18. Treme (HBO)
Stars: Wendell Pierce, Khandi Alexander, Steve Zahn, Melissa Leo, Kim Dickens, Rob Brown, David Morse, Michiel Huisman, Lucia Micarelli, Clarke Peters
Premiere date: September 23
Quietly, HBO's Treme has consistently given the cable network solid ratings and warm critical reception. So why don't more people talk or write about it? Perhaps it's still a direct result of the hang-ups from fans of creator David Simon's previous HBO property, a little show called The Wire. In many ways, the New Orleans-set Treme, with its extended musical sequences and non-showy, muted character development, is the antithesis of Simon's violent, predominantly bleak Baltimore saga, and Wire heads haven't totally been able to accept his thematic downshift.
Really, though, they should applaud Simon's bravery in switching gear so dramatically. With Treme only on its third season, now's as good a time as any to drop those preconceptions and catch up.