Another year has gone by, and some promising new TV has arrived this season. This year’s list, however, contains a couple of provisos. First, I haven’t seen a few shows that qualify among the years greatest, and secondly, while a lot of shows from 2011 were brilliant, I think it would be more fair to let some newcomers and favorites share in the love. So bearing that in mind, let us go once more into the breach:
10. Bunheads (ABC Family)
Where two of the most gifted writers return to TV were either overblown or underwritten (I’m looking at you, Aaron Sorkin and Tom Fontana), the graceful return of Amy Sherman-Palladino and her rapid fire dialogue to the world of small towns was absolutely joyful. It took a little while to get going, but Sutton Foster and Emily Bishop are joys to behold in the staccato rhythm of the world of dance. This is one show aimed at tweens that I hope has a longer shelf-life than Secret Life of the American Teenager.
9. Nashville (ABC)
This show set in the country-music world is having a harder time winning over fans than you would expect given the talents of its cast and writers. Admittedly, it hasn’t achieved the heights that it’s Pilot promised, but the fact remains Connie Britton and Hayden Pantiere are giving some of the most mesmerizing performances and showing great pipes as bitter rivals who may need to rely on each other if they are to have any chance of a future in the cutthroat world of the music industry. Why people prefer Chicago Fire to this is beyond me.
8. Episodes (Showtime)
Showtime’s got some strong players in the comedy business (Nurse Jackie and House of Lies were both brilliant this season), but this lampoon of Hollywood meeting British comedy is by far it’s best bet. Matt LeBlanc has reached new levels of comic genius playing…himself, and he is ably supported by a wonderful cast as they try to survive a world that none of the players are suited for. I even felt sorry for Merc in the finale… a little.
7. Fringe (Fox)
Even if the audience for it has never been that large, it doesn’t change the fact that this is arguably the greatest creation of J.J. Abrams. Things were devilishly entertaining as the Fringe team managed to fight off one of it’s most devastating threats yet to both world… only to completely change the game by leaping the team into a dystopia created by the until now benevolent observers. As the team tries to save the world by facing the most traumatizing losses yet (Nina Sharp’s death was absolutely horrifying), we find ourselves caring more whether they will save themselves more than if they can save the world. And that is saying something.
6. The Good Wife (CBS)
Were it not for the extremely ill-thought out plotline involving Kalinda’s seedy ex-husband (just goes to show us to be careful what we wish for) this legal drama would rank much higher. Because otherwise it’s quality has remained blessedly high. Watching the firm trying to get out from under the terms of bankruptcy, watching Peter Florrick try to recover his campaign for governor over a surprise opponent (more Maura Tierney and Matthew Perry please!), and the endless fascinating legal cases with flawless guest stars week after week, this legal drama remains the most fascinating hour on TV. So what do the Emmy voters know?