BEST 10. Nashville
The best new show of the fall season, boldly soapy, seamlessly musical.
BEST 9. The Good Wife
Even with the frustrating Kalinda’s-husband subplot (we’re irritated because we care!), this is network drama’s best show, with the best use of guest stars.
BEST 8. Justified
The most hardboiled season yet, with an out-of-town hit-man giving Raylan his most formidable villain.
BEST 7. Parks and Recreation
Beautifully unironic, carefully avoiding undue meanness, yet still gut-punchingly funny.
BEST 6. The Colbert Report
The funniest and most devastating political humor in an election year.
BEST 5. Mad Men
Unbuttoning in the 1960s, with characters taking trips both geographical and chemical, making risky business and personal decisions.
BEST 4. Girls
The year’s most impressive debut, and one of its most original sitcoms.
BEST 3. Louie
Expanding sitcom conventions with storylines that allowed for dramatic moments, quiet moments, crazy moments, sometimes all in one episode (see: Parker Posey).
BEST 2. Breaking Bad
The half-season that paid off on Vince Gilligan’s original conceit: ”Mr. Chips will turn into Scarface.”
BEST 1. Homeland
Super-tense, conventional-narrative-shattering, great acting from both Claire Danes and Damian Lewis.
NEXT: Ken picks the worst TV of 2012…
WORST 5. Phillip Phillips wins American Idol
A fitting end to a lousy season; tedious judging, little suspense, a fine-grade sandpaper-voiced but unfortunately bland winner.
WORST 4. House of Lies
How could a show with such a talented cast be so boring?
WORST 3. Anger Management
Charlie Sheen makes a triumphant return to TV! Well, no, let’s just make that a ”return to TV.”
WORST 2. Animal Practice
Justin Kirk and Joanna Garcia-Swisher didn’t deserve to be stuck in these tedious monkeyshines.
WORST 1. Work It
Bosom Buddies without the fun — the year’s most pointless new show.