2. Justified (FX)
Stars: Timothy Olyphant, Walton Goggins, Neal McDonough, Mykelti Williamson, Demetrius Grosse, Jeremy Davies, Natalie Zea, Joelle Carter, Raymond J. Barry, Jere Burns
One of these days, the privileged few who vote on Emmy nominations will wake up, acknowledge the cowboy hat, and give Timothy Olyphant a statue. This year, throughout Justified's thrilling third season, Olyphant, as US Marshal Raylan Givens, continued his small-screen reign of excellence. Charming, imposing, and able to crack wise better than most of his TV peers, Olyphant holds the Kentucky-set series down without falling behind his equally proficient co-stars. That's no small accomplishment, either, since, once again, Justified benefited from a remarkable supporting cast.
Last year, the show's flawless second season introduced us to an incredible antagonist, Mags Bennett (Emmy winner Margo Martindale), thus setting the bar sky-high for season three baddie Robert Quarles (Neal McDonough). Fortunately, McDonough nailed it, giving the unstable yet icy-cool Quarles a fascinating lunacy that grew all the more riveting as the season progressed.
Kudos to Justified's creative team for also amplifying the violence and gore without overshadowing the season's twisty narrative, a combination of various subplots that all congealed, explosively, at that.