Yes, season one of this sex-, smoke- and booze-laden series about a Madison Ave. ad agency in 1960 is our winner. But what excites us about Mad Men is season two, whose plot and characters are even more complicated and deliciously entertaining than the excellent maiden voyage. Besides a great cast, season one showed a painstaking accuracy for 1960 props, hairstyles and costumes, something creator Matthew Weiner insisted upon with the zeal of a museum curator. Since Weiner made his bones at the feet of The Sopranos creator David Chase, will student eclipse master? We can’t wait. And since Weiner didn’t inherit Chase’s snail’s-pace work habits, we won’t have to.
Army Wives, ABC Studios: What began as a relationship-heavy soap with Army fatigues as a backdrop has matured into a more accurate portrayal of military families. And it’s gained a large and loyal constituency — real military spouses.
Burn Notice, USA: The pitch meeting for Burn Notice couldn’t have been easy. "It’s a spy show, but with cool twists," its creators must have said. "Next!" was the likely response. Good thing for Burn that cooler heads prevailed.
Californication, Showtime: After watching this series about a Hollywood-weary novelist, played by David Duchovny, we always felt like we needed a shower, shave and change of clothes. Is that lean-in TV or what?
Damages, FX: Heaven help the viewer who didn’t give Damages his/her full attention. The thickly plotted series had more complications than a Tag Heuer watch, plus Glenn Close as ruthless lawyer (yes, that’s redundant) Patty Hewes hasn’t had as much fun playing a devil since Fatal Attraction in ’87. Where’s the rabbit?
Saving Grace, TNT: In TV, nothing succeeds like success. So after The Closer’s success TNT unveiled another detective series about a strong, alluring 40-ish woman, this time played by Holly Hunter. Guess what? It worked.