1. Boardwalk Empire — Boardwalk lands in the top spot three weeks in a row now, and I doubt that anyone who is watching Boardwalk would disagree. Those who still aren’t are missing one of the most riveting, well-plotted, beautifully shot dramas on television. This week: Chalky barely escapes death (again), Eli backs himself into a dangerous corner (again) and Gillian Darmody, my God: I don’t think anyone thought that Ron Livingston’s character is who he said he was, but I never saw that twist coming.
2.Raising Hope — Raising Hope is one of those shows that you don’t even realize you miss until it returns, and this week’s double-episode premiere was fantastic, even without its original showrunner, Greg Garcia, who went off to do The Millers (boo!). In the first two episodes, at least, it seems the show is trying to focus more on the show’s strengths, Martha Plimpton and Garret Dillahunt, and they killed both A-plots, one with Jeffrey Tambor as Virginia’s estranged gay, narcissistic father, and the other in which Bart and Virginia create a bartering currency with disastrous results.
3.Parks and Recreation — After a month-long hiatus, Parks and Rec came back strong with two episodes, as well, ending in a heartbreaking loss for Leslie Knopes in the city council recall. Where does she go from here? Mayor, I’m guessing. The real highlights from the two episodes, however, were Tatiana Maslany’s adorable relationship with Tom, and Ron Swanson’s addiction to the hunting video game.
4. The League — The second truly classic episode of the season, after “The Von Nowzick Wedding,” this episode had everything, and by everything, I mean Ali Larter making out with a female basketball coach. Also, cultural unmentionables, “‘moist’ is the classy ‘wet’” and the best horrified reaction shots on television. (See the episode’s best lines)
5. Parenthood — Everything is a mess right now on Parenthood, as it often is building toward a mid-season finale: Kristina is down in the polls; Zack is engaging in loveless booty calls with a college girl he digs; Zeke is lost without his wife, who is in Italy; Amber is an episode or two away from her inevitable break-up with Ryan; and most troubling of all is the fracturing of Joel and Julia’s marriage. I had always been on Team Joel up until this last episode, when he transformed into a raging asshole, and now I’m suddenly on Team Ed Brooks (David Denman from The Office). The thing is, though, I have written in my head the perfect ending to all of these plot strands, and I know Jason Katims well enough to know he’ll probably follow through on the script in my mind. I don’t know if that makes him predictable, or if he’s just giving me what I want. Also, I just found out that the lead singer in the band the Luncheonette signed is the lead singer of The All-American Rejects. (See Jo’s recap of the episode’s squishiest moment)
6. Scandal — The rape scene in this week’s Scandal almost felt like something out of an episode of Sons of Anarchy: It was brutal. I’m still not sure of what to think of it, but it did provoke a lot of conversation around the Internet. Also, holy sh*t: One of those kids we never see is the rape-child of Fitz’s Dad? Meanwhile, Quinn kills a guy and now belongs to B613, while Olivia’s mom is still alive and in prison, and would you look at that! She looks just like Catherine Duke from Newsradio. HOW MANY BOMBSHELLS CAN THIS SHOW SUSTAIN?
7. New Girl — A much better use of coach this week, although Nick Miller stole the show with the training montage, and by repeatedly having Chinese dumplings slapped out of his hand by Coach. (See Joanna’s rundown of all of Fox’s Tuesday night comedies)
8. The Good Wife — The Good Wife put the Florrick Agos/Lockhart Gardner rivalry on the backburner (mostly) and focussed more on the Florrick Agos’ new client, and the adorable romance between Eli and America Ferrara’s character. Not a mindblowing episode, but definitely a delightful one. (See Joanna’s Vulture recap)
9.Brooklyn Nine-Nine — Stacy Keach appropriately played an old-school reporter vouching for ‘70’s detectives in this week’s episode, and while it was another splendid outing for Jake Paralta, the episode’s MVP was Diaz for the amazing description of her happy place: “I’m in a cabin in the middle of nowhere, and inside it’s just me and the defense attorney. And I’m beating the hell out of him. I break the dining room table over his head, then I rip off his arm and shove it where the sun don’t shine. Then I reach down his throat and shake his hand.” Perfect. (See Joanna’s rundown of all of Fox’s Tuesday night comedies)
10. Homeland — Homeland’s game changing episode gets the edge over slower, transition episodes for series we usually see in the top ten (Masters of Sex, Sons of Anarchy, The Walking Dead). I liked the Homeland episode a lot, but sometimes I feel like, even when they execute a near perfect episode like this one, that the series has flung me so far afield that it’s difficult to trust the show anymore. (See Cindy’s recap)