DEXTER places its hands firmly on the throat of expectation and - minute by minute - tightens its grip until audiences begin to question their idea of morality. Michael C. Hall's masterfully nuanced performance as Dexter breathes humanity into a monster - a killer who murders those he believes have gotten away with murder. The world through Dexter's dark, droll and wickedly funny gaze, in many ways, defines today's era of television - stories that are wildly ambitious, intricately told, and deeply, emotionally engaging.


    EVERYBODY HATES CHRIS came of age in 2007. Born from the life experiences of Chris Rock, who narrates the program with equal parts sweetness and sass, the show provides a very real look at growing up in America - a challenge that demands a discussion of race and class often absent from television today. EVERYBODY HATES CHRIS provides this forum for all generations and does it with great humor and humanity - both embodied by Tyler James Williams, a young man who stands tall among the talents of television.


    FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS scored another winning season in 2007. Hard-hitting and heartfelt, the show brings audiences together at the big game to explore issues of family, friends and faith. Each week is a celebration of small-town Texas truth, a paean to the hopes and dreams of a community that reaches for more. And each episode is a verse in an epic poem about America, its citizens driven to tackle their differences aglow in the lights of a national pastime.


    LONGFORD poses a question - "Does everyone have something good or redeeming inside them?" - and then searches for the answer in a light projected by the finest in television long-form. Impeccably scripted and directed, this telling of a true tale will echo across the ages in the performances of Jim Broadbent and Samantha Morton, who create characters of such detail that one man's search for redemption in the darkest of souls threatens tragedy for all who crusade for an ideal.


    MAD MEN packs the punch of a three-martini lunch. This hypnotic time capsule brilliantly captures 1960s Madison Avenue, along with all the discomfort that hides in the dark corners of nostalgia. The show's extraordinary writing, characterizations and art direction neatly package a time filtered through the haze of cigarettes and sexism, but the message is for today - that those who sell a way of life are often mad for a world that is not their own.


    PUSHING DAISIES is a whimsical, magical fairy tale that blossoms in the lavish beams of talent that emanate from Barry Sonnenfeld and his talented creative ensemble. Rooted in unrequited love and death, the show bounds with endless invention, a stunning visual palette, and a team of actors who revel in the surprises that come to life in each episode. PUSHING DAISIES is both sensual and smart - and proves that hope springs eternal for American television.


    THE SOPRANOS delivered the goods in its final season and, in doing so, cemented its place in the pantheon of American television. David Chase's masterwork spanned eight years and raised the bar with each and every episode, inspiring not only audiences, but also a generation of artists who are creating more complex, morally ambiguous dramas. James Gandolfini and Edie Falco defied expectations with each new storyline and took their bows this year with a continuing passion for their characters that is an achievement unto itself. Though the last season was filled with great expectations, nothing prepared the world for the soaring moment of artistic inspiration that turned the lights out on television's great American epic.


    TELL ME YOU LOVE ME pulls back the covers on "happily ever after" and offers an unblinking look at life's most intimate moments. Both sexually explicit and emotionally resonant, the series raises questions we often don't want answered in our own lives, and searches for the answers with a courageous visual style that sets it apart - a camera lingers, with no romantic fade-out. The show is groundbreaking for taking adult content out of the sleazy back alley of late-night cable TV and placing it squarely in the respectable neighborhood of prime-time programming - providing a rare and welcome home for our shared humanity to a topic of true conversation.

    30 ROCK

    30 ROCK towered above America's television comedies in 2007. A spiritual descendent of classics like THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW and MURPHY BROWN, the show establishes Tina Fey as one of the true talents of her generation - an artist who not only embodies a rare quality of wit and wisdom, but also exudes an unguarded awareness of the culture around her. Alec Baldwin's spectacularly pompous presence is a welcome wonder in every scene, and together, with the quirkiest ensemble on television, 30 ROCK proves there is life in laughter - at a time when we need it most.


    UGLY BETTY hit its stride this season, gliding confidently down the runway and smashing stereotypes about race and ethnicity with every turn. America Ferrera shines as TV's sweetheart, embodying the timeless triumph of geek over chic, a message and meaning more welcome than ever. Campy, catty and adorably over the top, the show's creative ensemble flings power and prejudice aside like yesterday's fashion to celebrate UGLY BETTY as the most beautiful of all.