(2 of 2)
A high-minded war turns into a brutal quagmire. Terrorist sleepers turn the public paranoid. And the victims of an attack find themselves sacrificing liberty to defend it. Sound like any planet you know? The topical parallels became deeper and more chilling in Seasons 2 and 3 of this thinking viewer's space opera. It's like the Iraq Study Group report with starship fights and hot-looking robots.
8. HEROES (NBC)
No capes, no masks, no problem. The live-action comic book about ordinary folks discovering extraordinary powers transcended geek appeal with a crisp, focused plot and a dose of humor. Special honors go to Masi Oka, who, as time-traveling cubicle jockey Hiro, stood in for every kid (and grownup) who has ever wished he could close his eyes, squint really hard and save the world.
9. DEXTER (SHOWTIME)
Justice is murder for Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall), a part-time sleuth and--oh, yeah--serial killer who learned young to put his deadly urges to productive use by slaughtering only bad guys. Hall's composed, self-aware performance is flat-out stunning, and so is the treatment of this psychoprocedural's central idea: Is it a man's thoughts or his actions that make him good or evil?
10. BLEAK HOUSE (PBS)
Charles Dickens' greatest novel yielded Masterpiece Theatre's greatest co-production in years. The adaptation captured the disparate tones of the sprawling legal tale--satire, romance, melodrama--and deftly handled its numerous stories. Even at eight hours, it flew by, lofted by Gillian Anderson (The X-Files) as an aristocrat nursing a secret heartache. Bleak, yes, but brilliantly so.