The Power Rankings! Are Back, Rested and Ruthless

After bringing the weak stuff in a vacation version, the entire Elite Eleven returns

Welcome to The Power Rankings! for the week ending May 1. And yes, I'm back from the "work stoppage" and ready to go, having caught up on all the — how should I put this? — rampant killing and plundering and bloodshed among a throng of excellent series. Seriously, all that talk about winter coming and blood running down the streets, well, it's on. Most of the comedies that were missing in the past are back and ready to bruise. There are enough dramas to fill almost every slot but can't because they're getting punched in the face by the funny shows. Alright then, for tracking purposes, I'm not going to reference the Fab Five Vacation List from last week and instead base the flux on two weeks ago, when we had the complete Elite Eleven. Now, onto it. 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

Game of Thrones

1

This series has quickly distanced itself from the other costume dramas of recent vintage by being extremely well-written, superbly acted and having the denseness of storytelling that will allow it to reach greatness. Game of Thrones set the hook early, and here, in the third episode, nearly all of its strongest attributes were elevated. Impressive.

2

Justified

3

The penultimate episode of Justified didn't just set up a war in Harlan, it created shifting armies. No doubt the finale will be one to remember (though many series stock a lot of the action in the second-to-last episode). What stood out here, beyond the plotting — including the introduction of some new mysteries ahead — was just how far Raylan was pushed to his dark side. There was a moment of doubt on his face, when he had Dickey in his sights and the call of the past — the historical war of families — had Raylan in its pull. Might have been nice to see him cross over. But maybe he's a better marshal than he's getting credit for. I wonder if they're printing Margo Martindale's name on that supporting actress Emmy yet?

3

The Killing

2

How did The Killing take a drop, albeit a small one, just as the action started to pick up? Maybe because Justified hit new heights. Beyond that, The Killing solidified its stride, especially since the Bennet angle, which seems to be at least in part a red herring, eventually led to all kinds of new possibilities for suspects. And it also allowed for the notion that maybe there will be more than one killing in this series.

4

Treme

N/A

Yep, Treme made our truncated Fab Five before vacation, but it's important to share the reason why: It's electric. David Simon's evocative tale of the restructuring of lives and infrastructure post-Katrina in New Orleans has always felt as improvisational as jazz. It fits, precisely, Simon's kind of scattershot storytelling where he has numerous characters to play with. Large ensembles can sometimes feel like they are slowing down the pace of a series, but the end result is, in the right hands, a superb tapestry of stories, of people, of all the nuances of a life. That's incredibly hard to put into a TV series with any real brilliance, so let Season 2 of Treme keep its slow roll and just let the whole thing wash over you. The stories will be told. The music will be there. The bigger picture will unfold. This is a series, if you haven't guessed, that you should be watching.

5

30 Rock

9

Wow. Just (pause here to reflect) wow. When this show is great, it's ridiculously great. From Condi Rice to kidnapping to the wind rushing through … oh, just watch. And rewatch.

6

Parks and Recreation

6

Jerry's painting. That is all.

7

Fringe

N/A

For people who might be wondering when/if Doctor Who will appear here, the short answer is, it won't. The long answer is, there's just far, far too much backstory for me to get wrong. Something like Fringe, or Lost or Battlestar Galactica — that's about the extent of my nerd gene. But I've always liked Fringe, give or take that period of getting used to Walter, then later the whole thing with Anna Torv channeling Spock. But this has been a strong year in that the Fringe writers are all in, they've been re-upped for 22 more episodes well in advance and have started to really kick in the high jinks of the storytelling. I'm there, like a Watcher. Welcome back to the Top 10.

8

The Borgias

4

Now, this is a notable drop. Given that we've made a vow to stop complaining about (or defending ourself) for liking this series (or, with more caveats, Camelot), the fact is the competition is insane. Some very good series are not on this list and, frankly, not very close. So in the big picture, a four-slot drop is something that can be tolerated. Granted, some people will think that 8 is overly generous, but give it more of a shot. Take if for what it is, or at least wants to be. Jeremy Irons continues to define the role, and the supporting cast is also firming up.

9

The Office

11

No bother hiding it, this series — which devoted an hour to sending off Michael Scott/Steve Carell — moves up two spots and has its entire reason for being here pinned to emotion. It's hard to hate an episode devoted to sending off the main character, even if he was as annoying as Michael. Also, no doubt these kinds of episodes are hard to structure. You want it to be emotional without it being sappy. You want it to be funny without detracting from the finality of it all. I'd say The Office got about half of it right. There were truly inspired moments — Michael with Jim and Michael with Dwight are two fine examples. But otherwise, it felt overlong, patchy and incomplete. But here's to the history of it all — a series that beat the odds and proved a lot of people wrong. Will the remaining episodes be able to fight off the competition? Next week, nobody gets a hug for trying.

10

Raising Hope

N/A

By rights, this should probably be higher. I even, uh, flirted with making some late tweaks to the rankings. The consistency of the humor and absurdity on the wack-fest that is Raising Hope has been impressive and irresistible. Shirts off to the best new comedy on television.

11

Community

10

Some people have a problem with all the pop-culture references in this series and, in particular, the sneaky re-enactments of movies. Those are not people you want to know.

In Peril: Isn't everybody? This point in the season is like fall all over again. Friday Night Lights fell victim to its weak episode and too much competition. Camelot couldn't compete. Glee didn't make the cut. Nurse Jackie? United States of Tara? Nope. Which proves that's not fake blood on the ground.

In the Mix: Well, all the shows mention above in the peril section are still in play. So, too, is Chicago Code, Bob's Burgers, Modern Family (which was off), Traffic Light and a few others that need to up their game.

Out: Archer ended. Parenthood is over. Next week, Justified has its finale. Breathing room for others? Hardly. Shows in the mix will replace them, and then we get new recruits in June.

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