4:36pm PT by Tim Goodman
The Power Rankings! Upfront-Shortened Version! Fab Five Only! All Hail the Elite!
Welcome to Upfront-Truncated-And-Late version of The Power Rankings! for the week ending May 13. These are busy times, trying in vain to read the tea leaves about a vast majority of network shows that will, in all likelihood, not make this list. Sure, there could be some really incredible and funny sitcoms coming up. That would be fantastic. We will not hold our breath here waiting for dramas. It is what it is. (And since that term is not new, but has been around since the 1940s, it is hereby acceptable and appropriate even if it's in vogue right now and we normally hate things that are in vogue. But it is what it is.) And we move onward with a brief explanation about the massive delay and aforementioned truncation: First, it was upfront mania this week (and the tail end of last week, to be honest). Cranking things out on time was not likely to occur, but instead of just blowing it off for a week -- thus depriving the anointing of a new No. 1 -- the decision was made to cut it down from the Elite Eleven to The Fab Five. This is the best of the best. Shed no tears for shows not making it. This week, The Power Rankings! are for those shows in a different stratosphere. 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.
Some quick thoughts: I didn't include the normal three closing categories because, well, this was the Fab Five, not the Elite Eleven, and there are plenty of shows in the mix. I will say that if I was going to expand this particular week just one slot, it would go to The Killing, which had its best episode of the season last week. You are also no doubt aware that this current viewing week has produced a couple of season finales, which will make the next Power Rankings both intriguing and sad. And after those shows go off the air, it will undoubtedly cut down the quality pool and necessitate that we trim the list to keep out those who don't deserve the honor. We'll see where the talent out there takes us. More than five, surely, but probably not 11. As for the upfront presentations that kept this post delayed, well, here's to eternal optimism about television we haven't seen. It's what makes everything so endurable.
Game Of Thrones
Yet another great episode all around, with intrigue, action, immediate drama and that which is being built up for a payoff later. All the gears are turning seamlessly. But the best part of this episode was Tywin and Arya talking in ways that defy their age difference. It's clear that Tywin gets a kick out of Arya and quite possibly knows everything she's doing or thinking about doing. And Arya, though she dreams about killing Tywin, can't quite muster up all of the hate she might need because he's kind to her, sees something in her and is enough of a father-figure to complicate matters. You could make a whole series of just those two talking. Only two more episodes of Game of Thrones. Sigh.
Now there's an impressive jump, yes? Although it won't be around but for one more "episode" (or mini-movie), Sherlock is proving that this is a franchise that needs to keep on going. If you can't or won't make more of them per season (which can also be said about Game Of Thrones), then at least keep making more seasons. Like, for a very, very long time. Excellent television.
After a pretty good little streak at the No. 1 position, Mad Men tumbles after an episode that wasn't bad in any way. It was merely setting up the rest of the action for the remaining season. But in doing so, it hammered home a little too obviously (and with a rushed sensibility), one of the dominant but heretofore less examined themes of the current season: selfishness. Maybe wanting that thread to be a little more veiled is in and of itself a selfish wish. But it seemed a little more anvil-like than we're used to on Mad Men.
I am of the opinion that any week, Girls could be No. 1. Even here, in the No. 4 slot, you could make a very compelling case for it to be higher. The rawness and risk-taking remains, the humor never fades, but there seemed to be just the smallest inkling that this episode had less gravitas or less emotional wallop than the prior ones. Nothing to be alarmed about, comedy is comedy, but when every other show is fighting hard to be great, it makes the choosing more difficult (and any slip more damaging).
I couldn't be happier that both Veep and Girls have already been picked up for second seasons. It's just that now, feeling spoiled, it might be nice to have longer first seasons. I want neither of these two shows to end. Veep is so spot-on and so hilarious that each episode should be watched twice. Do what you can to catch up either now or soon after.