TV Series of the Year

2

December 10, 2014 by Wayne.

My full list of favourite TV shows are here.

Out of all the shows I watched with seasons airing/ending in 2014, these were my favourites (kind of in order):

10. Arrow

Season 3 hasn’t quite lived up to last season yet, but then again I consider the Deathstroke saga to be the best comic book movie ever. Never mind that it wasn’t a movie.

Point is, even if it doesn’t match the incredible heights of (recent) days past, Arrow is still a very solid superhero show. It’s come leaps and bounds (and Roy-flips) since the cliche-ridden first half of season 1. A lot like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., in that respect.

So what is it about?

The masked hero Arrow, previously known as the unmasked vigilante Arrow. His (tiny) mask is a gift courtesy of a certain Barry Allen, whose first crossover episode involved him having the coolest hero-transformation I’ve seen on screen. Yeah, that includes Dr. Manhattan.

Oliver Queen, fresh off his hellish five years, returned to Starling City in the first season to atone for his father’s sins. Season 3 sees a more experienced Oliver, as well as one who’s had to suffer a great deal more loss since his return. While he is quintessentially the “dark” counterpart of CW’s Flash, Olive shows some signs of developing into the comic version of the Green Arrow.

Also, the show makes it into the list (almost) purely because of the cross-over with Flash. Both episodes were great, but the Arrow one knocked it out of the park. It turns out the live action Arrow series is a dream come true, even if I never actually had the dream.

9. Gravity Falls

The intro-titles thing for Gravity Falls is one of my favourite opening sequences of any show.

Gravity Falls signed off season 1 in a relatively sinister/mysterious tone, and it didn’t retreat in season 2. Instead, Gravity Falls has consistently balanced the humour with the bizarre, often dark, secrets of the town.

Gravity Falls gets the nod ahead of Adventure Time this time round because it’s fleshed out so much of its mythology without ignoring character development. GF consistently improves while AT is – for the moment, at least – relatively stagnant.

So what is it about?

Dipper and his twin sister Mabel are on summer vacation, and they end up at their Great Uncle Stan’s (Grunkle Stan!) place at the sleepy town of Gravity Falls.

Except, naturally – well, supernaturally – the town isn’t so sleepy after all. The twins begin to discover that a whole lot of weird shit is going on in Gravity Falls, and the search is on to figure out just what all the paranormal stuff is about.

8. True Detective

I don’t think the last one or two episodes lived up to the promise of the first few, but that isn’t to say it was bad. I loved the ending, for one. And I think the ambiguity of the story/genre at the start of the season was one of the best points about TD. Once we got a clearer picture, we lost a bit of that magic. Or at least traded it for some more straightforward and equally compelling proceedings.

In the end, I’ll remember the acting more than the writing. McConaughey and Mr. Rampart have some stellar turns throughout the series, and made for supremely captivating viewing.

So what is it about?

Oh please, who doesn’t know at this point

7. Bob’s Burgers

Bob’s Burgers got off to a pretty rocky start.

No, wait, that’s not exactly true. It was never particularly bad at any point in its four seasons (well, five now, but there’s only one episode out at the time of writing), but it’s hard to argue that the first couple of episodes were anything better than lacklustre. I didn’t have to force myself to continue (the way I did with, say, Parks & Rec) and neither did I see it becoming anywhere as good as it now is.

Because, yeah, it’s pretty fucking good.

I look forward to every episode knowing that I won’t be disappointed because I never have been. It’s genuinely one of the best animated shows out there, which is an astonishing accolade when you consider that we’re pretty much in the golden age of animation (okay, and TV at large too). There’s the experimental(-ly insane) Rick & Morty, the shows that hide great thematic depth and mature backstories behind wonderful animation like Adventure Time and Gravity Falls, and the irreverent hilarity of Archer. Amongst many others, of course. And yet, despite all that, Bob’s Burgers manages to stand proud.

Beyond that, it’s actually getting better. Now that they’ve fleshed out the characters, the writers are keen to take on more creative license to explore different types of stories – the greatest evidence of which is the two-part finale of season 4. Great stuff, that. Add to that the fact that it’s been consistently hilarious since around midway of season 1, and that it’s had a great heart to it since the beginning, and you have the recipe for one of the best animated shows out there.

Creative, inspired, unsettling – a comment on the fanmade Bob’s Burgers Partition parody, but equally applicable to the show itself.

So what is it about?

Bob runs a barely-surviving burger joint with his family. They’re all nuts.

6. Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

I’m writing this after watching the mid-season finale – no more Agents until March next year! Goddamnit.

AoS started very, very poorly. I liked Fitzsimmons from the start, but pretty much the only thing that kept me watching was Phil Coulson.

Then the Winter Soldier tie-in happened, and things stepped up a notch. Several hundred notches, in fact. After Winter Soldier, every subsequent episode got better, to the point where it’s currently one of my favourite still-airing shows.

I’ll admit, I was one of those who bemoaned the entire concept at the start – why do we even need an agents of SHIELD? How compelling could it ever be, in a universe with established superpowers?

If you were like me, trust me and give it a shot. Power through the first 3/4 of the first season, the payoff is more than worth it!

So what is it about?

S.H.I.E.L.D. finds itself in a major crisis once Hydra openly reveals itself. Yes, even after Hydra’s exposed and their helicarrier-drone-instakill plot is stopped. Turns out there are shitloads of Hydra agents and they all go into hiding while continuing their dastardly deeds. On the other side, Coulson and team find themselves operating in the dark at a drastically reduced scale. They are the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. now and I’m not even sorry I spoiled that.

5. Mad Men

The end is near for this wonderfully crafted drama, but Don and co aren’t going gently into the good night. Mad Men isn’t a period piece. It’s a character study, a reflection of humanity through the mirror of time. One of my favourite series of all time and I’ll be sad to see it go.

All those accolades? Very, very well deserved. If they didn’t roughly coexist with Breaking Bad, they’d be sweeping the drama category most years. At least more than they already do.

So what is it about?

Sex, ego, and the human condition.

4. Nathan For You

Uproariously hilarious. Some episodes literally left me shaking with laughter.

So what is it about?

Nathan Fielder graduated from one of Canada’s top business schools with really good grades. Now, he’s using his knowledge to help struggling small business owners make it in this competitive world.

About 2 episodes through, I realized this son of a bitch was for real. This wasn’t a reality show parody, with actors and elaborate sets. The business owners – they were real. These were real shops.

Blew my goddamn mind.

Just watch it. It’s fantastic.

3. Fargo

Is it a sequel to the movie? An interpretation in serial form? A homage, perhaps?

As it turns out, it’s all the above.

Fargo is equal parts chilling and hysterical, leading to an incredible season-contained effort worthy of all the awards. The acting is on-point from every single person, the shots are gorgeous, and the directing impeccable. Where True Detective relied on Lovecraftian mythology for its ominous mood, Fargo turned instead to incisive writing and compelling characterizations.

Fargo’s seasons are more like mini-series (thus the True Detective comparison), and I really wonder what they’ll do for the next one. Meanwhile, I have the glorious first season to rewatch and enjoy.

So what is it about?

A force of evil sweeps into a sleepy town (a real sleepy town this time), and…things happen.

2. Rick & Morty

I was about to delete the entire series after watching the pilot, when a friend convinced me to stick with it. By the 4th or 5th episode, I was raving about it being one of the best shows I’d ever watched.

A truly remarkable series that, amidst all the shock factor and gross-out humour, featured some jaw-dropping moments I still think about from time to time. For The Damaged Coda certainly isn’t leaving my mind anytime soon…in fact, I think it’s still the most played song in my library. Played it almost exclusively on loop after that Morty episode, god damn.

Co-created by Dan Harmon, but it’s streets – no, highways – ahead of Community. Well, the current Community, at least. Community in its heyday was one of the best comedies on the air.

1. Utopia

Finally.

Please, please just trust me and watch this show. Channel 4 has discontinued it, so the story has most likely ended at season 2. Two seasons, and it’s the best TV show I’ve ever watched. This includes other excellent dramas like Breaking Bad, Fargo, and True Detective, so it’s kind of a good achievement, that.

HBO’s doing a US remake under David Fincher, but fuck that – WATCH THIS FIRST.

The piercing oversaturation juxtaposed with the brutal violence, the ridiculously beautiful cinematography, the sensational soundtrack, everything comes together in a breathtaking parcel of excellence. This, ladies and gentlemen, is perfection. Well, season 1 at least. Season 2 is a step below, but still very very very good nonetheless. By which I mean even if season 1 didn’t exist, Utopia would still be GOAT.

Watch it please. Or I fuck your life #russianaccent

So what is it about?

A group of…people end up with the manuscript sequel of a graphic novel called The Utopia Experiments. The comics are rumoured to depict – and thereby predict – some of the worst epidemics and disasters in history.

Of course, they weren’t the only ones after the manuscript. An organization called The Network is on the hunt, and they now need to uncover the meaning of the Utopia Experiments before it’s too late.

For what it’s worth, that’s a shit synopsis and you should just watch it.

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2 thoughts on “TV Series of the Year

  1. Stephanie says:

    I’ve only seen one of these but will give the others a try….I’m still in Breaking Bad withdrawal, as it were…..

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