With the 2010-2011 television season more or less over and summer TV about to begin or recently having begun, it’s time to take a look back at the best that the past year brought us.

Before we dive in, I have to make one thing clear: I don’t watch most television shows, and I barely watch any cable television. I do watch a lot of television on the whole, but not nearly enough to make a fair assessment of what was truly the “best.” For that reason, the awards will be skewed towards the shows that I watch. So don’t go crying about my failure to include The Good Wife, Mad Men, or Friday Night Lights. I don’t watch those shows. With that mind, let’s get started!

Best supporting actress, comedy
This category is tough. There were tons of great supporting performances by the casts of shows like Parks and Recreation, Perfect Couples, Community, and Cougar Town. Picking two wasn’t an easy task.
Runner-up: Allison Janney, Mr. Sunshine. This show never really gelled, but Janney was a hoot as the wacky, offensive Crystal. Anyone who can deliver a line like, “I envy the blind; I sometimes think I too would give up my sight to play the piano that way” with no hint of irony is a comedic genius.
Winner: Alison Brie, Community. Just watch the semi-controversial “Mixology Certification” episode to see why Brie deserves the prize. It’s one thing to play dual roles or switch back and forth between two characters, but to play two different personae at the same time is a feat that few actresses could juggle. Add that to her willingness to go the extra mile for a laugh, and you’ve got yourself a winner.
Honourable mentions: Erin Agostino, Angela Asher, Tiio Horn, 18 to Life; Yvette Nicole Brown, Community; Busy Philipps, Cougar Town; Alyson Hannigan, How I Met Your Mother; Portia Doubleday, Mr. Sunshine; Aubrey Plaza, Parks and Recreation; Mary Elizabeth Ellis, Christine Woods, Perfect Couples; Aya Cash, Traffic Light.

Best supporting actor, comedy
Again, a field that’s just way too wide. Should I have picked a winner from the talented cast of Community? How about Happy Endings? And what about Christian Slater’s Oz on Breaking In?
Runner-up: Damon Wayans, Jr., Happy Endings. Happy Endings  is a decent show, but it’s by no means stellar. However, when playing the character Brad, Wayans’ delivery just makes every single one of his lines sparkle. He has amazing chemistry with his onscreen wife Jane, played by Eliza Coupe. And his performance is all the more impressive because Brad’s character is so far removed from Wayans’ real-life persona.
Winner: Danny Pudi, Community. Yes, I despised “Messianic Myths and Ancient Peoples” and “Critical Film Studies” with a fiery passion. But I have no complaints about Pudi’s stellar, Emmy-worthy performances. He manages to find layers and nuances in his character, Abed, that the writing doesn’t seem to show. If this guy isn’t nominated for an Emmy, then the Emmys are a joke.
Honourable mentions: Al Goulem, Peter Keleghan, Jesse Rath, 18 to Life; Judah Friedlander, 30 Rock; Christian Slater, Breaking In; Donald Glover, Community; Brian van Holt, Cougar Town; Jason Segel, How I Met Your Mother; David Walton, Perfect Couples; Peter Serafinowicz, Running Wilde; Ben Shenkman, The Paul Reiser Show; Nelson Franklin, Traffic Light.

Best lead actress, comedy
This field is considerably narrower than the other ones for two reasons:1) there are fewer leads than there are supporting characters (duh); and 2) I just lumped everyone in shows with ensemble casts that have no clear lead under the “supporting” category.
Runner-up: Courteney Cox, Cougar Town. Cox somehow manages to make Jules Cobb, who in someone else’s hands would the world’s most annoying character, fun and endearing. She also nails the more dramatic stuff, especially when it comes to serious scenes with her onscreen son, played by Dan Byrd.
Winner:
Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation. This woman’s comic timing is second to none. Moreover, she just so fully inhabits the character of Leslie Knope to the point that you could easily believe Leslie to be a real person. I can’t think of anyone who’s more deserving of recognition as a comedic actress.
Honourable mentions:
Natalie Lisinska, InSecurity; Keri Russell, Running Wilde.

Best lead actor, comedy
This field is really narrow for me. I don’t watch a lot of male-led comedies, so there’s only one honourable mention for this category. (Sorry, I don’t think Joel McHale is all that great. Sue me.)
Runner-up: Steve Carell, The Office. I’m not a regular viewer of The Office, and I hate Michael Scott. But there’s no denying that Carell plays him really well. The show is going to suck even more without him.
Winner: Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock. Is this really even a contest? Baldwin is pure genius as Jack Donaghy. Also, Sideways Jack is one of the funniest things ever.
Honourable Mention: Josh Radnor, How I Met Your Mother. He gives a perennially underrated performance in a thankless role that everyone seems to hate. I feel bad for the guy. True, he’s not as good as Carell or Baldwin, but he deserves some recognition.

Best episode, comedy
Parks and Recreation and Cougar Town both have a lot of potential candidates, but they’re not the only ones. Community, despite being a train wreck for most of this past season, still produced a few stellar episodes, and Perfect Couples’ finale was nearly pitch-perfect.
Runner-up: “Flu Season” (a.k.a. “The Flu”), Parks and Recreation. This episode was quintessential P & R: the perfect mixture of small-town politics, character drama, workplace shenanigans, and gut-busting comedy. Also, “Spawnee” is possibly the best sight gag ever. And keep in mind, “the tiny kangaroo is a racist.”
Winner: “Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design”, Community. I laughed, and I laughed, and then I laughed some more. This episode managed to parody the thriller genre successfully while still making me laugh my ass off. If only every episode of Community were this awesome.
Honourable mentions: “When It Rains, It Pours”, “Brooklyn Without Limits”, “Operation Righteous Cowboy Lightning”, “Plan B”, 30 Rock; “Accounting For Laywers”, “Mixology Certification”, Community; “All Mixed Up”, “Makin’ Some Noise”, “You Don’t Know How It Feels”, “No Reason to Cry”, Cougar Town; “Subway Wars”, “Natural History”, How I Met Your Mother; “Media Blitz”, “Harvest Festival”, “Andy and April’s Fancy Party” (a.k.a. “Fancy Party”), “The Fight”, Parks and Recreation; “Perfect Wedding”, Perfect Couples; “The Great Simpsina”, “500 Keys”, The Simpsons.

Best comedy
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, then there are no surprises here.
Runner-up: Parks and Recreation. Sharp writing, impeccable directing, and an amazing performance from Amy Poehler make this one of the best comedies on television.
Winner: Cougar Town. It’s silly, it’s funny, and it’s sweet. There’s nothing quite like it on TV right now, so do yourself a favour, get over the horrible title, and tune in next season.
Honourable mentions: None. Sorry, there were really no other comedies I watched this season that were in the same league as those two.

Best supporting actress, drama or dramedy
This is a curious category. Most of my favourite dramas don’t have good supporting roles for women, so I’m forced to select winners from some, to put it charitably, less than stellar shows.
Runner-up: Taylor Cole, The Event. Vicky is awesome. ‘Nuff said.
Winner: Autumn Reeser, No Ordinary Family. I held on to No Ordinary Family for far longer than I should have, and Autumn Reeser’s Katie was the main reason for that. How she managed to be so bubbly without being cloying, I’ll never know.
Honourable mentions: Sarah Lancaster, Chuck; Jamie Anne Allman, The Killing; Kay Panabaker, No Ordinary Family; Jamie Denbo, Terriers.

Best supporting actor, drama or dramedy
This category has considerably more worthy candidates than the women’s one, but two performances stood head and shoulders above the rest.
Runner-up: Delroy Lindo, The Chicago Code. Lindo’s performance as the corrupt Alderman Gibbons was magnetic and riveting, and he pulled it off without acting any of his co-stars off the screen. He brought a lot of depth and nuance to what could have been a very two-dimensional villain. In fact, the only thing keeping him from being the winner of this category is that he had a tendency not to enunciate a couple of his lines in every episode.
Winner: John Noble, Fringe. Noble is arguably Fringe’s third lead, but in my opinion, his character’s position as the tritagonist puts him squarely in supporting actor territory. But in any case, Noble is absolutely terrific as both the bumbling Walter Bishop and his alternate-universe counterpart, the terrifying Walternate. Even more impressive is the fact that Noble can make both characters seem as if they could have turned out as the other under different circumstances.
Honourable mentions: Seamus Dever, Jon Huertas, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Castle; Joshua Gomez, Chuck; Ian Anthony Dale, Blair Underwood, The Event; Lance Reddick, Fringe; Scott Caan, Hawaii Five-0; Brendan Sexton III, Brent Sexton, The Killing; Rockmond Dunbar, Terriers; Sharif Atkins, Willie Garson, White Collar.

Best lead actress, drama or dramedy
Normally, Bones’s Emily Deschanel would be under serious consideration for the top spot, but after watching her alternate between phoning it in and giving it her all for most of this season, I don’t think she deserves any honours. So we’re left with a strangely narrow field, and two blonde Australians find themselves on top. (No, I’m not talking about Portia de Rossi and Nicole Kidman.)
Runner-up: Yvonne Strahovski, Chuck. I’m not a huge Yvonne Strahovski fan. I never have been, and I probably never will be. In Chuck’s first season, she wasn’t exactly terrible, but she wasn’t good either; she was clearly the cast’s weak link. But she has improved immensely since then, and three seasons later, she’s delivering great performances week after week. I can’t imagine the Strahovski of 2007 pulling off a performance as complex as she did in “Chuck Versus the Gobbler” or shouldering an entire episode like she did in “Chuck Versus Phase Three.” Kudos to her for pretty much carrying this entire slightly lacklustre season of Chuck.
Winner: Anna Torv, Fringe. No contest, the top spot goes to Anna Torv. Her improvement from her show’s early days was even larger than Strahovski’s; Torv was downright terrible early in Fringe’s run. But now, her performances are impressive, and she can effortlessly play multiple characters. Our Olivia, Their Olivia, Fauxlivia, Our Olivia brainwashed into thinking she’s Their Olivia, Bellivia – how she keeps it all straight, I’ll never know.
Honourable mention: Stana Katic, Castle.

Best lead actor, drama or dramedy
Some of the usual suspects aren’t in contention this season due to bad writing crippling their performances. Both Chuck’s Zachary Levi and Castle’s Nathan Fillion had less than stellar material to work with this season. So, with those guys out of the way, I’m going to cheat a bit and select two performances from the same show.
Runner-up: Michael Raymond-James, Terriers. The fact that Raymond-James portrayed Britt as a lovable slacker and not a disgusting layabout made me think that he was a good actor. The fact that he could turn on a dime and play such a furious, emotional breakdown like he did at the end of “Asunder” made me think that he was a great actor.
Winner:
Donal Logue, Terriers. I debated for a while about whether to put Logue or Raymond-James on top. I was on the verge of flipping a coin, but in the end, I decided to go with Logue (not to say anything negative about Raymond-James’ excellent performance). Hank Dolworth was an incredibly complex role, requiring someone who could bring both levity and gravitas. Logue pulled it off masterfully. There are few actors who could juggle comedy and drama as well as he did. Plus, the way he bantered with Raymond-James made Hank and Britt really seem like old pals. It’s a shame that Terriers got cancelled, but at least we got thirteen episodes of a couple of the best dramatic performances on television.
Honourable mentions:
David Boreanaz, Bones; Jason Clarke, The Chicago Code; Joel Kinnaman, The Killing; Matt Bomer, Tim DeKay, White Collar.

Best episode, drama or dramedy
This was a tough category to decide on. Terriers, Fringe, and The Chicago Code all had several episodes that would qualify as some of the best of the season. Castle and Hawaii Five-0 each featured a few excellent cases. But on the whole, these were the episodes that won out.
Runner-up:
“Do Shapeshifters Dream of Electric Sheep?”, Fringe. This episode would merit a place in the top 5 or so only for Walter tripping balls and ranting to Massive Dynamic’s employees. But it was catapulted into the stratosphere by Fauxlivia’s mission becoming increasingly complex and the reintroduction of the terrifying shapeshifters. This twisty episode remains my favourite installment of the series.
Winner: “Quid Pro Quo”, Terriers. Truly, about half of Terriers’ episodes could reasonably be placed in this top spot. But I opted for “Quid Pro Quo” because it propelled the show’s mythology forward in a big way, while shocking viewers with a number of surprising twists. The image of Jason’s dead body in the convenience store still sends chills up my spine.
Honourable mentions: “Pilot”, “Hog Butcher”, “Gillis, Chase & Babyface”, “Cabrini-Green”, “Black Hand and the Shotgun Man”, “Wild Onions”, “Greylord & Gambat”, “Mike Royko’s Revenge”, The Chicago Code; “Poof! You’re Dead”, “Knockdown”, Castle; “Chuck Versus the Couch Lock”, “Chuck Versus the Gobbler”, “Chuck Versus the First Bank of Evil”, “Chuck Versus the Wedding Planner”, Chuck; “Olivia”, “The Abducted”, “The Firefly”, “Os”, Fringe; “Heihei”, “Hana ‘a’a Makehawa (Desperate Measures)”, “Ke Kinohi (The Beginning)”, “Kai e’e (Tidal Wave)”, “Oia’i’o (Trust)”, Hawaii Five-0; “The Cage”, The Killing; “Pilot”, No Ordinary Family; “Pilot”, “Dog and Pony”, “Fustercluck”, “Manifest Destiny”, “Asunder”, “Hail Mary”, Terriers; “Need to Know”, “Prisoner’s Dilemma”, White Collar.

Best drama or dramedy
If this were last season, Chuck and Fringe would occupy the top spots, no question about it. But Chuck was rarely (if ever) great this season, and Fringe became increasingly hit-or-miss as this season wore on. So, we’re left with the two dramas that Shawn Ryan worked on this season as the only serious contenders.
Runner-up: Terriers. It’s probably blasphemy to some that Terriers didn’t get the top spot, but I think this show was held back by two things: 1) a few weak cases of the week; 2) the horrible storyline about Katie cheating on Britt. But other than that, Terriers was an absolutely phenomenal drama – brilliantly acted, beautifully shot, and built around a fascinating storyline. What a shame that it lasted only 13 episodes.
Winner: The Chicago Code. Was it a bit ham-fisted at times? Certainly. But no other drama this past season was as good at creating a sense of place. The Chicago Code really brought Chicago to life, weaving a complex tapestry of race, class, crime, and corruption. Maybe it would have fared better on cable, but as it stands, we’re only going to get 13 episodes of this show. What a shame.
Honourable mentions: Castle; Fringe; Hawaii Five-0.

So there you have it: the best of this season, according to me. Think I’m crazy? Have a pick that didn’t get mentioned? Sound off in the comments.

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