by Matthew Thompson
I’m back to continue my look at the best 2014 had to offer. Today I will be finishing counting down my top ten TV shows of 2014 (if you missed the first half of the list you can see it here). Without further ado, here are my five favorite shows that aired in 2014.
5. Rick and Morty
There is a certain freedom inherit in an animated series and Rick and Morty takes full advantage of that freedom. The central dimension-hopping premise allows the writers to craft incredibly creative storylines and explore imaginative new worlds each week. I also appreciated the variety of material they covered in the first season. From the hilarity of Mr. Meeseeks to the dark ending of “Rick Potion #9” to the improvised brilliance of “Rixty Minutes,” Rick and Morty always managed to surprise me with each new episode. Along with top-notch writing, the voice cast deserves credit for helping bring these characters to life including the always funny Chris Parnell and Sarah Chalke as Morty’s parents as well as co-creator Justin Roiland who plays both leads. Even after only one season, this has become on of my favorite animated series of all-time and I can’t wait to see where they take things in Season 2 next summer.
4. Brooklyn Nine-Nine
The past couple of years have seen some of my favorite sitcoms of recent years come to an end. Others have gone into cruise control as they’ve gotten on in years. So Brooklyn Nine-Nine has swooped in at just the right time for me. It got off to a surprisingly quick start out of the gates in 2013 and has continued to deliver laughs a plenty this year. Since the beginning, I have praised how great the cast of characters is. There really isn’t a dud in the bunch, but Captain Holt has clearly separated himself from the pack. Andre Braugher’s deadpan delivery is unrivaled and the writing staff knows how to bring out the best in him. This season that included an inspired guest appearance by Kyra Sedgwick as the Captain’s old rival. Guest stars are another aspect where B99 excels with a number of great spots over the past year including Craig Robinson’s turn as the infamous and hilarious Pontiac Bandit. Even potential stumbling blocks like two romantic pairings within the main cast were handled with aplomb. Simply put, Brooklyn Nine-Nine has become TV’s best comedy.
3. Game of Thrones
Game of Thrones is always tough to place on a list like this for me. There isn’t a show still airing that I enjoy watching more than it. Yet my familiarity with and passion for the source material leads to me being a bit more critical of it as times due to problems with the adaptation itself. That was certainly the case with Season 4 where I took particular issue with the handling of Jaime and Cersei’s relationship. Yet there was still so much to love this season. The Royal Wedding. The Battle at the Wall. Tyrion’s trial. Everything with newcomer Oberyn Martell including the much-anticipated Trial by Combat with The Mountain. Based on the books, this should have easily been the best season of the show so far. While I’m not sure it was, it is still a damn good season that featured all the beautiful scenery, shocking moments, and great acting we have come to expect from HBO’s epic fantasy series and that is certainly enough for me.
Rectify is as powerful and affecting as any show you will find on television right now. In its second season, there was a greater focus placed on the crime that sent Daniel Holden to prison. It led to some very gripping sequences, particularly those involving his debrief in the finale. Yet the show is still not all that concerned with helping us solve the mystery surrounding that night many years ago, but instead wants us to just watch how Daniel, his family, and the small town of Paulie are affected by his release in the present. And it is here that the show continues to shine brightest. Season 2 brought with it too many memorable moments to count, but several in the fourth episode “Donald the Normal” really stand out to me. Seeing Daniel get to leave the infamy that follows him so closely behind for a bit made for incredible TV and his visit to his old friend Kerwin’s family is ones of the sequences that has stuck with me the most from this past season. Aden Young continues to wow me in the lead role and the rest of the cast can certainly hold their own. The way everything comes together as the season ends makes for a wonderful cliffhanger, one that has me chomping at the bit to see Season 3. In its second season, Rectify remained one of television’s most beautiful, moving, and fascinating shows.
1. The Good Wife
I finally caught up on The Good Wife this year and realized what many have been saying for years: it was one of television’s best. And that was as true as ever in 2014. Even after a big shake-up towards the end of 2013, The Good Wife wasn’t afraid to further reinvent itself this year. There was the departure of a core member of the cast which the show skillfully used to drive character motivations and develop new storylines towards the end of Season 5. This Fall saw Cary go on trial. This emotional arc created some excellent material for Matt Czuchry and gave recurring guest star Mike Colter an opportunity to really flex his acting muscles as the menacing Lemond Bishop. The Good Wife also doubled down on its political side with Alicia exploring a run for State’s Attorney which allowed us a glimpse at another layer of the show’s main character. On top of all this, I continue to be astounded at the show’s attention to detail that helps fill out the space between these bigger plot points. Like the way it examined how the smallest things could play a part in the outcome of Cary’s trial or on the lighter side, the hilarious prestige drama parody Darkness at Noon. This is just some of what made The Good Wife so excellent in 2014 and my favorite show of the year.
Honorable Mentions: Orange is the New Black, The 100, The Missing, Black-ish, Orphan Black.
That will do it for my top ten TV shows of 2014. I will be rolling out a few more posts looking back at my year in television after Christmas. I’d love to hear what you thought were the best shows of the year, so either let me know in the comments, on Twitter, or send me a link to your own blog on the subject. I hope you enjoyed my top ten. Thanks for reading!