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Fall's best and worst: 'Modern Family,' 'Parks' and Recreation,' '90210,' 'SNL,' and more!

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mccord-poehler-arm_lThe TV season is only six weeks old, but hey, it’s never too early to single out its biggest winners and losers, is it? That’s what I thought. Here goes:

Most Improved: Creatively

Parks and Recreation: When it debuted last spring, Amy Poehler’s workplace comedy was a snooze and a half. But apparently, while I was sleeping it got better. Lots better. What happened? “I don’t think magical fairy dust was sprinkled over the show,” co-creator Michael Schur says. “I just think we’re getting better at it.” Indeed, Poehler has dialed down her performance as deputy parks director Leslie Knope, and the strong supporting cast, including Rashida Jones and Aziz Ansari, is jelling.

90210: After struggling to find its own identity, the reboot has grown into the guilty pleasure we always wanted it to be. Moving AnnaLynne McCord’s immensely entertaining anti-heroine, Naomi, front and center certainly didn’t hurt. “AnnaLynne has moxie, and I wanted to tap into that,” says Rebecca Sinclair, who took over as showrunner last spring. “Plus, she’s hilarious.”

Most Disappointing: Creatively

Saturday Night Live: Coming off of last year’s election bonanza, a decline in topicality — and thus hilarity — was inevitable. But you know things are really bad when the show starts making me almost sick of Kristen Wiig. You can make a bad sketch better by putting your MVP in it, Lorne Michaels. But you can’t make necessarily make a bad sketch good.

Best New Shows

Modern Family: I already had a pre-emptive Save the Show campaign organized, but it turned out, I didn’t need to: The season’s funniest comedy (new or otherwise) averages an impressive 10 million viewers, wins its timeslot every week and makes me laugh like there’s no tomorrow. Thank you, Ed O’Neill. And Sofia Vergara. And Eric Stonestreet. And Julie Bowen. And Jesse Tyler Ferguson. And Ty Burrell. And…

The Vampire Diaries: I would’ve sworn we’d OD’d on bloodsuckers, but darned if The CW didn’t get our pulses pounding yet again with this junior varsity True Blood.

Worst New Shows:

Hank: The only weak link in ABC’s otherwise strong Wednesday comedy lineup is still awaiting a full-season pickup. Something tells me it’ll be waiting a long, long, long time.

The Forgotten: Huh? What? Exactly. Christian Slater’s aptly-titled drama hasn’t registered with viewers or critics. What were we talking about again?

What are your picks for this season’s best and worst so far? Sound off below! And pick up the current issue of Entertainment Weekly to read our list of this fall’s biggest ratings winners and losers.

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