1. Boardwalk Empire - This should come as no surprise, due to the quality, acting, history, characters, and story. It makes us feel like we've been watching this show for years. It plopped us right into Chicago mobster history with style, a little family drama, humor, and brutality. It's unpretentious for an HBO show and easy to watch, but it's not stupid.
2. Blue Bloods - Ern doesn't usually flock to cop shows, but this one pulled her in immediately. There is family drama, a secret organization of cops who act more like vigilantes, a "dirty" cop who you kind of root for, an overarching murder mystery, and, so far, interesting cases. There's really nothing else on Friday nights, so there's really no reason to skip this cop drama. Plus, it has Len Cariou in it. He's the really old guy with white hair. Broadway nerds will remember that Len Cariou was the original Sweeney Todd with Angela Lansbury. His voice is so great that when we watch the Johnny Depp Sweeney Todd, we watch it with Len Cariou on our ipods and mute the TV during the songs. Just hear for yourself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Kt5PsyEMWk&feature=related He's the guy who talks first and sings second (the one who doesn't sound like a creepy old man) We love that this talented old-timer is still kickin and making shows.
3) No Ordinary Family- This show was surprisingly fun, and it's good for the whole family to watch. The pacing made it easy to stick with, but it wasn't infantilizing. We hope this one can find an audience and stick around.
4) The Event- So far, this show is one of the best because we don't want to stop watching it. It's exciting, we think it's going to start focusing more on character development, and we like a high-concept show. It could get bad, like Flashforward did. But for now, it's one of the most promising new shows.
5) The Defenders- This is sort of the best by default because Ern wasn't impressed by most of the new shows. But it's a perfectly solid and fun legal drama for people who like to see laughs and twists in the courtroom.
Honorable mention: The Big C. This show is more of a comedy than Ern's other favorites, and it didn't make the top five, because it really started in the late summer. It's hard to call it "a new fun show," but it's too good not to mention it. It's light and breezy, yet respectful and true to the pain a cancer diagnosis can bring. We love the crazy main character, her precocious student (played by Precious' Gabourey Sidibe), and the main character's voluntarily homeless brother.
One to give more time to: We think that if it gets off of its "sex sells" gimmick and starts giving us smarter stories, Nikita could someday be a good show. For now, it's not as exciting or cohesive as it needs to be, but it's one Ern is keeping an eye on.
Ern's bottom five: My Generation, Chase, Detroit 1-8-7, Undercovers, Hellcats (just rent Bring It On, people; it's way better)