Ken Tucker's 10 MORE Best TV shows of 2010: My 11-20 List

Here they are: 10 more TV shows that can stand among the best TV of the year. This round-up includes many of the shows I wept, agonized, and rent my garments over including or dropping from my 10 Best list, which can be seen here.

11. Carlos (Sundance Channel) A portrait of the terrorist as a narcissist, a screw-up, and a human lethal weapon, Carlos — a three part made-for-TV movie by director Olivier Assayas and starring Edgar Ramirez as Carlos the Jackal — was as unnerving as any thriller on the small or big screen this year, and unafraid to show both the glamor and the horror of self-styled revolutionary action.

12. Louie (FX) Intentionally loose and ragged in its construction, Louie was initially most compelling when it showed Louis CK onstage, doing his act. But it’s a great act, the perorations of a father and a citizen outraged by the way petty irritations accumulate and conspire to bury our best, most noble instincts. May the more plot-driven segments of Louie become as equally strong. (Warning, strong language in this clip.)

13. In Treatment (HBO) The final, ironic conclusion the makers of In Treatment may intend us to draw is that Dr. Paul Weston was never all that great a therapist. In this batch of episodes, he really screwed up: Misdiagnosed patients, used the ol’ “transference” excuse again to become emotionally involved with his own therapist. In short, another terrific season — if way too short — with crackling performances by Irrfan Khan, Debra Winger, Amy Ryan, and Dane DeHaan, with Gabriel Byrne giving his most intense concentration yet.

14. Lost (ABC) Very nicely done fantasy show; a bit long and wayward at times, but full of interesting characters, and the entire production has a good heart.

15. The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (CBS) Robot sidekick – check. Interviews with Nobel Prize winners – check. Transcending the banality of the “talk show wars” by reaching out to competitors or merely ignoring that exhausted controversy – check! For Ferguson, silliness is a form of wit; insouciance a form of subverting clichés.

16. Better Off Ted (ABC) Only the most intelligent, wacky, slapsticky sitcom that was strangled in its prime-time crib by its network.

17. Rubicon (AMC) Only the most intelligent, dour, quietly witty drama that was strangled in its cable-TV crib by its network.

18. Boardwalk Empire (HBO) It got better as it proceeded. Biggest surprise: It wasn’t Steve Buscemi (as good as he was) or the elaborate set (as expensive and fake as it looked) that most intrigued. No, it was its female characters, headed up by a marvelously sly performance from Kelly Macdonald, that gave the series its texture.

19. Eastbound and Down (HBO) There were a couple of episodes in the middle of E&D’s truncated second season that played like shaggy-dog jokes set in minor-league-baseball Mexico. But Danny McBride’s Kenny Powers is such a superb creation — a monster of self-absorption with a tragic streak — that just hearing his rants about the repulsion he feels for soccer, as well as for his broken heart, were exhilarating. (Warning: Strong language in this clip.)

20. Ultimate Fighter 12 (Spike) One of the best seasons of ground-and-pound: You can’t go wrong when your grapplers include Alex Caceres, a.k.a. “Bruce Leroy,” a wiseass who backed up his egotistic eccentricities with fighting skills.

So, what do you think?

Twitter: @kentucker

Comments (132 total) Add your comment
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  • Seddie Forever

    Agree with Craig Ferguson – miss the puppets

    You forgot some of the other greats

    1. Tower Prep
    2. Young Justice on cartoon network
    3. Friday Night Lights
    4. iCarly
    5. victorious
    6. Big Time Rush
    7. Human target
    8. Smallville

    • Alex

      It should comfort you that Friday Night Lights made his top 10.


        Really, Ken Tucker? You weep like a schoolgirl at soapy dramas and then just to save face, Ultimate fighter is #20? What a joke! I’ll give you points for trying to not look like a fudge packer, but it’s way too obvious.

      • Alan of Montreal

        Really, Cookie-Monster? You resort to homophobic slurs to make your point? Not to mention you sully the good name of Cookie Monster. Go back to sucking on your Arrowroot.


        Wow, Alan, you managed to get that wang of your mouth just enough to spew this drivel? And there’s no need for slurs, Ken Tucker’s gay and it shows on his articles. If you have a problem with it, or with anyone pointing it out, or if you can’t stand the fact that someone calls a gay person gay, then don’t come out of your bubble to act like an outraged Mary.

      • Mike

        Cookie, you didn’t call Ken Tucker gay; you called him a “fudge packer.” So either you were using a nasty slur, as Alan eloquently pointed out, or you were literally implying that in addition to reviewing for EW, Ken works in some sort of candy factory. Which is it?

    • Lily

      How old are you? Most of this stuff is nickelodeon crap and CN crud. The only viable things on your list is FNL and Smallville, ICarly is decent I guess.

      • jeanne

        wait, you think smallville is viable? yikes.


        Yeh, but Lily, FNL is so painfully boring, and smallville is a crapfest full of cliches. iCarly is a kids’ show, so it’s ironic that you’d bring up Nickelodeon.

      • Sal

        Hey Cookie-Monster, I dare you to watch The Son episode of FNL and tell me that it was boring. If you still do, your opinions have no credibility whatsoever.


        @Sal : As a non-american, FNL is boring to me. Am I saying the actors are bad? Of course not. Am I saying it’s dull and uninteresting to me, yes I am.

      • DW

        So being non-American gives you bad taste in television? I hate football and still think FNL is one of the best shows ever.

      • Tego Livi

        “Dull and uninteresting” is redundant.

      • Beth Jetson

        Great movies and BBWMarriage was amazing

    • Jank

      iCarly RULES!!!!

      • rayme

        Dan Schneider is a genius. iCarly is not sophisticated but it’s flat out funny. The comic-con episode was hilarious. Definitely not just a kids show and deserves some love in these lists.

      • Al

        iCarly truly is a gem on tv, the star of the show is Spencer, after that is Sam and the Sam-Freddie relationship

    • Julie

      Riiight, like EW’s gonna put something from Nickelodeon on here. Pssh

    • sophie

      Maybe if you’re twelve years old!!

  • LOL

    Thanks for recognizing “Louie.” I thought it was fantastic this year. Can’t wait for next season.

    • Laura

      Really enjoyed Louie — it’s in that vein of humor that’s funny but also sometimes painful and awkward (such as the British “Office”). I always enjoyed the standup bits I saw of his, but I also enjoyed the other parts of the show.

    • Raheem Hosseini

      I thought “Louie” was one of the best shows on television this year. True, the stand-up bits often contained the outright funniest moments and there were one or two “off” episodes (Louie’s nitrous-fueled dream of confronting Osama bin Laden comes to mind), but I thought writer/director/editor/star Louis C.K. infused his series with the idiosyncratic pace and rueful wonderment of an excellent collection of short stories.

      His take on Baby Boomer Facebook hook-ups, the questionable comedic value of a gay slur, high school bullies and religious education were sharply observed, caustic gems brimming with middle-aged ennui and a very specific point of view.

      Much better than his first stab at a TV show, “Lucky Louie” on HBO. Despite HBO’s ability to offer fewer content restrictions than basic cable (though FX ain’t all that far behind), that series felt like a watered-down attempt to adapt C.K.’s blistering stand-up material to the multi-camera studio audience format.

      By contrast, I hope C.K. gets the recognition he deserves for his much more nuanced and potent second try.

    • Wym

      I’m just glad to hear Louie isn’t canceled. I haven’t seen it on TV in a while. I really enjoy that show.

  • ann

    Better Off Ted!!!!! My favorite show — I hate ABC for cancelling it!

    • Tajah

      Thanks for including Better off Ted in this list. A great show that should never had been canceled. Supernatural should be on this list though.

      • Lauren

        Supernatural is a great show!!

    • calliesmom

      I came to find Better Off Ted very late in it’s life and was really upset when it was cancelled. It was so off, skewed and totally enjoyable. RIP BOT.

      • Alan of Montreal

        Me too–I bought the First Season DVD and haven’t laughed so hard since buying the First Season of Community. Does anyone know when Season 2 is coming out?

    • Ali

      Bill,If there is a continual miurndesstanding about what you termed the basic precept of MMT namely that sovereign governments can issue all the money they please, why does MMT persist in using the term debt? If it doesn’t look like a duck, and it doesn’t quack like a duck, nor does it waddle like a duck, why keep calling it a duck? And for that matter, why keep calling spending spending, when it really isn’t spending, and when the term sets off a serios of false associations that are very difficult to counter. It just makes the mental difficulty of adjusting to a new perspective all the more difficult. Would it not be better to jettison such terminology? The difficulty is compounded when one has to shift from the vantage point of a federal entity with sovereign powers, to that of states in the US or of the EU, where the old terminology is more applicable but unnecessary, given the powers of the sovereign issuer, who could easily remedy debt and deficit spending difficulties.

  • PJL

    Great to see Craig Ferguson on your list. But where is Detroit 1-8-7??

  • Dave

    Thank you for including Better Off Ted. I think it deserves to be much higher (in the top 10 at least), but at least it’s being recognized by someone, since most people seem to have forgotten about it.

    • cal

      Absolutely Better off Ted. It only got better as the second season progressed. I would be content if I could buy the DVD of season 2 and see the unaired episodes. Come on, ABC!

      • CBenji

        It is on Netflix streaming.

  • Justin

    Good idea including Better Off Ted.

  • Justin

    Ultimate Fighter? Seriously?

    • amj

      Agreed, I thought the same thing!

  • chattypatra

    Thank you for including Rubicon on your list! I loved it. Also, kudos to Craig Ferguson, whose show transcends the typical late night banality and, yes, that includes the puppets and the special musical numbers. His Dr. Who song was brilliant and I felt terrible for him when the producers cut it; he was SO angry! A brilliant host.

  • james

    I personally think that the Vampire Diaries should be on this list. It is compelling for one. The episodes are crazy every week and the next week is always crazier. The mythlogy behind it is awesome and the acting is top notch it deserves more credit than it gets. Plus kevin Williamson is a genius!

    • heather


      • Jason S

        Agreement. Season 2 stands up against any show on television and has quietly become much more exciting then True Blood.

    • Kelly

      Totally agree, its well written, fast paced, and has many interesting characters. Who would have thought that Tyler and Caroline’s relationship would have become as interesting as Elena, Stefan and Damons? But the writers make it work consistently.

    • Liz

      I totally agree. I watched one episode ( the first one with Caroline as a vampire) and I was HOOKED. I even stopped watching the Big Bang Theory so I could watch Vampire Diaries. I’m totally obsessed

      • Mohmed

        Bill: We also know that the private dmeistoc sector in the UK has been on a debt binge over the last decade which fed a huge real estate boom. That sector is now deleveraging (too slowly but it is) and is being supported by the public deficits.Couldnt the same be written about Australia? except: instead of deleveraging we are being bombarded in the press that we will miss the real estate boom if we dont releverage NOW. This is either the final phase before a Minsky Moment or its a pie in the face for anyone who has based their investments on actual study.Thanks to jrbarch for reminding us to look inside first. People Places and Things cant make me happy, looking inside can.Try to keep your posts real as not all readers are boffins. Cheers Punchy

    • Lauren

      I completely agree. And it is often dismissed by many people because it’s about vampires and on the CW. All of the characters have many different layers to them. The show really is incredible and gets better and better each week. The writers know what they’re doing and the plot twists are insane!

    • Ang

      Completely Agree. The acting is superb. The episodes are so good! Just when you think it can’t get any better….. BAM!! Each episode is more intense than the last. Love it!!

    • Damian

      Dean,I had the great pleasure of woinrkg on the interior design of several buildings designed by F & S.Perhaps because we all had worked for Parish Hadley, we speak a very similar language and the end result of our collaboration was quite brilliant.CheersJA

  • PixxieTrixxie

    Loved and miss Better Off Ted – haven’t laughed so hard at a tv show in a long time.

  • Rosie

    Good to see Craig Ferguson on this list, but I think he should be much higher than 15. Thanks to my DVR, I never miss a show.

    • Richard S

      Craig is the ONLY late night host who can turn even a dull, monotonous guest into a funny, absorbing interview. When he gets a great guest, it’s electric.

      • Bren

        I completely agree. Not that he’s a boring guest, but Craig even got Salman Rushdie to do the Secretariat dance, which is insane and awesome all rolled into one. And, the Paula Deen Thanksgiving segment may have been the funniest thing I’ve seen on TV all year. I laughed so hard I cried.

  • Shimona

    Ken, where’s the love for shows about families? The Middle, Parenthood??? Two outstanding, very different shows

  • SaraJ

    Can we get someone who’s in their 20s to do a Top 10 TV Shows please? Craig Ferguson… what about Jimmy Fallon? He is the best in late night right now, period. That show makes you laugh out loud so much more than the other guys. And looking at the ratings, he has way more viewers in the range of 18-49 than Ferguson.
    Watch his episode with Bruce Springsteen — that would appeal to everyone, even someone your age Ken.

    • Chris

      Umm everyone I know who’s in their 20s says Craig Ferguson is by far the best.

      • Jack

        Ha… no way. Fallon is the best.

      • Icon

        I don’t know if Craig is the best, but there’s no one better than him.

      • Shannon

        I’m 27 and I love Craig Ferguson, who I got into during Conan’s hiatus. The latter I started watching when I was in 3rd grade.
        Really enjoying Conan’s new show and regularly watch both him and Craig.
        Found Fallon really uncomfortable for quite a while, but he’s finally found his groove and I tune into his show often.
        Can’t beat Craig and Conan, though.
        I can’t pick one over the other, even if Ferguson seems to have an uncanny ability to make the most out of the least and truly look at ease doing it.

    • Dawn

      There are three answers regarding why not Fallon: 1)just because the majority of young people drink beer doesn’t mean much–refined tastes prefer the products of Scotland!; 2) YouTube: Ferguson “Why Everything Sucks”; 3) Ferguson “Lost Doctor Who Opener”. RSA!!

  • jordan

    Get a life Ken.

  • kevin

    why don’t you just give us the top 100 shows?

    • Lauren


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