Ranking the Shows That I Watch – 2014 Edition: 39-36

2 Feb

Two well-loved comedies coming off down years after running a little low on ideas a few seasons into their run, one prestige drama which ended, and one decidedly non-prestige drama which just came back. Let’s go.

Intro here and 43-40 here.

39: Archer – 2013: 18

Archer: Vice

We’re now firmly onto shows that I generally enjoy, but which suffered through flawed seasons. Archer sadly seems to be slipping firmly into the decline phase that nearly all shows that last as long as it has slip into. There are all the telltale signs – the writers are out of ideas, situations repeat, the characters tell the same jokes, and the same tropes reappear again and agian. What’s makes Archer’s repetitiveness this season particularly noteworthy is that the season, known as Archer: Vice, started out with the idea of switching up the show’s entire premise. After the big shakeup however, where the gang became drug dealers instead of an intelligence agency, while the show was cosmetically different, the inner workings were the same.  Archer is a fairly breezy half hour, to its credit, by this point, I can’t think of what it would have to take for me to stop watching before the show is over, and I’ll always think of Archer overall in a positive light. Still, Archer has gone from a show I really looked forward to every week to one I knock down as part of my routine.

38: 24: Live Another Day – 2013: Not Eligible

24: Live Another Day

24 has a distinct formula which it’s continued to stick to in its rebirth, a formula which provides reliably fairly enjoyable programming and at the same time limits any chance of greatness. 24 provides a superior version of the House of Cards principle I explained in that entry; it’s enjoyable when watching, especially one after another, but tends to be far less enjoyable when ruminated on afterwards. 24’s magic is particularly strong this way. I never look forward to an episode, only to be pleasantly surprised while I’m watching, only to again forget everything about the episode soon after. It’s superior to House of Cards because it self-consciously knows what it is; it doesn’t have pretentions of being anything other than a non-stop action drama full of twists and turns which may or may not make sense. There’s no weird subplots that go nowhere, no strange episodes that feel entirely out of place. It’s all action, all of the time. Some seasons are better or worse, but that mostly has to do with the relative repetition of the plot, the likeability of the seasonal characters, and the coolness of the action scenes. Live Another Day was about average 24, and while I can’t get as excited about it as I wish I could, it definitely has a place on television that nothing else has truly occupied in its absence.

37: Boardwalk Empire – 2013: 28

Boardwalk Empire

Boardwalk Empire wanted to be The Sopranos from the start, and never quite got there, though it had fits and starts where it seemed like it might come close. The final season, unfortunately, was not one of those times. Shoehorned into eight episodes, the season lacked focus, bouncing around in an effort to end the many plots Boardwalk had started over the years. This was admirable but really missed an opportunity to simply spend more time with the characters and plots we really cared about the most, which were few. The Al Capone sideshow was subpar, and it felt as if the fact it was real history was that main reason it featured, rather than because it actually made for good TV. Capone was more a caricature than character, whether or not it was an accurate portrayal and while he was enjoyable in doses, he was overtaxed in the final season. The flashbacks while occasionally illuminating took time that could have been used to work out the many threads which Boardwalk had to deal with. As it was, many plots felt rushed, as if valuable transition scenes which would have sewn the episodes together ended up on the cutting room floor. I do think with a full 12 episodes, this season could have been a lot better, but as it was, it left a lot to be desired. Beautiful, with brilliant acting and genius cinematography, but missing humor, passion, and enough solid side characters, the final season was emblematic of the what-could-have-been nature of Boardwalk Empire on the whole.

36: Workaholics – 2013: 32

Workaholcis

Most contemporary television comedies create characters we become invested in and storylines that take us through their lives over the course of several seasons. Still, shows like It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Workaholics, push on under a different model, centered around incredibly stupid characters who never grow and change. The only goal of these shows is to make you laugh. These shows can be great but they pose a challenge. Parks and Recreation generates appeal in two ways; you can like an episode because it was funny, because it made you feel, or both. Workaholics has got to be funny. Shows like Workaholics often feature a problematic running-out-of-ideas over the course of a few seasons, and Workaholics is no exception. Five seasons and going is a run to be proud of, but with so many episodes, it’s hard to keep pumping out new classics. Because of the difficulty of coming up with new ideas every episode, these shows tend to be consistently inconsistent; a hilarious episode is followed by a relative dud. All of this is true for the solid but not spectacular fourth season of Workaholics, which had its share of winners and was definitely worth watching for fans of the show, but which stopped short of classic status.

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11 Responses to “Ranking the Shows That I Watch – 2014 Edition: 39-36”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Ranking the Shows That I Watch – 2014 Edition: 35-32 | Television, the Drug of the Nation - February 11, 2015

    […] Intro here and 43-40 here and 39-36 here. […]

  2. Ranking the Shows That I Watch – 2014 edition: 31-28 | Television, the Drug of the Nation - February 19, 2015

    […] here and 43-40 here and 39-36 here and 35-32 […]

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    […] here and 43-40 here and 39-36 here and 35-32 here and 31-28 […]

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  6. Ranking the Shows I Watch – 2014 edition: One-offs and Otherwise Ineligible Shows | Television, the Drug of the Nation - April 6, 2015

    […] here and 43-40 here and 39-36 here and 35-32 here and 31-28 here and 27-24 here and 23-20 here and 19-16 […]

  7. Ranking the Shows That I Watch – 2014 Edition: 15-12 | Television, the Drug of the Nation - April 13, 2015

    […] here and 43-40 here and 39-36 here and 35-32 here and 31-28 here and 27-24 here and 23-20 here and 19-16 here and one-offs/shows […]

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