The tip of the hat goes to "Boss", a new serial on STARZ. The show follows Kelsey Grammer as Tom Kane, a fictional "boss" mayor of Chicago who suffers from a degenerative neurological disorder. Only his physician knows; the rest of his team and family are too busy with their own lives to notice that anything is out of the ordinary.
Everything about this show screams subtlety. The cinematography is simple, but effective; color correction and eye-pleasing special effects don't intend to shock but instead enhance the viewer's understanding of the show. It's really in the acting and the story where the series excels. Kathleen Robertson plays it professional and sexy as Kitty O'Neil, Kane's aide, and Jeff Hephner plays Ben Zajac, Illinois governor hopeful, whose ambition bleeds through his suit so heavily you'd need to run after him with a towel to wipe it all up.
It's a great show with standards that most showrunners live to strive for. It stands in contrast to Once Upon A Time, a show where so many insane things are happening at once that it's hard to keep up with what's what.
Unlike Boss, which relies heavily on the realistic storytelling and minuscule intensity, Once Upon A Time takes no issue with going overboard on the fantastic. The production value in the show is catastrophic. That's not a bad thing; it's just that there's so much of it that it's hard to believe that ABC would let a show like this air. On second thought, they did have Pushing Daisies, which was also a pretty quirky show. So there's that.
But where Once Upon A Time fails is in its story. It's just a mish-mosh of fairy tales spliced together in some hackneyed attempt of a grown-up Disney story, mixed in with a little bit of reality to give the show some backbone. None of the characters have a real third dimension; by that, I mean that they are fully-formed, but not to the degree of absolute completion. It's as if all of the ingredients for a good character are there, but they haven't yet blended together to create that awesome character smoothie that I can easily digest.
And because the writing doesn't quite cut it, the entire show comes across as a lumpy mess of a fantasy series that doesn't quite sit well in my stomach.
I'd recommend both this and Boss anyway, just because it's up to you to decide what you like. And if neither of these shows seems like your cup of tea, there's always NBC Thursdays.