Which Shows Have a Shot at Being Named the AFI Awards' Best?

Certain things are more plentiful this time of year. Toy commercials. Pine needles in the rug. And Top 10 lists. The first two can be annoying, but the last one's actually helpful: a compilation of the year's best TV shows lets you know which gems you may have missed, so you can catch up via Netflix or On Demand.

The TV shows that will be honored at next month's venerable American Film Institute Awards ceremony were announced on Dec. 13 and it's a shame that the list didn't arrive in my inbox at the start of the TV season. Okay, it's impossible since AFI's jury of actors, academics, critics and other industry players need to see the shows before they can point out the highest-quality ones, but it would save a lot of time.

The producer Steven Bochco and actress Jennifer Love Hewitt were both on the judging team for this year's TV selections. It includes a made-for-HBO movie, three network TV shows, three premium cable shows, and three shows just on AMC. (Five years ago, would anyone have guessed that this basic cable channel known for classic movies was going to emerge as the go-to network for high-quality, original scripted series?)

Here are the honorees:

The Big C (Showtime)

Boardwalk Empire (HBO)

Breaking Bad (AMC)

Glee (Fox)

Mad Men (AMC)

Modern Family (ABC)

The Pacific (HBO)

30 Rock (NBC)

The Walking Dead (AMC)

Temple Grandin (HBO)

None of the selections are a big surprise; critics have been gushing about the shows (and TV movie, in the case of Temple Grandin) throughout the year. But the list barely correlates to what we're actually watching. Sure, 30 Rock and Glee and Mad Men are hits with lots of fans, and they've won their share of Emmys. But so far in 2010, television's highest-rated shows are CBS's NCIS, ABC's Dancing with the Stars, and Sunday Night Football. Out of AFI's favorites, only one -- Modern Family -- has attracted enough viewers to land in Nielsen's Top 20. 

Do you agree with the AFI's selections? Chime in below!

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