Selecting Sue Naegle to head up HBO’s entertainment division was either a shrewd, intuitive choice, or a totally dunderheaded one, depending on whom you asked at the time. Both camps had compelling arguments: on the one hand, Naegle was an agent who had worked with the network before, helping her client Alan Ball sell Six Feet Under and True Blood. But Naegle had never served as a television executive, and with HBO at its creative nadir post-Tony, Carrie, Fishers, and Baltimore, was it really the right time to appoint a neophyte? But in the year and a half since Naegle’s appointment, the tide has shifted. True Blood, the show she helped shepherd, debuted with a whimper, then swelled into the network’s buzziest and most-watched show since The Sopranos. Her development work will continue to bear fruit in 2010 with the debut of two artful, hourlong dramas: Treme, a paean to post-Katrina New Orleans from David Simon (The Wire) and Boardwalk Empire, a lavish, Roaring Twenties epic about Atlantic City gangland produced by Terence Winter (The Sopranos) and directed by Martin Scorsese. Also on tap: a third season of In Treatment and a potential order for the hotly anticipated fantasy series Game of Thrones. As boutique film divisions close down and the movies become increasingly Transformerized, grown-up shows like these—smart, challenging, addictive—become more necessary than ever. Once upon a time, it wasn’t TV—it was HBO. Thanks to Naegle, it looks like it will be again.