I’ve meant to get to my rankings of this year’s TV shows for awhile. But a DVR snafu forced me to wait to see the second episode of “The Americans” until this past weekend. With that finally knocked out, though, I can get to it. Keep in mind, I watch approximately five shows, so making the top five isn’t necessarily a sign of quality. It’s a sign that I pay attention to that program.

  • “Parks & Recreation” It’s one thing to have a good season or two. It’s another to crank out the best, most consistent comedy on TV for five straight years. “P&R” almost never has a down episode. It does a better job than any other show straddling the line between silly and smart. Every character is well-developed and we get to spend time with each of them throughout the season. There is a whole sub-world of side characters, inside jokes, and self-references. Ron Swanson is one of the “-time great characters. Put it ” together and “P&R” is one of the best comedies of ” time. Sadly, wherever it f”s on that list, it will likely be the least watched of the greats.
  • “Modern Family” The show, briefly, lost its fastball” in seasons two and three. But its been great again for the past two years. What keeps it behind “P&R” is that it will occasionally have a subpar episode. And those tidy, feel good endings feel less natural and subtle than “P&R”s. But we aren’t talking about a huge gap between the two.
  • “Archer” A little disappointing this year, although last week’s episode was a fine return to form. But it is still a half hour of complete, vulgar ridiculousness. And it is clearly building toward something big with Barry and Katya.1
  • “The Americans” Cold War era spy thriller? If I have an alley, this is right up it. I don’t have a lot of room for current dramas in my life, but I’ve made room for this one. The pilot was phenomenal, especially the final garage scene. The next two episodes were terrific as well. I still have several episodes on the DVR, but I’ve heard nothing to make me think it doesn’t continue to be good. The fear with a show like this is how they can sustain the tensions they built early one between the Jennings and their FBI neighbor, Stan Beeman. How long can they drag on their parallel lives without Beeman first figuring out he lives next to the people he’s charged with finding and then there being a big, nasty resolution? I hope the show lasts long enough that this becomes a real concern.
    I love the early 80s culture and political references. I love the twist of the characters we most care about being Soviet spies living as Americans and the Feds being the bad guys. And, as so many have pointed out, I love that it is really a story about marriage and relationships disguised as a spy story. Great stuff all around, so far.
  • “Community” So disappointing, so far. It’s hard not to watch with great trepidation, knowing show creator Dan Harmon was run off in the summer and then the show was iced for five months until “30 Rock” finished its run. It’s just not the same show anymore, which is an utter shame considering how terrific it was.

And not a current show, but I finally started “Breaking Bad” after Christmas. I got nearly through season one quickly, but haven’t watched for awhile. I re”y liked what I’ve seen so far. And we’ve been stuck at the beginning of season four of “Mad Men” since June. Someday well start it again.

  1. Side note: I love how voices from “Archer” are popping up on PBS Kids’ “Word Girl” ” the time. Chris Parnell is a regular on both. I’ve heard H. Jon Benjamin and Judy Greer as well. I would imagine they aren’t the only ones. Anyway, I’ll hear their voices on “Word Girl” and start laughing, which always makes the girls start bothering me about why I’m laughing. Which I can’t share, since “Archer” is a filthy, filthy show.