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Tube Talk's Top 25 Shows of 2011: 25-21

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It's the biggest event in the TV calendar. The Tube Talk Top 25 albums of the year has arrived! We may be blowing our own trumpets slightly - hey it's Christmas - but after much heated debate, arm wrestling and violent office battle, the Digital Spy TV team have sorted the wheat from the chaff, picked the cream of the crop and picked out the finest US, UK (and Danish) TV drama of 2011.

The countdown starts today with numbers 25-21 and ends on Friday with the big reveal of our number one show of the year. Let us know your verdict on our list and your favourite programmes of the year at the bottom of the page.

25. Ringer
Sarah Michelle Gellar's new CW drama lands at the tail-end of this year's countdown for a reason - it's absolutely a guilty pleasure. But we're putting the emphasis firmly on 'pleasure' - at its best, Ringer is a brilliantly fun concoction of absurd scenarios, unlikely plot twists and hammy acting.

Our favourite character is the terribly English Andrew - Ioan Gruffudd's performance puts the 'stiff' in 'stiff upper lip'. If you were looking for Buffy 2.0 then you were always going to be disappointed, but if you were just after some dumb fun, then you couldn't beat Ringer in 2011. [MJ]




24. Downton Abbey
We couldn't ignore Downton Abbey, could we? Admittedly, the second series didn't quite reach the high standard of the first run, but it was still ridiculously enjoyable. We chose to take the show as a wonderful soap with pretty clothes, and after doing that the enjoyment factor just kept coming.

Whether it was Matthew Crawley's tingles, the outbreak of Spanish flu ("I'm not feeling well." "Now I'm not feeling well." "Ooh, you know what? I feel a bit peaky too"), the random introduction of a possible heir who may have had amnesia (for one episode only), elopements, arrests or a war which apparently allowed its soldiers free passage to return to Britain whenever they wanted, you'd have a good case for arguing that this series of Downton was a little bit silly. But whatever - it was rollicking good fun, had enough emotional moments to keep us intrigued (see especially Matthew and Mary), and left us on a stonking cliffhanger. What's more, the Dowager Countess - aka Maggie Smith - might just have the best lines on TV. [CW]



23. New Girl
Everyone's favourite Manic Pixie Dream Girl™ Zooey Deschanel brings her kooky, wide-eyed persona to television. A ratings hit in the US, New Girl suffered a blow early on when it lost loveable Coach (Damon Wayans Jr.) to rival sitcom Happy Endings but it's still head-and-shoulders above most American sitcoms right now.

Zooey's 'adorkable' Jess is the focus of the show, but our favourite character is the grouchy Nick (Jake Johnson), one of her three male room-mates. UK viewers eager to catch up on New Girl can watch the show from early next year - it debuts on Channel 4 on January 6. [MJ]



22. Holy Flying Circus
Another feather in BBC Four's cap, Holy Flying Circus was a surreal re-imagining of the furore around Monty Python's Life of Brian, which more than lived up to its subject's lofty reputation. One half intriguing story-telling, one half Python-esque flights of fancy, it delivered something utterly fresh to the genre.

Stunning performances from Darren Boyd, Steve Punt, Charles Edwards, Rufus Jones, Phil Nichol and Tom Fisher as the comedy legends and a perfectly balanced script - it tread the line between hilariously bizarre and needlessly wacky perfectly - were a fitting tribute to the Python legend. And someone give Darren Boyd a script to do a John Cleese biopic asap please. [AF]



21. Episodes
With a concept that was impossible to sum up in a nutshell, Episodes confused and irked many who dived in unprepared. However, those willing to delve a little further into the US/UK Showtime/BBC production were delivered a rewarding treat that offered serious belly laughs and has had us on the edge of our seat awaiting the arrival of season two (sometime early 2012) all year.

Matt LeBlanc didn't just poke fun at his public image and acting career, he took a sledgehammer to it. Stephen Mangan and Tamsin Greig didn't have a giggle at the preposterous nature of US TV networks, they blew raspberries and ripped it to shreds. Anyone who has witnessed the world of TV commissioning and production could appreciate the show's near-the-knuckle satire, but this wasn't just naval-gazing for media types. Episodes could do silly (that fight, Matt LeBlanc's sea creature) humour just as well as the subtle and smart stuff. [AF]



What were your favourite shows from 2011? Share your picks below!

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