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The Walking Dead (AMC) • This six-episode series is at the top of this list because it's good, but also because it was so out of the ordinary. It scores extra points for its unusual premise people fighting to survive in a post-apocalyptic world overrun with zombies.
It also appeals to those who have no interest in a show about zombies, and even to those viewers who don't much care for graphic violence and blood.
The show certainly broke boundaries in both categories, but "The Walking Dead" uses the heightened drama of the situation to bring us raw emotion about characters that could be us. If you just buy into it for a few minutes, and you can stand all the blood and guts, the story is shattering in a good way.
2. "The Big Bang Theory" (CBS) • This remains, hands-down, the TV comedy most likely to make you laugh out loud. It's well cast and cleverly written, and the characters have become like old friends you love to hang out with.
3. "Mad Men" (AMC) • After a so-so third season, "Mad Men" bounced back into top form for Season 4. Creator/executive producer Matthew Weiner had the courage to take a successful series and make huge changes as he forged ahead.
4. "Breaking Bad" (AMC) • Remarkably, the third season of this drama about how a good man (Bryan Cranston) can be driven to do terrible things was better than the first two. Shocking is too mild a word to describe it.
5. "The Good Wife" (CBS) • From its initial premise the wife (Julianna Margulies) of a politician taken down by a sex scandal has to rebuild her life this has grown into a nuanced, intriguing show that's part legal drama, part family drama and part political thriller.
6."Modern Family" (ABC) • There's no sophomore slump for this oh-so-relatable comedy about an extended family that's both hilarious and loving. The Emmy-winning comedy is still great, with fabulous writing for a fabulous cast.
7. "Better Off Ted" (ABC) • Clearly, almost none of you watched this incredible comedy, as the ratings were dreadful. But it was every kind of funny there is wry, witty, slapstick, goofy, intelligent, over-the-top and subtle.
8. "The Pacific" (HBO) • This wrenching, 10-part miniseries about the Pacific theater of World War II is the sort of thing only HBO does anymore, and the sort of thing even big-budget theatrical films can't match. It took a huge, sweeping tale and made it completely personal.
9. "Sherlock" (PBS) • This updating of Sherlock Holmes was faithful to the original, thoroughly modern and simply splendid TV. Bringing him into the 21st century was a genius move.
10. "Glee" (Fox) • This show has to be on this list, if only because it's a pop-culture phenomenon. And, despite the predictable sophomore slump, it's still highly watchable. Now, if only the producers and writers would cut back on the preaching and go back to just having fun.Honorable mentions (in alphabetical order): "Amazing Race," "Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations," "Being Human," "The Big C," "Boardwalk Empire," "Bored to Death," "Boston Med," "Caprica," "Colbert Report," "Conan," "Cougar Town," "CSI," "Curb Your Enthusiasm,""Daily Show with Jon Stewart," "Damages," "Defenders," "Desperate Housewives," "Dexter," "Doctor Who," "Drop Dead Diva," "Friday Night Lights," "Futurama," "Hawaii Five-O," "Hot in Cleveland," "How I Met Your Mother," "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," "Justified," "Late Show with David Letterman," "Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson," "Louie," "Luther," "Men of a Certain Age," "The Middle,""NCIS," "Nurse Jackie," "The Office," "Project Runway," "Raising Hope," "Rescue Me," "The Ricky Gervais Show," "The Simpsons," "60 Minutes," "Sons of Tucson," "Southland," "Spartacus: Blood and Sand," "Supernatural," "Survivor," "30 Rock," "Treme," "True Blood," "The Tudors" and "Ugly Betty."