TV Power Rankings: November 2012
Welcome to the November Power Rankings!
You know how this works: I've rated everything I've watched for the past month, and averaged out those ratings to come up with a definitive list of my 12 favourite shows over that time. You can play too - just tell us your favourite shows during November, in the comments below.
First, a few Honourable Mentions: The second season of Boss (SoHo) finished in style, but sadly not with enough viewers to secure a third season. Episodes (One, Friday 10.50pm) has been good, but not great - and certainly not up to the standard set by the first season. Meanwhile, Don't Trust The B**** In Apartment 23 (Four, Tuesday 8.30pm) has been a surprisingly fun watch thanks to a hilarious turn from Mr James Van Der Beek, playing an over-the-top parody of himself and, thus, the wider notion of celebrity.
Now, let's get on with the Top 12 - in reverse order ...
12: The Simpsons (Four, Sunday 7.30pm) | Last Month: did not place
Unbelievably, we're now into Season 24 and the show is at (or near) its peak again. If last season was a comeback year for the animated comedy, then this season is a firm statement that The Simpsons is back, baby. Curl up with a plate of your favourite insect and make sure you catch the next episode.
11: The Thick of It (UKTV, Friday 9pm) | Last Month: did not place
I call you app, Armando Iannucci! The creator and writer of this brilliant British comedy is a master of dialogue - each exchange is so loaded with clever storytelling, character foibles and as many in-jokes (and pop culture references) as you'd care to count. Eat your heart out, Sorkin.
10: 7 Days (TV3, concluded) | Last Month: 8
The Friday night comedy panel show caps off another year with a string of episodes that prove its quality: the revolving roster of panellists were as strong as ever (as proven by the fact that TV3 are investing more screen time in a handful of them next year), the international guests have been great, and the laughs came thick and fast.
09: Dexter (SoHo, Wednesday 8.30pm) | Last Month: 3
The first four episodes were great, and while it's taken its foot off the gas a little in the past few weeks - moving on from the moral debate between Dexter and Deb and on to Deb's acceptance of what her brother does and is - I stand by my earlier contention that this is a show in the midst of a strong comeback.
08: New Girl (Four, Tuesday 8pm) | Last Month: 6
New Girl isn't as clever as Parks & Recreation, but it is damn funny. Max Greenfield continues to star as Schmidt, even outshining leading lady Zooey Deschanel most weeks. This one takes the award for "most belly laughs per half hour". God bless Four for bringing it to us so quickly behind the USA.
07: Parks & Recreation (Four, Tuesday 10pm) | Last Month: 4
The fourth season of the show has been brilliant, even if it dipped in quality over the past month as it set things up for the final few episodes. Nick Offerman has been the star: his performance as Ron Swanson has been the stuff of legend and he even wrote an entire episode. This is a show which knows its strengths and uses its cast perfectly.
06: Jono & Ben at 10 (TV3, concluded) | Last Month: did not place
The Kiwi comedy isn't for everyone. And I know that parts of it are extremely derivative, drawing on internet fads and successful shows. But dammit, it was consistently funny, great at times. The final episode, last Friday, rounded up the best moments from its run. I was in stitches. By the way, TV3, I would absolutely watch a weekly show in which Guy Williams simply reads out his most offensive tweets to the people they're aimed at.
05: Line of Duty (SoHo, Tuesday 8.30pm) | Last Month: did not place
The gritty police drama managed only two episodes in November, but that was enough to secure it a place here: Lennie James finds his inner Denzel to play crooked super-cop Tony Gates, and the cat-and-mouse tale at the centre of the show - with James' Gates being chased down by corruption investigator DCI Arnott (Martin Compston) - is riveting and shocking at every turn. Another success for the Brits and a pleasant surprise on SoHo.
04: Boardwalk Empire (SoHo, Monday 8.30pm) | Last Month: 2
The slow-burning drama seems to plod along week after week - and I mean that in a good way: it isn't as action packed as the shows at the top of this list, yet every episode leaves an impression. Steve Buscemi is fantastic (again), Bobby Cannavale is a revelation as villain Gyp Rosetti, and the story is strong, engrossing on every level.
03: Downton Abbey (Prime, Thursday 8.30pm) | Last Month: 5
The period drama probably would've cracked the top spot if only the fifth and sixth episodes - the one where Sybil, umm, does that thing, and the one afterward - had counted; a remarkable writing job by Mr Fellowes and Co, and terrific performances all round, made for a harrowing couple of weeks. Downton is back to its best. Look out for my review tomorrow.
02: Homeland (TV3, Monday 8.30pm) | Last Month: 1
I couldn't leave Homeland in first place after a month of episodes which took the show further and further in a 24-esque direction - and if Monday's ridiculous episode* had counted toward this ranking, Homeland might've dropped even further. Danes, Lewis and Patinkin are as good as ever, and this month did give us that hilarious sex scene with everyone listening in and Saul glumly staring at the ground with a "how did I end up here" look on his face. But the plot is starting to stray too far into implausibility. Look, 24 was a good, sometimes great, show. But I want to watch Homeland, not 24.
01: The Walking Dead (TV2, Wednesday 10.30pm) | Last Month: did not place
We're only a handful of episodes in, but already this is the best season of The Walking Dead so far. Heck, last week's episode was so good that I sat on my couch for a few minutes, stunned, then sat up until 2am just to write a review of it. The writing is tight, the story is exciting and moving along at a decent pace, and the cast - especially Andrew Lincoln and Norman Reedus - are at their best right now. Plus, this is the only show on this list that I absolutely have to watch when it is on. The Walking Dead is the very essence of appointment viewing. That has to count for something.
What were your favourite shows during November?
(*) I reviewed Monday's disappointing episode of Homeland here.