Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Awards #1: The Best TV Shows of 2014

In the first of three separate posts, I hand out my traditional ‘best of the year’ blogs to various subjects. The first of these awards goes to TV Shows, where I run down The Top 20 TV series of 2014, as well as listing my favourite actors/actresses from this year, as well as including my favourite 10 series that I started watching in this year not from 2014. So it’s essentially a big, bumper post that should give you enough television to watch over the Christmas break. Enjoy! 

First off, we’ll look at the best actors/actresses and the best TV shows that I started watching in 2014 but have ended before this year first before delving into the big 20 countdown. The actors and actresses aren’t listed in any particular order, hence the lack of clear numbering. Also, I'm not caught up on every show, so if your favourite show doesn't make a list, then it might be just because I haven't gotten around to watching it yet. Also, remember, all the selections here are my personal opinion as to what they should be, not definitive, so feel free to leave your own list in the comments. 



Matthew McConaughey in TRUE DETECTIVE

·         Matthew McConaughey, TRUE DETECTIVE
·         Hugh Dancy, HANNIBAL
·         Mads Mikkelsen, HANNIBAL
·         Peter Dinklage, GAME OF THRONES
·         Matthew Rhys, THE AMERICANS
·         Billy Bob Thornton, FARGO
·         Martin Freeman, FARGO
·         Kevin Spacey, HOUSE OF CARDS
·         Clive Owen, THE KNICK
·         Robert Lord Taylor, GOTHAM


Allison Tolman in FARGO

·         Tatiana Maslany, ORPHAN BLACK
·         Allison Tolman, FARGO
·         Robin Wright, HOUSE OF CARDS
·         Eva Green, PENNY DREADFUL
·         Carrie Coon, THE LEFTOVERS
·         Helen McCoy, PEAKY BLINDERS
·         Keri Russell, THE AMERICANS
·         Viola Davis, HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER
·         Amy Acker, PERSON OF INTEREST
·         Maggie Gyllenhaal, THE HONOURABLE WOMAN  


Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul in BREAKING BAD

This list, and the list below it, are now ranked, with the first place being the highest. This is including shows like True Blood that have finished in 2014 but I am not up to date on. If I wanted to include a show in this list that did finish this year but I have seen every episode of, it will be in the main list below. 



Alright, now let's get onto the main event. First up, let's get the five Honourable Mentions out of the way. They Include: Marvel's Agents of SHIELD (ABC), Banshee (Cinemax), Arrow (The CW), Ray Donovan (Showtime) & Constantine (NBC). The best three non-drama series are Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey. 


The first of the two comedy series on this list, Enlisted is amazing, and sadly, yet another Fox series to have lasted only one season. It knew what kind of comedy it wanted to be from the get go and there was at least one laugh-out-loud moment every episode. Focusing on life in a US Army’s Rear Detachment Unit, Enlisted is a great, entertaining and truly brilliant comedy.


This was one of the many shows that I binge-watched over the summer in an attempt to get up to date before it returned and I was not disappointed with the third and fourth seasons of Korra. Both have been excellent, and this animated drama that’s been accessible to both kids and adults alike, really knocks it out of the park in the seasons that both premiered this year. As of typing, Season 4 (sadly, its last), has yet to reach a conclusion, but The Legend of Korra has been one of the best series of 2014 and for good reason. 


One of the best new network shows of 2014, The Flash knocked it out of the park from the get go with some great pacing, lighter humour and showed us all that you don’t have to have a dark comic book series on TV to make it fun. The recent crossover with Arrow showed how great this series can be and Grant Gustin has really been able to handle his role well, knocking it out of the park with some great energetic fun.

17) THE 100 (The CW)

This show is one of the best science fiction series on television right now (beaten to the punch by a few more which come later), and is currently in top form in its second season. With plenty of Battlestar Galactica actors in its cast, this show is the closest thing to having my all-time favourite show on TV again. If you can get past the romance, exposition-heavy dialogue and general teen drama of the first few episodes, The 100 is a show that really rewards those that stick with it, turning into a fun, fast paced and dark drama that certainly deserves to make this list. 


Lee Pace! Scoot McNairy! Mackenzie Davis! An excellent cast headed up this 1980s period drama that looked at the computer boom during that period and with some great music (hello, The Human League & Violent Femmes), this ten episode long drama on AMC is one of the most underrated shows of the year and really should deserve a lot more attention. Given the ending of Season 1, lt'll be very interesting indeed to see what happens when it returns for Season 2.


A Vampire Diaries spinoff that’s a heck of a lot better than its parent show, The Originals has knocked it out of the park in its second season. These characters have been excellent and the drama has never stopped coming, with plenty of awesome twists and turns that accomplish more in the space of one episode than most shows do in a whole season. This is probably the best modern-day Urban Fantasy drama on television right now and even if you were put off by TVD, then you shouldn’t ignore this awesome series.


FX’s second season of The Americans was just as superb as its first. Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys gave among the best performances of the year and this Cold War era spy series should be on everybody’s to watch list. Smart, enthralling and unpredictable, you really don’t want to miss out on this.


The best comedy on television right now, Brooklyn Nine-Nine  didn’t start off too great but got a heck of a lot better by the end of the first season and its second season has continued the excellent form. With not a single unlikable member of the cast and more than one laugh-out-loud moment guaranteed per episode, this is something that really shouldn’t be ignored.

12) PEAKY BLINDERS (BBC Two/Netflix)

The best show to come out of the UK’s BBC in recent years (sorry, Doctor Who & Sherlock), this period drama set in post World War 2-era Birmingham in England knocked it out of the park. Dark, surprising and with superb performances from the likes of Cillian Murphy, Helen McCoy and even Tom Hardy, this is something that US fans can currently watch on Netflix. Expect some great music in the form of Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, The White Stripes & Arctic Monkeys, and some great production values that make this show look spectacular. 

11) MANHATTAN (WGN America)

WGN America’s Manhattan is their second original drama following the fun but not quite as good horror drama Salem, and the infinitely better show with among the strongest cast in a period drama and one of the best new series to come out of 2014. Set in the 1940s during the race to invent the atomic bomb, this smartly paced period drama constantly succeeds beyond expectations. Terrific stuff.

10) THE KNICK (Cinemax)

A period drama focused on the early years of modern medicine, this show is probably one of the goriest on television. Consistently brilliant and engaging, The Knick knocks it out of the park with some great direction as it follows the main surgeon at a Knickerbocker Hospital in New York during the 1900s, Dr. John Thackery, who also has to contend with a severe cocaine addiction. The Cinemax ten-episode long series also tackles themes such as racism and with some great production values, The Knick is certainly something that you’ll want to check out.


One of HBO’s newest series, The Leftovers might not have shared the same critical acclaim as True Detective but it was still very impressive even if it wasn’t exactly the most light hearted show on television. Incredibly well directed with some great, gut-punching episodes featuring a stellar cast including the likes of Christopher Eccleston, this post-Rapture drama provides some great character focused episodes that really work.

8) HOUSE OF CARDS (Netflix)

The only one of Netflix’s series that I am currently up to date on (my catchup of Orange is the New Black is even slower than that of House of Cards was, I haven’t even started Lilyhammer or Hemlock Grove and I’m six episodes into Marco Polo) but this series was excellent featuring some phenomenal acting from Robin Wright and Kevin Spacey as Frank Underwood continued to broaden his reach and attempt to reach the Oval Office. With some great episodes that continued the strong form of the first season, House of Cards is excellent and something that really shouldn’t be missed if you’re a fan of political drama, and it’s safe to say that its second season really hit the ground running.


The breakout science fiction series of last year got even better in its second season. Tatiana Maslany’s acting talents continued to impress and the BBC America show focusing on multiple clones got bigger and more expansive. The drama also featured what is hands down the best TV moment of 2014 – the clone dance scene, coming in towards the end of the Second Season. This addictive drama is one of the stronger shows on television and if you’re not watching it then you’ve really missed out on something brilliant.


Only falling to sixth in terms of the weak ending, True Detective was still one of the strongest shows on television this year featuring some superb acting by Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson in the lead role. The cinematography is stunning and the complete storyline over the course of eight episodes has mostly turned out to be a success. Awesome stuff. 

5) PENNY DREADFUL (Showtime)

This dark, gothic horror series featuring various characters from Victorian literature and a great cast including Eva Green and Timothy Dalton, Penny Dreadful rocked. The horror element of the series was great and with plenty of atmospheric touches and some great storylines, Penny Dreadful rightfully earns its place so high on the list. Season 2 can’t come quickly enough.


The strongest new show of 2014, at least in my opinion, Fargo was superb. Martin Freeman was great and the series was very engaging and awesome to follow over the course of its ten episode runtime. Everything just got better and better and the series continued to impress, culminating in an awesome finale packed full of great moments. The storyline itself is also standalone, so even though there is a second season (featuring different cast and following a different storyline, American Horror Story style), the first season is still worth getting up to speed on.


There were so many good moments from the fourth season of what is currently HBO’s biggest show. There were twists and turns and deaths galore, with the season being really unpredictable for those who did not read the books as nobody, not even the newly introduced characters were safe. (I have read the books, so I knew in advance but it was still great to watch unfold) The Watchers on the Wall also played out an epic battle sequence that really impressed and with some great performances particularly from Peter Dinklage, this show delivered yet again.


Oh my word. I finished Season 2 recently and I've got to say that hands down this show is my favourite horror series on TV right now. Dark, superb and very creative, this show got even better in its second season with Mads Mikkelsen, Hugh Dancy and Laurence Fishburne all folllowing the early adventures of Hannibal before his reputation as a serial killer was established. Given the strength of Season 2's finale I can't wait to see where this series goes when it returns early next year for Season 3. It's going to be awesome for sure. 


If you’ve been following me on twitter for a while you’ll probably know what number one is going to be and it’s no surprise that it’s PERSON OF INTEREST. 2014 was an excellent year for the show as the finale of Season 3 was one of my favourite hours of television ever, drawing everything to a close in epic fashion. Season 4 has been pretty great as well so far, with the second episode being the highlight and with some great characters and some awesome science fiction drama with the show becoming a bit more serialized than in previous series, it’s no wonder then that this show continued to excel. And when you add the fact that literally anyone can die and nobody is truly safe, Jonathan Nolan’s masterpiece is an exceptional show that fully deserves top spot on my list.

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