April 08, 2013 3:51pm PT by Tim Goodman
The Power Rankings! Don't Get Mad About What Show Is on the Throne! Just Kill It!
Oh, and you thought things would be easy? That Game of Thrones would smack down Orphan Black and take over its rightful rank. Right? But Mad Men has arrived. This is going to get interesting and, our favorite thing, bloody.
If you're wondering, yes, this is the third week in a row with an All Drama Edition of the Elite 11. Right now, there's just so much quality competition that involving the more subjective and relative aspects of comedy would only muck things up. Besides, look at all this blood on the floor! Let's see how it plays out before we add the funny stuff.
Reminder: The Power Rankings! are based on weekly episodes, not cumulative greatness. So, welcome to The Power Rankings! for the week ending April 7. 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 is on Facebook. And Twitter.
It's like Don Draper just walked right in and took whatever he wanted, as he often does. And what he wanted, clearly, is to be No. 1 again. Well hell, welcome back Don! All hail Mad Men! You know, a show that worries about death all the time like Mad Men doesn't really fear The Power Rankings! It takes on all comers. That was a fine two-hour start (well, two hours if you add all those ridiculous commercials). Anyway, now that SCDP is in the house, all the houses of Game of Thrones will have to step up. This is going to be a weekly battle, for sure. And you can't rule out others. Come in hard or stay home.
Game of Thrones
Watch out, the lumbering giant is waking up! There's an incredible amount of story to tell here and that's both a blessing and a curse. Well at least it leaves us cursing when it's over. More, more, more! At this pace, Don better stop pondering things so much and get busy. Winter is still coming.
The season finale was kind of bittersweet. Justified has the kind of intellectual but laconic word-smithing that never gets old. You start wishing for 22 episodes at some point. I wasn't a big fan of the airport killing, but I guess Raylan met his quota with the guys who brought the wrong baby rocker. And for all the best laid plans of Boyd, look what happened. They did a fine job of showing how Ava went from being unable to kill to being undone because of it. It's a cliffhanger and resets some of the power struggles in Harlan, but something felt a bit incomplete about it all.
Not an unexpected tumble consider the return of Mad Men, a resurgent episode of Game of Thrones and the Justified season finale. Make no mistake, I'm really enjoying this series and think that, week to week, it will more than hold its own against such strong competition.
Top of the Lake
Every time I watch an episode of this miniseries I wish it was a full series. It's just that great. Strong acting and writing all the way around and just superb visuals at all times. Staying solidly in the Top 5.
In "Safe House," we see once again that the Cold War is less about two super powers squaring off than it is about two (or more) people caught in a moment of time and making bad decisions while in those moments. If Agent Amador isn't freelancing and following "Clark" and Martha, then he doesn't get stabbed and a retaliation - a bad, unsanctioned idea to start with - doesn't go crazy haywire and end up making things a lot colder. After a week off - where we rewarded the series for being such a freshman sensation - The Americans came back even stronger.
Ben, dude, what are you doing? You're supposed to be the poster boy for the LAPD. Now it looks like you're on The Shield. Uncomfortable? Yep, but this show is at its best when issues of morality are pushed to the fore.
House of Cards
One of the problems with a series that can be viewed whenever you want it - doled out or gulped down - is that to have a real-time discussion of whether it's working is a lot more complicated. Some people have already forgotten the individual nuances. Others are going at their own pace, catch as catch can. I guess the only question to ask is whether Fincher and Spacey gave you what you wanted and whether you'll be back. So far, I'm voting yes and yes as it goes.
Bates Motel was just re-upped for another season. Which means we can relax as we watch Norman unravel ever so slowly and I can continue my weekly swoon over Vera Farmiga. Oh, and I'm still all in on the show as it continues finding its way.
What a strange, surprisingly uplifting (well, for some of Frank's clan, if not for Frank himself) ending. Also, weird: Is Jimmy dead? (Probably not.) Can Frank get off the booze or die trying? Did this feel more like the end of the series rather than the end of the season? I've worried about this show in the past -- whether it could keep the up the relentlessly downbeat nature, whether Frank was even important to the show. But this was a strong finale and it's already been renewed for Season 4. I'm not as all-in as others, but hard to deny the strength here.
Hey, the return of a network show! I'll say this much about Hannibal - I never thought it was going to be good and it really proved me wrong. I watched the first couple when reviewing it and it's clear that NBC has no idea what it's got here. This is a compelling and smart drama that, if nurtured, could really do some business for NBC. Unfortunately it's as if NBC forgot they had it, then tossed it on the air in April (meaning it runs into the summer before ending - normally a sign of no faith). And yet, have faith. This Silence of the Lambs prequel of sorts has a lot going for it. Like the ability to surprise.
Out: Well, Walking Dead ended the week before and Justified and Shameless end this week. The arrival of Mad Men keeps things strong and the arrival of Hannibal pushed Vikings to the sidelines, at least temporarily. It should also be noted that Rogue, the DirecTV series, just wasn't good enough to make the list and isn't good enough to be in the mix.
In peril: More shows keep arriving. Da Vinci's Demons and Hemlock Grove are on the way. The network fare is loading up for the final run to May. Everybody's staying strong, so anything can happen. Which is how we like it. And remember, I'm still keeping this all drama, but could change that as well at any time.
In the mix: Vikings, Call the Midwife, Elementary, Grimm, Person of Interest, The Good Wife, Veep, etc.