Seasons change, as Future Islands lead singer and insane dancer Samuel T. Herring might say, and his words ring true in this week’s power rankings. Several huge shows are premiering in the coming week (Mad Men got the jump on them all last night), and the winter shows that didn’t end last week are winding down now. With the change of the seasons, it’s a topsy-turvy time here in the world of TV Power Rankings. But whereas last week felt like the tail end of something, now it feels like we’re on the cusp. Let’s see who made the grade:
10. The Last Man on Earth, Fox
Last Week: 2
We’re dropping them because it was a re-run week, which means that clearly Fox was terrified of Mad Men and dodged Draper and co. out of fear. (Note: Probably not the real explanation.) Anyway, this show has been so excellent that I can’t justify dropping it completely. So here now, in the off week, please enjoy one of my favorite scenes, featuring Phil and Carol making idiots of themselves in front of Melissa:
9. Better Call Saul, AMC
Last Week: 9
Last week, I said that the first season’s final two episodes would define how we look at this show, and may determine its future success. Seven days down the road, nothing has really changed, at least for me. The penultimate episode was just okay, but it still felt more like set-up. (For the record, Paste head honcho Josh Jackson disagrees, and thought the revelation of brotherly betrayal was a great touch—and as you can see from the comments to my post, he’s not alone.) In my mind, it only increased the pressure on tonight’s finale. I have a good feeling about where this is going, but I’ll say it again: This show had a lot of momentum when it started because of Breaking Bad, but that’s all gone. We need a reason to come back for season two, and tonight has to be that reason.
8. Archer, FX
Last Week: Not Ranked
We saw the season six finale last week, and Scott Wold explains why an uneven year, despite moments of greatness, ended with a bit of a whimper:
When season six began, I was pretty excited to have Archer back in its spy tux, after slumming it with drug dealers, truckers and guerilla fighters. But the clothes don’t make the man, of course. The actions do. And if a year away from familiar surroundings didn’t ultimately bring back the show we know and loved with renewed vigor, I’m not sure another mere change of scenery can refresh it. Archer, I sure hope you meant it when you closed the season telling us you had some ideas.
7. Silicon Valley, HBO
Last Week: Not Ranked
Is it me, or has there been very little hype for the second season of 2014’s best new comedy? (Or at least a close second, to Transparent.) We’re less than a week from the premiere, and all we really have is this promo and this (admittedly awesome) trailer:
There are rumors of another teaser-trailer coming out in the next week, but it feels a bit late in the game, right? Regardless, I couldn’t be more excited for the most underrated part of HBO’s killer Sunday night spring schedule.
6. The Good Wife, CBS
Last Week: 6
Our very own Shannon Houston is still beating the drum for the best drama on network TV, so let’s turn to her for a few thoughts on this week’s installment, which scored an 8.5:
“Loser Edit” is another strong episode, but the conclusion tells me that it was also a well-crafted set-up for next week’s installment. Alicia has another battle to fight on the SA front, and now that Kalinda has been caught, it looks like we can expect a major rippling effect. In addition to these great storylines, I have to add that—once again—the format of the episode was equally compelling. The focus on Petra’s editing and those images of the different scenarios Diane and Reese’s team were throwing around at the top of the episode were reminders that The Good Wife team is always looking for new and interesting ways to tell these stories. With such wonderful characters and plots, they could get away with being a lot lazier; it’s one of the best show on TV (and my personal favorite) because settling for a “good enough” Good Wife, is not something we’ve had to do this season.
5. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, HBO
Last week: 10
The smartest news show on television—bar none—took on government surveillance this week, and it was as insightful and hilarious as always.
4. Justified, FX
Last Week: 3
A bit of a demotion this week for Justified, which now has just two episodes left in its final season. Jack McKinney explains why:
The difference between Law and Order and the other procedurals previous and since can be summed up in one word: pandering. If you think that your audience lacks the intelligence to understand even the most remedial concepts and you have to dedicate precious screen time in each and every episode to making sure no audience member is left behind, it simply isn’t possible to cultivate an ongoing sheen of believability….My point is that Justified has always been very smart about staying securely on the cleverer side of the pandering line. No one was ever going to confuse it for a documentary on life in Appalachia, but they created a believable world, set up the rules for that world, and have done a bang up job of coloring inside the lines. Until this week, that is. I can’t say that they’ve torn the curtain of believability down, but they are definitely stretching it thin, which is a shame.
3. The Americans, FX
Last Week: 4
Amy Amatangelo explains why the spy thriller is cracking the top three for the first time:
There are shocking, iconic TV moments that are etched in my memory. To these, I can now add last week’s The Americans. Confronted by their adolescent daughter Paige (Holly Taylor who was phenomenal in the episode), Philip and Elizabeth finally tell her the truth. They are undercover KGB spies. We throw around the term “game changer” quite a bit when it comes to TV but this truly was one. The reveal has been brewing since the first season when Paige’s suspicions about her parents’ constant absences and weird behavior began. This season Elizabeth and Philip have argued about whether to groom Paige to be a second generation spy. But still the reveal was utterly shocking. Perhaps because it was Paige who forced the moment not her parents or the KGB. It takes a special kind of show to pull off a surprise when it’s something the audience has been anticipating for years. What will happen now that Paige knows the truth? I have no idea. But I can’t wait to find out.
2. Game of Thrones/Veep, HBO
Last Week: 5/8
We’re one week away from what I consider the greatest 90-minute block on television. I will be riveted, and I hope you will be too. Here’s what’s new:
—Catch up on the ins and outs of GoT with this awesome interactive map.
—Read a new chapter from George R.R. Martin’s The Winds of Winter.
—Check out this interview with Armando Ianucci on Veep’s fourth season.
1. Mad Men, AMC
Last Week: T-5
Of course it’s Mad Men! The only show with a shot to challenge was Last Man on Earth, and they took the week off. This was a no-brainer, as long as the episode wasn’t terrible. It was not. Here’s Bonnie Stiernberg with the skinny:
That’s the thing about everyone at Sterling Cooper; work is all they know. It’s the basket in which they’ve dumped all their eggs, the only thing they’ve enjoyed success at, and even now that they’re starting to ask “Is that all there is?”, they can’t tear themselves away from the office long enough to find out….Because no one wants to discover that that’s all there is. So we keep rubbing two sticks together, trying to make fire, trying to find another obstacle to overcome that’ll finally make us feel content. “Severance” put all the pieces in place for Mad Men’s final act, where, hopefully, at least a few of these characters can figure out that there is more out there before those last flickering embers fade to black.
Next week might literally be the best week of television in 2015, so check back on Monday!