Monday, December 15, 2014

Dean & David's Television Top 10 for 2014: Part One

The end of the year means lots of Top 10 lists.
And so I teamed up with my guest blogger partner-in-crime Dean to have a bit of a back-and-forth about the best shows of 2014.

If we were smart, had more free time, and were more tech savvy we might do this in a podcast form since Serial is so hot right now, but this is the best that we could do on short notice. (Dean only mentioned this to me at the end of last week, so the fact that we put our thoughts together over the weekend and that it is up at all for your viewing enjoyment is a bonus.) And you know that Dean's views are guaranteed hit counts for my blog, so I didn't hesitate to say yes.

If you are unfamiliar with this, I've been writing about television on this blog for many years. And in recent versions, Dean has been chipping in with his thoughts on the quality Cable shows that I tend to eshew (more on that as you read through this, I'm sure). But enough of the set up . . . here are my initial thoughts on the Best shows of 2014, along with Dean's commentary.

And if you like Part One, then expect more of the same later this week, but in opposite structure.

Let's get to it . . .

Here are my rankings of my favorite shows of this past year. I will predict before I read through Dean's manuscript that my choices are more mainstream than Dean's. (But I bet mine are better.)

1. The Flash This show could've been a train wreck. Super hero TV shows can be very dicey propositions. (See most every season of Smallville.) But this show has avoided these problems so far. The characters seems to make sense and the dialogue and acting in the cast and staff isn't nearly as cringe-worthy as some similar shows were in their first season of work.

Dean: OK, first off, everyone knows you start at 10 and work back to one, so we’re already off to a bad start. Secondly, I like The Flash because it shows you don’t have to be unrelentingly grim to have a successful superhero show. [Which is why I’m not watching Arrow and will probably drop Gotham.] But number 1? That’s crazy town.

2. New Girl In its latest season, this show has come back strong and is consistently funny again. It makes me laugh out loud on a weekly basis. If they promise to give me more classic Winston & Cee Cee mess-arounds I might rocket this show right up to the number one slot.

Dean: I’m not going to say anything bad about New Girl. That’s just not going to happen. Put New Girl wherever you like.

3. Gracepoint This is a show that has a very moody vibe--similar to Twin Peaks without all the mystical weirdness. A very, very, veeerry slow burn. If you are a fan of BBCAmerica, you might already have watched the Anglo original Broadchurch (which I have not, so I can't say if the American version tells the same overall story.) But it was a very sad ending.

Dean: I watched the British Broadchurch which was great, and I like Olivia Colman more than Anna Gunn. I am curious if they changed the ending like they said they would, so you’ll have to spoil it for me at lunch.

4. black-ish This is the surprising new show of this season and I like it quite a lot, considering that I completely panned it in my initial Fall Previews back several months ago. The writing has been strong and the characters are funny. I am tempted to say that this is a new generation's Cosby Show, but I should avoid any and all mention of Bill Cosby.

Dean: blackish is one of the few new broadcast comedies that I’m glad I’m still watching. It was a rough year for broadcast comedy. It’s legitimately good, so everyone check it out.

5. Game of Thrones It ended early in the calendar year, but it definitely has to get listed. If I don't rank it, The Mountain will crush my skull.

Dean: Oh look, we both have this. So that’s great.

6. A to Z The darkest of dark horses on this list, because the show itself has been cancelled and won't be returning next season. And that is too bad because this is a pretty good show that should have been given more of a chance. I mean, what else does NBC have going on right now? Is the network surrounded with quality shows that I don't know about? This seems like a good chance for another network to step up and take over this show to give it more time to tell its story?

Dean: A to Z (and the unlamented Bad Judge) helped kill NBC comedy Thursdays. It took something I loved and buried it in the ground. The best night in television is now a barren wasteland of insipid dramas. Also it wasn’t actually very funny, which is a shame as I like both Cristin Milioti and Ben Feldman. Those sidekicks though: eesh. [You're right that the sidekicks are the weaker parts of the quartet. But it isn't fair to say that the show wasn't very funny. What do you know about funny anyway? You like The Goldbergs and willingly watched The Neighbors a few years ago. And anyway, how about that Wallflower boss, huh? She's funny in a Michael Scott-lite sort of way, right?]

7. TableTop This is a weekly YouTube "show" that is hosted by Wil Wheaton. He features a new board game in each episode, explaining how the game works and then broadcasting the playing of the game with a rotating cast of friends. This is the start of season 3, so there is not much to go on yet, but I'm going to rank this show on the quality of past performances.

Dean: If we’re doing YouTube shows then I’m going to put Veronica Mars on this list, because I watched it online and in the past year so IT’S NEW TO ME, DAVID. See what you’ve done? Now everything has descended into anarchy.

8. Legend of Korra It's no surprise that Dean and I both have this show listed--though I happen to know that he won't put it in his Top 10. This series has never been as strong as Avatar: The Last Airbender was episode-by-episode, but it has shown overall improvement from season to season. And when you consider that no show since Scrubs has been so mistreated by its network during its tenure as Nickelodeon has done to Legend of Korra, I probably ranked it higher than it strictly deserved.

Dean: And now I’m yet another episode behind. I’ll catch up one day Korra. One day.

9. Arrow It has been an okay season so far. The addition of Brandon--don't call me Superman, I'm Ray Palmer--Routh hasn't added much in this first half of the season, but things are beginning to heat up. I mean, Oliver [SPOILER ALERT] and then Ra's al Guhl said [SPOILER ALERT] and they had to go to the [SPOILER ALERT] which will most likely cause Oliver to go [SPOILER ALERT]! Luckily Palmer almost has his A.T.O.M. suit ready to go and Felicity will be there to help him, so I am predicting that [SPOILER ALERT] for the first month or two when the show comes back in January.

Dean: I’m not sure what anything in that paragraph means, and I’ve already noted my issues with this show above, which are totally valid even though I’ve literally only seen one episode of it when it crossed-over with The Flash.

10. Star Wars Rebels Hey guys, Star Wars is so hot right now . And this animated show is providing some interesting angles on the universe.

Dean: BUT IS IT CANON!? In all seriousness I haven’t seen it, so I can’t intelligently comment. 

CODA--The fact that I remembered to include black-ish from my initial draft means that Elementary gets bounced to number 11 on my list. And that is too bad because this Sherlock story is still good, but I had my doubts at the beginning of season three. A new character was introduced as Sherlock took on Kitty as a new protege. Joan Watson is striking out on her own with her own detective consulting gigs. But Watson and Sherlock continue to interact all the time. I imagine this is what it was like when Robin left the Batcave and became Nightwing. He kept running into the old man on Gotham rooftops as they went after the same jewelry thief. I expect the small-talk would be pretty excruciating.

Dean: There’s this thing called cable David. You should watch it.

So, there are my top ten, counted up in the proper order, no matter what Dean says.

Tune in tomorrow to see what Dean's favorite shows were and what I had to say about them.

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