If you're a television watcher, you realize this time of year is kind of a wasteland.
Many of the top shows are on a hiatus until sometime in January or early February. In the meantime, we will be inundated with holiday specials and bowl games. (Seriously, can Pentatonix or Gwen Stefani be on any more shows?)
This is a perfect time to look back at some of the highlights of the first half of the TV season. Consider this a pit stop on the way to our usual year-end awards effort in the spring.
1. "Blue Bloods": The deepest and best overall cast hour of programming on network TV, headed by an underrated Donnie Wahlberg.
2. "The Blacklist": A great first half of the season, but I wonder if the killing of Tom Keen (Ryan Eggold) will come back to haunt the creators of this unique look at the world of fictional career criminal Raymond "Red" Reddington (James Spader).
3. "The Walking Dead": A much-needed return to a more action-oriented format has helped make the lives of Rick Grimes & Co. even more interesting.
4. "Young Sheldon": I have to admit, this program is even better than I anticipated. Iain Armitage is the star, but the show's greatest strength comes from an incredibly adept -- and hilarious -- supporting cast.
5. "Madam Secretary": This show stays on top of current events like no other.
º Best actor: A tough call, but I lean toward old favorite James Spader ("The Blacklist") over Jim Parsons ("Big Bang Theory") and Shemar Moore ("S.W.A.T.").
º Best supporting actor: Will Estes of "Blue Bloods" is emerging as a major on-screen talent.
º Best actress: Tia Leoni of "Madam Secretary" continues to be a powerhouse performer. Her top attribute may be her believability as secretary of state.
º Best supporting actress: Maggie Q of "Designated Survivor" steals every scene she is in as an FBI special agent.
º Best new show: "Young Sheldon" is an easy winner here, but "S.W.A.T." has also been a pleasant surprise and could be the "Lethal Weapon" of this season.
º Most improved old show: "Fear the Walking Dead" has gone from boring to boffo, and is now (almost) every bit as good as parent show "The Walking Dead."
º Show that has lost its edge: "Blindspot" has gone downhill in its sophomore season. The romance between FBI agent Kurt Weller and tattooed Jane Doe just doesn't work. There's also way too many storylines at play.
º Best new character: Canadian actress Meaghan Rath is the replacement for Grace Park on "Hawaii Five-O" and has added a breath of fresh air to the task force. The 31-year-old Rath was probably best known for starring as Sally Malik in the Syfy Network series "Being Human."
º Most anticipated 2018 arrival: The return of "American Idol" could be a major shot in the arm for network TV -- or a complete bust. There will be no in between for the talent show that once ruled prime-time television.