2009-10 TV Scorecard: The Best and Worst Shows and Networks

  • Comments: ↓ 27 user comments
  • Publish Date: May 3, 2010

A step in the right direction

ImageSomething good is happening in New Orleans

Few people have the knack for pleasing critics all of the time, but David Simon appears to be one of them. The creator of The Wire, one of the previous decade's most critically-acclaimed programs, returned to HBO last month with his follow-up series, Treme 87. Set in New Orleans shortly after Hurricane Katrina, the ensemble drama is the 2009-10 season's best-reviewed new show.

Treme is not alone in receiving praise from television critics. Overall, the past television season appears to represent an improvement over the previous year in terms of show quality. The five broadcast networks combined to launch 34 major new shows in 2008-09, for an average Metascore of 51.7; during this past season, the same networks launched 38 new programs with an average score of 54.8. And the past year's highest-scoring broadcast show, Modern Family 86, was one of three new programs to surpass the Metascore of the prior season's top first-year program, the short-lived Life on Mars 74.

In a moment, we'll look at the best and worst new shows of the past season. First, we compare the overall performance across the five broadcast networks. While none of the networks consistently delivered, Fox and ABC were the best of the bunch.

Broadcast Network Quality Comparison (New Shows Only), 2009-10 Season
Network New Shows % Good % Mixed % Bad Average Metascore Score Change vs.
2008-09 Season
2008-09
Score Rank
1 Fox 6 33% 67% 0% 58.8 ↑8.4 4th
2 ABC 13 38% 46% 8% 56.8 ↑2.1 2nd
3 CBS 6 17% 83% 0% 55.5 ↓3.0 1st
4 NBC 7 * 29% 71% 0% 52.3 ↑6.0 5th
5 CW 6 17% 50% 33% 48.3 ↓3.0 3rd

* An eighth new program, the game show Minute to Win It, is not included in our calculations, because a Metascore is not available (due to insufficient reviews).

The 2009-10 season's best and worst new shows

Best Reviews from Top TV Critics
1 2 3 4 5
Image Image Image Image Image
Treme (HBO) Modern Family (ABC) Justified (FX) Men of a Certain Age (TNT) Archer (FX)
Critics: 87 Critics: 86 Critics: 81 Critics: 79 Critics: 78
Best Reviews from Metacritic.com Users
1 2 2 4 4
Image Image Image Image Image
Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution (ABC) Archer (FX) Justified (FX) Men of a Certain Age (TNT) White Collar (USA)
Users: 9.5 Users: 9.2 Users: 9.2 Users: 8.9 Users: 8.9
Worst Reviews from Top TV Critics
1 2 3 4 5
Image Image Image Image Image
The Jeff Dunham Show (Comedy Central) High Society (CW) Hank (ABC) Fly Girls (CW) The Deep End (ABC)
Critics: 20 Critics: 34 Critics: 37 Critics: 39 Critics: 40
Worst Reviews from Metacritic.com Users
1 2 3 4 5
Image Image Image Image Image
High Society (CW) The Jeff Dunham Show (Comedy Central) The Cleveland Show (Fox) The Marriage Ref (NBC) The Jay Leno Show (NBC)
Users: 1.0 Users: 2.7 Users: 3.5 Users: 3.6 Users: 4.1

American television series with seven or more reviews and debuting between August 2009 and April 2010 were eligible for the above lists. Shows are scored and ranked based on reviews published at the time of the original first season debut; returning series are excluded from these lists. The Metascore is a weighted average of scores from top professional critics, on a scale from 0 (bad) to 100 (good). Although scores have been rounded to the nearest whole number, shows are ranked prior to rounding. User scores represent an average of scores assigned by Metacritic.com site visitors on a scale from 0 (bad) to 10 (good). All scores as of April 30, 2010.

The season's best new network and cable shows

The year's best-reviewed new comedy, on network or cable, was ABC's hit Modern Family 86. The best new network drama was CBS' The Good Wife 76, while the best drama overall was HBO's Treme 87.

Best Reviewed New Network Television Series, 2009-10 Season
  Show (Network) Genre Metascore Users
1Modern Family (ABC)Comedy868.6
2Glee (Fox)Comedy/Musical777.9
3The Good Wife (CBS)Drama768.1
4FlashForward (ABC)Sci-Fi726.7
5Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution (ABC)Reality (Non-Competitive)719.5
6The Middle (ABC)Comedy707.6
7Human Target (Fox)Action708.2
8Community (NBC)Comedy698.1
9Life Unexpected (CW)Drama698.5
10V (ABC)Sci-Fi676.4
Best Reviewed New Cable Television Series, 2009-10 Season
  Show (Network) Genre Metascore Users
1Treme (HBO)Drama878.6
2Justified (FX)Drama819.2
3Men of a Certain Age (TNT)Comedy/Drama798.9
4Archer (FX)Animation/Comedy789.2
5White Collar (USA)Comedy/Drama788.9
6The Inbetweeners (BBC America)Comedy729.6
7Caprica (Syfy)Sci-Fi726.7
8Bored to Death (HBO)Comedy658.0
9The Ricky Gervais Show (HBO)Animation/Comedy628.2
10Sherri (Lifetime)Comedy627.0
Among other types of programs (anything that isn't a regular, ongoing series), the Oprah Winfrey-narrated nature documentary series Life 90 was tops among several titles earning universal acclaim from critics:
Best Reviewed Movies, Miniseries, or Specials, 2009-10 Season
  Title (Network) Type Netflix Metascore Users
1 Life (Discovery) Miniseries 90 7.1
2The Diary of Anne Frank (PBS) Movie 879.0
3The Pacific (HBO) Miniseries 878.2
4Monty Python: Almost the Truth (The Lawyer's Cut) (IFC) Miniseries 849.4
5Temple Grandin (HBO) Movie 849.7
6Occupation (BBC America) Miniseries  809.0
7You Don't Know Jack (HBO) Movie 799.3
8Endgame (PBS) Movie 77 n/a
9Emma (PBS) Miniseries 778.6
10Return to Cranford (PBS) Movie  769.0

Network performance

On the next page, we examine the performance of each broadcast network in greater detail.

We're sorry, but comments are closed for this article.

Comments (27)

  • Ted Brois  

    It is hard to belive this show replaced KING OF THE HILL where there was always a moral to a story a lesson to of value to be learned, i guess there is nothing funny about 4 Regular Beer drinking guys in America Today.
    I tought me some life lessons kindness, friendship,caring about doing the right thing defending others . In the imortal words of Hank Hill Ill Kick your Ass you all need it.

  • Bottom  

    My Balls are all sweaty from reading all the bs on here. Seriously , STFU.

    But seriously , walking dead wins (:

  • Ruxin's Trophy  

    This makes for a very interesting view of the landscape--I'm bummed I'm only watching 2 of the top 5 critic rated shows... I've been looking for lists like this all over the internet. This one was pretty decent (though I don't agree with all his picks): http://thecriticalfan.blogspot.com/2010/12/tv-nine-best-tv-series-seasons-of-2010.html

  • Hairy Balls  

    My bottom itches :-(

  • Nadia  

    i dont think theres really any doubt about the fact that House and The Office are the two best shows that have ever been on television (save Mash and for a long time, Friends). Entourage's new season is unbelievable and i cannot wait for the rest of the series to unfold. I know its slightly maniacal to wish it but i really hope that House never ever ever ends and simultaneously never ever ever stops amazing me with its awesomeness. Wow. that was truly the inanest thing ive ever written. Its crazy how much freedom random blogging provides. like. i can say whatever i want and it doesnt matter because none of u know me and its unlikely ill visit this webpage again. nice.

  • stella  

    the vampire diaries is a very good show. why is it so underrated? oh i know people think vampires that sparkle are sexier than real hot vampires.(looking at you twilight). true blood sucks. i tried watching it and it was so boring that i fell asleep halfway. vampire diaries deserves an Emmy.(i dont care what other people think)

  • Gav  

    Treme is definitely the best new tv show to watch! I'm also enjoying Hung, The Mentalist (guilty pleasure) 30 Rock, Human Target, and Southland (which we've only just got here in Scotland, raging that it was canceled but hopefully TNT will keep it going!) Also new series Haven could be promising (Nice to see Mr Lahey from Trailer Park Boys in something new) Does anybody get the increasing worry when they start a new show that it's going to get canceled mid season, the axe seems to be used without a care for fans these days. I mean Flash Forward wasn't great, but we're still hurting over Carnivàle and Arrested Development! If anyone fancies a taste of great Scottish alt comedy, I urge you to watch Limmy's Show, probably the freshest British sketch show in years! http://www.limmy.com/show/

  • Jenna  

    Meltose Place could have been amazing if it had not been so anchored in the past.Too many flash backs and dark depressing episodes.Ella had the most potentiial as a strong character but her developement was stagnated by the return of old cast members playing out old sad storylines.Try again but please no more old cast members ruining the show's episodes.Viewers need new exciting episodes.

  • Jori K.  

    "Modern Family" is one of my new favorite TV shows. I have to admit, I do love "Vampire Diaries," it's one of my guilty pleasures. I am a huge Gleek, but the second half of the season hasn't been very good, so I'm hoping they can get things back up to where they were in the first half. I also LOVE "Parenthood," I think that show's fantastic.

  • Seth  

    Uhh... where the hell is breaking bad?

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