This slew of shows from the fall is almost exclusively comprised from AMC, HBO and FX, which are easily my favorite three networks. However, this is a bit of a mirage, as the big four networks broadcast their programming differently, and most of their shows will wrap up in the the late spring.
This edition covers shows having ended after September 16th, when my last recap was published, through December 31st, 2010.
(Season 1, HBO)
When you hear Marty Scorsese directs the pilot of a new gangster show on HBO, you expect it to be good. And, unlike Treme, the other highly anticipated HBO show that debuted this year, Boardwalk didn't disappoint. That pilot was extraordinary, featuring great performances, writing and direction, as well as superb set and costume design. It looked more impressive than most big-screen period pieces do. That says a lot about how far television programming has come, as I doubt anyone would've been able to say that even five years ago. As fantastic as that Scorsese-directed episode was, the rest of the series never slowed down a bit in subsequent weeks. More often than not, blood, bullets and fisticuffs exploded onscreen with Great Depression-era culture and dilemmas. I felt the "slow" sections of Boardwalk were included more as a chance to let the audience catch their breath as oppossed to there being a lack of ideas in the writing room. Season 1 ended with a bit of a wimper in comparrison to the other events the series displayed thus far, but also showed promise of grander plots to come next year during the final minutes. A-
Bored To Death
(Season 2, HBO)
This show is simply a lot of fun. Jason Schartzman is a good straight man in all the hijinx his cases get him into. Ted Danson's aging, rich playboy facing cancer and Zach Galifianakis' brokenhearted comic artist trying to find happiness were infinitely more interesting this time around than they were in season 1. As a trio, they kill almost every situation they're in together. B
(Season 1.5, SyFy)
The second half of the first season of Caprica was a welcome surprise. After underwhelming me and much of the Battlestar Galactica fanbase with the first wave of episodes, the new batch accomplished much of what I had expected early on. Season 1.5 no longer feared to associate itself with the BSG brand, exemplified by diving deeper into Tauron culture and making direct (albeit sometimes misleading) links to its predecessor. Wallowing in sorrow took up too much time in early episodes and turned off too many people, and unfortunately, the spinoff never recovered from it. At this point, it may not be worth it for disgruntled BSG fans to take a second look, but I was very impressed on where they took the show in those final few episodes. B+
(Season 5, Showtime)
I am not a big Dexter fan, which I've discussed previously on the site. However, this may have been its strongest season yet. After an excruciatingly slow start, season 5 finished in explosive fashion. Each season the show finds a way to come up with a more interesting villain than the year before, and Johnny Lee Miller rose to the occasion this time. However, Julia Styles was the great strength this time out, as her portrayal of victim-turned-vindicator Lumin gave the show a spark it had never seen before. And I was happy to find that I didn't miss Julie Benz much at all. There's really no telling what's in store for the next season of Dexter, but I won't be surprised if it wins me over a little more than previous seasons have. B
------------------------------------After the jump, I'll recap nine more shows that finished up their most reason season by the end of 2010, including Mad Men and The Walking Dead.