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Ranking the Shows That I Watch – 2015 Edition: The Outcasts

7 Mar

The Americans

It’s time for an annual beginning-of-the-year tradition (beginning-ish this year, granted, my bad on the lateness) over here at Drug of the Nation, the ranking of the shows I’ve watched during the previous year. This is my fifth annual ranking, and I’ll repeat the caveat I placed atop last year’s ranking introduction:

Because the TV season is no longer the fall-to-spring trajectory that it used to be, I arbitrarily rank things on a calendar basis, and that leads to strange situations where I’m occasionally ranking the end of one season and the beginning of the next season in the same ranking. It’s strange, and not ideal, but I have to pick some point in the year to do the rankings, so I’ll roll with the punches and mention within the article if there was a significant change in quality one way or the other between the end and beginning of seasons covered in the same year.

I’m only ranking shows I watched all of or just about all of the episodes that aired last year; if I’m just two or three behind I’ll rank it, but if I’ve only seen two or three, I won’t. I’m ranking a few miniseries and but not shows with one-off specials. These rules are arbitrary, admittedly, but any rules would be. No daily variety programs like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are eligible either.

This year, as I said last year, ranking these show was incredibly difficult and often arbitrary, generally running in tiers; I probably liked the tenth ranked show clearly more than the 20th ranked show, but not necessarily clearly more than the 11th show. It’s a snapshot of how I felt the second I finalized the rankings, and they could have changed if I had finalized them the next day or hour or minute. The top tier was probably the hardest it’s ever been, particularly in regard to the strongest overall group of great half hour shows I’ve seen in my five years ranking shows.

Many of the shows no longer on the list are simply because they ended in 2014 or took a break in 2015, but I’ll put in a couple of notes for shows that I didn’t watch even though they did air in 2015.

The Outcasts:

The Honourable Woman – 2014: 7

Olive Kitteridge – 2014: 9

Doctor Who – 2014: 22

Sherlock – 2014: 24

Sons of Anarchy – 2014: 26

The Bridge – 2014: 28

Boardwalk Empire – 2014: 37

24: Live Another Day – 2014: 38

Wilfred – 2014: 40

Okay. Three of these were miniseries. Sherlook, as it is wont to do, took a year off, and the rest are done for good. Now, a few words about the couple that aired last year that I declined to watch anyway.

Masters of Sex – 2014: 35

Masters of Sex

The two shows that follow this I definitively decided to stop watching. Masters of Sex I just kind of fell behind on and never caught up to. I did, and kind of do, intend to catch up eventually, but the fact that I haven’t after half a year certainly says a fair amount about the show. The second season was fine, but it seemed so much less focused than the first, contained a puzzling midseason time jump, and generally just didn’t seem to have any idea what it was doing or where it was going. The actors are great, and there are moments of promise, but it was so scattershot that I definitely loss some interest. I watched the first couple of episodes from the third season, and they were also fine but not particularly compelling and I just haven’t gotten back to it since. During the first season, I was heartily recommending my friends watch it. Since then, not so much.

Downton Abbey – 2014: 41

Downton Abbey

I was stunned to read I had actually watched Downton Abbey in 2014. I thought I stopped long before that, but I guess not. It’s harder and harder to remember that Downton Abbey was actually, well, pretty damn good, in its first season, a fun, soapy, look at a time long gone, with a decidedly positive sheen, for sure, but with some pretty good characters also. And then, well, the soapiness remained, but the show got less interesting as did the characters, as often happens. I stayed on a couple seasons after I cared all that much, but eventually decided to pull the plug.

Helix – 2014: 43


Ick. Every year, I try to find at least one show to watch with my dad; not necessarily with him at the same exact time and place (though sometimes) but at least one show that I watch that he’s also watching that I can talk about when I see him or talk to him over the phone. The show at various points has ranged from 24 to AMC’s ill-fated Rubicon. Last year, the show ended up being Helix. I was intrigued by the pedigree; it was from BSG’s Ron Moore, and the first episode held promise. The show spun farther and farther out of control, revealing bigger and bigger mysteries that entirely blew up the scope of the show. Also it just wasn’t very good. It seems like half a decade ago that I watched this show, but apparently it was only two years ago, so here it is.