10. House of Lies — The second episode failed to improve on the pilot — in fact, narratively, it was worse — but it had one hell of a weird bathroom sex scene, and the Cat Deely sequence made the entire episode well worth the watch.
9. 30 Rock — I liked the episode well enough, but after a nine-month hiatus, you’d think that they could do better than an “American Idol” parody and a WNBA dancing team gag.
8. Chuck — Yes. I’m still watching, and the finish line is finally in sight. This week’s episode gave us what I’ve been wanting to see the entire goddamn series: Sarah with the intersect. You know what would’ve made this show better? If Sarah had the intersect from the outset.
7. Up All Night — Jason Lee is the best thing to ever happen to Maya Rudolph’s character and I hope they make him a regular. Plus, super competitive game night and Rock Band shame.
6. Shameless — Last night’s episode was more of a set-up show, putting a few new plot strands into motion. The most intriguing may be the Speed-like gimmick with Frank and the Butter Face: If her blood pressure rises above 120/80, her heart will explode. That should make for an exciting sex scene.
5. Parenthood — OK, who else thought that Jason Ritter was going to break up with Sarah? It was a relief to see that he didn’t, although that still leaves the door open for Sarah to do it at a later time. If she does, she should be dropped down an elevator shaft. Oh, and how far into the episode before you placed the cellist as the musician from “Treme”? I like her, but where did Jasmine run off to? Not the best episode, but Adam’s line to Crosby at the end still left me a bit misty.
4. The Good Wife — So how great is Elsbeth? I think they must have borrowed her from a David E. Kelley show. Also, Wendy Scott Carr’s case against Will Gardner is picking up steam. So, why doesn’t Kalinda go to Peter and tell him that Scott Carr is basically using Alicia to blackmail Kalinda? At some point, Peter has got to come in and find a way to put the kibosh on the case.
3. Happy Endings — You just can’t beat a racist parrot. Also, now that Dave and Penny’s parents are dating, how long before Dave and Penny pull a Flowers in the Attic? Also, who knew it was possible to love Elisha Cuthbert?
2. Parks and Recreation — This. All day.
1. Downton Abbey — The placement here is not so much based on this single episode’s merit (although it was very good), but because I spent all week catching up on the series, starting from the beginning. It is great. It is phenomenal. It is fan-fucking-tastic. I’m sorry I ever doubted anyone. I assumed that I’d probably hate it because I couldn’t imagine getting into a stodgy British show about the British caste system. But, it completely won me over. Mr. Bane is awesome. Tom is an asshole. Mrs. O’Brien may be coming around. I think Lady Mary is great, but I may have a crush on Lady Cybil. And Maggie Smith! People! What a goddamn delight.
Also, my love for “Downton Abbey” officially confirms that I’m a white guy in my 30s.