8. Boardwalk Empire (HBO)
Stars: Steve Buscemi, Kelly Macdonald, Michael Shannon, Shea Whigham, Michael Stuhlbarg, Stephen Graham, Jack Huston, Vincent Piazza, Gretchen Mol, Michael Kenneth Williams, Bobby Cannavale, Anatol Yusef, Charlie Cox, Stephen Root
The tagline for Boardwalk Empire's third season was an attention-grabber: "You can't be half a gangster." And with that take-no-prisoners attitude, the Prohibition-era HBO drama really upped the body count this year, replacing last season's overarching what-to-do-with-Jimmy (Michael Pitt) tension with bootlegger warfare.
The resulting story lines weren't all successful, most notably Margaret's (Kelly Macdonald) meandering involvement with women's pregnancy issues. Elsewhere, though, series creator Terence Winter and his writing staff methodically, and quite impressively, developed plots for tragic war veteran Richard Harrow (Jack Huston, more deserving of some Emmy and/or Golden Globe love than ever before), explosive newcomer Gyp Rosetti (underrated character actor Bobby Cannavale), and hot-tempered Al Capone (Stephen Graham) that all satisfyingly paid off.