Sunday, January 25, 2015

End-Of-Year: Favorite 2014 TV Shows, Part 1

2015 is over three weeks old already and there are already fantastic NEW TV shows I've been obsessing over. All of that just means is that it's about time I finally post my list of favorite TV shows from 2014. So here's the first part...

Though a few honorable/dishonorable mentions first:

HONORABLE MENTION to Transparent which is technically a 2014 TV show, but I literally just saw it this weekend so I feel weird about including it in a list I finalized a couple of weeks ago. In any case, Tambor and cast are great and everyone should watch it.

DISHONORABLE MENTION to Gracepoint because even though I only managed to see its pilot and finale, it was still crystal clear what an unnecessary remake it was. Just watch Broadchurch, people!

DISHONORABLE MENTION to How I Met Your Mother whose rocky final season could've been completely salvaged by sticking the landing and instead they tripped and fell into a fire pit. If they had just aired the 'alternate' ending I'm pretty sure the show would've ranked for me.

HONORABLE MENTION to all the awesome reality TV shows (since I decided to stick with only scripted shows in my list) such as American Ninja Warrior, Amazing Race, Face Off, Fake Off, Masterchef, Masterchef Jr., So You Think You Can Dance, and The Quest. The latter was REALLY fun. Google it!

DISHONORABLE MENTION for networks cancelling good or potentially good comedies such as Enlisted, Trophy Wife, Selfie, A to Z, Suburgatory, The Crazy Ones, Benched, etc. Comedy isn't dead, but there's certainly been a lot of comedy murders lately.

Finally, HONORABLE MENTION to the brilliant actors in not-so-great (but still good) shows like Hayden Pannetiere in Nashville, Matthew McConaughey/Woody Harrelson in True Detective, Allison Janney in Mom, and Ian McKellen/Derek Jacobi in Vicious. I dedicate this to Cristin Milioti.

And now my list... starting with a shameless tie for #35!

35. Elementary/Sherlock - I kept going back and forth between the two Conan Doyle adaptations. Elementary is still my preferred Watson/Holmes duo, but Moriarty's brief appearance and Mary's introduction in Sherlock were hard to forget.

34. Once Upon a Time - There's still a large swath of the show I personally don't care for, but Regina as the reformed villain, Hook's sincere dedication to Emma, and the inspired Frozen arc made this an easy inclusion on my list.

33. Silicon Valley - A strong sense of place and characters helped overcome my hesitation over the weak pilot and in the end I honestly just wanted to keep following their journey.

32. Masters of Sex - Its pedigree and quality acting kept this in my list, but a muddled second half and an increasingly dull (to me) relationship between the two leads knocked this down a bit; the supporting characters are still aces.

31. You're the Worst
- Got to this show late, but the critical love to this unlikely comedy gem is totally warranted. Full of heart and sarcasm in equal measures and isn't that always the best formula especially for comedies?

30. The Walking Dead - People have dismissed this as either too bleak or too disposable and while the former is true, the latter isn't. There were some nice character studies last year and all without sacrificing action and tense sequences the show is duly known for.

29. Orphan Black - The inimitable Tatiana Maslany was brilliant throughout, but the season as whole didn't quite reach up to her level despite some surprising developments to the increasing mythology of the show.

28. Homeland - It wasn't a home-run season like days of yore, but it was immensely improved from whatever last season was. Getting out of the US and having an actual mission to focus on helped a lot. And unlike most, I dug the quiet finale.

27. Downton Abbey - I particularly found the current season airing in PBS (and aired in UK in 2014) quite good especially in terms of my favorite characters. Still wish the beats were slightly more unpredictable, but this show is hardly going to win prizes for being groundbreaking now.

26. The Affair - The unique structure is a little gimmicky and sometimes got distracting and repetitive while the two leads together is probably my least favorite thing about the show. With that said, the acting is unimpeachable and the compelling family drama were the reasons it's on my list. Oh, and Pacey. With a gun.

25. Enlisted - God, this show was so damn good with a wonderfully quirky ensemble and lots of heart. I still don't understand why this didn't get more viewers, but at least its finale was pitch perfect. Hands on heads forever.

24. The Mindy Project - They did a reverse Moonlighting curse as the show improved greatly once they put Mindy/Danny together. The show finally had a stable focus and in the process gave Chris Messina more to do, which is always a good thing. Especially when it involves dancing/stripping.

23. House of Cards - I actually think they delivered a strong sophomore season with both Spacey and Wright going deeper and darker with their characters than even I expected them to. I'm already fearing what the third season will bring with them currently on top!

22. Black-ish - While the pilot was slightly heavy-handed, the series so far has been quite delightful and most of that has to do with the great family ensemble they've assembled. The youngest kids especially are too adorable for words.

21. Broad City - Apart from how ridiculous and funny the two leads are (and they're plenty both I assure you), I  think I just love the show because it just feels so authentically New York City. Plus I just envy their relationship with each other.

20. How to Get Away with Murder - It was my favorite pilot of the fall season and while a lot of the show falls under "hot mess," it's still incredibly fun to watch especially when it's Viola Davis chewing scenery or when literal gay sex is happening on screen. Both occur quite a lot thankfully.

19. Mad Men - If they had continued with their final season, I have no doubt this would be ranked higher in my list because I felt the season was JUST starting to rev up towards the end. I still have high hopes for it and I'm confident they'll deliver.

18. Looking - This show was highly anticipated for me since I expected it to pretty much be the TV version of Weekend and it pretty much was with the adorable Jonathan Groff as the looking-for-love lead. I was bound to love it.

17. Vikings - They did not withhold anything with this sophomore season! If anything, they just did everything bigger and better from amazing battle sequences to heart-wrenching drama; the season had it all. I mean they crucified one of the characters! Also, Lagertha is my queen forever.

16. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
- This show (barely) made my list last year mostly due to my undying love for Whedon and my appreciation for Marvel. Thankfully since then it has gotten SO MUCH better with the writers/actors clearly more in sync with most of the characters as well as the welcome throughline of an actual mission driving the plot forward. Hope they can keep this up!

Part 2 aka my top 15 shows of 2014 soon!

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