Bullz-Eye’s 2012 TV Power Rankings

10. Justified (FX)

To our way of thinking, there wasn’t much chance that a series based on an Elmore Leonard character and featuring Leonard himself as an executive producer could possibly go wrong, so it’s been nice to see “Justified” prove us right. Season 1 was the series was good stuff, thanks to the outstanding onscreen chemistry between Timothy Olyphant and Walton Goggins, but by bringing Margo Martindale into the mix for Season 2, the show leapt to new levels of greatness. With Season 3 introducing Carla Gugino as a character who – for legal reasons – isn’t actually Karen Sisco (even though she so clearly is) and bringing back Stephen Root as everyone’s favorite red-thong-wearing judge, The Hammer, the ongoing adventures of Raylan Givens continue to deliver.

9. Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO)

Given that we never know for sure if the latest season of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” is going to be the last season of “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” it’s possible that we may grade the series on a little bit of a curve. Coming on the heels of the much-vaunted “Seinfeld” reunion, we knew we might not be quite as blown away by Season 8 of “Curb,” but leave it to Larry David to mix things up enough to keep things interesting. As Larry attempted to enjoy life as a single man (inasmuch as Larry can enjoy anything), we got to see him both at home in L.A. and in NYC with Jeff and Susie, and having interactions with celebs like Ricky Gervais, Rosie O’Donnell, Cheyenne Jackson, and, most hilariously, Michael J. Fox. Will there be a Season 9? HBO is optimistic, something which Larry David has never been. Let’s just keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best.

8. The Killing (AMC)

We ranked “The Killing” as our top show in the last Power Rankings as we got hooked on this AMC murder/mystery along with millions of other fans. But promises that the killer would be revealed at the end of Season 1 weren’t kept as we were left with a cliffhanger ending, so the haters came out in full force against the show. Bill Simmons was particularly harsh in his criticism. We felt the criticisms were overblown and we’re looking forward to Season 2. Mireille Enos is a real talent as the drab and dour Sarah Lindon, which completely hides the beauty and bubbly character of this actress. Search her on YouTube and you’ll see what we mean. Joel Kinneman is also excellent as her partner, even if he often seems to be doing his best Jesse Pinkman imitation.

7. Community (NBC)

Oh, “Community,” you do so like to tempt fate, don’t you? We’ve watched you religiously since your inception, when we picked you as the must-watch sitcom of the 2009 fall season, and you’ve gone out of your way to make sure that you didn’t let us down, offering up some of the most creative comedy on television: turning a game of Dungeons & Dragons into an oddly emotional episode, dedicating installments to everything from parallel realities to paintball, having Jeff and Shirley bond over foosball…you guys were fearless. Unfortunately, fearlessness and creativity don’t tend to play well with a mass audience, which is probably why “Community” is, as of the writing, sitting in limbo without confirmation as to when the remainder of its third season will continue to air, let alone if a fourth is in the cards. But we’re guessing you have no regrets when it comes to your steadfast refusal to avoid dumbing it down for the average viewer, which is why we’re trying to have none as well. But it’s hard. It’s very, very hard. Dammit, we just want “Community” back! Is that so much to ask?

6. The Walking Dead (AMC)

Some critics, like our own Jeff Morgan, questioned whether The Walking Dead was losing its way in Season 2. The rest of us, however, were more than happy with the pacing – you can’t be fighting off packs of zombies every week. Also, Shane’s killing of Otis and the tragic climax involving the search for Sophia gave us bone-chilling moments that we’ll remember for years.

5. Sons of Anarchy (FX)

It’s been a long, hard road that “Sons of Anarchy” has ridden to get to this point on the Power Rankings, having spent its earlier seasons in far lower spots due to the fact that not enough of us were watching it. Eventually, however, more of us came around, and it’s finally begun to get its proper due. Better late than never, right? Season 4 saw Jax, Clay, and the rest of the guys emerging from their 14-month stay behind bars and returning to Charming, only to meet a couple of new “friends” who’ve come to town: Sheriff Eli Roosevelt (Rockmond Dunbar) and Asst. U.S. Attorney Linc Potter (Ray McKinnon). One could argue that this was a transitional season for “Sons,” or, at the very least, certainly a transitional season for Clay, whose presidency of the organization came to a conclusion in suitably dramatic fashion. Where things go in Season 5 is anyone’s guess.

4. Game of Thrones (HBO)

It’s funny how the success of Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy suddenly made it viable to take a shot at countless sword-and-sorcery, medieval-type tales that had previously been deemed more or less unfilmable. Rather than try to condense George R.R. Martin’s epic “Game of Thrones” into movie form, however, HBO kindly green-lit a television series based on the property, and with the help of executive producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the transition from print to small screen has been remarkably successful. With masterful performances by Sean Bean, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, and – perhaps most impressively – Peter Dinklage, “Game of Thrones” is, in a word, epic. Shame about poor ol’ Ned Stark, though. Sure didn’t see that coming…

3. Modern Family (ABC)

It’s a little hard to take the cynics seriously when they say that “Modern Family” isn’t as funny as it used to be when we continue to laugh so hard at each and every episodes. Admittedly, the storyline about Cam and Mitchell trying to adopt another baby has been a little hit-and-miss, and the idea of Claire running for public office seemed a lot funnier in concept than it has in execution, even with David Cross in tow. But the heart of the show continues to be the relationships between the three distinct family units – Cam and Mitchell, the Dunphys, and Jay and Gloria – and their respective kids. If things haven’t been quite as funny this year, so be it: it’s still funny, and we’re still watching.

2. Mad Men (AMC)

Yes, we know it hasn’t been on the air since 2010 (we covered that in the intro, you may remember), and, no, we don’t know any more about what to expect from the new season – which premieres on March 25 – than you do (series creator Matthew Weiner is notoriously tight-lipped, and we’re pretty sure he threatens to do terrible things to his cast’s pets if they leak anything to the press), but if we’re going to be doing these TV Power Rankings on an annual basis, then we’re forced to go with our instincts here and presume that “Mad Men” will continue to be as awesome in the future as it has been up to this point.

1. Breaking Bad (AMC)

Fact: if you believe that there is any show on television that’s better than “Breaking Bad,” you are wrong. Period. End of story. Although the show began with a concept that spoke to many a family man – if you knew you were going to die, to what lengths would you go to make sure that your family was provided for? – it has since evolved into so much more. Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul continue to startle with the depth of their performances, but Giancarlo Esposito’s work as the chillingly efficient Gus Fring was the kind of work that makes an actor’s career. With an end date now in sight, the series has grown more gripping than ever, and there’s little doubt that we’ll see Hank (Dean Norris) figure out what Walt (Cranston) has been doing behind the back of him and his fellow DEA agents. In other words, folks, for all the shit we’ve seen hit the fan so far, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

Bubbling Under

Boss (Starz): No one blames you for being hesitant about the idea of longtime sitcom star Kelsey Grammer starring in a premium-cable drama about a Chicago mayor who’s slowly but surely losing his mental faculties, but the first season of “Boss” turned out to be a really strong piece of work. Here’s hoping more viewers give it a go when it returns for its sophomore year.

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