1. Mad Men
Probably the best season so far in my mind, with a handful of classics. The Pete-centric “Signal 30” is probably my favourite episode the show has ever delivered. What can I say, I’m a big Pete fan. “The Other Woman” was devastatingly beautiful and nicely shook up the Mad Men format. It works expertly as a downfall of a season for many people, but individually works as a collection of impeccable short stories
No show makes me happier or enjoy watching more than Parenthood. It’s not flashy and gets absolutely zero hype, but I love well-made family dramas like this, and Jason Katims is the perfect architect. Season four’s “cancer” arch with Monica Potter is the best storyline the show has ever done. The back-half of season three seemed to have started this roll with the awesome detour episode of “Road Trip.”
While not as great as the first season (see the article I wrote on it), I still immensely enjoyed myself through season two. A little disjointed and less tight as the first season, but the risks they took and being not afraid to majorly shake-up the show instilled again a sense that anything could happen. I’m wary of season three, but the audacity of Gordon and Gansa promises the show will continue to be entertaining and engaging.
4. Breaking Bad
Season four was the season that really made me love this show. I’d always liked it but season four finally put it on another plane for me. The show kept getting darker and Walter kept getting further and further buried under the weight of himself. The final scene of “Gliding Over All” delivers what we’ve all been waiting for, and looks to set-up a classic string of the eight remaining episodes. The train robbery of “Dead Freight” was one of the greatest sequences in both TV and movies I’ve seen in a long while.
As I’ve wrote earlier, Louis CK is in a position on TV different than any other. This show is painfully Louis’ as he’s in control of pretty much everything, delivering beautiful pieces of work. “Miami”, “Daddy’s Girlfriend (Part 1)”, “Late Show (Part 3)” and “New Year’s Eve” were all perfect episodes for me and even months later I still remember the feelings I had watching these episodes. “New Year’s Eve” features one of the most beautiful endings and touching moments to end a season on that also included an insane sex-crazed Melissa Leo.
I’ve been meaning to write longer about this show forever, and I will one day, especially that it has a final shortened season up ahead. Watching Treme is basically just soaking in the great New Orleans culture for an hour, as plot is always secondary to the feel and atmosphere of the show. We’ve known these characters for so long now that our emotional connections to them are at a peak, and when characters intertwine our history with them proves as a little treat.
Luck had an unfortunate life span, one that should’ve continued into a second season were it not for some behind-the-scenes troubles. I don’t know that you could pick better collaborators than David Milch, Michael Mann and Dustin Hoffman, and somehow they didn’t disappoint. Milch and co. made all the seemingly boring horserace scenes incredibly cinematic and a counterbalance to the great drama outside of it. It’s incredibly regrettable that we’re not getting another season of it, but I’ll enjoy looking back on this great “mini-series.”
Nothing could top Margo Martindale’s perfect performance as the villainous Mags from season two, but the tandem of Neal McDonough and Mykelti Williamson gave it a pretty good run. McDonough was especially notable as his character became more and more manic and weird as the season progressed. Goggins continues to outshine supporting actors all over TV and Olyphant makes Givens a supreme badass with a sarcastic wit. It gets critical praise, but is still not recognized to the level of Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Game Of Thrones etc., but it constantly puts in great work with a fantastic setting and a unique setting not seen too much on TV.
The funniest show on TV, and season three only solidified it. The jokes are so smart and layered that there’s many that I don’t even know what they’re referencing. H. Jon Benjamin remains one of the best voice actor today (along with his equally great work on Bob’s Burgers), complimented by some nice guest voices by Burt Reynolds and Bryan Cranston. Few things illustrate the hilarity and off-the-wall nature of Archer than the great two-part finale “Space Race.”
10. Game Of Thrones
Not being familiar with the book, the first season of Game Of Thrones was completely overwhelming for me. It was good, but it was hard to keep track of all the characters, storylines, locations and the extent of their relationships. Season two put me on better footing though, knowing all the characters and how they knew each other which greatly skyrocketed my enjoyment for the season. These fantasy types of shows aren’t usually my thing, but much of the politics and posturing is reminiscent from HBO golden age shows, just with a different backing.
Like Archer, just incredibly smart and hilarious jokes. From the brilliant minds of The Thick Of It, it mixes the political satire of that show with the awkwardness and situational humour of Curb Your Enthusiasm. Julia Louis-Dreyfus is perfect in the lead role, providing a great mix of bitchiness obliviousness. Watch the great third episode “Catherine” to see the show firing on all cylinders.
12. New Girl
When this show started I never thought it would reach any type of list like this for me. The backhalf of season one really kickstarted the roll its on and showcased the different show it had become. Moving slightly away from so much of a focus on Zooey Deschanel and making it more of an ensemble show did wonders for it. Not to mention my favourite comedic performance by anybody on TV currently, Jake Johnson. Just watch Jake Johnson reel off a bunch bunch of rapid-fire lines in succession, and you’ll see why he deserves the honour.
13. The Middle
Consistently the funniest show on ABC’s Wednesday block of comedy’s. Supremely more funny and consistent than Modern Family and never goes off the deep end with its tones like Suburgatory often does. Very plain and not flashy, but solid jokes and nice to see a “poor” situation being portrayed on television. *cough* Modern Family *cough*
14. Boardwalk Empire
A lot of characters and storylines to wade through, but after the kickstart of the end of season two, season three continued to deliver solid TV. Will never reach the quality heights of a Mad Men or Breaking Bad but consistently delivers good episodes with the penchant for great ones every so often.
15. Happy Endings
Again, another hilarious show with smart and inventive jokes. Maybe the best laugh-a-minute show outside of Archer. The jokes you see here are supremely unique, and you’d be hard pressed to find them treading over common ground. Elisha Cuthbert is the MVP, makes the “dumb blonde” trope feel fresh.