Hulu’s Best in Show returns for 2012

March Madness for college basketball is almost here, and the science of bracketology is filtering its way into all sorts of corners of the pop culture universe. Grantland is running a 32-person bracket to determine the greatest “Wire” character ever (though both “Wire” fan Mike Schur and The Bunk himself have raised objections to the way it’s gone). Vulture is asking experts to help determine the greatest TV drama of the last 25 years (today it was “The X-Files” vs. “The West Wing”).

For the third year in a row, Hulu is running its Best in Show competition, in which TV fans get to vote on a bracket of 32 current series. And for the second year in a row, I’m serving as the special guest judge, but in a different capacity from last year. In the original Best in Show, the judge (Entertainment Weekly’s Ken Tucker) had a heavily-weighted vote that wound up swaying a lot of contests, and no one was ultimately happy with how that worked. For my first go-around, I was given a weighted vote, but with much less power. I think I ultimately only changed one result, but it was clear to everyone that this contest was for the fans, and so this year my role is purely ceremonial. I make my picks on each match-up (with help from Fienberg on a few where I haven’t watched the show in a long time), but if I vote, it counts the same as anyone else’s.

Similarly, while I had some input on what shows to include or leave out, ultimately this isn’t Alan Sepinwall’s Best in Show, so you’ll see some ones on there that I’m not a fan of, and other favorites of mine that got left off.

“Chuck” won last year over “Dexter.” Because “Chuck” is no longer considered a current series, it’s not on the list this year, and “Dexter” wasn’t chosen to return. So I’d probably consider “Community” – which lost very narrowly to “Chuck” in the semi-final round, and which has rabid fans who are looking for every bit of evidence of their support to shove in NBC’s face – the favorite for this year. But anything can happen; I think everyone was surprised by how easily “Dexter” steamrolled its way to the final round last year.

So go vote if you like. Round 1 results should be announced late Wednesday or early Thursday of next week.