Bullz-Eye’s 2014 TV Power Rankings

6. “The Americans”

The tensions between Phillip and Elizabeth that dominated Season One were put on pause for the most part in Season Two, as they were confronted with the death of another KGB couple and began to grapple with the reality of protecting their own family. Meanwhile, FBI agent Beeman gets in way too deep with Nina. With only two seasons in the books, it isn’t too late to get caught up on this excellent spy drama before the third season kicks off in early 2015.

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7. “Homeland”

The explosive Brody/Carrie story was must-see TV for the first two seasons, but something that burned that hot proved to be hard to sustain over the long haul. Season Three was a mess as they tried to wrap up that relationship in a way that made sense, and this fall, they pretty much started over in Season Four. Now it’s just an intense show about the CIA fighting the war against global terrorism, but with Carrie, Quinn and Saul leading the charge, it’s still one of the best shows out there.

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8. “Mad Men”

The novelty has worn off with “Mad Men,” but it’s still one of the top dramas on television. Things got pretty tough for Don in the first half of the final season, but at least we can all move on now from Megan (that was getting old), and Jim Cutler’s power play blew up in his face. The final seven episodes should be worth the wait.

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9. “Fargo”

The bar was set very high with the 1996 classic from the Coen brothers, but this reimagined version starring Billy Bob Thornton, Martin Freeman and Allison Tolman was worthy of the title. Here’s Ross Ruediger’s take from his DVD review: “On paper, ‘Fargo’ sounds dreadfully pedestrian: A 10-episode reimagining of the iconography and ideas laid down by the Coen brothers nearly 20 years ago in their Academy Award-winning film of the same name. This is the sort of thing that just shouldn’t be tampered with, right? Apparently not, as in practice this TV version is so smart, so tight and so engaging that it all but makes one forget the movie entirely, and to be sure, that’s not a statement that was typed lightly.”

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10. “Episodes”

This show doesn’t get a ton of buzz, but it’s one of the few shows that will make you laugh out loud on a regular basis. Matt LeBlanc is hilarious playing a cartoonish version of himself as a selfish prick, and that alone makes this a show worth watching. It’s set in Hollywood with two relatively sane British writers dealing with the insanity of the television business. The rest of the wacky cast offers up some laughs, but none of this would work without LeBlanc’s smartass character carrying the show.

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There are plenty of great shows that didn’t crack the top ten, and we can enthusiastically recommend shows like “Shameless,” “Justified,” “Derek,” “Downton Abbey” and “Vikings.”

Meanwhile, some old favorites dropped off our list…

“Sons of Anarchy”

How much melodrama can you cram into one show about outlaw bikers? Quite a bit, it turns out. The frenetic twists and turns and countless “shocking” developments grabbed our attention in the early seasons, but now we’re just numb to it all. The Sons can still be very entertaining at times, and we still care about most of the characters, but we stuck around through the last season just to see how it all ends. Unfortunately, the ending was a mess with all the tortured symbolism around Jax’s bizarre farewell.

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“The Newsroom”

We loved this show when it first came out. It had everything (good and bad) you would expect from an Aaron Sorkin drama, while offering an idealistic take on what we should expect from a cable news channel. He gave us some great characters, starting with Will McAvoy and MacKenzie McHale, who Sorkin used to explain everything that was wrong with cable news today using his signature fast-paced dialogue. But the show slipped quite a bit in its second season as Sorkin let go of his entire writing team and then constructed an entire season around a botched, fictional news story. The contrived “Genoa” fiasco was a poor substitute for using real news stories as a backdrop. Sorkin then wrapped up the show this fall in a brief third season, as he tried to take on clickbait journalism in a clumsy attempt to turn the traditional cable news gang into heroes. In interviews, Sorkin said he was just learning how to write this show and wishes he could go back and redo the whole series. Unfortunately, he’d probably screw up season Season One, so we’re happy to have him leave it alone. At least the last episode wrapped things up nicely.

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