All this week, now one month into the Fall TV season, BuddyTV takes a hard look at the new shows to determine which ones we were right about, and which ones have surprised us the most, both positively and negatively.

The new TV is full of pretty good shows. Of the 26 new series, I have successfully folded half of them into my weekly viewing schedule, an impressive ratio. But even more surprising is the number of truly great performances. Even if a show is just OK, there are actors delivering all-star, award-worthy performances all over the place. From quirky supporting characters to leading men and women, this year’s crop of characters is one of the best.

Initially, I set out to list the five best new show performances, but in making my list, I quickly realize five was not enough. Heck, I even gave myself a rule: just one actor per show. Otherwise, this would just be the cast lists from Pushing Daisies and Dirty Sexy Money. So now, the list. Feel free to comment and offer up who else you think is most worthy of being on this list.

10 – Nick Kroll, Cavemen

Much as I dislike this show, one thing is for certain: Nick Kroll is one funny guy. Playing the cynical, urbane best friend Nick, Kroll’s effete delivery is so spot-on that you can’t help but laugh, even when the writing isn’t even funny. Now if they could just get him out of the make-up and put him on a better show, I’d be ecstatic.

9 – Zachary Levi, Chuck

The leading man role is sometimes difficult, because so often the supporting performers steal every scene. But I have to give it up for Levi, who turns what is ostensibly Spy Seth Cohen into a funny, sincere and complete performance that never feels overshadowed by his very talented supporting cast.

8 – Kevin McKidd, Journeyman

Anyone who saw McKidd in Rome knows he can play a violent, over-the-top gladiator to perfection. What’s surprising is that in this weird time travel drama, McKidd is able to find the truth in a show about science fiction. It’s beautifully subtle work that finds the reality of the situation and the character.

7 – Taylor, Kid Nation

OK, while technically not a performance, I would be remiss not to include one of reality TV’s greatest villainesses. You wouldn’t expect to find a bad guy in a reality show starring only kids, least of all in a 10-year-old girl, but Taylor’s refusal to be anyone but herself in spite of overwhelming pressure to change makes her one of the most compelling people to watch on all of TV. Also, she’s responsible for the best new catch phrase of the year: “Deal with it!”

6 – Kristen Bell, Gossip Girl

Another outside-the-box choice, but hear me out. Gossip Girl is soapy and trashy and stars a bunch of beautiful 20-something models playing rich, spoiled teenagers, and by all accounts, it should be total garbage. However, it’s endlessly entertaining and fun, and while part of that goes to mastermind Josh Schwartz, I can attribute it all to Bell’s seamless narration which adds so much depth and life into an otherwise cliché story. I smile every week when I hear, “You know you love me. XOXO, Gossip Girl.” Yes, Miss Bell, I do know that I love you.


John Kubicek

Senior Writer, BuddyTV

John watches nearly every show on TV, but he specializes in sci-fi/fantasy like The Vampire DiariesSupernatural and True Blood. However, he can also be found writing about everything from Survivor and Glee to One Tree Hill and Smallville.