Okay, time for the final update to my rankings of fall 2010's new TV shows in light of the season finales of Boardwalk Empire and The Walking Dead and what turned out to be the series finale of FX's now sadly canceled Terriers.
First off, Terriers, which was an original, compelling, dark, supremely well-acted and often unexpectedly hilarious mystery show through its first eleven episodes, abruptly became fucking incredible in its two-part series finale. Like, holding-your-breath, heart-thumping-as-it-goes-to-commercial, saying-"holy shit!"-right-out-loud incredible. I had ranked it #2 behind Boardwalk Empire through most of the season, considering the two shows more or less tied, but after the finale there was no longer any contest. I'll stop here because I wanna do a more elaborate full series review later, so let's just say Terriers was the greatest new show of 2010 and leave it at that.
That leaves Boardwalk Empire and The Walking Dead fighting it out for #2. It's no secret by this point that Boardwalk turned out not to be the Sopranos-in-the-1920s-style gangster show they marketed it as and most people wanted it to be, instead being a show about business and politics at a time when business and politics were slightly rougher and may have occasionally involved a murder or two. And hey, I love political shows — The West Wing is one of my all-time favorites — so that's basically okay with me. I said at the beginning of the season and I say again today that the gorgeous and wildly expensive production values are probably the show's highlight and I look forward to season two if only to spend more time in the Prohibition-era Atlantic City they've created.
The Walking Dead is a rawer, more visceral and immediate pleasure which delivers exactly on the promise of its advertising: zombies, zombies, and more zombies. I think it has the potential to become a greater show than Boardwalk if the second season evolves in interesting and unexpected directions, but I did find the first season finale to be filler-esque and not the highest note to end on. It would have been a perfectly good sixth episode of a twelve or thirteen-episode season, but as a season finale it definitely wasn't a pockmark on Terriers' ass. Still, I look forward to more Georgia zombie adventures. As I said last month about a different show, consider The Walking Dead and Boardwalk Empire for all practical purposes tied. Now if they combined them into The Boardwalking Dead Empire, we may have the greatest show of all time.
As for the shows in my watchable tier, The Event and No Ordinary Family are alike in that I've grown a bit warmer on the positive aspects of each but colder still on the negatives. I continue to admire The Event's extremely tight serialization and the big picture has taken shape a little with the revelation of Hal Holbrook as the main antagonist of the 24-style half of the show, but the alien pod people that provide the main narrative impetus for the Lost-style half of the show have grown silly and I no longer find them intimidating or particularly interesting. The Event's better than most of what premiered this fall but I could never, ever describe these first ten episodes as good television with a straight face.
Meanwhile, over on No Ordinary Family, the main story with the husband and wife has developed nicely as they've grown into their superpowers, fought some crime, and deepened their partnerships with their sidekicks while a villain has taken shape and there's even been an unexpected death or two among the supporting cast. Unfortunately every episode has its runtime clogged with useless, episodic storylines involving the son and the daughter where they use their powers to do high school stuff. One recent episode involved the mom and dad trying to catch a pyrokinetic supervillain and coping with accidentally killing him in self-defense while the son and daughter, I shit you not, tried to fix a statue they'd accidentally knocked off a table at home. It was like that episode of Saved by the Bell where they break the Elvis statue at Screech's parents' house had been spliced in by accident. Talk about your fucking mood whiplash.
I dropped Mitch Hurwitz's new and rapidly dying sitcom Running Wilde down below No Ordinary Family, because when Fox announced its soft cancellation (they aren't yanking it from the air and will let it play out the season, but it's definitely done and will not be be renewed) I didn't have the slightest reaction of disappointment. I just kind of shrugged and was like "welp, saw that coming." I think even No Ordinary Family's cancellation would provoke more of a response from me than that. Running Wilde gave me some chuckles and even a legitimate laugh or three, but we didn't exactly have a torrid love affair.
Lastly, no show below Running Wilde has changed ranks, because I haven't watched any more episodes of them, so how could they?
Day 1: Outlaw, Boardwalk Empire, Chase, The Event, Lone Star
Day 2: Detroit 1-8-7, Raising Hope, Running Wilde, Better With You, Undercovers
Day 3: My Generation, Outsourced, No Ordinary Family, Law & Order: Los Angeles
Day 4: Blue Bloods, The Defenders, Hawaii Five-0, Mike & Molly, $#*! My Dad Says
Day 5: Hellcats, Terriers, Nikita, The Whole Truth
Day 6: The Walking Dead
October 16th Rankings
November 15th Rankings
Beyond the jump, the rankings!
== Amazing Tier ==
#1 - TERRIERS (canceled)
== Good Tier ==
#2 - BOARDWALK EMPIRE
#3 - THE WALKING DEAD
#4 - LONE STAR (canceled)
== Watchable Tier ==
#5 - THE EVENT (canceled)
#6 - NO ORDINARY FAMILY (canceled)
#7 - RUNNING WILDE (canceled)
== Inoffensive Tier ==
#8 - NIKITA
#9 - HELLCATS (canceled)
#10 - UNDERCOVERS (canceled)
#11 - OUTSOURCED (canceled)
== Poor Tier ==
#12 - RAISING HOPE
#13 - HAWAII FIVE-0
#14 - DETROIT 1-8-7 (canceled)
#15 - MY GENERATION (canceled)
#16 - OUTLAW (canceled)
== Awful Tier ==
#17 - THE DEFENDERS (canceled)
#18 - BETTER WITH YOU (canceled)
#19 - CHASE (canceled)
#20 - LAW & ORDER: LOS ANGELES (canceled)
== Apocalypse Tier ==
#21 - THE WHOLE TRUTH (canceled)
#22 - $#*! MY DAD SAYS (canceled)
#23 - BLUE BLOODS
#24 - MIKE & MOLLY