(Publisher’s Note: Before we begin, one quick site note: Thanks to the tireless efforts of the site’s technical wizard, Seth Freilich, after nearly seven years of existence, we finally have pagination. You can now scroll to the bottom of the home page, click next, and see the previous days’ posts, all the way back to the beginning of the site. Use it. Use it often.)
For those interested, the weekly Power Rankings are determined based on these 25 television shows: “How I Met Your Mother,” “Chicago Code,” “Mad Love,” “Chuck,” “Castle,” “Harry’s Law,” “Glee,” “Raising Hope,” “Traffic Light,” “The Good Wife,” “Lights/Out,” “Parenthood,” “Survivor,” “Modern Family,” “Mr. Sunshine,” “Justified,” “Top Chef,” “Community,” “Perfect Couples,” “The Office,” “Parks and Recreation,” “30 Rock,” “Fringe,” “Fairly Legal,” and “Episodes.”
It’s a slower time for top-notch drama, with AMC not running anything new and the better Showtime and HBO options currently not airing. Also, “Friday Night Lights” has ended its run. “Episodes” aired its final episode of the season (and hopefully, of the series) last night, but next week, it’ll be replaced with “The Amazing Race.” The two shows that I do not watch that I regret are not yet part of the 25 in consideration are “Archer” and “Portlandia,” both of which I expect to catch up on in future weeks. Right now, however, 25 television shows is all I can manage to sneak into my schedule on a weekly basis.
Of the above 25 shows for the week ending Saturday February 19th, these were the 10 best.
10. Survivor: The premiere episodes of “Survivor” are generally fairly drab affairs, where you barely get to know any of the contestants and someone you have barely invested in is booted. This season, Boston Rob and Russell returned, as well as a new, lame twist, Redemption Island. None of those reasons were why the first episode was great, however. It all had to do with Phillip, the former federal agent. He lacks self-awareness. He’s an idiot. And on the very first tribal council, he revealed all of the secrets of his tenuous alliance, outed the immunity idol, voted off his ally, and ensured that no one would ever trust again.
9. Top Chef: The ejected contestant this week was one of the best chefs of the entires series’ run (and likely only lost last year because of illness), but the guy had very little personality. The fun part of this episode, however, was Jimmy Fallon, who continues to prove, at the very least, he is tied with Craig Ferguson as the most affable late-night talk show host.
8. Raising Hope: “Raising Hope,” which returned from its nearly two-month long hiatus a couple of weeks ago, has quietly continued to churn out solid episodes. This week: The family deals with the germ problem and Burt offered up his awesome “Punk’d” style clip, “Burt Touches Hot Things.”
7. Modern Family: The perfectly cast Matt Dillon shows up for dinner as Claire’s ex-boyfried, who peaked in high school; Shelly Long returns as Claire’s insane mother; and best of all, Fizbo the Clown made his triumphant return.
6. Parks and Recreation: There was a very sweet moment between Andy and April, and Adam Scott was hilarious, but the show’s best episodes this season are those that revolved around Ron Swanson, who was relegated to a mostly background character this week.
5. Justified: “Justified” works in the inverse to most serialized dramas: It’s the self-contained aspects that are better, the cases that Raylan Givens is tasked with resolving. Walter Groggins is fantastic, but I’m not sure where they’re going with his character this season, nor have I developed a strong interest in the Mags Bennett arc or her Applie Pie. But the abducted pregnant woman — that was killer.
4. The Good Wife: The Social Network/Aaron Sorkin case presented some fascinating issues about that movie and Zuckerberg’s potential claims of publicity rights, should he ever choose to pursue them (he will not). There were also some clever take-downs of Aaron Sorkin. Plus, Alicia and Will’s romance came to a head and fizzled out. But the best part, and maybe the silliest? The near sex scene between Kalinda and Blake and the humiliating results for Blake, who now knows that you never fuck with Kalinda.
3. Chicago Code: One of the more interesting aspects of “The Good Wife” is how so much of Chicago politics is interconnected. Politically, it’s a very small town. “Chicago Code” is smartly picking up on that, showing that the people you screw over one week are the ones you’ll also need favors from the next. This week’s episode improved upon the pilot episode, and demonstrated just how dark Shawn Ryan is willing to go. I hope people start watching.
2. Parenthood: “Lost’s” Michael Emerson showed up this week in a brilliant turn as Amazing Andy, who shows off his bug collection for children’s birthday parties. Amazing Andy also has Asperger’s and offered Adam and Kristina a heartbreaking, but life-affirming glimpse at the kind of life that their son, Max, might lead as an adult. Also, Crosby is completely screwing himself over.
1. Community: “Community” seems to go through a cycle of threes: One mediocre episode, one good episode, and one brilliant one. This one was a brilliant one, both skewering and embracing the documentary format. Plus, LeVar Burton wins the award for best stunt-casting of the 2010-2011 televisions season.