Giving love to 14 shows in 10 items, all new to TV this year:
"Detectorists" (Acorn TV): Mackenzie Crook's lovely pastoral romance/bromance in which hopeful rural Britons go into the woods and fields looking for treasure, beautifully shot and modulated. Shakespearean, even.
"Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" (CW): Star and co-creator Rachel Bloom blows through West Covina like a singing, dancing, self-conflicted, crazy, crazy-making yet deeply likable tornado. Sweet, smart, fast, funny and the best TV musical since "The Monkees."
"Show Me a Hero" (HBO) / "Wolf Hall" (PBS): Politics then and then. David Simon and William Zorzi's miniseries about public housing and race relations in Yonkers in the late 20th century was tragic and thrilling; "Wolf Hall," with Mark Rylance as Tudor fixer Thomas Cromwell, made the past seem particularly present.
"Togetherness" (HBO): Brothers Mark and Jay Duplass, of indie filmmaking and sundry acting projects, created this dreamy everyday comedy about four people living under one roof in Eagle Rock; Melanie Lynskey brings the wounded wonder.
"Empire" (Fox): Which is mostly to say, Taraji P. Henson as Cookie Lyon in a relentlessly truthful performance full of comedy and drama and sex and love.
"Ash vs. Evil Dead" (Starz) / "iZombie" (CW): My kind of walking dead: In "Ash," Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell revive their 20th century horror comedy film franchise as a series whose technical upgrades do not dilute the original's shaggy, gory charm. Supernatural procedural "iZombie," with undead Rose McIver incognito as a coroner's assistant, finds the space between "Veronica Mars" and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," and owns it.
"The Grinder" (Fox) / "Grandfathered" (Fox): A pair of solid sitcoms in which late-blooming leads, played by leading men of an earlier era (Rob Lowe, John Stamos, respectively), connect with family and grow a little. Family-friendly but not drippy or denatured.
"Better Call Saul" (AMC): Bob Odenkirk's Saul Goodman and Jonathan Banks' Mike Ehrmantraut being the characters that kept "Breaking Bad" watchable for me through its later seasons, I would naturally be inclined to like a series that, like this prequel, puts them at the center. Odenkirk's performance as a good-hearted screw-up on his way down is shaded in ways the earlier series only suggested.
"Master of None" (Netflix) / "The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" (Netflix): Tales of new New York and overcoming arrested development. In his first starring role, Aziz Ansari offers a mature take on generational immaturity; in Tina Fey and Robert Carlock's "Kimmy Schmidt," Ellie Kemper makes up for years lost in an underground bunker.
"Schitt's Creek" (Pop): Canadian import re-teams "SCTV" and Christopher Guest stock company partners Catherine O'Hara and Eugene Levy (co-creating with son Dan), adds Chris Elliott and Emily Hampshire in a family-out-of-water comedy; the premise (rich people forced to live poor) is familiar but what follows follows its own kind of quirk.