While network shows occasionally displayed admirable qualities in 2017 — the audacity of NBC’s “The Good Place,” the ambition of PBS’ “The Vietnam War,” the maturity of ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” — they fell short of the standard set by newer, gutsier players that dominated my top 10. In alphabetical order:
“Better Things,” FX: The sitcom became even more personal and provocative in its sophomore season, as star Pamela Adlon doubled as full-time director. Even if Roseanne Barr successfully reboots her groundbreaking series next year, she’ll have a hard time dethroning Adlon as Exasperated Mother of the Decade.
“Feud,” FX: Ryan Murphy’s production crew paid just as much attention to detail as Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon did in their spot-on portrayals of Joan Crawford and Bette Davis, a team effort that resulted in a pitch-perfect period piece. Lange’s shift to TV is the gift that keeps on giving.
“GLOW,” Netflix: Don’t bet against Alison Brie in a brawl. The former “Community” pipsqueak flexes untapped muscles as a struggling actress seeking salvation through a 1980s women’s wrestling tour.
“Godless,” Netflix: Creator Scott Frank unabashedly embraces every western-movie cliché — and kicks up a few fresh ones — in a dust-covered love letter to the genre. Jeff Daniels trades in his white hat to play a 19th-century Darth Vader determined to lure his “son” to the dark side.
“The Good Fight,” CBS All Access: “Star Trek: Discovery” may have gotten the buzz, but the superior series on CBS’ new digital service is this smarty-pants sequel to “The Good Wife,” with an even more irresistible blend of wacky judges, sexy lawyers and slimy clients.
“I’m Dying Up Here,” Showtime: Comedians griping about life behind the mic can get as grating as jokes about airline food, but the premise feels original, thanks to sharply cast actors, including Melissa Leo as an intimidating club owner, and an emphasis on pathos over punchlines.
“Last Week Tonight With John Oliver,” HBO: Jon Stewart may not have officially passed the political-comedy baton to his former “Daily Show” correspondent, but this Emmy-winning comic has sputtered and spewed his way ahead of the pack.
“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” Amazon Prime: “Gilmore Girls” mastermind Amy Sherman-Palladino does it again, thanks in no small part to star Rachel Brosnahan, who clearly learned a thing or two about delivering zingers from Lauren Graham. She plays a 1950s housewife who blossoms into a feminist through the Greenwich Village comedy scene.
“Master of None” on Netflix: Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang delve deeper into social issues, most notably sexual harassment. Ansari, playing the small screen’s most lovable lonely heart, may not be our finest actor, but he’s a genius in every other way.
Sean Spicer’s news conferences: Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ condescending treatment of the press may be more effective, but in terms of pure entertainment, she can’t compete with her predecessor, whose visible struggle to serve the president while holding onto a shred of dignity made for must-see comedy.