Instead of doing a recap of 2014, I decided to recap my favorite shows old and new for this year. Not sure if you noticed, but I watch A LOT of television. It at times helps inspire my writing so I like to enjoy a diverse array of the small screen (except for reality programming). Let’s get started.
A two-episode backdoor pilot on Season 2 of CW’s Arrow launched the new series ‘The Flash’ as an extension of DC’s TV Universe. As opposed to its grim and gritty (yet increasingly awesome) Starling City counterpart, The Flash is bright, optimistic and fun. We see a superhero who has endured tragedy in his life, but still enjoys being a superhero. I know, what a concept!
In its first season, The Flash has learned from any shortcomings Arrow’s freshman season encountered and is fully embracing its comic book origins, introducing metahumans (DC’s version of mutants) into the fold. Even better, in the mid-season finale, Barry came face to face with his ultimate nemesis aka the man who killed his mother years ago, Reverse Flash. As expected, it was awesome. Barry encountered a foe who not only possesses the same speed-based powers but has a superior mastery over them. But what really excited me about this show is how much it has fans guessing and debating over the Reverse-Flash’s identity as well as what are the true intentions of the uber shady Harrison Wells. Even the most entertaining shows nowadays have not evoked such intrigue and supposition. I honestly can’t wait until the show returns in 2015 to see what directions they take the titular character and his journey.
I initially had little interest in watching Netflix’s newest original series about the historic figure that inspired the famous swimming pool game. But after seeing a favorable review, I binge-watched the show over the Christmas holiday weekend.
My thoughts? It was awesome. How refreshing was it to see a show highlight a modicum of China’s rich history that was not just localized to the Asian continent. While Marco is an important figure in the battle between the Song Dynasty and Kublai Khan’s vast Mongol empire, he is not at the center of every story, which allows us to truly explore other characters on the show, like the Khan of Khans himself Lord Kublai and the blind yet deadly monk nicknamed ‘Hundred Eyes’. Not only that, the women on this show are all bad-asses in their own way, capable of handling themselves politically and/or in a fight. Definitely worth a watch. Trailer is below:
How to Get Away With Murder
This show solidified Shonda Rhimes’s dominion over ABC’s Thursday night slate. Starring the ridiculously talented Viola Davis, we are privy to the darker, sexier side of law while trying to piece together a season-long mystery that involves five law students trying to literally get away with murder. While certain aspects of the judicial process are skewed or ignored altogether, the show does what its supposed to – it entertains me. Enough said.
I usually ignore CBS shows save Person of Interest and The Good Wife. But I was curious to see what this show could offer. It turned out to be surprisingly enjoyable, featuring a former CIA operative (Tea Leoni) turned college professor tapped by her former boss-turned-POTUS (Keith Carradine) as his new Secretary of State. Along with interesting international dilemmas of the week, West Wing power struggles with the President’s surly Chief of Staff (Zeljko Ivanek), balancing work with her family and a budding serial mystery over who killed the previous Secretary of State, Madame Secretary has grown into an engaging hour of television each Sunday.
After a rather lackluster Season 3, this show truly reinvented itself in Season 4 with a renewed focus and a brand new plot that took Carrie Mathison to Pakistan. Plot twists, new enemies, life and death scenarios and the willingness to kill off even beloved characters put this show back on track.
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
This show is an interesting case study. Agents of SHIELD started its freshman season with great promise and high-ratings, only to flounder around for most of its 22 episodes, then stage a late fourth quarter comeback (thanks to the Captain America 2 tie-in). Now the show has established itself as a standalone fixture in the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe. Whether its embracing some lesser known Marvel characters with ties to the show’s eponymous organization (like Bobbi Barton aka Mockingbird) or melding a main character’s origins with that of another Marvel character (Skye actually being SHIELD agent Daisy Johnson), the show has finally found its groove, which promises nothing but great things for us as viewers.
Game of Thrones
What more can be said about this show that hasn’t been explained, analyzed and deconstructed? Its awesome to see an epic fantasy show so embraced by the mainstream. The show is what got me reading the Song of Ice and Fire books. And as good as this season was, with its shocking moments and epic fights, the biggest concern myself and other fans have is how the show has nearly caught up with the books. This next season will completely catch the show up with the ASOIAF series. Plus, there are some major book-to-TV changes coming to main characters which will not benefit certain story arcs in the long-term (ie all things Dorne). We shall see come April 2015.
Orange Is the New Black
OITNB continues to entertain with its showing the travails of a waspish inmate doing time in a women’s prison. What made this season work so well was how Piper’s storylines did not intersect that much with a lot of the other women, which allowed us to get to know about the more interesting inmates and their motivations. In fact, Piper was really off in her own world while the main plot involved a showdown between Red (Kate Mulgrew) and a new more deadly nemesis (Lorraine Toussaint). Should be interesting to see where they go with Season 3.
House of Cards
The Kevin Spacey-led drama returned with a bang, literally! For a moment I thought it was a dream sequence, but yes, that really did happen. But the show continued Frank Underwood’s ruthless ascent to power with barely a look back at this incident. The show returns for a third season with Frank literally in the driver’s seat of the US as its president, so where to go from here? There’s only so far this show can take Frank’s crazy schemes before his ‘house of cards’ comes crumbling down. Not only that, who will be the one to finally bring down Underwood given how he’s dispatched of even his most powerful obstacles?
Either way, I’ll be there in 2015 (or should I saw a few months time).
Since we will never see a live-action Batman on television (Gotham doesn’t count), the more obscure Green Arrow seems to be the closest we’ll ever get. This show that started off decently good and rose to my must-watch list each week. Now in its third season, Arrow continues to up the ante each week, deepening its character’s mythology with flashbacks of his five years away from Starling and introducing more characters recognizable to DC Comic fans (Ray Palmer aka The ATOM and Ra’s Al Ghul). Plus, we continue to see Oliver Queen struggles between his role as the Emerald Archer protecting Starling City and having some form of a normal life.
On another note, between the supporting heroes popping up on Arrow and Flash they could literally have a Justice Society team, which would make me a very happy geek!
At first I was glad that all the Original vampire siblings left The Vampire Diaries. But after watching The Originals come into its own instead of just coasting on being a TVD spinoff, I realized how wrong I was. Now in its sophomore season, The Originals continues to pit the supernatural species of New Orleans against one another along with diving deeper into the history of the Original family and their twisted bloodline. So far, I’m enjoying the ride. Let’s hope that continues as the show returns in 2015.
Sons of Anarchy
I’ve been watching this show since it began over seven years ago. SOA has always produced quality, entertaining television and found a way to shock me and make me laugh even after the darkest story lines or goriest character deaths. Ending the series after seven seasons, the show will be missed and re-watched by more fans than just me.
Person of Interest
I’ve watched this show off and on over the years, but became a more loyal viewer during its third season. Now POI is in the middle of Season 4, having expanded beyond its original premise with a sterling mix of action/adventure, science fiction, espionage thriller and even dystopian future. And on CBS no less!
The heroes are facing impossible odds as an rogue AI (ironically named Samaritan) has secretly taken over the world and they are the only deterrent against its absolute control. Again, the conclusion to how this story arc ends will be a must-see event!