11. Boss (Starz)
Stars: Kelsey Grammar, Connie Nielsen, Martin Donovan, Kathleen Robertson, Hannah Ware, T.I., Jonathan Groff, Sanaa Lathan
Premiere date: August 17
It’s true, the Starz network has more to offer than just the bountifully flashed breasts and glowingly red fake blood seen on its Spartacus shows—who knew! Without much mainstream fanfare, Boss, the dark and heady political drama series anchored by an atypically dark Kelsey Grammer, landed on several top critics' best-of-2011 lists, and, after giving the program a gander, it’s easy to comprehend why.
With shades of early Breaking Bad, minus the gruesome homicide and crystal meth, Boss focuses on Chicago mayor Tom Kane, a complicated shotcaller who’s hiding his recently diagnosed neurological disorder from his family and advisors, all of whom have their own problematic issues. This year, Kane’s strife will also intersect with that of T.I., with Tip joining Boss as a onetime street gangster trying to reform his life in the political arena.
Don’t hold the Atlanta rapper’s acting woes (i.e., Takers) against the show, however—considering that Grammer won a Golden Globe for his work as Kane earlier this year (beating out Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston and Boardwalk Empire’s Steve Buscemi, no less), Boss should have no shortage of performance firepower. —M.B.