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

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

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
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)

  • Chris L  

    I have to say, Human Target, Treme, and Spartacus: Blood and Sand are the best new shows of the season!!! Flash Forward is doing good as well, and it's good to see it's stopped trying to be a clone of Lost.

    Lost is hopefully leading up to a spectacular series finale and the final season has been great so far. Fringe and Castle are both continuing to improve in their second seasons and I'm looking forward to seeing what they do with their third.

  • Corey  

    Where is LOST!? Why didn't Metacritic post reviews for the final season, it posted early reviews of all other seasons. This has been an incredibly groundbreaking series and will be one that will be remembered for a long time to come. I admit bias here, LOST is easily my favorite show of all time, nothing else even comes close, but I am just really surprised that LOST hasn't had reviews compiled for its final season... is Metacritic (and reviewers?) waiting for the series finale?

  • Christopher  

    It didn't premier in this television season.

  • nenov  

    I'm genuinely surprise that "Breaking Bad" is not in the list.

  • Christopher  

    I love Archer and Modern Family. They make television worth watching.

  • Ryan  

    I'm going to ignore the terrible comment above me and state that I liked quite a few new television shows. Flashforward tried really hard to be Lost at first, but it hit its stride. Also, best TV show belongs to LOST which will remain in history while shows like Vampire Diaries and Gossip Girl will be whispers of trashy shows. Gotta give a nod to 24s good season, but heros has earned the proverbial "final nail in the coffin." American Idol still sucks like most reality shows, but Dancing with the Stars has been greatly improved due to Chad Ochocinco. But hands down, without a doubt (unless you are retarded or have never seen it) Lost is the best show on television, and it will be a shame to see it disappear.

  • Jonathan  

    I found Melrose Place to be the ultimate guilty pleasure considering Gossip Girl's dip in quality this season; Life Unexpected and Vampire Diaries are both amazing, I hope to see the two unrenewed shows (thus far) metioned get renewed. Otherwise, I'm very excited that Parenthood got renewed considering it's slight underperformance in ratings; I adore it! Modern Family is one of the funniest shows this season, and Glee is easily the best show on television. As for worst, Trauma, Marriage Ref, and Fly Girls range from tolerably bland to unwatchable. I can't even imagine how bad High Society is. Come on, CW, let's get a Wednesday lineup that viewers can get behind and enjoy next season (it would preferrably include LUX and Melrose)!

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