Orange County, California’s OC Register has selected Mad Men the best show of 2007:

This is what a television series should be: intelligent, visual and patient with its story. The art direction alone made it worthwhile.

Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Inquirer takes a different tack, looking at the big television trends of 2007 and seeing Mad Men (which it also names as the best show of the year) as part of a new phenomenon: The emergence of free cable channels as a source for great television drama.

The summer of cable. The surprising run of new quality series started with USA’s engaging semi-spy show Burn Notice and ended with Showtime’s raunchy, and frequently funny, Californication. In between, TNT introduced Saving Grace, with Holly Hunter; FX had Damages, with Glenn Close; and even Lifetime got into the act, with two solid dramas, State of Mind, with Lili Taylor, and Side Order of Life.

Towering over them all, and over every other new series this year, was AMC’s Mad Men, a pitch-perfect journey back to 1960, where the bad ad boys of Madison Avenue scurry to stay upright in their hard-drinking world and the women struggle to breathe as they prop them up.

Because of the strike, NBC has already announced it’s transferring Monk and Psych over to the big network from cable partner USA. How delicious if a broadcaster could make a deal with AMC daddy Rainbow Media, and Mad Men followed close behind.