the Summer Games have so many thrilling events -- swimming, track, gymnastics, badminton. Yes, even badminton! (If NBC ever shows it.) The London setting doesn't promise much in the way of cultural intrigue, it's just gray old London, but that's OK. Not every year can boast the same foreign awe as Beijing or the hometeam rah-rah-ness of Atlanta. So yeah, we are unabashedly excited about the Olympics, our two favorite weeks of every other year. (July 27 - August 12)


The Election

Yes, we actually are bizarrely looking forward to all the insane election hoopla. Sure, every time it's exhausting and soul-destroying and more than rattles our faith in the decency of the nation, but it's also a fun horse race to watch. A horse race that can end up changing the course of history, yes, but a horse race nonetheless. Obviously the big question is who exactly will be squaring off against incumbent Barack Obama, and right now, with many primaries to go, it still seems wide open. Will it be America's awkward human resources manager Mitt Romney? Ghost of 1994 come back for revenge Newt Gingrich? Kelly Clarkson's muse Ron Paul?? It'll be fascinating to find out, and then nail-biting to see who clinches the top prize in the end. But hey, do us a favor? 'Round about September, when we're so sick of punditry and guess-based analyses that we're considering buying a houseboat and puttering off onto the sea forever, remind us that we wrote this. Thanks. (Election day is November 6)


The End of the World

Oh, yeah, it doesn't really matter who the next president is, because according to the Mayans we're all outta here in December. Yup! It's kind of sad and scary, sure, but just think about all the crazy things we'll see! As the 40% of Americans who believe we are living in end times can tell you, it's way better to head off into oblivion at the end of the world than somewhere in the middle of its life. We want to see how this wild story finishes up: Who will get together? Will there be any cliffhangers? What was so special about that Walt kid anyway? If the apocalypse is coming and we're powerless to stop it, we figure we might as well welcome it. (The end of the world will be on December 12)

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