February 15, 2012 4:50pm PT by Tim Goodman
The Power Rankings! Strong Up Top, Flesh Wounds In the Middle!
You can't stop The Power Rankings! You can only hope to contain them. Like, in March, when there are a ton of reruns to mess things up. Or kind of like now, when I'm sick. But no, this week we're all good. In fact, we have some interlopers, which always creates flux. And flux is what makes rankings go. And yet, you'll see in this edition that there wasn't much upset at the top. Perhaps next? In any case, welcome to The Power Rankings! for the week ending Feb. 12. 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.
"The Devil You Know" had all the elements that make Justified so great -- certainly enough to hold onto the No. 1 spot despite some stiff competition. We get exactly why Raylan back on familiar ground was such a workable premise: he knows these knuckleheads and dangerous types all too well. He knows Dewey is an idiot and Dickey is a couple -- but not many -- notches above. Plus we get Justified sass, as always. And who doesn't like an episode where Raylan runs over someone -- twice? Spot on, plus the plot thickens.
Um, yeah, I get it. Lot of explaining to do here. All of that soap! I can hear your voices now: "You might as well have Revenge on this list!" In fact, I like Revenge a lot as a guilty pleasure. And yes, it's hard to explain away a lot of what happened in this penultimate episode of DA, but the writing (maybe not always the plotting) remains impeccable. And so it stays.
You might not know a lot about horses, but everybody should know that $7,500 for barbecue grill -- very used -- is a little steep. But hey, the boys got their horse. Dustin Hoffman's machinations are in motion and Nick Nolte really knows horses is not jockeys. This horse world thing -- it's going to work out nicely. Just stay in the saddle.
Southland has been around long enough that it shouldn't be surprising how good it can be, but every week it gives you that "better than I expected" vibe. That's pleasant. Beats getting hit by a train, right? Anyway, maybe there will be a week when Southland utterly disappoints and drops down, but not this time.
Finally back after a short break (don't question how to run a network - it's a science), Modern Family continues building on a strong season when jealousy (and misplaced jealousy) gets thrown into the stew. A Cameron and Gloria Battle Royale is always going to work, just like Phil totally missing the obvious is always going to work. Modern Family is reliably hilarious pretty much every week and that consistency is admirable. Plus, it's the one sitcom that comedy fans of all dubious stripes generally agree on. Admirable and rare.
I said last week that Archer is pretty much always going to be on this list -- which is both concise and true. Having an episode where he gets a new car and talks to it only makes it that much more true (and no, I don't care if it was a product placement or not -- it was funny as hell).
The Life & Times of Tim
My love for this show is apparently boundless. Because I like when things are very awkward for Tim, as they always are. His cluelessness is laudable, especially when someone is trying to damage Omnicorp. And where you might get Larry David into a situation where he tries to fix a girl's basketball game, make a bet for a priest and also toss his girlfriend to the wolves, I might go with Tim for more laughs in that scenario.
House of Lies
I think House of Lies deserves more of an audience, but also understand how it can be polarizing in its male fantasy fulfillment. But hey, it does have a little bit of heart and that's helping the show. Also, in case you missed the hint, you should be watching this.
Yes, I understand how a lot of people had issues with the second episode, but it's the pilot -- which I really liked -- that falls under this ranking. If you want to bitch about it being here, tune in next week to see if it stayed on. But give the pilot credit for nailing it.
Yikes, that's a big drop. Sitcoms shouldn't really do hour-long episodes. They just don't feel right. And while the brilliant 30 Rock can riff on pretty much anything -- and for a long time, with success -- there's just something that feels stretched thin about longer concepts. On the other hand, I laughed -- a lot -- so that's a plus. And don't ever snicker at No. 10.
Out: Parks and Recreation unfortunately had the week off (another reason to hate double-episodes), so it slides off. And Shameless just fell victim to the numbers game.
In peril: Let's hope the soap doesn't start stinging our eyes, Downton Abbey. And it's too early for Smash to feel comfy. We shall see.
In the mix: Shameless, Suburgatory, The River, Fringe, The Good Wife and Life's Too Short on HBO will qualify as well.