June 13, 2012 9:39am PT by Tim Goodman
The Power Rankings! Fab Five Men, Girls, Popes, Perps and Vice Presidents!
Welcome to The Fab Five version of The Power Rankings!, for the week ending June 10. We're getting to that uncomfortable and awkward point of this year-round season where there's still a handful of truly great series out there but not enough to make a very long list. On the one hand, that makes it easier to separate brilliance from enjoyable mediocrity. On the other, it begins to look a little like giving out awards to five really nice kids who participate in a sack race. But know this: All five of these series are terrific, and their order would probably fluctuate very minimally with better competition. But also know this: The Power Rankings! might have to let a couple of our favorite shows have their finales without a ranking, since this is arguably the best time to go on hiatus for a while and come back when more shows are up and running. Just a thought. 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.
I've already written a lot about the quality of the season and even this episode in particular. Other than a few scenes that were either too obvious or too stagey for my taste, there was a lot to love here. As there has been all season, no matter if there's a hiccup here and there. Mad Men just finished Season 5 in style and, arguably, in the best shape of any great series that ran at least five seasons. An incredible achievement. The series is obviously not going to be off the air for as long as it was last time, so its return will be welcome and hopefully triumphant. That said, a lot of storylines remain open, and we are a people who love closure. On the other hand, it looks like Don's season-long exploration of contentment is over. And that's a good thing.
There's still one more episode (though The Power Rankings! are likely to be on hiatus for that), but it's easy to say that Girls has been one of the most refreshing and welcome television series in a long, long time. What impressed me from the start and continued to every episode (particularly this one, which dabbled in a different kind of naked), is how exposed and raw Lena Dunham can make herself, her characters and her show. A lot of the pointless blathering on about what the show should have been or why it's unrelatable to some people does not in any way take from its greatness. This is a series that's original and daring and offbeat (at least off some people's beat), and it's very ambitious. Lastly, the show knows how to be funny on a variety of levels. If you think about it, Girls is using a multitude of comedy styles in its characters, from guileless to jaw-dropping mean. This show has dominated the upper ranks of The Power Rankings! since it premiered and would be the likely No. 1 next week, if that hiatus wasn't looming for us.
You may be shocked to learn that here at The Power Rankings! we love relentlessly dark and biting humor. That's why Veep has been a real favorite for us in its freshman season (and it probably goes without saying that we're thrilled that HBO launched both Veep and Girls in the same season). This was a fantastic finale in that viewers who have been clamoring for more, um, character development, we're treated to Selina trying to have an emotion other than anger or annoyance. She cried. Well, sort of. The show has been spot-on about petty politics since it started, and I would assume Armando Iannucci and this wonderful cast will deliver the goods with even more ferocious hilarity next season. This is not a comedy of hugs. And it should stay that way.
Now this could be interesting: I defended The Killing on the grounds that if you just ignore the story arc that infuriated most people (including me) last season, then the acting was more than enough to make the show a winner. Which was true. The Killing has had some terrific episodes this year and everything that was great came from the acting. However, this was the first of the two-part finale and that means the emphasis had to revert to the plot. Compelling? Sure, in some ways. But the red herrings are in a school of deception and with all the evidence looking one way, no doubt there will be a huge twist at the last second to throw the guilt on to someone else. Or maybe not. The point is, watching this week was less about character and more about who actually killed Rosie Larsen, and the episode was less enjoyable because of that. But who knows - the finale may nail it. We'll be on hiatus when that happens, but we'll be watching. So, hey, get it right.
In many ways, The Borgias will be the series most short-changed by the lack of competition. It still has episodes left and has been as exciting and multi-faceted as it has ever been. This was a very good season for The Borgias, which began by finding its footing in the first episode and not tripping up after that. The stories are better and broader, and the characters have more shading. If you've missed this season, correct that oversight by renting it when available.