The Power Rankings! Of sissies and fear. Plus, a new No. 1 and major flux!

Six series take the week off and another has left the building. So much for bloodshed.

Welcome to The Power Rankings! for the week ending April 3. A couple of strange things have happened this week. First, I had this list done early Tuesday and then forgot to post it. So, hey, we keep the Wednesday slot intact! Secondly, and far more important, as I foreshadowed all the bloodshed that was going to happen this week, I overlooked the fact that a bunch of series were taking the week off. Or, in some cases, many weeks off. These shows are soft. They are cowardly. They did not want to face the onslaught of five new dramas. So they fled, in fear. Six shows were held out of the ring and Shameless had its finale. So, for the most brutal and painful and bloody Power Rankings! in ages, we'll have to wait a week or two. But that doesn't mean we didn't have upsets, flux and carnage. Hell, we've got a new No. 1. That's always cause for joy. So let's get to 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.




The Killing


Grim and gripping, completely fresh inside a tired genre, the Americanized version of the Danish hit series packed an emotional wallop in its two-hour premiere (encompassing two episodes). Fantastic acting and writing, impressive choices in casting and tone, a look that has noir all over it -- this is a series you just can't take your eyes off. A remarkable entry straight into the No. 1 slot. All hail AMC's new champ and a show that might be very, very difficult to unseat. Then again, "Winter is coming."




No, your eyes did not deceive you - Raylan got his ass beaten down. Of course, he was hung over. And let that be a lesson to all of you would-be superhero types. Don't mix grain and grape, for starters. But also just don't overdo it. You won't be able to be your normal kick-ass self, and in turn might get an ass-kicking delivered unto you. Alcohol - it's the devil in liquid form. Amen. Sooooo, our former No. 1, unseated by FX stablemate Lights Out, rallies back strong (for the week ending April 3) and manages to move up. That's big. That also means someone tumbled. Which in turn means there's a new No. 1. This is harder than anyone thought, I'm afraid. Where's the legacy? Where's the staying power? Oh, and in case you didn't know: "Winter is coming."


Lights Out


If it doesn't hurt like hell knowing that his own mother doesn't love him, Lights has to face the fact that Justified did not take kindly to playing second fiddle. On top of that, Justified wasn't even No. 1. Hence - "slippage." Listen, I loved "Sucker Punch" for a lot of different reasons -- mostly that this dark, doomed series thought we viewers who love Lights hadn't suffered enough. Why not trot out his long-lost mother and just make a freaking' mess of the collective Leary family head? Your own mother playing the con? Oh, man, that's cold. Just cold. How about Stacy Keach getting the light turned on in his heart again -- enough to make him float around like a butterfly until his ex stung like a bee? Let's face it, nobody can be happy on this show. Also, hey, a testament to the strength of the Top Five that Lights Out dips two spots on a solid episode.




History will say that Archer became dangerously and impressively funny in Season 2. History will be right. But history is also wearing a tight black turtleneck, so make of that what you will. The point here is that years from now, Season 2 will be called "the year that made Archer too awesome to ignore." You can read that on the DVD box, probably, right before Season 3 airs.


The Borgias


Oh, winter might be coming, but it's not here yet. So until then, let the guilty pleasure that is The Pornias wash over you like a sponge bath from a wench. There's nothing wrong with liking historical fiction -- in fact, that trait comes in handy if you want to fill up your DVR this month. There's lots to love and admire in The Borgias, but maybe not enough to sustain another Top Five appearance. History be damned. Entertain us!




Hellooooooo, knock-knock? Don't get complacent, historical dramas, because every channel seems to have one. Everyone needs to up their game. And after two episodes of both The Borgias and Camelot, it's anybody's guess as to where these shows will stack up soon enough. Hell, winter is coming. And, despite Game of Thrones (yes, that's what all the winter references are about) being a fantasy series wrapped in faux history, it's still history. With lots of drama. And cool costumes. And gratuitous sex. So don't sleep on improvement, Camelot and Borgias. Up your game as needed. In a couple of weeks we'll have three historical dramas on. Someone will need to chop off more heads or have more nudity. Or, if you are capable of it, be more compelling.


Mildred Pierce


Yes, she's still here. And despite the expansive melodrama that unfolds not-quite-successfully in Part Three, this miniseries still has Kate Winslet, who we love. And she's making chicken and waffles, which just makes her more awesome. She's got bad taste in men, though. But don't hold that against her. Despite the shortcomings in the central point of this miniseries -- mother and daughter in some weird psychological snipe-fest of unrequited love -- there's plenty of great acting and the visuals here are as bright and alluring as you'll see. There's no winter coming to Los Angeles (though the series will conclude this week with Parts Four and Five).


Nurse Jackie


This isn't Jackie's first dance in The Power Rankings!, though it does seem like a long time ago (and in a different location). But it's important to know the history (there's that word again). Once a power house, Nurse Jackie suddenly felt stale or, at least in part, contrived and static. So it fell out of the rankings and even off of my DVR last season. But hey, new season, new opportunity. And the first episode this season at least hints at movement. Some things happen faster in this episode than they did over a six episode arc last season. What was working against the series before was its inability to move forward. That may be addressed this season. In any case, welcome to the Top 10, Jackie.


Traffic Light


If not for Fox stablemate Raising Hope (which was off this week), Traffic Light would be a prime candidate for best freshman sitcom. As it stands, the series is probably the best comedy you're not watching (though Hope could use some more viewers as well). Seriously, Traffic Light has been too easily dismissed (maybe the title, maybe the L.A.-ish thing of talking on the phone in the car to start each episode, though it's only L.A. via Israel, so get over it). In either case, there was some serious pre-judgment on the part of viewers that isn't deserved. The writing and acting here are strong -- the timing is impeccable. Give it a chance. And here's hoping Fox realizes there's a lot of funny to be exploited here. Patience, please.


United States of Tara


Like Jackie, Tara has been in The Power Rankings! before, but left sooner. The problem I continue to have with this series is that, as much as I love Toni Collette, invariably each episode is a masterclass in her playing myriad characters. Great to witness for a while, but not a whole season. To its credit, the series has expanded its reach to the supporting cast, which gave the whole thing more dimension. But even in this first episode there's a sense that Tara will still be praying at the Temple of Alters. All the jumping around around between personalities remains too stagey, so we'll have to see if there's staying power come next week.




Could be something in the water making our patience run a little thin. The Parenthood clan of misfit adults is back after a short hiatus but this episode, which was a welcome exhale from some of the theatrics of earlier episodes, replaced drama with whining. At least that's how it felt. Could be that we've been tainted by historical dramas where, if family problems get in the way, someone pulls a sword and cuts a head off. Or, even if you have to endure squabbling, there's always a little nudity and sex to leaven the angst. Not so here. At least not until it moves to Showtime. And yet, Parenthood has stayed pretty consistent in the rankings, so don't count it out going forward.

In Peril: Listen, 30 Rock, The Office, Community, Parks and Recreation, Modern Family and Fringe all had the week off, so when they come back, everybody's in peril. Beyond that, winter is coming. There's gonna be blood in the snow pretty soon.

In the Mix: Bob's Burgers, The Good Wife, The Middle, Mr. Sunshine, Chicago Code, Mad Love.

Out: The finales of Lights Out and Mildred Pierce will be reflected in next week's rankings. That will eventually open up two slots. But it will be sad to see them go.