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'Downton Abbey' Starts to Unravel, 'We Built This Schmidty,' and the Return of 'Justified' in the Week's 10 Best TV Episodes

By Dustin Rowles | TV | January 23, 2012 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | January 23, 2012 |

10. Downton Abbey — Last week, after barreling through the first season, I didn’t think it would be possible to say anything negative about this show. But then everyone started airing their grievances with season two, the Brits started dissing America’s love for it, and all of a sudden, I began to see cracks in the facade. And this week’s episode was not that great. In fact, “Up All Night” should probably be in this spot.

9. Shameless — The second season is still spinning its wheels a bit, and should put more focus on Lip, but I really do like it when they allow Frank a shred of humanity, as they did this week after he literally f*cked a woman to death.

8. New Girl — They brought back the douchebag jar! Plus, Lizzy Caplan. And “We Built This Schmidt-y.” The show is right to highlight Schmidt as often as possible, but it still hasn’t found anything good to do with Winston yet. But really, it’s an easy show to like, even if it’s mostly frivolous.

7. Parks and Recreation — Great episode, even if I didn’t love what they’re doing with Paul Rudd’s character. That’s a perfectly good waste of Rudd, especially when there could be so much potential for a smart Rudd character and Ann.

6. Parenthood — Peter Krause is killing it this season. His inability to tell his daughter no to Cornell may have long-lasting repercussions, but it was totally worth it just for that look on his face when he broke. Also, she’ll do something to screw up and end up at Berkeley, anyway. Oh, and Amber saying no to dinner with her boss was the smartest thing that character has ever done. Good for you, Amber. As for Jasmine? Turnabout is fair play.

5. 30 Rock — A bounce-back episode from a subpar season opener with James Marsden and Idiot protesters. Literally.

4. Archer — “Archer” erased all memory of that mediocre three-episode arc last fall with three words: Burt F*cking Reynolds. Also, do not watch “Unsupervised.” It’s horrible.

3. Happy Endings — One of my favorite episodes in a while, as it hit on all three subplots: Old Brad vs. Old Jane, the V-Neck intervention, and Penny’s unsuccessful successful attempt to change Ryan Hanson.

2. Southland — The best two shows of the week were on at the same damn time on different channels. I hope you DVR’d “Southland.” It’s a fantastic slice of police life that blends a naturalism with amazing character development. I think this week’s episode featured Ben McKenzie smiling for the first time all series.

1. Justified — It’s back, and if there was any doubt this is the best drama on television right now, the third season premiere should dispel it. Here’s JoRo’s review.