We are totally living in the Golden Age of television. Now now, I know people will argue that, but seriously…we are. Coming up with the top 10 of 2014 seemed easy, but it wasn’t for me at all. There is so much great television that I am harassed daily because I haven’t watched a particular show. I have FX’s Tyrant on my DVR still awaiting a watch. CW’s The 100 is anxiously awaiting a play and the guys on this particular website are at me to get Arrow started. There is seriously not enough time in the day for all of the great T.V. So here I go. My top 10 of 2014 and a few honorable mentions…
10. The Leftovers - HBO (summer)
This is one of the few shows/movies that I haven’t dove into the book yet. Don’t fret, it is on my "TO DO” list. The novel from Tom Perrotta “The Leftovers” (I have been told) runs pretty parallel to the show. What would the world be like if a rapture-like event took place. How would you emotionally and psychologically handle NOT being one of the chosen or losing someone you love? I would imagine it would have you looking back on all of your life’s decisions and actions. This idea is perfect for a story line and Justin Theroux was a great cast decision for Kevin Garvey, who the story rotates around. Add in a chain smoking cult of “The Guilty Remnant” you have just the right amount of antagonistic resistance and a well rounded show. To be honest though, I have no clue what the smoking is to symbolize (please tweet me if you have an idea). The weird dream sequences, or laps in time that Garvey experiences gives it that VERY Lost and signature Lindelof feel. You have the smoking cult, a messiah type opposing cult, a crazy father who might not really be crazy, a depressed teenager, etc. The recipe for a mellow dramatic plot that still reels you in.
9. The Knick - Cinemax (summer/fall)
I am a sucker for period piece shows. Set in the early 1900’s based in the NY Hospital "The Knickerbocker" (aka The Knick), Steven Soderbergh truly shows how far we have come over the 100 plus years. Now if you haven’t watched this one, please do not attempt while eating. Some of the scenes are pretty gnarly and gross. Procedures that are common and classified as simple these days would kill people back at the turn of the century. Dr. Thackery played by Clive Owen is not a prize human in how he treats people while in the fit of addition (both cocaine and opium) but you still cheer for him. The character’s drive for discovery is almost admirable. The show rounds out with racial tensions, the catholic church, abortion, affairs and loyalty.
8. Sons of Anarchy - FX (series finale fall)
Seven seasons of absolute silly mayhem sums up Sons for me. I believe you almost have to watch anything that Samcro does with the Benny Hill theme song playing in the background. But with that said, I think they sent this series off right. The entire last season had a lot to tie up (i.e. Tara’s murder, the IRA, the Mayans, the Niners, pretty much everything). It is hard not to post spoilers, so I will leave it at… it ended exactly where it should have.
7. Outlander - Starz (spring)
My choice of Outlander is more proof of my love for both period pieces and books to television adaptations. Outlander is a set of novels by Diana Gaboldon. I have read about a quarter of the total novels, but there are a A LOT of books in this series including character spin offs. The first season followed the first novel quite nicely. The premise is that a nurse, Clare, at the end World War 2 while on honeymoon with her husband is taken by rock formation into the past, the 1743 Scottish past. She is held up with the MacKenzie Clan and paired with the dashing Jamie Fraser (played by Sam Heughan). The show follows the turmoil of the highlands rule by British. Meanwhile, Clare (played by Caitriona Balfe) is desperately trying to make it back to her husband Frank (played by Tobias Menzies) in her present 1945. The scenery is beautiful. The highland music and landscape sets the theme of the show. Even though it is more of a romance storyline, I think anyone can get into this world because of the history, the struggle of the clans and the magic of time travel.
6. True Detective - HBO (spring)
Hallelujah for The McConaissance, add in Woody Harrelson and the planets have seemed to align. They are such versatile actors that it should not be a surprise yet they still exceeded all of my expectations. The show is a dirty, swamp life horror story. Years tormented with a sadistic serial killer, the Louisiana landscape of hollyrollers and shaded pasts come full circle. McConaughey’s Rust Cohle was so awkward and a touch deranged. Harrelson’s Marty Hart was the family man with skeleton’s of his own. There was no “good cop/ bad cop” set up in this one. All were pretty much damaged. The mystery of the murders, the trails that it leads these two badly (yet perfectly) matched partners was both fascinating and heart wrenching. Watching the destruction of these two agents was difficult. By the end of the season, both were disheveled and wrecked, yet they still had that whisper of humanity. Characters with a core of right and wrong. It was another show that I was expecting to be let down at the finale. I was not. It had the perfect poetic ending. It had great acting, great direction, a horrific story, a beautifully dark atmosphere. It truly deserved all the acclaim it received.
5. Peaky Blinders - Netflix (fall)
I will admit, I had no desire to watch this show. I kept calling it Sneaky Blinkers. No matter what, I had the hardest time remembering the darn show’s name. I did not rush into watching this. I sort of fell into it one night when scanning Netflix. In the first episode I had the hardest time understanding the cockney accents. Bare with me though, there is a good reason it is on my list. Again, a period piece but slightly different. The show follows the Shelby family of Birmingham England shortly after World War 1. They are a proud criminal organization ran by the middle son Tommy (played by Cillian Murphy). He surprised me on how well he can play a heartless yet loving character (does that make sense?). Sam Neill is the perfect antagonist as the CI Inspector for the Crown. My favorite casting thought goes to Tom Hardy as the jewish bootlegger. He’s almost comical and I don’t believe any other actor could pull off that delivery. The show is shot in a very stylized way. I would normally criticize a soundtrack that uses modern songs in a historical piece, but in this it is done in a such a cool manner. There is no title sequence that is the same each episode. Instead titles over lap the show while Nick Drake and the Bad Seed “Red Right Hand” plays. Throw in some PJ Havey and Arctic Monkeys and it oddly works. Each season ends with me no where near guessing what actually will happen next. Simply, it really is badass.
4. Game of Thrones - HBO (spring)
So season 4 did not accomplish what S3 had with the “Red Wedding” but the “Purple Wedding” sure did allow the fans to show some glee! I loved watching and hearing people’s reaction to the conclusion of the Red Viper vs Mountain fight. I am a big Family Stark fan, so anything that points towards some victory for them, I am happy. Now I am not saying they were victorious but at least they put up a good fight this season without having their feet knocked out from under them again. The Sansa storyline finally made some headway. Her character is finally starting to see how this “game” is played. Arya is a force to be reckoned with. I will admit that some of my favorite scenes in the show have been her with the Hound. We got some good views of the now grown dragons. Tyrion gets put on trial and finds an ally in brother Jamie. Jon Snow fights an epic battle at the wall with the Night Watch. All in all, a typical day.
3. The Strain - FX (summer)
My remaining top 3 was hard to decide an order on. I could easily swap #1 for this one. The Strain remedied both the need of having a good horror genre show on cable but also to put to rest the romantic vampire. The master is the farthest thing from romance. The show represented Guillermo del Toro’s style in a nut shell. It stayed pretty true to both the novels and the comics. It had a rock star’s junk fall off into a toilet. What else can you ask for really? (see previous article for more info...)
2. Vikings - The History Channel (spring)
Ragnar Lodbrok may be my favorite character of all time. That is saying a lot, I know, but bare with me. The teenage fan girl in me easily describes him as simply “bad ass”. That sums it up. Travis Fimmel is such a great casting choice. He has a demeanor like a child learning. There is an endearing element to his portrayal of the character, until you get to a battle scene. Then all that is thrown out. The battle scenes are so well choreographed that I found myself on the edge of my seat more than once. Lagertha may be even more hardcore though. It is awesome to see a women in a show with that much force. A lot happened in S2. This season took us to Wessex. The clan was introduced to Christianity. Loyalty between the king and Ragnar raiders is tested. Out of the seasons so far, this season had the biggest developments. I can not forget to say too how beautiful the cinematography is on this show. Just wow. The clan of Vikings such as Floki, Rollo, Bjorn and Athelstan (Priest) round out a great assemble.
1. The Walking Dead - AMC (fall)
We started the season off with Terminus & their love for meat. That did not work out well with the Termites though once Rick set his mind to it. Rick has become sort of insane but in a much needed way this season. You can tell the road has altered his reactions to situations. In the Rickatorship you best not mess with his crew. I think this season had a great character growth for most of the cast. Daryl has started to show a bit more emotion but also coming out of his shell a touch. Carol seems to be confronting her past and demons. We get a back story on Eugene and Abraham. There was napalm zombies, burning zombies, water logged zombies, hoards of zombies, firehose zombies. Greg Nicotero… how I truly love you. I could be wrong but there seems to be a lot of easter eggs throughout the season to tease the comic book readers. We lost a couple of family members, reunited with Carol, and reintroduced to Morgan. We met the preacher Gabriel. I have an idea where it will go in February but then again, Kirkman and Gimple may just be messing with us.
- Ray Donovan - Showtime (summer)
- Black Sails - Starz (winter)
— the two above almost made the list but couldn’t afford to remove anything even though I wanted to.
- TurnTurn - AMC (spring)
- Red Road - Sundance (spring)
- Rectify - Sundance (spring)
- Justified - FX (winter)
- True Blood - HBO (summer)
- Penny Dreadful - Showtime (spring)
- Sonic Highways - HBO (fall)