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Monday, 5 January 2015

Editorial: Top 5 TV Shows of 2014.

Editorial: Top 5 TV Shows of 2014.

I very nearly did a 'top five OSTs of 2014', and I will at some point, but that seemed a little too close to my last editorial. At some point, maybe.

Instead, I've watched a lot of of television this year, so let's talk about that. I thought about including anime in this, since it does air on TV, but let's stick to live-action, and I can do a 'top five animated shows' at a later date.

Rules are that the series must have aired its first episode in 2014, that it must be wholly or mostly live-action, and it must be longer than three episodes, since otherwise it's more of a miniseries.

Runners up include The 100, Series 2, and Sleepy Hollow, Series 2.

5. Agents of Shield, Series 2.

I wasn't massively impressed with the first series of AoS, although I did enjoy it, and while I was eager to tune in to its second series, it hadn't been one of the ones I had been deeply looking forward to.

While the second series of AoS is thus far still a very imperfect creature, it is a considerable improvement over its predecessor. Without the shackles of 'we have to not have an overarching plot because we're waiting for The Winter Soldier's Hydra twist', it's free to have an overarching storyline that every episode factors into, and recurring villains of various degrees of compellingness (compellingity? Compulsion?). 

The first half of the series was a lot of fun, and set the stage well for a second half that, we can presume, will focus on Marvel's attempts to replace the X-Men with the Inhumans.

4. Game of Thrones, Series 4. 

This series of GoT has definitely been the weakest so far, which is why it's so low on this list. But it is on this list, because I do love me some GoT.

This series suffered from too little material adapted into too many episodes, the exact reverse of the problem its previous series had to deal with, and the result is what felt like a lot of - filler in places. But when it was good, it was great, with some highlights being Tyrion's trial (including an Emmy worthy performance from Peter Dinklage) and eventual escape; the battle for Castle Black, which was the sole focus of an entire episode; and the Purple Wedding, which had some amazing performances from all the cast members involved, and had Joffrey's rather vicious death by poisoning.

With Series 5 on its way, we should be back to having too much material, which is definitely a better look for the series. But this series has gone to show that even at its worst, GoT is still one of the best series on television.

3. Teen Wolf, Series 4.

Teen Wolf might never be able to top its Nogitsune plotline, which was for me the peak of the series, but the story it told in 2014 about bounty hunters, Berserkers, and Aztec jaguar gods was a good one, except for when it started to get a little incoherent with stuff about autonomous 80s supercomputers and banshees getting detailed plans from the brains of comatose people. That wasn't the best ending to a storyline that they could have come up with.

For me, Teen Wolf is the opposite of Once Upon A Time: It's four series in and it feels like it's halfway through its third series, and still feels relatively fresh and new. Some of that might be due to a low cast turnover, with the only major exits really being Jackson (who I didn't like), and Allison (who I did), but part of it is that it's a premise with almost unlimited potential, and the writers seem to put in some effort to innovate every series.

Now we just need bisexual Stiles with leftover Nogitsune powers. Make it happen, show.

2. Hannibal, Series 2.

Ah, Hannibal. My feelings about you grow increasingly mixed, but I cannot deny that you're groundbreaking. Your use of cinematography and set design is excellent, you have a fine stable of acting, your writing is sharp and striking, and the plotline of the net slowly closing around Hannibal was great, even if it involved some extremely questionable choices.

Without a doubt, the standout performance comes from Gillian Anderson as Bedelia du Maurier, and I'm looking forward to her (seemingly) getting an increased role in the early episodes of the next series.

Fair warning, though, you are a show that has a high risk of outstaying your welcome. Maybe consider throwing in the towel after your third or fourth series. There's only so long you can do this for.

1. The Flash, Series 1/Arrow, Series 3.

I am including these as a single entity because that's functionally what they are, but even if I hadn't, The Flash would still be leading this list. Which is surprising to me: Barry Allen in comics is a singularly boring character, and the Flash is a singularly difficult superhero to use effectively, but the CW is doing a sterling job, combining a puppyish performance by Grant Gustin with a great supporting cast and an excellent, genuinely terrifying villain dressed in mustard shades.

Arrow has been lagging behind its counterpart, with its best episode being its crossover with The Flash, but it has set itself up with a lot of potential for when it returns this January. I always enjoy Arrow in all of its ridiculous we-wish-we-could-have-been-Batman grimdarkery, and while I haven't enjoyed this series as much as the previous two, it's been a pleasure, especially seeing John Barrowman returning as a recurring character (seeing him as a villain is a strange but delightful experience). 

Overall, a very strong start for this composite show, and I look forward to both of them really kicking into gear when they return.

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