#1 The Wire. The most densely written and demanding show on the air, it reminds me of my spiritual life: messy, practical, and triumphant. without the drugs.

#2 Deadwood. Proving that the western, as a genre, is far from dead, I can’t wait for season two.

#3 The Shield. Season two dropped off a bit, but the third season found a return to great form.

After the top three, the rest of my top ten are interchangeable depending on my mood:

Wonderfalls. Four glorious episodes were all we had, but the DVD with the unaired episodes will be my solace.

Arrested Development. It’s almost unfair to call it a sitcom. It rises so far above the form.

Lost. Along with Alias and 24, the serial thriller has returned for real. Alias drifted a bit in 2004. 24 was strong enough to make my honorable mentions list. But so far, Lost delivers the goods.

The Sopranos. I’m tempted to call this the best television drama I read all year. It and The Wire were densely written and turned on subtle characterizations, but The Sopranos aimed for being art.

Desperate Housewives. This is not your typical guilty pleasure evening sudser. The show has wit and depth.

Angel (the last 14 episodes were in 2004). Sorely missed mix of horror and humor.

CSI. The sole representative of the cop “brand” shows (the three CSIs or the three-five Law and Orders) because it is the best.

Honorable Mentions:

Best dramas: Boston Legal (despite their fluctuating tone issues), House, Rescue Me, a resurgent NYPD Blue, The O.C., 24, Nip/Tuck

Best sitcoms: The Simpsons, Scrubs

Best reality shows: Amazing Race, The Apprentice, Survivor