May 22, 2013 11:44am PT by Tim Goodman
The Power Rankings! A Repeat King! Flux! Acrimony! Controversy! Exclamation Marks!
Now that the dogs and the ponies have left New York and we can get back to the business of what's actually on TV this minute as opposed to what will be there next season, then then The Power Rankings! can return to normal and, yay for us, return in relatively speedy fashion.
But we still need to give you a big caveat, which are the best caveats: some series on this list have already aired their season finales and yet those episodes won't be eligible until next week. That's because these are The Power Rankings for the week ending May 19. Just keep that in mind. Also, we're heading into that time of year when a lot of good shows are ending and a lot of not so good shows are going to be filling up the cable coffers and thus we might have to shrink the Elite 11 to the Great 8 for a while. But let's worry about that when it happens.
So, welcome to The Power Rankings! for the week ending May 19. 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 has its own Facebook Page. And Tim Goodman loves Twitter.
Holy shocker, Batman, that's two weeks in a row for Rectify on the Sundance Channel. "Drip, Drip," was a very compelling penultimate episode (see, here's a good example of a series that has already ended but the finale won't be eligible until next week -- and hell, that could be a three-peat and an even bigger shocker should it happen). This episode was weird, introspective, haunting and funny in parts (the show is always funny in parts, but not the kind of funny that seems, well, funny). From the Goat Man (W. Earl Brown in yet another fantastic performance) to looking in windows he probably shouldn't, to an amazing baptism that makes others question their beliefs, this episode was brilliant from start to the uh-oh final frame. Rectify manages to slowly and beautifully express myriad moods and this week it made viewers really wonder if Daniel is more than just shell-shocked after 19 years on Death Row. Maybe he's not all there. A wonderful set up to the finale.
Speaking of weird, this may have been the strangest Mad Men episode yet and even after pondering it once, then twice, it's still quite the enigma as episodes go. But I also believe that it didn't fully accomplish what it was going after with the hyper, drug-like response to the "energy serum" people were given. A hyper, bold attempt at something new, so it can't be dismissed, this episode also illustrated that no matter how much weird sauce you slather on it, you can't cover up the bigger problems underneath. Namely, Don being so infatuated with Sylvia that he would come unglued. Not buying it. She's been presented to us as nothing more than a fling, not someone Don is in love with and not someone whose rejection would spin his world around. Looking back - Rachel, Faye? Sure. But not Sylvia. There just hasn't been enough evidence that she's made a huge impact on Don. But still, it holds its spot here in the rankings.
Game of Thrones
Perhaps it's time to admit something that's slightly disturbing. I love this series. Every episode so far in the entire run has been a joy to watch. However, as I've said all of this Season 3, the immense and immersive plot is hindering the pay-off. With the season almost over, I think we're in that strange gray area where liking all the episodes and loving a few of them doesn't add up to being blown away by the season. In fact, it's been a little disappointing in that way. Again, blame the heavy plot - part of the show's appeal, of course - for working against the dramatic payoff. It's also possible that I'm just spoiled and want more, more and more. Right now.
Instead of just going on about how surprisingly good this series is and what a sad thing that so many of you are missing it, maybe I should let the Hype Train just keep rolling with its own momentum and get to something more important: If Tatiana Maslany isn't nominated for an Emmy for her multiple performances here, then you've got your biggest and most justified Emmy outrage of 2013. Seriously, she's that good. Check that - she's that great. I see lots of worthy candidates across numerous acclaimed series (there's so much brilliant television these days that filling the ranks with top-tier talent is pretty easy), but I don't see any conceivable way that Maslany should be left out. Snubbed? Sure. The Emmys do that all the time. But no other performance I've seen would knock her out of the nomination pool. If the voters mess this up, there's going to be hell to pay.
This happens a lot in The Power Rankings! - a show actually gets better in its next episode but then drops down in the rankings. How? Because something else rose up and was greater. Period. That takes away nothing from HBO's Family Tree, which instantly put itself among television's funniest shows when it premiered and this second episode just hammered that home. Hilarious.
A big jump for the Bates family! And just a reminder that, no, this is not the finale. That qualifies next week (those Monday shows…gah). Anyway, I'm loving Norma's slow unraveling this season which seems to go up one big notch each episode. And Vera Farmiga must be having a blast playing this woman. All season Bates Motel has been coming into its own, finding out what works best and growing. The last few episodes have been major leaps. If you haven't been watching, catch up over the summer so you're there for Season 2.
Another week, another leap up for The Borgias. And since I have Emmys on the mind thanks to our awesome little orphan, Tatiana Maslany (saying her name never gets old), it's remarkable how little respect The Borgias gets for such a solid show. Just saying.
Welcome back to The Power Rankings! to our freshman sensation. An excellent season finale caps a superb season as a whole, with wonderful performances from Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu (also Aidan Quinn, who needs more screen time in Season 2). Easily the best freshman series on broadcast television, Elementary proved how solid CBS is and how good its programming really is. In this case, so good it's great. Here's to next season.
Pay no need to the slight tumble this week. Other shows - particularly the dramas, which I favor for their efforts -- simply came out and couldn't be ignored. That in now way diminishes my love for this show. In fact, I know 10 seems to be the number HBO likes for its comedies. But I don't like that number. I like 13. Or 12. Hell, there were only eight in Season 1. Come on, HBO, let's flesh this out. The talent, jokes and stories are ripe for this. Obviously, your first priority should be moving Game of Thrones to 13 episodes from 10 (and that show really needed a longer order this time around). But right after you fix that, how about more Veep. And just more comedies total, if you've got more stuff like Family Tree coming.
Again, the drop here is not indicative of the episode's quality. Sometimes a show will take a huge tumble from the heights to the depths of the Elite 11 nad you worry about its fate. Not so with some of these flux-generated drops. The fact is that IFC has a real gem in Maron and with each episode, it shows significant growth. It's not too late to get on the bandwagon here. If you're not watching, then WTF is wrong with you? See what I did there? Yeah. OK.
I finally figured out a good explanation for why I like DaVinci's Demons. Because it's different, for starters. But as all of that "blue sky" programming comes rolling in for shows on TNT and USA, etc., I realized something about it. It's boring. Safe, easy, entertainingly light, but ultimately boring after you've been through the newness of a first season. Third seasons? Forget it. Too much of the same. I'd much rather watch DaVinci's Demons than all of that flippant "blue sky" stuff. So, there, that's my explanation of why it has made this list every week. And as a reminder: Hundreds of shows don't make this list. We're not running a hug clinic here.
Out: Well, the return of Elementary (some might say that was overdue), pushed Defiance out of the ranks. We'll see if it rebounds next week.
In peril: Normally I'd say something has to give, since Arrested Development will kick off on May 26. But that was Elementary's finale, so there could be space. Or someone else will rise up. (A brief note on Arrested Development: While I will devour it like the rest of you, for the sake of The Power Rankings! I will consider each episode on a weekly basis).
In the mix: Hannibal, Grimm, Person of Interest; some comedies that are still on the air and whatever else hasn't aired its finale.