May 08, 2013 6:50pm PT by Tim Goodman
The Power Rankings! Shocker at the Top! Flux Everywhere! Blood on the Floor! Oh, and Laughter!
I'd prefer The Power Rankings! to come out on Monday, as they did for many weeks running until Overwhelming S--- Beyond My Control happened and they moved to Tuesday, twice, and now Wednesday. It's really quite sad. But I'm sure some red wine will take care of that and we'll be back on track next week.
But how do you like this week? Shocker in Gloomtown! I thought for sure that Game of Thrones would be the first No. 1 to repeat twice in a row (which has been a fairly common occurrence here in the past, but never this go-round). Instead, we had a week of really outstanding shows that created my beloved flux and put a whole bunch of blood on the floor.
Adding to the chaos, I've thrown the doors open for comedies, like the good old days, and now it's just a brass knuckle face-punching hootennanny. Listen, if you're in the Elite 11 this week, you're doing something damned fine.
So, welcome to The Power Rankings! for the week ending May 5. On my command, unleash hell!
FYI: The Power Rankings! are where television series are ranked on a weekly basis according to their most recent episodes and the ever-changing-moods of yours truly. If you want to learn how The Power Rankings! started and the methodology behind them, check out the link to the Bastard Machine post on those issues of great import. Also: The Bastard Machine links are on Facebook. And Tim Goodman loves Twitter.
That was one hell of a finale. And more important, a full season of greatness for the FX Cold War spy series. It managed to combine spying and marriage/relationships in a way that Season 2 of Homeland could not. It worked on multiple levels. It didn't cheat the audience. And lastly, it fought its way to No. 1 in a week where a lot of people were thinking that top slot was going to be Mad Men. I had my money on Game of Thrones owning the throne for the rest of its season. Surprises all around.
What a welcome return to form for Mad Men, and proof that the series can still matter and entertain and move forward provided it doesn't get bogged down in rehashing history - never its strong suit - or rehashing Don Draper's inability to move forward in his happiness. The Americans just had a sensational finale or this would have been No. 1.
Game of Thrones
A small drop here but still a mild shocker. As I said, given the performance of some other great series, I just didn't see Game of Thrones relinquishing the crown. Make no mistake, this is a brilliant series and a personal favorite. In Season 3, it is being tasked with carrying an inordinate amount of plot, which tends to slow down some of the greater moving parts. Fans of the books know that the third book had so much in it that HBO is actually breaking it into two seasons, hence a lot of setting up here. But once it starts to roll, as it will, look out.
Again, blame flux (which is in turn caused by other shows rising up their brilliance quotient) in dropping this hypnotically slow series down a couple of notches. I'm a fan of the pacing because its a hallmark of Slow TV believers - that life sometimes does not zoom by us in flashes, but drags the hours along and makes us endure life as it's led. So happy this was renewed for a second season by Sundance.
Speaking of surprising newcomers that have been renewed, cheers to BBC America's Orphan Black, which was to my mind one of the most surprising freshman dramas. It came in with barely any buzz and was riveting from the very first frame. If you haven't jumped on this show, do it now. Make a clone of yourself that's better at multitasking or remember to do things like that! A lot of fun to watch this one and the tiny dip in the rankings is no reflection on its quality. This is what happens when you play in the Big Leagues.
Ladies and gentlemen, a comedy! Credit Veep, a favorite of mine, from finally pushing the point until it cut into my conscience. The HBO series is too damned funny to be left off the list, even if I think my plan to keep doing the All Drama Dream Team Elite 11 was a fantastic idea. Now that the doors are open, let's see who else can push out some qualified dramas.
Other than the fact I would have liked, you know, someone last week to ask the sheriff why the hell he was doing what he did - out loud, so we'd hear -- there's no denying that Bates Motel has been ratcheting up the goodness. Now we've got more blood, we've got a little more of Norman's back story. We have Jere Burns moving into Room 9. And before you go screaming that the very latest one was the best yet, please remember that's eligible next week. OK, so, yeah, I remain hooked.
OK, Veep, look what you've done now. You've made this thing a blood bath. IFC gets back on the board with Marc Maron's surprisingly superb transition from podcast (WTF) to scripted television series. And as I noted in my very positive review, the episodes only get better. Welcome to the Top 10, Maron, and if other comedies want to unseat it, they'd better bring it. A fresh, funny surprise from IFC.
Almost every week I indicate that a show or two on this list has pretty solid ground to stand on when complaining about their ranking. This week, I think The Borgias could make that claim. It's a solid series, not respected enough since it started on Showtime, and immensely satisfying. You can always play catch up on the DVDs and streaming, which I urge you to do. And there's no shame in tumbling a few pegs down on this list, given the vast number of shows that don't get anywhere near it.
Da Vinci's Demons
Still loving it, no matter what you say. If you are, in fact, saying that. Be gone with you. I'm still in full support of this Starz effort.
Hell yeah. Defiance! That's all I'm going to say. Well, no, I'm also going to say it entertains me without giving me a headache, and I like that a lot. Keep 'em coming, Syfy.
Out: Vikings ended. So did, in my count-it-in-real-world-weeks experiment: House of Cards. They both had solid runs for different reasons.
In peril: Somebody get a mop - this is just going to keep on getting bloodier. Veep made the list and so did fellow comedy Maron. They have plenty of episodes left. And guess what's eligible next week? HBO's Christopher Guest series Family Tree. Let me make something real clear here: Family Tree will make a huge impact.
In the mix: Hannibal, Hemlock Grove, Call the Midwife, Elementary, Grimm, Person of Interest, The Good Wife, Rogue and, yes, some comedies that are still on the air.