A lot of of our top shows have not had that huge body of work you have with Sons of Anarchy or Breaking Bad. Staying excellent for a long time is difficult. As we learned in the Dark Knight; you either die a hero or live long enough to become the villain. I see a lot of that in these shows.
I also think the networks struggle to keep up with the HBOs, FXs and AMCs, because they can be harder, grittier, more profane and thus more realistic. Networks have to pander more.
Some shows that didn't make the list besides Homeland: Dexter, Boardwalk Empire, American Horror Story, Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
I ejected early on Dexter. I thought it was brilliant and clever when it first started, but I lost interest. A lot of people said it got better, but I can't include it because I no longer watch it. A lot of people I trust love it, but I don't watch it anymore and didn't include it.
Same with Empire. I have tried on multiple occasions, and some of the shows are terrific, but it just doesn't keep my interest. And I absolutely love mob-related content.
American Horror Story started off as one of the more entertaining and unique shows ever, but it became so predictable and just flat out terrible by the end of last year that it ruined the series. The writing went from terrific to simply asinine. I will not bother with the new one.
Sunny might be one of the funniest shows on TV, but like most comedies, it's really the same bit done differently each week. I love the show, but like a lot of these, maybe it has been around so long that it seems stale at times. I hope to live long enough to do this list again in five years once some of these have been around longer. I suspect it will look a lot different.
I have not yet watched the Americanized Sherlock, Elementary. It seems like it will suffer by comparison to its British counterpart but I will check it out at some point.
My all time favorite list in no order would include The Sopranos, Deadwood, and my current top three. A lot in that regard depends on how a series finally ends. Breaking Bad could get there depending on how it finishes. I try to look at available body of work when it comes to all time favorites.
I do think TV is stronger than it has ever been, and a lot of that has to do with AMC, HBO, FX, Showtime and channels like that diving in with both feet.
Finally, one list I wanted to include (but the post was already too long) was the five best supporting characters in these shows.
1) Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins), Justified. Not going to lie; I love this character. He is the perfect foil/friend with a love/hate/respect relationship for Raylan Givens. This might be the best pairing on TV. He doesn't appear as often as some of the others, but he is such a diverse, cleverly written character that he makes every episode he is in. Like all great characters, he has his successes and failures and responds to each the same way; with a new plan.
3) Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), Breaking Bad. Like Walter White, he is frustrating at times, and there are episodes where you want to slap him. But he is such a great accessory for White, and Paul plays the role so perfectly that you want him on the screen more. Pinkman earned a well-earned Emmy for the role this year.
4) Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus), Walking Dead. The one character on the series you want to see live. Unlike most of them, he is made for this zombie world, but maintains a loyalty and integrity that is above the others. He might have been a simple redneck in the world before, but in this one he is a superior ally and is the one guy you want in your corner in a zombie fight. He isn't afraid to object to bad decisions, but once they are made, he is on your side. Reedus plays him perfectly; he always seems on the edge of going completely insane but manages it with a calm confidence that makes the character all the more appealing.
5) Jon Snow (Kit Harrington), Game of Thrones. This was a very tough call. But Snow gets it because he is one of the characters you want to see more and more of. He was one of my favorites in the book, but like most of the Game of Thrones story and cast, Harrington improves it and brings it to life on TV. Like most great characters, he is flawed, but he also has an honor than goes beyond most of the throne-chasing snakes around him. Brave, a little cocky, but also loyal and intelligent. He is trying to find his way in a cold, bleak world, and do it with some semblance of honor and grace. A well-conceived, adapted character who is made even better by fantastic acting.
The five that just missed the cut: I also think Cersei Lannister (Lena Headley) from GOT is terrific. Others that belong in the discussion: Dr. John Watson (Martin Freeman) in Sherlock; Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk), Breaking Bad; Robert Morehouse (Kyle Schmid), Copper; and Roger Sterling (John Slattery) in Mad Men.
Remember, these are current, which leaves out terrific performances in Breaking Bad from Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) and Mike Ermantraut (Jonathan Banks) since they were...eliminated from the show. I honestly think both would have been top five last year.
So there you go. Thoughts?