December 20, 2014

The Best TV Shows of 2014

As much as we love movies, TV shows are every bit as important to us as far as entertainment goes. These days, a lot of TV dramas tend to play every bit as good as do quality movies, and the best part is that we get more of what we love with the average TV show; simply because they usually take 10-13 hours to tell their stories, where most movies have to do the same thing in around 2.

2014 gave us some great TV shows, many of which were right up our alley as fans of all things Horror & Genre, and below we've compiled a list of the 10 of them that we enjoyed the most. If you love great TV, and you're not watching these shows, then you're truly missing out on some of the best filmed entertainment that you can find on any screen, big or small.

 Here's what this list will and will not contain:
  • Horror & Genre-related shows only. If they aren't purely Horror, they at least have to have some sort of deviant grit to them. Thrillers, Mysteries, Sci-Fi, and Action are fine.
  • As excellent as they are, straight-up Dramas like The Good Wife, Rectify, Downton Abbey, Et al. are just too far out of our purview to reasonably cover here.
  • No comedies, because they are even further away from our purview than are normal Dramas
  • This is a list, not a review, so we'll try to keep each write-up shoert and to the point, utlilizing bullet points as much as we can.

*The pics below all link to each show's IMDB page, in case you'd like some more info on them. 


Sure, you could easily dismiss Banshee as being a trashy, exploitative, B-grade type of a show, but then you'd be missing the point; it's supposed to be trashy and exploitative! The best part is though, that Banshee is also a solid drama filled with cool characters played by extremely likable actors, so in the end, it's a perfect mix of quality drama and exploitative fun.

If you like shows or movies where people brutally kick each others asses in-between some crazy violent gunfights, then Banshee should really be your favorite show on TV.

Who would have ever thought that one of the most beloved Indie movies of all-time could have ever been made into an equally great TV show? Fargo was an exceptional show, highlighted by Billy Bob Thornton's Emmy-worthy portrayal of cold-blooded hitman, Lorne Malvo. He killed the hell out of some people in this show.

Fargo was a highly-addictive show that hooked us in immediately, and left us wanting more.

Game of Thrones continued to be one of the best shows on Television in 2014, and in fact, Season 4 may have delivered some of the series' best moments to date; The Purple Wedding; Brienne vs. The Hound; Tywin vs. Tyrion; Tyrion in court; The Red Viper vs. The Mountain; The Red Viper in general; the battle at the wall; and let's not forget how great it was to see the White Walkers (in what we're assuming was their city), turn one of Craster's babies into one of them... because not even those of us who have read all of the books had ever seen anything like that. The show has officially passed the books, in some respects.

Game of Thrones is about as perfect as a show can get, and Season 5 can not get here soon enough.

Hannibal has been one of the biggest surprises (and treats) ever since it premiered back in the Winter of 2013, and Bryan Fuller & Co. upped their game in Season 2, bringing the show to a new level of awesomeness. The way that the show twisted and turned throughout Season 2 provided a ton of surprises and excellent moments, the best of which may have come in its Season Finale; the entire finale was one of the craziest, bloodiest, WTF?!? things that we've ever seen on Network TV.

Bravo to NBC for having the balls to air such a dark, beautiful, and gory show like Hannibal.

Homeland has always been an excellent show, but as top-tier as it's been, it has also been plagued by some elements that quite frankly, sucked. Most of that suckage came courtesy of Brody's family drama (which they spent far too much time on in Season's 1 & 2); and Carrie's way-too-over-the-top mental illness, that more times than not made her come off like an unhinged lunatic.

Awesomeness/Annoying Family Shit/Awesomeness/WTF Carrie?!?! and repeat; that's been how Homeland has played throughout its first three seasons.

Season 4 though has seen Homeland turned into the lean, mean beast that we always knew it could be, and every single episode has been "Holy Shit!" good. Watching Mandy Patinkin act, especially in the role of Saul Berenson, is a complete and utter honor, and we're honestly not sure how he hasn't won an Emmy for his work on Homeland yet (damn you, Bryan Cranston!) Also, Quinn has quickly become the 2nd best character on the show. If he dies in the finale, we will not be pleased.

Tonight's Season Finale should be great, which will only serve to make us count the days until Homeland returns for Season 5. Season 4 has absolutely been that good.

Kingdom came out of nowhere 2014 to quickly become one of our favorite shows on TV. When we first heard about DirecTV making a TV show about a family of MMA fighters, we immediately thought "Who in the fuck does DirecTV think they are, and why would they think that anyone wants to watch a show about a bunch of MMA fighters?"

Well, we'd like to officially apologize to DirecTV, and especially Kingdom creator Byron Balasco, for being such short-sighted, elitist pricks, because Kingdom was as perfect of a drama as there was on TV in 2014. The fights were great, but Kingdom's real strength lies in its story; there wasn't one character on the show that we weren't invested in, and that we didn't love, in some form or another. We cared about these guys & gals, and watching them struggle through their daily lives made for some compelling hours of television, all of which seemed to fly by far too quickly.

And let us not forget that as strong as the story is, and as vibrant as its characters are, that the actors bringing them to life are even better. Everyone brought their A-game to this first season of Kingdom, and while we hate to single any of them out as being better than the rest, we need to say that if Frank Grillo and Jonathan Tucker don't get some sort of awards recognition for their roles in this show, something is terribly wrong with the Awards system.

Unless you have DirecTV, then you probably haven't seen Kingdom, which is a shame. When it hits Blu-ray & DVD though, seek it out and give it a blind-buy, and then be sure to come back and tell us how much you loved it. Because you will.

Showtime's Gothic ode to the Horror Classics made quite the impression on us this past Summer, living up to the lofty expectations that we had for it, and even exceeding them. Penny Dreadful takes parts of such legendary stories as Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolfman, and Dorian Gray, and combines them to form its own unique world in which they all inter-mingle and cause each other plenty of trouble.

Eva Green was mesmerizing as Vanessa Ives, and as far as we're concerned, she finally proved that she was a hell of an actress, and not just a pretty face (and sexy body.) Equally as captivating was Josh Hartnett, playing the brooding American Gunslinger, Ethan Chandler. While the two of them basically carried the show, they were surrounded by an equally impressive cast, playing equally impressive characters... so maybe they all carried the show equally, in their own way.

Dark, dangerous, and sentimental, Penny Dreadful is a show that turned out to be anything but. Dreadful, that is.

There were other shows that could have (and maybe even should have) been in our top 10, but for some reason, Salem felt like it deserved a spot at the top. Maybe it's because we expected absolutely nothing good to come of this WGN-produced show, that it surprised us so much, or maybe it's just because a weekly TV show involving witches is a brilliant idea.

Either way, Salem entertained the hell out of us, and we're definitely onboard to see what happens in Season 2.

True Detective a Gothic, almost noirish, Cop Procedural/Thriller which tells the story of two southern detectives who catch a murder case in 1995 and are asked to recall it all in full detail 17 years later, thus disclosing everything that happened in between. The story jumps between 1995 and present day, and unravels its details in a slow, hazy, and almost dreamlike manner. It's dark and creepy. It's clever and beautiful.

Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson gave Emmy-Worthy performances in this one, both of them making the most of the great characters that they were given. McConaughey was especially mesmerizing as Rust Cohle.

True Detective was as close to a page-turner as there was on Television in 2014.

Love it or hate it, The Walking Dead is the highest rated show on cable, even beating out Sunday Night Fottball for viewers. TWD is often maligned by both critics and fans alike, which we won't get into here (because ain't nobody got time for that), but we will say that we don't get the hate, and we never will.

Ratings and critics do not make a movie or a TV show cool, because the show does that all by itself. While The Walking Dead may not be the perfect beast, it is most certainly a cool show, and dare we say, a really good one. It gives us a compelling look at life inside of Zombie Apocalypse, and it keeps us tuning in week after week, year after year.

Even though we've always loved TWD, we do have to admit that Season 5 kicked it up a notch, and impressed us by not lingering in Terminus for half of a season. Carol was reunited with the group in emotional fashion; we said goodbye to Bob and Beth, again, in emotional fashion; and we even got a glimpse of Morgan, who is hot on someone's trail... oh yeah, and the Zombie FX were better than ever.

Decry it if you must, but The Walking Dead is Horror Television at its finest, and someday when it's gone, and our Sunday nights are Walker-less, we'll miss it tremendously. Until that day comes though, we're going to enjoy the hell out of it, and poop on anyone who doesn't do the same.

In all fairness, some of these "Honorable Mentions" could easily be bumped up top to the "Best of" list, and fit right in with no problem.The fact is that we're living in a Golden Age of TV, and there is no shortage of quality hour-long dramas from which to choose.

Below are some of the best that 2014 had to offer.

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A few quick notes:
  • The Blacklist may have its issues, but watching James Spader bring Red Reddington to life each week makes it worth enduring them.
  • FX is now down 3 quality shows: Sons of Anarchy ended its 7 Season run in December, and we're truly sad to see it go. Sons was a great weekly watch, and will always be one of our favorite shows. It also delivered a top-notch Series Finale... Another FX show, The Bridge, also ended its run this year, but via cancellation. We loved The Bridge, and FX can suck it for not at least giving it one more season to wrap things up... Justified's 5th Season may have been a bit underwhelming by its own standards, but it was still one hell of a great watch. It too will be ending its 6 Season run beginning in January, and losing Raylan, Boyd and everyone else from Harlan, will hurt a lot. 
  • Ray Donovan got even better in its 2nd Season, and proved that it's one of the best shows on TV.
  • AMC's Hell on Wheels is one of those shows that is probably under most people's radar, and yet is one of the most entertaining dramas on cable. Season 4 was its best outing so far. 
  • The UK brought us some quality series this year, and Peaky Blinders, The Fall, and The Honourable Woman were amongst the best of them. Seek them out on Netflix, you won't be sorry.
  • Vikings is another under-the-radar show that is far better than we ever expected it to be, and has steadily become one of our faves.

We don’t necessarily consider all of these shows “bad” per se, but they are the ones that disappointed us the most in 2014... and yes, some of them are just plain old bad.


  • At this point, it just feels like American Horror Story exists solely to be odd and quirky, and occasionally gory. We're really not sure how so many people love this show, because we're about done with it. Wasted potential.
  • We actually watch The Following, although most of the time we do it ironically. It's a BAD show, which isn't very surprising, because most Network dramas suck on the exact same level, but Kevin Bacon makes it watchable for us. We love us some Kevin Bacon.
  • Gotham is just unwatchable to us. Fox just sucks at doing quality drama.
  • The Leftovers is one of those shows that critics seem to adore, but that we just can't stand. The concept is interesting, and it's a gorgeously shot show, but the characters are annoying, and we know that there will most likely never be an explanation to what is going on, so it's nothing we have any desire to sit and watch every week.
  • The Strain is a show that we mostly liked, but it just dropped the ball too much over its first season for us to truly love it. It dragged far too much, and they absolutely need to tighten up the dialogue in Season 2, because it was just cringe-worthy throughout Season 1. We haven't given up on The Strain. Yet.
  • Under the Dome is just shit. Then again, we expected nothing less from an hour-long CBS drama

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