Agents Coulson And May — Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.: One of the most problematic and controversial shows of the fall (only because we wanted so much from it), this show was saved from utter disaster by the twin experience and, yes, gravitas of Ming-Na Wen and Clark Gregg. The show would be a complete mess top to bottom without them.
In the last two episodes, however, this adorable pair have come into their own. If the show survives, I think they’re destined to become new Whedon favorites.
Bert — The Trophy Wife: Anyone who has suffered through the reign of terror that is Modern Family’s Manny knows how hard it is to pull off the “wise beyond their years” kid. But little Albert Tsai makes it look effortless. He’s endlessly endearing where he should be insufferable. Every week with this show feels like a soft warm hug.
Fara — Homeland: From a pure storytelling perspective, Nazanin Boniadi’s Fara provided something Homeland desperately needed, a Muslim character on the other side of the conflict. From an acting perspective, Boniadi is absolutely nailing this characters conflicted and personal investment in the war on terror.
Valentin Narcisse — Boardwalk Empire: It’s becoming increasingly clear that this under appreciated HBO show usually gets amazing in the last few episodes of the season. The best storyline this season centers around Michael K. Williams’ Chalky who was given a nemesis this year in the form of Jeffrey Wright’s Dr. Narcisse. Wright is a great actor who has been simmering in the background for years. (Most notably in the recent Bond films.) It’s great to see him step into the stoplight. Look at that mustache!
Pops — The Goldbergs: For those of us who missed George Segal’s sweet and dopey delivery on Just Shoot Me his return to weekly sitcom is a delight. The Goldbergs has three great adult comedians leading three pretty adorable children and gives off a lovely Wonder Years vibe. But maybe the most enjoyable aspect of this ’80s comedy are the suits Segal gets to wear.
Abbie Mills And Ichabod Crane — Sleepy Hollow: We’ve already talked at great length about these two. They’ve turned what should be a pretty ridiculous show into something that is completely enjoyable and watchable.
Marie Laveau — American Horror Story: Coven: You thought no one could beat Jessica Lange in a scenery chewing contest? Think again.
Det. Rosa Diaz and Sgt. Terry Jeffords — Brooklyn Nine-Nine: I think most of you Brooklyn Nine-Nine fans would argue that Tiny Terry here belongs in the number one spot. The best I can do, though, is name him the best new sitcom character. Comparing him to new dramatic characters is simply unfair. I’d also add Rosa to this list for her delightfully dour portrayal.
James Spader — The Blacklist: Terrible, dumb show, great actor. Spader is shining like a crazy diamond in the middle of the trash heap that is this procedural. Is it worth watching for him alone? It is.
Margaret Scully — Masters Of Sex: We already knew that Allison Janney is an incredible actress. We knew that. And we’ve seen her do some perfectly delightful comedy since The West Wing but Janney really sings when she’s given some juicy drama. As Margaret Scully, the sexually frustrated wife of the Provost on Masters Of Sex, Janney has been amazing. She elevated the Showtime show from great to phenomenal.