Vampires, ad executives and Larry David remain the greatest 'monsters' on our TV screens
What: Breaking Bad (season two)
First seen on TV: US debut: March 8
Why you should watch it: Probably the darkest show on TV at the minute, but still laced with black humour, this tale of a cancer-stricken chemistry teacher turning to crime remains one of the most compelling shows around.
What: How I Met Your Mother (season four)
First seen on TV: US debut: May 18
Why you should watch it: It might look like a bog-standard sitcom, but How I Met Your Mother is often surprisingly cleverly-written. With an engaging cast and tight scripts, it’s a great antidote to the heavier TV out there.
What: True Blood (season two)
First seen on TV: US debut: June 14
Why you should watch it: This American gothic drama was pretty good in its first season, but certainly hit its stride this year, with a wider look at how public knowledge of vampires has affected the wider world.
What: Entourage (season six)
First seen on TV: US debut: July 12
Why you should watch it: Essentially Sex and the City for blokes, Entourage is basically TV popcorn: no nutritional value, but so moreish. And with Vince’s acting career on the ropes, there’s even a bit of drama now.
What: Mad Men (season three)
First seen on TV: US debut: August 16
Why you should watch it: Though sometimes criticised for its measured pace, Mad Men remains one of the most compelling dramas on TV, thanks to its outstanding cast and beautifully realised backdrops.
What: Supernatural (season five)
First seen on TV: US debut: September 10
Why you should watch it: After a dire and po-faced first season, Supernatural became a surprise horror gem with plenty of goofy humour. This – probably final – season sees the Winchester brothers going up against Lucifer himself.
What: Gossip Girl (season three)
First seen on TV: US debut: September 14
Why you should watch it: The biggest guilty pleasure to come out of the US since Sex and the City, Gossip Girl continues to explore the lives of impossibly pretty New Yorkers, with Hilary Duff’s starlet character causing complications.
What: Curb Your Enthusiasm (season seven)
First seen on TV: US debut: September 20
Why you should watch it: It looked like it was all over for Curb but creator Larry David has brought it back for one more spin, reuniting the cast of Seinfeld in the process. It remains a cynical, miserly delight.
What: Dexter (season four)
First seen on TV: US debut: September 27
Why you should watch it: Serial killer drama Dexter seems to follow the 24 model of alternating between great and duff seasons. This one’s definitely a winner: new regular cast member John Lithgow captivates as Dexter’s latest monstrous victim.
What: The Venture Bros. (season four)
First seen on TV: US debut: October 18
Why you should watch it: A ludicrously violent, darkly funny parody of 1970s boy adventurer shows and superhero comics might sound like thin gruel, but the surprisingly layered character work has carried it into four seasons.