The best TV shows of the year

Slide show: From "Breaking Bad" to "Homeland" and with a surprise at No. 1, cable dominates the best shows of 2011 SLIDE SHOW

Topics: Friday Night Seitz, TV,

We’re living in some kind of new Golden Age of scripted TV, and this year’s best offerings were amazing. I decided to be rigorous and restrict myself to just 10 entries. It wasn’t easy.

These 10 picks represent what I think were the most creative and consistently satisfying scripted comedies and dramas that aired on American TV during 2011. If I’d expanded the list to account for shows that were somewhat more erratic but that produced terrific individual episodes, this list would have had 30 or maybe even 40 titles on it. If anybody’s curious, I may post the expanded list in the comments section.

You may see some of the runners-up cited next week, when I will present a slide show honoring the best individual episodes of scripted series. There might be an article listing the best nonfiction programs as well.

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    Martyna Blaszczyk/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

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    Slide 1

    Pond de l'Archeveche - hundreds thousands of padlocks locked to a bridge by random couples, as a symbol of their eternal love. After another iconic Pont des Arts bridge was cleared of the padlocks in 2010 (as a safety measure), people started to place their love symbols on this one. Today both of the bridges are full of love locks again.

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    Slide 2

    A bird's view of tulip fields near Voorhout in the Netherlands, photographed with a drone in April 2015.

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    Aashit Desai/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

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    Slide 3

    Angalamman Festival is celebrated every year in a small town called Kaveripattinam in Tamil Nadu. Devotees, numbering in tens of thousands, converge in this town the day after Maha Shivratri to worship the deity Angalamman, meaning 'The Guardian God'. During the festival some of the worshippers paint their faces that personifies Goddess Kali. Other indulge in the ritual of piercing iron rods throughout their cheeks.

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    Allan Gichigi/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

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    Slide 4

    Kit Mikai is a natural rock formation about 40m high found in Western Kenya. She goes up the rocks regularly to meditate. Kit Mikai, Kenya

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    Chris Ludlow/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

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    Slide 5

    On a weekend trip to buffalo from Toronto we made a pit stop at Niagara Falls on the Canadian side. I took this shot with my nexus 5 smartphone. I was randomly shooting the falls themselves from different viewpoints when I happened to get a pretty lucky and interesting shot of this lone seagull on patrol over the falls. I didn't even realize I had captured it in the shot until I went back through the photos a few days later

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    Jassen T./National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

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    Slide 6

    Incredibly beautiful and extremely remote. Koehn Lake, Mojave Desert, California. Aerial Image.

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    Slide 7

    Lucky timing! The oxpecker was originally sitting on hippo's head. I could see the hippo was going into a huge yawn (threat display?) and the oxpecker had to vacate it's perch. When I snapped the pic, the oxpecker appeared on the verge of being inhaled and was perfectly positioned between the massive gaping jaws of the hippo. The oxpecker also appears to be screeching in terror and back-pedaling to avoid being a snack!

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    The Yetis of Nepal - The Aghoris as they are called are marked by colorful body paint and clothes

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    Slide 9

    Taken from a zodiac raft on a painfully cold, rainy day

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    This wave is situated right near the CBD of Sydney. Some describe it as the most dangerous wave in Australia, due to it breaking on barnacle covered rocks only a few feet deep and only ten metres from the cliff face. If you fall off you could find yourself in a life and death situation. This photo was taken 300 feet directly above the wave from a helicopter, just as the surfer is pulling into the lip of the barrel.

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