Here is the completion of my Top 10 list, the five shows I enjoyed most in 2011. “Enjoyed,” however, is short-hand for a finely tuned algorithm: The shows here gave me a lot of immediate, visceral pleasure; they were pleasant, and sometimes pleasantly knotty, to contemplate.

I take into account the balance between acting, writing, directing, and editing (I have to say, production values don’t matter much to me — a show can look like crap, like it was shot for $300 — and as long as it contains excellence in the other areas, it’s aces with me). As it happens, my number one choice this year is also one of the most beautiful-looking shows on TV, but that’s not all that makes it #1:

So, that’s the list. Yes, there were a lot of shows I had to lop off with a degree of pain. (Which means, yes, I’ll be writing my annual Top 11-20 list to post next week.) But these shows were all superb at this moment in TV history. I hope you agree. And disagree. Because that’s just inevitable. Pick up the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly for my full prose analysis of my Top 10.

Twitter: @kentucker

Episode Recaps

Breaking Bad

Walter White descends into the criminal underworld.

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