|Viola Davis in ABC's How to Get Away with Murder.|
Perusing the end of the year Best of ranked lists for television, I noticed the continuing trend of almost everybody’s lists – from Time to Entertainment Weekly – consisting almost entirely of cable TV series, with only the occasional network show, such as Empire or The Last Man on Earth, thrown into the mix. I get that; the TV critics find the lack of censorship and unfettered content that is de rigueur on cable television to be enormously appealing. But that doesn’t mean that network fare is worthless, even if characters say "bullcrap" instead of "bullshit" and nudity can only be implied. Perhaps it’s because I grew up in a world where only network TV, Canadian or American, existed, but my viewing habits still skew towards broadcast programming, though they don’t make up all my viewing. (I eagerly await the fourth season of The Americans which begins on FX on March 16.) Three of the best bets currently on the networks – How to Get Away with Murder, Quantico and The Grinder – prove, too, that variations on familiar themes can be wrung even there, where novelty is not expected to exist.