By Tim Cuprisin Media Columnist Published Nov 25, 2010 at 11:00 AM

While the fall TV season hasn't been very memorable, I have been able to find two shows -- a drama and a comedy -- to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

The drama is simple, although it's not on one of the broadcast networks. HBO's "Boardwalk Empire" started strong, and has improved as its gone on, demonstrating one of my favorite historical truths: Times don't really change, it's just the fashions and technology that does.

While Steve Buscemi is perfect as Atlantic City crime boss and pol Nucky Thompson, the biggest surprise has been the development of Kelly MacDonald's Margaret Schroeder.

She moves deftly from being the submissive wife of a thug to becoming Thompson's mistress, with an eye on using her new power. Like anyone amassing power she compromises beliefs that once seemed crucial to her.

Picking a comedy isn't quite so simple.

Last year, there was "Modern Family," still the best comedy on television, reinvigorating the mockumentary style of "The Office," and providing multiple laughs weekly.

There just isn't a sitcom that good among the new entries this season.

So this time, I'm thinking beyond the specific laughs as I pick NBC's "Outsourced" as the best new comedy.

Just writing the words "set in India" shows why "Outsourced" deserves attention. Network TV rarely admits that there is a world outside the continental United States. Sometimes,  TV shows limit the world to either New York or California.

"Outsourced" looks at a third-tier call center in India and the young American manager sent there to run it. The Indian crew is tasked with selling silly novelty items to Americans.

Yes, it treads on potentially offensive ground.

But the jokes are frequently at the expense of Americans who throw money away on cheeseheads and silly coffee cups.

This clip, from last week's Thanksgiving show, offers a few attempts to explain the holiday to the call center workers.

Finally, I'm thankful for how NBC's "Community" has developed.

The sitcom created by ComedySportz veteran Dan Harmon matured nicely through its first season last year. But this year, it's moved to a new level.

The center of the show has shifted away from Joel McHale's snarky Jeff to Abed, played by Marquette grad Danny Pudi. He's an innocent who lacks the ability to read social cues, and sees the world as an episode of a TV show or a movie. In fact, he's the rare character who recognizes that he is a character.

It sounds too deep for a network sitcom, and it may be. In its 7 p.m. Thursday slot, it's up against CBS' fine "Big Bang Theory" and soon will also face Fox's "American Idol." I'm thankful for how long it's lasted, and hopeful for its survival.

Here's a preview of the upcoming Christmas episode, done in glorious Rankin-Bass style stop-action animation:

Tim Cuprisin Media Columnist

Tim Cuprisin is the media columnist for He's been a journalist for 30 years, starting in 1979 as a police reporter at the old City News Bureau of Chicago, a legendary wire service that's the reputed source of the journalistic maxim "if your mother says she loves you, check it out." He spent a couple years in the mean streets of his native Chicago, and then moved on to the Green Bay Press-Gazette and USA Today, before coming to the Milwaukee Journal in 1986.

A general assignment reporter, Cuprisin traveled Eastern Europe on several projects, starting with a look at Poland after five years of martial law, and a tour of six countries in the region after the Berlin Wall opened and Communism fell. He spent six weeks traversing the lands of the former Yugoslavia in 1994, linking Milwaukee Serbs, Croats and Bosnians with their war-torn homeland.

In the fall of 1994, a lifetime of serious television viewing earned him a daily column in the Milwaukee Journal (and, later the Journal Sentinel) focusing on TV and radio. For 15 years, he has chronicled the changes rocking broadcasting, both nationally and in Milwaukee, an effort he continues at

When he's not watching TV, Cuprisin enjoys tending to his vegetable garden in the backyard of his home in Whitefish Bay, cooking and traveling.