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The 25 Best TV Shows of 2012

21. Hunted (Cinemax)

Stars: Melissa George, Stephen Dillane, Adam Raymer, Stephen Campbell Moore, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Morven Christie, Lex Shrapnel, Indira Varma, Dermot Crowley

Yes, Cinemax does air its own original TV shows—in fact, the cable network's limited but impressive lineup is one of the small-screen's best kept secrets. For action movie heads, there's Strike Back, a series that melds Michael Bay-like excess with strong characters and sheer unpredictability. Cinemax's crowning achievement, however, is Hunted, an eight-episode transplant from England's BBC One about an espionage agent named Samantha (Melissa George) who's on a one-woman mission to crush the people who tried to kill her.

In other words, it's the TV show version of Steven Soderbergh's Haywire, replacing the physically commanding but hardly emotive Gina Carano with the far more expressive and sympathetic George. The Australian actress (previously seen in 30 Days of Night and HBO's In Treatment) upgrades what could've been a run-of-the-mill thriller program into a kinetic and endearing she-against-the-world diversion.

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