February means new season TV - and it also means there is a heap of new stuff to consume*. So let's take a look at the best on offer: this is the bumper Power Rankings for February 2013, expanded to 14 places to fit everything in. These are my favourite shows from the past month. As always, non-fiction shows do not qualify.
Be warned: there are some serious spoilers in among these comments.
14: Banshee (SoHo, Tuesday 8.30pm)
Where else on television can you find an albino man commenting on the colour of the sky a few moments before having his penis cut off with a straight razor by Van/Jethro West? Nowhere, that's where.
13: Moone Boy (UKTV, finished)
This one flew way under the radar. Chris O'Dowd (The IT Crowd, Girls) co-writes and stars in an Irish comedy series about a kid and his imaginary friend in 1990. The final couple of episodes aired during February, capping off a brilliant first season that puts a show like Mrs Brown's Boys to shame.
12: 30 Rock (Four, finished)
Farewell to one of the greatest comedy shows ever made - 30 Rock finished on Monday just gone (and just over a month ago in the USA) with a finale that proved the show's comedy chops and balanced those out with a series of touching character moments, as well as a confirmation that Kenneth is indeed immortal. Say what you want about the show, but this was a true original. I'm looking forward to seeing what Tina Fey does next.
11: The Following (One, Monday 9.30pm)
Sure, all the Edgar Allan Poe stuff seems kind of like an afterthought, but there is enough here - Kevin Bacon's moody and charismatic performance, the unpredictable twists the story takes every now and then - to keep me tuning in.
10: The Hour (SoHo, Monday 8.30pm)
I'm not convinced that the storyline Abi Morgan is unfolding over the course of the second season is very good, but stars Romola Garai, Ben Whishaw, Dominic West and Anna Chancellor - joined this season by the always amazing Peter Capaldi - make up for a lack of narrative by schooling every other cast on television in how to perform well as an ensemble.
09: Sunny Skies (TV3, Friday 8pm)
The best Kiwi comedy of the new season has gone from strength to strength since I wrote about it, turning in two stellar episodes and a gag ("How did your mum talk to you about the birds and the bees?", "I dunno, with a precooked sausage and a taco, I guess.") that I'm still chuckling about five days later.
08: Sons of Anarchy (TV3, Wednesday 9.30pm)
As I wrote after the first episode, the fifth season of Kurt Sutter's bikie drama has come out to play. And as the body count climbs, you get the sense this is the most relentless and emotional (and enjoyable) season of Sons so far.
07: Go On (TV3, Tuesday 8pm)
Sure, we're following a guy dealing with the grief of losing his wife in a car accident - Ryan King, played with as much charm as Matthew Perry can muster - doesn't sound like comedy fodder, but this is a seriously funny show.
06: Once Upon a Time (TV2, Thursday 8.30pm)
I know, I'm as surprised as you are. I liked the first season of Once, and was always going to come back for more, but I'm shocked by just how much I'm enjoying the new episodes, and the appearance of interesting new characters like Sleeping Beauty, Mulan and Lancelot (how good was that twist last week?!) have kept it fresh.
05: Girls (SoHo, Thursday 8.30pm)
If Banshee is the only place you can see an albino get his junk cut off, then Girls is surely the only place you can see a struggling writer suffering from a urinal tract infection wince while peeing on the side of the road multiple times in an episode. You know, that and a collection of interesting characters living in a unique world like nothing you'll see on any other show. Lena Dunham is a fearless performer. But she's an even better writer.
04: New Girl (Four, Monday 8pm)
After expertly dealing with (and avoiding the pitfalls that normally plague story events like) the kiss, and the ensuing fallout between Nick and Jess, you can make the case that New Girl is at its creative peak right now.
03: The Syndicate (UKTV, finished)
Kay Mellor's series about five friends who share a first-division lottery win was funny at times, dramatic at times, but most of all it was entertaining, and it achieved something that few shows can do with three times as many episodes: it treated its five main characters equally, and it took them each on a journey that was rewarding on both an individual and collective level.
02: The Walking Dead (TV2, Wednesday 10.30pm)
I know fans are split on talkier episodes of the show, but I think The Walking Dead is at its best when it dispenses with the wanton zombie destruction and focuses on the trials of living in a post-apocalyptic world. I do agree, though, that 10.30pm is too late for it. This is just too good to record for the following day, so Wednesday nights are late nights at my house.
01: The Americans (TV3, Monday 11.15pm)
Is there a better show on television right now? Nyet. Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell are brilliant as deep cover KGB agents Elizabeth and Philip, their story - plus that of FBI agent neighbor Stan (the always enjoyable Noah Emmerich) - is absolutely riveting, and the little differences between the low-tech espionage of 1981 and the present day are captured perfectly. A shame, then, that low viewership forced it to 11.15pm. Tell your friends!
What were your favourite shows in February? What do you think of my list - have I got it right?
(*) My MySky planner is a mess right now, with the following shows on series link (and a few I'm watching OnDemand too): CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, The Simpsons, Family Guy, Raising Hope, Monroe, Seven Sharp, Campbell Live, The Crowd Goes Wild, Criminal Minds, The Following, The Blue Rose, How I Met Your Mother, New Girl, new show The Mindy Project, The Americans, The Hour, Exile, Modern Family, Go On, Banshee, Fringe, Fair Go, Global Radar, 3 Degree, Elementary, 2 Broke Girls, Sons of Anarchy, The Walking Dead, Media3, Agent Anna, Once Upon a Time, Bones, Vegas, Girls, Sunny Skies, The Graham Norton Show, Beauty & The Beast, 7 Days and The Radio - plus America's Next Top Model: College Edition and Project Runway for my beautiful fiancée. Phew!