7. “Parenthood” (NBC): I’ve learned my lesson. Never again will I watch this superb family drama without having the tissues handy. Season 4 really turned on the waterworks with a heartbreaking breast-cancer story line that coaxed Emmy-caliber performances from Monica Potter and Peter Krause. Where other shows might have come across as mawkishly heavy handed, “Parenthood” brought emotional depth and an eye for detail to the subject. Fortunately, the series also continued to find ways to display a sense of humor amid the poignancy. Along those lines, Ray Romano proved to be a great addition as a grouchy photographer with a crush on Lauren Graham.
8. “Louie” (FX): Season 3 of this idiosyncratic comedy featured a little more continuity and cohesiveness than usual, but creator-star-writer Louis C.K. still took joy in defying convention and taking us to unexpected places as his lonely hangdog character embarked on compelling journeys of self-discovery. “Louie” is that unique little gem that can be bleak, yet sweet, and sad, yet gut-bustingly hilarious. And this season, the gem gave off even more of a shine, thanks, in part, to notable guest turns by Parker Posey, Jerry Seinfeld, Melissa Leo, Sarah Silverman, David Lynch and others.
9. “Game of Thrones” (HBO): Sometimes we just need the small screen to whisk away from humdrum everyday life to big imaginary worlds full of mystery and mysticism, spectacle and scope. So we continue to thank the TV gods for blessing us with this massive medieval fantasy. “Thrones” can feel unwieldy at times with its multitude of power-hungry characters and tangled storylines. But when it’s at its best — as with the extraordinary “Blackwater” episode — I gladly lap up every bit of its epic awesomeness and visual majesty.
10. “New Girl” (Fox): What started out looking like a sitcom mainly tied to the perky-quirky charms of Zooey Deschanel has become an exceptional ensemble piece, thanks to the efforts of Max Greenfield, Jake Johnson and Lamorne Morris, each of whom brings his own specific comedic style to the party. Fortified with great chemistry, the entire cast in an irresistible force, spouting goofy one-liners that put us in constant crack-up mode. They’re super-weird and unpredictable yet very relatable.