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21
3 YEARS

The Power Rankings! Blood on the Floor With More to Come

Even expanding to the Elite Eleven there's still flux. Nobody said great was easy.

Maggie Smith Elizabeth McGovern Downton Abbey - H 2012
PBS
"Downton Abbey"

Welcome to The Power Rankings! for the week ending Feb. 19. Thanks to the glory of television, we expand to the Elite Eleven this week (and some weeks we shrink back to the Great Eight - and then when television is not so glorious, I just go on vacation and don't do the rankings). But hell, lots of blood on the ground this time around. We've got three new entries, two apologies and good shows left wanting. Not long from now, it's going to get even more brutal. But let's assess the change at hand. 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.

 

RANK  SHOW  PREVIOUS  TREND  COMMENT
1

Justified

1

You can't knock off Justified by merely trying hard. You need to try like your life depended on it. Like you'd give up two of your four kidneys to take over the No. 1 slot. Anything short of that - go to hell.

2

Downton Abbey

2

After last week, which stretched things so badly that almost no excuse could save it -- and yet, we kept it No. 2 because, well, like the rest of the world, we're smitten with DA -- this was a fine Season 2 finale (or the Christmas special in the U.K., whatever you prefer). Ah, Matthew and Mary. You wanted it, you got it. And do you know why there will be a Season 3? Because Bates is in jail, people. No matter how likely he is to take the blame for every killer in prison, because he's Bates and it's the gentlemanly thing to do, we need to get him out of there. Here's hoping Season 3 is just as addictive and at least a quarter less ridiculous.

3

Luck

3

We've loved this show from the pilot. We believed in Milch, in HBO, in the fact that good stories about subcultures take more time to be understood than, say, Law & Order. So it's no surprise to us that Luck is this excellent. Great races. The ebb and flow of fortunes. And Michael Gambon. Beyond that, it just gets better as it goes. For those of you who took our advice and stayed in the saddle, enjoy the ride.

4

Southland

4

"I'm hormonal and I've got a gun. Don't mess with me." Listen, this episode had a lot of great storylines about family and what it means to be in one or to run one. It wasn't particularly upbeat if you're a parent -- to see others willing to kill their own or ostracize them. But it made for great drama. And the gay storyline was exceptional because it was at all times honest and not sugarcoated. Very well done, Southland. Here's to 30. And a day.

5

The Walking Dead

N/A

First, an apology. I was sick last week. And for reasons that escape me -- too much Theraflu? -- I completely forgot about one of my faves, The Walking Dead. It should have been on this list last week. There's no excuse -- other than the fact I hate taking the blame so how about AMC stop with this splitting-the-season-in-half nonsense? Maybe if you ran all the episodes straight, I wouldn't have forgotten. In any case, it lands right here in the Top 5 because it was a welcome sign to see everyone so shook up. It was good to see characters think and grow more. People got their zombie fill. Their frights. Their introspection. Their action. And I particularly like the notion of running into more and more people who are alive, but deadly. The world has changed, so have the rules. Now, that look in Rick's eye was odd at the end. But no way his wife talks him into taking out Shane. Because that sure is what the tea leaves seemed to be saying. Not happening. Well, let's hope it doesn't. It's not Rick. It's not what he'd do. Loved the episode, though.

6

30 Rock

10

That's more like it. Man, when this show hits the jokes, they really hit them. Liz as a crazy lady on the subway. Jack mugged into running for mayor. Here are my favorite jokes, in order: Liz blowing her nose and asking "is that brain?" Then saying, "Hopefully it's not an important parg of my blurb." Laughed - out loud. Next: Jack mentioning Irish Arguments Weekly: America's Only All-Caps Magazine. Finally, Jack's middle-class mugger, who assaulted him in chinos. "His knife was from Eddie Bauer." Kisses, 30 Rock. I adore you.

7

Raising Hope

N/A

Apology No. 2: Dear Raising Hope, I'm sorry. You know I've been behind you from episode one. You are the least appreciated comedy on television (and you Community people pipe down -- I love that show too but you're all a chattering cluster of ranters. That's the kind of appreciation that Raising Hope doesn't yet have, but should.) In any case, I have forgot/forsaken this show for two weeks. But when you do improv so hysterically, have a Valentine's kiss without it being too sugary, and get any number of big laughs, you have to be here on the list. I couldn't forget you again.

8

Life's Too Short

N/A

This was a great first episode (cemented by Liam Neeson). I've seen three already and love them all, which brings up a point that needs to be reiterated: The argument that Life's Too Short is no good because Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant are covering familiar ground is asinine and embarrassing for you. So don't make it. From Woody Allen to Eastbound & Down (to a thousand more examples), similar structure and character is an enduring trait. What matters is if the new material is funny or not. In Life's Too Short, it's funny. Take your Gervais grievances/jealousy elsewhere.

9

The Life & Times of Tim

7

Don't let the two-spot drop fool you. The last episode in Tim's three-season run was just as hilarious as the others. It was just a week of very stiff competition. (And, fingers crossed, please don't let this be the end of the run for Tim). From Reggie Jackson bars (I used to actually like those) to Reggie Jackson Scotch "Reg-Otch" and Penny Marshall as the world's most efficient and ballsy public relations fixer, this was another dual episode that delivered. Favorite line: "There's a Tim Meadows porno? Learning a lot here." And praise Meadows for skewering himself wonderfully.

10

Modern Family

5

A big drop, true. But hey, the stakes are raised in The Power Rankings! these days. It's pretty rare that we have to go to the Elite Eleven to do absolute justice, so cry no tears for Mod Fam. It's as funny as ever. Besides, 30 Rock took a similar dip last week and rebounded nicely. No harm, no foul.

11

Archer

6

Let me reiterate what I said two weeks ago and hinted at again last week. (Which partly means I'm being lazy and redundant): Archer is pretty much always going to be on this list. Until it cuts its own balls off and runs out of jokes, sure, I'll dump it. If it continues to deliver so spectacularly each week as expected? Here. That's where it'll be.

Out: As a die-hard fan of Parks and Recreation (and Louie, for that matter), it pains me to leave it off. Nobody said this was going to be easy or fair. House of Lies - loving the fleshed out episodes (no pun intended), but the cut is cruel here. Smash: Despite some people who seem to be nitpicking everything and hoping for Smash to fail, I thought Ep. 2 wasn't nearly as bad as others whined about. But again, the competition was too strong this week (and The Power Rankings! only go up to 11, no matter how hard you rock). So it slips off.

In peril: Well, Downton Abbey is over. The Life & Times of Tim has also ended. That will take some heat out of a hot kitchen (yes, Penguins fans, that was for you). Beyond that, there may be a week of easier breathing but then it's going to get insanely competitive.

In the mix: Parks and Recreation, Shameless, Suburgatory, Fringe, The Good Wife, House of Lies, Smash.