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Hey, the Power Rankings! are back! (Sound of gleeful horn, fading faintly away into sadness…)
Yeah, I know. You don't remember. It's been awhile. I blame the whole "Peak TV" thing for taking a brilliant concept — prioritizing weekly episodes of TV in an homage to insane fantasy sports ranking lists — and making that joyful celebration something that was suddenly impossible to do.
I first started doing the Power Rankings! (yes, it has an exclamation point) in 2009 at the San Francisco Chronicle and then brought the idea with me to The Hollywood Reporter, where a weekly chart with numbers and arrows and sometimes pithy and sometimes serious commentary illustrated the best of drama and comedy for the preceding week's television.
That's not possible anymore. Thanks a lot, John Landgraf.
But now I'm bringing the Power Rankings! back in several modern-day variations that will be workable in the current "there's too much TV and I'm crippled by the choices so I'm just going to lie down on this bed" landscape.
Translation: It's impossible to watch every episode of every show every week so that idea is out the window. On the other hand, television has never been more evergreen and plentiful, so the Power Rankings! can now apply to pretty much any show that's currently in production, since most of America is behind/hasn't started on countless series. In that spirit, I'll have a number of different Power Rankings! — going well beyond just drama and comedy — and they will be updated as necessary, in rotation.
But let's start with something essential: the dramas you should watch before starting anything else. I'm not talking about The Wire — you should just stop reading now and go do that if you haven't. The new Power Rankings! will focus on series that are either on right now or ended recently (and the subsequent season hasn't started). That timeline can stretch as long as a year. We are living in times of TV saturation and the rankings will account for that, but there have to be some parameters.
Also, keep in mind that I'm just like you and haven't watched everything. Sometimes series will appear on these lists and I haven't finished the entire season (or the season hasn't ended), which is natural and acceptable — and that will only add to the flux as they are re-ranked each subsequent time.
If a series isn't on here, either I haven't watched it at all or it doesn't deserve to be on here. For example, I haven't seen Netflix's GLOW, (my colleague Dan Fienberg reviewed that) so it's not on the list yet. On the other hand, I have seen most of the episodes from Showtime's Twin Peaks and it's not on this list either. I think you get the point there.
On the plus side, there are tons of great shows in this Platinum Age of Television. Many will make these various Power Rankings! over time. And the comments attributed to them will be updated. Discovery is part of the point of these lists — as you get into some of these series you will no doubt disagree with their ranking. It's the "making lists on a napkin in a bar" element that makes them fun. Also, I'm right.
At the bottom of the Power Rankings! you'll see three addendums: Out, In Peril and In the Mix — shows that dropped off for whatever reason, others that are hanging toward the bottom but could be in trouble the next time around and a list of series that are in consideration (honorable mentions).
All hail the series that can hold down the No. 1 slot the longest. As you'll see below, there are two numbers associated with each entry. The number on the left is the current ranking; the number on the right was its last ranking. They will of course match on the inaugural list.
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