Ranking the Shows I Watch – 2014 edition: One-offs and Otherwise Ineligible Shows

11 Mar

Halftime, more or less. Time to comment on four TV shows and one-offs which for various reasons aren’t eligible for this list.

Intro 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.

Last Week Tonight

Last Week Tonight

John Oliver’s tenure as Jon Stewart’s fill-in during the summer of 2013 was nothing less than an unqualified success. John Oliver performed the impressive feat of keeping the format and sensibility the same while also imprinting the show with his own particular personality and brand of humor. After receiving universal praise for his run, the television world was his oyster. Would he hang on as the frontrunner to replace Stewart or Colbert should they leave? Before either announced they were stepping down, which seemed like it could have taken years at the time, HBO offered him a weekly show, and while he’d have been great at either the Stewart or Colbert slot, we should all be glad he took HBO up on their offer. He brought the finely honed sense of humor he had at The Daily Show but tweaked the format to do a deep dive into a big story every week, spending fifteen minutes on a topic which couldn’t be adequately covered in three, rather than simply going through a roundup of the biggest current news topics and Fox News buffoonery. He took the next logical step from The Daily show in really educating millennial viewers and impressively made a legitimate mark in the policy arena with his stories, having a noticeable impact on the net neutrality debate. The only thing more I can ask for from Last Week Tonight is for fewer weeks off a year.

Too Many Cooks

Too Many Cooks

A twelve-minute viral video that took the Internet by storm, Too Many Cooks first debuted late, late, at night (or, conversely, early, early in the morning) on Adult Swim, with no promotion, only to prove that viral culture is at least somewhat meritorious by naturally finding its way into a swarm of blogs and Facebook posts and tweets by way of the five viewers who probably actually saw it as it originally ran. Too Many Cooks was altogether fantastic, working, as the best comedy does, on multiple levels. First, it’s a spot-on send up of ‘80s and early ‘90s TV theme sequences, which it handled perfectly, shifting through sitcoms first, but then police dramas, and later primetime soaps. Secondly, it ventures into a sillier vein, with more ridiculous characters and strange and unlikely situations. Next, it moves into more absurdist mode as a serial killer ventures through the different worlds and the sequences collide and run into one another. Everyone has a favorite name and favorite entrance, and while I wasn’t (and probably still am not) as in love with the creepy murderer part of the short, I am in love with about everything else, and particularly the sci-fi Star Trek/BattleStar Galactica pastiche. Enough words have been written about Too Many Cooks that I doubt I can add anything new, but I’d be remiss if I talked about 2014 in television without giving it a mention.

The Ending of The Colbert Report

The Colbert Report

Everyone who knows me knows that Stephen Colbert is my absolute favorite and that The Colbert Report was thus my absolute favorite. My love of the Report is an accepted part of my personality. Even before he received his own show, I loved Stephen Colbert, as my favorite correspondent on The Daily Show. When he got his own show, I loved everything about it almost from day one, and as it slowly figured out what worked best and really grew into itself, it was a four-time weekly treat. I consistently called it a contender for the funniest show on TV, even as it aired many, many more episodes than half hour scripted show, which appeared at most 22 times a year. I was obsessed with many a Colbert bit. Stephen Colbert’s Alpha Squad 7: Lady Nocturne: A Tek Jansen Adventure. Formidable Opponent, in which he argued against himself, his hatred of bears, and the On Notice and Dead to Me lists, three wonderful bits which all disappeared about halfway through the show’s run. Better Know a District. The Atone Phone. Cheating Death with Dr. Stephen T. Colbert, D.F.A, my favorite recurring segment, which became more prominent later in the show. There are so many moments, and bits, and video clips, and examples of Stephen breaking that send me into fits no matter how many times I watch them. While I’m still devastated by the show’s end, I wish Colbert nothing but the best, and hope that I’ll form some attachment to his Late Show run, though I have my doubts. I’ll always have those ten years though.

Black Mirror Christmas Special

Black Mirror

The British are big believers in the Christmas special, a once a year extra long event episode whose events are entirely separate from the most recent season of the show. These Christmas specials can exist even when the show hasn’t aired otherwise for a year, as in the case of Black Mirror, and the Black Mirror Christmas special was a knockout, possibly the best episode of the series yet. There were three interlocking plots that each hits Black Mirror’s sweet spot, dystopian future technology that’s both far enough out of reach to feel like mild science fiction but close enough for the potential ramifications to feel very real. The special was enthralling, chilling, and as silly and pretentious as this sounds, did actually make you think; my friends and I chatted about it eagerly for a while after. Thinking be damned, though, it was an excellent hour and a half or so of entertainment. If you are at all interested in starting the series but are on the fence, this would be a great episode to reel you in.

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5 Responses to “Ranking the Shows I Watch – 2014 edition: One-offs and Otherwise Ineligible Shows”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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

    […] Intro 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 ineligible for the list here. […]

  2. Ranking the Shows That I Watch – 2014 Edition: 11-8 | Television, the Drug of the Nation - May 9, 2015

    […] here and 27-24 here and 23-20 here and 19-16 here and one-offs/shows ineligible for the list here and 15-12 […]

  3. Ranking the Shows That I Watch – 2014 Edition: 7-4 | Television, the Drug of the Nation - May 20, 2015

    […] here and 27-24 here and 23-20 here and 19-16 here and one-offs/shows ineligible for the list here and 15-12 here and 11-8 […]

  4. Ranking the Shows That I Watch – 2014 Edition: 3-1 | Television, the Drug of the Nation - June 8, 2015

    […] here and 27-24 here and 23-20 here and 19-16 here and one-offs/shows ineligible for the list here and 15-12 here and 11-8 here and 7-4 […]

  5. Ranking the Shows I Watch – 2014 Edition: Recap | Television, the Drug of the Nation - June 11, 2015

    […] here and 27-24 here and 23-20 here and 19-16 here and one-offs/shows ineligible for the list here and 15-12 here and 11-8 here and 7-4 here and 3-1 […]

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