I LOVE LISTS, but I'm not crazy about 10 Best lists, since I like to think there's more to TV criticism than dividing sheep from goats. Plus, I always forget something marvelous.
And there is, believe it or not, a lot to marvel at on television, so much that even exceptional shows may get lost in the crowd.
So while you don't need me to tell you that AMC's "Breaking Bad" had an extraordinary season in 2011, or that ABC's "Modern Family" is still really, really funny, you might be able to use a guide to some of the good stuff - some of it on Top 10 lists, some maybe not - that a lot of viewers missed but that hasn't disappeared:
1 "Men of a Certain Age." Ray Romano's splendid and bittersweet return to television, produced by Romano and former "Everybody Loves Raymond" writer Mike Royce, starred Romano, Andre Braugher and Scott Bakula as middle-aged friends and won a Peabody Award but not enough viewers to keep TNT from canceling it. Season 1 is available in DVD and both seasons are for sale on iTunes.
2 "The Hour." You can see traces of creator Abi Morgan's love for "Broadcast News" in this absorbing thriller about a BBC news program, set against the backdrop of the 1956 Suez crisis and starring Dominic West ("The Wire"), Romola Garai and Ben Whishaw. It's been renewed for a second season, but while you're waiting, Season 1 is for sale on DVD/Blu-ray or on iTunes and Amazon's instant video. BBC America subscribers should also find it On Demand and it's on the Xfinity mobile app.
3 "Bored to Death." After three seasons, HBO last week canceled this quirky series, created by writer Jonathan Ames and starring Jason Schwartzman as a character named Jonathan Ames, a writer who moonlights - unofficially - as a private detective. Must-viewing for fans of Schwartzman and co-stars Ted Danson and Zach Galifianakis, its first two seasons are available on DVD/Blu-ray, and on iTunes and Amazon instant video. HBO subscribers should also find Season 3, which wrapped up Nov. 28, under On Demand. All three seasons are available for streaming to subscribers at Xfinity.com or through the HBO Go or Xfinity mobile apps.
4 "Downton Abbey." This critically acclaimed British import about an aristocratic family and their servants in the years before World War I became an unexpected hit on PBS' "Masterpiece" last winter, but a hit on PBS doesn't translate into, say, "American Idol" ratings. So if you want to see what all the fuss is about before "Downton II" begins airing Jan. 8, you'll find Season 1 on DVD/Blu-ray, iTunes, and for instant streaming on Netflix and Amazon (free for Amazon Prime members).
5 "Episodes." Going "Bored to Death" one better, Matt LeBlanc stars as a fictionalized version of himself, an actor named Matt LeBlanc, who used to star in "Friends" and who's thrust into the starring role in a U.S. remake of a popular British show. Created by Bala's David Crane - who co-created "Friends" - and Jeffrey Klarik ("Mad About You") it's a wonderful skewering of the TV industry by Writers Who've Seen Too Much. Renewed for a second season on Showtime, its first season is available on DVD/Blu-ray, and for download at at iTunes or Amazon. Showtime subscribers can find it On Demand, online at Xfinity.com or on the Xfinity mobile app.
6 "Lights Out." Holt McAllany stars in this one-season wonder from FX as Patrick "Lights" Leary, a boxer who's taken too many blows to the head but who comes out of retirement when the money runs out. Beautifully realized characters elevate what might otherwise have seemed like a collection of boxing-movie cliches. Available on iTunes and Amazon instant streaming.
7 "Louie." No one's ever going to be able to make a show like "Episodes" from the experience of comic Louis C.K., who's figured out a way to make a comedy for FX (about, yes, a version of himself) that he appears to totally control. Did I mention that it's wickedly funny? And sometimes as sweet as it is sour? If you haven't seen it yet, Season 1 is available on DVD/Blu-ray and Seasons 1 and 2 are on iTunes and Amazon instant video. FX subscribers can find both seasons for streaming at Xfinity.com (but not on the mobile app). Season 1 and some episodes of Season 2 are at Hulu.com, and a few others are at fxnetworks.com.
8 "Shameless." An unusually successful translation by Showtime of a British series about a rambunctious family whose patriarch is a raving alcoholic, it's worth watching as much for the offspring - particularly Emmy Rossum as the oldest daughter, Fiona - as it is for William H. Macy, who plays drunken dad Frank Gallagher. Almost shamefully funny. Returns Jan. 8. Season 1's available on DVD/Blu-ray, through iTunes and Amazon instant video, and for Showtime subscribers through On Demand and the Xfinity mobile app.
9 "Traffic Light." Of the many, many recent sitcoms about Couples at Different Stages of Their Relationships, this one, which was based on an Israeli series, was easily my favorite. Too few viewers agreed to keep it on Fox, but if you'd like to see if I was right or not, it's available through iTunes and Amazon instant video.
10 "Prime Suspect." NBC probably shouldn't have called its latest cop series, which stars Norristown's Maria Bello as Detective Jane Timoney, after the British classic in which Helen Mirren played a detective named Jane Tennison. And maybe the pilot episode wasn't the best introduction for what quickly became one of the best ensemble dramas of the season (with particularly nice work by Bello and Brian F. O'Byrne as antagonistic co-workers). Far too few people have seen it. But at least it's hiding in plain sight. What will probably be the final two original episodes air at 10 p.m. Thursday this week and next, and they deserve a look. Full episodes are streaming at Hulu.com.