There was a LOT of excellent television again in 2014. Making my list and rating each of the shows against each other is challenging. And let me also state that all the shows in the top 20 below were outstanding. The other seven were ones which I actually did not like as much.
I picked Sonic Highways first because I was moved by the Seattle episode and I felt the whole series was extremely strong, original and entertaining. Game of Thrones was excellent as well and I am already impatient for S05 to start. I loved John Oliver’s news show on HBO and found it of the highest integrity and always totally hilarious.
The next three are really close as well: I chose Fargo because I loved the characters and how they built the story more than that of True Detective. And yet, The Walking Dead was super-strong as well. I guess I put Fargo on number 4 because of Billy Bob Thornton and Martin Freeman and put True Detective on number 6 because I was so disappointed by the last episode (that being said, I found my single favorite episode was the Beaumont, TX one which would be neck and neck with the aforementioned Seattle episode of Sonic Highways. The Walking Dead goes in the middle at number 5 because of the massive plot holes despite the excellent character development.
Next in the list is another group that was difficult to class as two of them were the last seasons and since the last two episodes of Homeland haven’t aired yet. I put The Newsroom at number 7 because of the quality of Alan Sorkin’s writing and the banter between Sloan and Dan (as well as that between Will and MacKenzie). Homeland beat out Sons of Anarchy for number 8 perhaps because the final episode was a bit flat and because the energy in the last half of this year’s Homeland was incredibly action-packed and was back to the level of season 1.
[BREAKING NEWS] Based on the über-lame season finale of Homeland, I am dropping it down out of the top 10.
No top 10 should be without the best animated show on TV: Archer which this season was entitled Archer Vice and featured a pregnant Lana (with the ever-amazing Aisha Taylor doing the voice) wielding an AK and a load of wacky and hilarious scenarios with our favorite super agent Archer (with the voice of H Jon Benjamin who is also Bob in Bob’s Burgers). Perhaps this one could have been even higher on the list but when you look at the quality of all these shows…I cringe at not including Mad Men and Boardwalk Empire up here in the top 10 but what would I remove? There is also the spectacular 2nd season of Rectify which was mesmerising and gripping as well as the sophomore season the The Americans which was awesome as always. Not to mention the fantastic Emmy-winning and stupefying performance of Uzo Aduba in Orange is the New Black…So much extraordinary television in 2014….
- Sonic Highways S01 – Dave was incredible here – great music – great storytelling – I will remember this for a long time
- Game of Thrones S04 – incredible followup to an amazing 3rd season…season 5 will be amazing
- Last Week Tonight with John Oliver S01 – I think this is the best journalism I have seen in years. and hilarious.
- Fargo S01 – my favorite new drama – I liked this more than True Detective because I felt it was more consistent and beautifully filmed
- The Walking Dead S04/S05 – great first half of this season (and great ending to S04
- True Detective S01 – hard to bet against these two guys but the ending was so disappointing
- The Newsroom S03 – loved the ending to this one. have to write a standalone article here
- Sons of Anarchy S07 – amazing ending – I loved this show and this ending. in the all time tip 10 at least
- Archer S05 – Archer Vice was so incredibly funny. I love Lana and Archer and the rest. Incredibly amazing comedy. can’t wait to see where they go on S06.
- Orange in the New Black S02 – great second season and totally deserving performance from Uzo Aduba but hard to move this above 11 given the quality of the top 10…
- Rectify S02 – this was really excellent – surprising given how I did not fully appreciate the first season
- Homeland S04 – slow burner but the last episodes were as good as the first season – but the finale blew chunks which lost the top 10 ranking for me on this one.
- The Americans S02 – great second season but once again too much incredible TV this year
- Sherlock S03 – god do I love Sherlock but I was a little disappointed with the followup to the Sherlock death in S02 but anyway one more season left
- Gotham S01 – great spin on the Batman myth – good bad guys – surprisingly good show for network TV which I usually boycott on principle
- Boardwalk Empire S05 – wrote this already but too short and not a good enough ending
- Mad Men S07 – gotta wait for the second half and fully judge by the ending next year
- Californication S07 – sad to see Hank go but S07 was still not as good as my favorite which was the second season
- Gomorrah S01 – I loved this one and wonder where they will go in season 2
- Treme S05 – So incredibly sad to see this one go and with only 5 episodes in the last season. As I wrote about in my blog, I will miss Treme.
- Ray Donovan S02 – great second season albeit incredibly dark
- Bob’s Burgers S05 – hilarious – I love Bob. great moments here but again so much incredible television…
- The Leftovers S01 – as I stated in my blog, this one was a slow burner but with a good payoff
- House of Lies S03 – maybe it was just too long ago and I can’t remember anything about it anymore
- The Bridge S02 – not a bad reboot after the first season but not all
- Episodes S03 – funny but not as funny as Archer, Bob’s Burgers or Calif0rnication. Hopefully the next season will be funnier
- House of Cards S02 (implausible rise despite spectacular acting from Kevin Spacey)
- Justified S05 – again, seems so long ago and I love Raymond but I can’t even remember a single plot twist
- Comic Book Men S04 – same old same old but some hilarious moments such as the scary Bronie conference
- Gracepoint S01 - this would have been better if the ending wasn’t such a complete downer. This is why I don’t watch network TV
- Black Sails S01 – this was pretty decent – for some reason the production reminded me of Magic City (-sniff-sniff-). I guess if you are hankering for a pirate story but this is still 2nd or 3rd tier TV
- Chozen S01 – pretty funny but at the same time annoying and overly offensive – or stated differently, overstatedly offensive
- Girls S03 – more of the same snivelling sort of snobby white chick in NYC thing. Marginally funny at times but not in the top 30
- Penny Dreadful S01 – the gothic atmosphere was was pretty heavy and there was Eva Green but it never really built into something compelling
- Silicon Valley S01 – interesting but a bit too much and a bit implausible and predictable
- The Michael J Fox Show S01 – this was really not a great show. Depressingly not funny.
- Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. S01 (couldn’t finish) – definitely the worst show of the lot
Some acclaimed shows that I didn’t watch: American Horror Story, Hell on Wheels, Scandal, Hannibal, Parks & Recreation, The Good Wife, 24, Big Bang Theory, The Blacklist, Peaky Blinders, Under the Dome, Outlander, Broad City, Archer, Downton Abbey… There is only so much time…who watched these? Does one of them stand out in particular? American Horror Story perhaps? Hannibal?
Do you agree with my list? I didn’t think so but please write something in the comments and start the debate :)