Orphan Black had a mesmerizing pilot with lots of twists and intrigue, fine acting and writing all around. All hail the shocking new No. 1!
Don't bring the weak stuff — new shows kill off the king.
Well now things are getting damned interesting. And here's an important reminder for you types who don't read the fine print before arguing: The Power Rankings! are based on weekly episodes, not cumulative greatness. That's how we create flux and ride it like something out of Mavericks. Hence you will see some drops below. Also of note: This another All-Drama Edition of the Elite 11. Why? Because this battle is too big and too great to muddy up with comedy right now. If Louie or Girls was on, that might be different. Of course, I reserve the right to toss in some excellent comedies to create even more blood and mayhem. But right now, dramas are king.
So, welcome to The Power Rankings! for the week ending March 31. On my command, unleash hell! FYI: The Power Rankings! are where television series are ranked on a weekly basis according to their most recent episodes and the ever-changing-moods of yours truly. If you want to learn how The Power Rankings! started and the methodology behind them, check out the link to the Bastard Machine post on those issues of great import. Also: The Bastard Machine is on Facebook. And Twitter.
1 Orphan Black
What the what? Yep, this is what happens when you judge from week to week, as I said in the fine print above. Here's a show that had a mesmerizing pilot with lots of twists and intrigue, fine acting and writing all around. Although it jumps into some fierce competition, the timing was actually very fortuitous since last week's No. 1 had an off week and the Odds-on Favorite spent a lot of time setting things up. Sometimes it pays to be nimble. Get this BBC America series on your DVR immediately. All hail the shocking new No. 1! Maybe she can clone herself next week for another win!
2 Game of Thrones
Let's make something very, very clear: This show is brilliant. It's a personal favorite. I've seen the first four episodes and reviewed it very positively. But there's no getting around the fact that as we enter Season 3, we've got quite the bulky story on our hands, and it takes some effort to set up the arcs and get things humming again. A fine episode, but the series is in service to so many characters and story lines, a lumbering start was expected.
3 The Walking Dead
Well, that was disappointing. When you use the whole season to lead up to a war, you can't finish the season with that war still being unfinished business. Yes, we all love the show, and the ratings are phenomenal, but you can't take that loyalty for granted (See: Killing, The). Maybe there was some fallout from the showrunner turnover (although, hell, you'd think AMC would be expert at that by now). Whatever the case, tumbling a couple of slots doesn't lessen a very adrenaline-fueled, visceral and emotional season. But let's not let things linger too much next time. Because what happened in the finale wasn't a conclusion nor a cliff-hanger. And that's not right.
Tumbling one spot when you've got two strong new contenders is nothing to whine about, so don't start. Also, Justified was setting up the finale, not disappointing us with it. Sometimes the setting up can be less than expected -- in fact, most often it is. But look, the show is coming off a fantastic episode and clearly is heading into a very tense finale, so we're all good here. Keep it coming.
5 Top of the Lake
See? That's what happens with flux. It messes up your head. It takes something great and reduces it by a factor of one even when you could make an argument that it should have elevated it by a factor of two. That's like, uh, max factors. But I'll say this: If any show can complain about its ranking this week, Top of the Lake is the one. Don't rule out this gem from rising, even against very stiff competition. The miniseries is truly incredible.
See: No. 5. Same argument. But let's add another factor here: It looks, for all intents and purposes, like this will be Southland's last season. And it deserves as many accolades as it can get before that end comes. In fact, people will keep coming to this series on DVD years later and forever will be bitching about how it got canceled and what a black mark that is on our society. Agreed. Which is why you should be watching the Last Great Cop Show.
7 The Americans
What the what, Vol. 2?! Yes, I know, there wasn't an episode of The Americans last week. But I'll be damned if I'm going to let one of the best freshman dramas in years fall out of the Elite 11 on a technicality that is unlikely to be repeated. That's just a perk of having "God of TPR!" on your business card. So I made the call. Hell, even a rerun of this is better than 80 percent of what's new out there. Besides, a five-slot drop is steep enough payment. We're not always cruel here.
8 House of Cards
As it was pointed out last week, if you take an experiment in new-world television options and shackle it to the past, well, what you get is Episode 9 of House of Cards in real time. Real TV time. Besides, Netflix said we could watch TV any way we want. And for The Power Rankings! we want to watch it from week to week. And we have the Netflix blessing, I'm sure.
9 Bates Motel
Things are getting freaky in White Pines Bay. And I like freaky. I mean, it looks a lot like Carmel, except for the burned bodies. And there's probably not as much pot in Carmel. And Norman is getting incrementally more odd. The only constant is the lusciousness of Vera Farmiga. Still getting it done.
OK, that's a drop that might set some people off. Fans are very protective of this show. And I really like it as well. But I find it a lot harder to stick with the show and keep excited about it from week to week when there are so many other riches out there. On the plus side, it's not one of the two shows that dropped off the list. Another plus: Maybe Emmy Rossum finally gets that Emmy nomination. We can all hope.
This is what increased competition does. It moves shows to the edge. It brings them closer to fate. And the Vikings knew something about blood on the floor, did they not? Of course they did. I'm not too worried about Vikings slipping off, even though two new shows are coming next week. Why? Because it still has swords. That always helps.
Out: Elementary and Grimm got the heave-ho. Not because they did anything bad, but this isn't a group-hug kind of thing at The Power Rankings! You make it here because you're better than others. This week, those two shows were not.
In peril: Well, if you look at the bottom of the list, you'll see the edge of oblivion. So some series will take a header. One plus is that The Walking Dead had its finale and won't be back. On the other hand, new shows are arriving. And one of them is not to be messed with.
In the mix: Next week, please welcome a little show called Mad Men. Also arriving is the DirecTV offering Rogue. Others in contention: Call the Midwife, Elementary, Grimm, Person of Interest, The Good Wife, Veep, etc.