1. Luck (watch the trailer), USA
Our top favorite this year. Luck casts a provocative look at horse racing – the owners, gamblers, jockeys and diverse gaming industry players. Created by David Milch for HBO, the show has a great plot and characters (amazing performances from Dustin Hoffman and Nick Nolte) and the pilot episode was directed by no less than Michael Mann. TV series heaven! (Alas, Luck is over now. The second season, planned for next year, got canceled after a third horse died during production.)
3. Boardwalk Empire (watch the trailer), USA
Happy to report that Season 3 lives up to the expectation, following Nucky Thompson’s (Steve Buscemi) fall and rise back to power. Created by Terence Winter for HBO and based on the book Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times and Corruption of Atlantic City by Nelson Johnson.
4. Supersized Earth (watch Dallas Campbell sewer-diving), UK
BBC 1 three-part series about how man has changed the earth in just one generation. Produced by Simon Finch and presented by Dallas Campbell, the series are entertaining as well as mind-expanding, with some pretty cool computer graphics and some pretty gross scenes (ever wondered what it would be like to dive into the sewage of the Mexico city?). Themes covered in the three episodes: A Place to Live (exploring how people conquered the skies and built astonishing places to live), The Way We Move (looking at how man can travel around the planet, further and faster than ever before) and Food, Fire and Water (examining what it takes to keep seven billion humans alive).
5. Homeland (watch the trailer), USA
We’ve just discovered Homeland this year and devoured the first season like maniacs in just three evenings. Wow! Although not as addictive as the first, the second season is still mighty thrilling, focusing on the bi-polar CIA officer Carrie Mathison’s hunt for terrorist leader Abu Nazir while maintaining a complicated relationship with double-agent Nicholas Brody. Homeland is loosely based on the Israeli TV series Prisoners of War created by Gideon Raff. It is developed for Showtime by Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa.
6. Twenty Twelve (watch the trailer), UK
A brilliant spoof on-location documentary, following the organisation of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. The fictional Olympic Deliverance Commission has to overcome logistical difficulties, production errors, infrastructure problems and troublesome contributors. Go figure ;-). Written and directed for BBC 2 by John Morton (also a creator of the unbeatable People Like Us)
7. Forbrydelsen III / (watch the trailer), DK (the original version, not the US remake)
Forbrydelsen (The Killing) is a Danish three-season long police drama created by Søren Sveistrup for Danmarks Radio. The final series, broadcasted this year, explores the global financial crisis as the main character Detective Inspector Sarah Lund investigates an ostensibly random murder of a sailor and a kidnapping of daughter of a wealthy businessman. As thrilling as usual, but where’s Lund’s famous sweater?
8. Bron | Broen (watch the trailer), S/DK
Another brilliant Scandinavian crime drama, created by Hans Rosenfeldt and co-produced by Danmarks Radio and Sveriges Television. The series follows a police investigation after the discovery of a dead body, cut in half and placed precisely in the middle of the Øresund Bridge that connects Sweden with Danmark. Danish inspector Martin Rohde and Swedish Saga Norén have share jurisdiction and work together to find the killer. Saga Norén, played by Sofia Helin, has symptoms consistent with the Asperger syndrome, which makes her one rather unique investigator (watch out, Carrie Mathison). And yes, the series was originally aired in 2011, so it’s not strictly speaking from this year – we’re catching up!
9. Archer (watch the trailer), US
One animated series in the Top 10 list is a must! Created by Adam Reed for the FX networks, meet Sterling Malory Archer, alias the world’s most dangerous secret agent. Extremely egotistical, self-involved and proficient in the stereotypical spy skills, Archer’s only real interest in his job is nevertheless the opportunity to enjoy a jet-setting lifestyle full of sex, alcohol, thrills, lacrosse, fast cars, and spy toys. Would you blame him? This animated spy-spoof is a gem and off onto its fourth season, yeah!
10. This is England 88 (watch the trailer), UK
Drama series written by Shane Meadows and Jack Thorne for Channel 4, a spin-off from the film This Is England and a sequel to the TV series This Is England ’86. Portrait of the British youth sub cultures at the end of the 80s in East Midlands. Tough shit and council estates atmosphere mixed with brilliant acting (Stephen Graham, a.o.) and great outfits. Fab. And hooray: new sequel, This is England 90, has already been planned for 2013.