Tag Archives: NTSF: SD: SUV

Ranking the Shows I Watch – 2014 Edition: The Outcasts

14 Jan

Breaking Bad

It’s time for an annual beginning-of-the-year tradition over here at Drug of the Nation, the ranking of the shows I’ve watched during the previous year. This is my fourth 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 three episode mini-British seasons but not shows with one-off specials (Black Mirror’s Christmas special is the most notable example this year) . 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.

The rankings this year were incredibly difficult, and a generally weak fall slate of TV shows had me forgetting just what an utterly strong year on the whole 2014 had been for television. I was forced to put shows I liked a lot towards the bottom of these rankings, and unlike previous years, there are just about no shows on this list that I’m one bad episode away from stopping, or that I’m just stringing out due to past loyalty until they finish. It’s absolutely brutal, and although I was forced to make tough choices, that doesn’t mean I don’t genuinely enjoy just about every show on this list. TV is that good, folks.

We start, as last year, with the shows that made last year’s list but didn’t make this year’s for one reason of another. This year these are almost entirely because they ended or didn’t air in the calendar year, so I’ll just run through them quickly, with some additional notes about the few that didn’t fall off due to simply not airing last year. This year I’m going to additionally throw in where a show ranked last year for context.

Here’s a quick link to last year’s final ranking as well. Now, on to the outcasts…

Breaking Bad – 2013: 1

Treme – 2013: 4

Eagleheart – Last year: 6

30 Rock – Last year: 10

Venture Bros. – 2013: 12

Top of the Lake – 2013: 15

Arrested Development – 2013: 17

Childrens Hospital – 2013: 21

Broadchurch – 2013: 23

Happy Endings – 2013: 24

NTSF: SD: SUV – 2013: 31

Black Mirror – 2013: 36

Family Tree  2013: 37

Siberia – 2013: 38

Luther – 2013: 45

The Office – 2013: 46

Dexter – 2013: 48

Enlightened – 2013: 6.5 (Initially, an embarrassingly mistaken omission)

Ben and Kate – 2013: 23.5 (Initially, an embarrassingly mistaken omission)

Take a deep breath. All of these shows did not air in 2014, so that’s the simple explanation why they’re not on the list. Many of these shows ended, Top of the Lake was a miniseries, several have extended offseasons and will be back in 2015 or later, and a couple are in extended hiatus, waiting to see whether they will return or not (looking at you, NTSF: SD: SUV). Easy enough.

Homeland – 2013: 41

Homeland

After a season and a half of utter frustration with the show’s inconsistency at best, and downright lousy and lazy writing at worst, I cut the cord, deciding not to watch the fourth season after a third season that really was not a very good season of television. People have told me the fourth season is better, and if a critical consensus emerges I’ll consider coming back, but I’m not that close to it. I got so sick of the show and Carrie and Brody in particular; if I had cut out earlier, I might have been more easily convinced to come back. It’ll always have an absolutely all-time first season, and is worthy fo remembering just for that, reminiscent of an athlete like Mark Fidrych who blows away the league in his first season only to never do anywhere close to the same again.

Under the Dome – 2013: 47

 

Under the Dome

Oof. Under the Dome’s first season makes the third season of Homeland look like the fourth season of Breaking Bad. It’s still stunning to me that I made it almost to the end of the first season (I never actually watched the season finale; either with only one left, I couldn’t bring myself to). The plot was incredibly stupid, the acting was generally pretty bad, and the characters were horrible. It’s hard to imagine a time when it could have been decent, but alas, a sneakily bad show is bound to end up getting watched sometimes when you watch so many shows.

Ranking the Shows I Watch – 2012 edition: 21-19

11 Feb

The 2012 ranking of the shows I watched (well, 2013 ranking of the shows I watched in 2012) is on – check out the intro here for the rules, 21, 20, and 19 below.

21.  Wilfred

Which one is Wilfred?

With two main characters who are a man and a man in a dog suit, this is a show whose set up could easily get tired. A couple of times it seemed like it was about to, before the writers pulled a trick or an episode out of their bag that again reveals there’s plenty more material to work through.  The premise relies on a little bit of possible mental instability, or possible magic realism, as Elijah Wood’s main character Ryan sees  his attractive neighbor’s dog, Wilfred, as a living and talking human.  Is Ryan crazy, or hallucinating, or is that just how it goes?  Wilfred the show occasionally tries to explore the origin of Wilfred the character, something I”m less interested in; I’m generally content to not care why Ryan sees Wilfred as a human in a dog suit, and just go along for the ride.  That said, some of the best episodes tend to be the strangest which actually delve into the Wilfred situation, without actually providing so far any real answers, which I’m thankful about.  After a couple of episodes at the beginning of the series which didn’t thrill me, I caught on to one which featured the idea that Wilfred potentially had the power to kill suffering elderly patients at a nursing home.  It was weird, and in this case, weird meant good.  The show can get a bit repetitive at its worst, with Ryan slavishly following Wilfred’s terrible advice after objecting time after time, and it’s insistence on opening with a quote which attempts to focus the episode is misguided, but the show has smartly evolved and changed up the procedure and the outcomes.  I like it more than I thought I would from the beginning, and while it could use work, it always seems like right after a lackluster episode, the show delivers a winner.

20.  It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

 

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia has been going on from a damn long time now, and while maybe it’s still a cult show in some sense, the cult has gotten a whole lot bigger over the years, with green men showing up at sporting events as the best outside manifestation of Sunny’s popularity.  Every year I think the show has run out of material, and while every new season is hardly constructed of 10 consecutive all time classics, by now I’m come to expect a few absolutely excellent episodes and the rest to be at least pretty decent, with a fair amount of laugh lines.  I largely thought they would run out of material because many early episodes seemed to rely on the gang’s zany take on contemporary issues – how would the gang deal with abortion, or homosexuality, or any number of different drugs.  The show smartly now relies less on specific issues than on finding fun ways to butt the characters’ personalities against one another.  The best episodes of the show, like one of the best last season, in which the gang in separate groups visits a nice Italian restaurant, rely on exploiting the different characteristics of each member of the gang which have been built up over so many seasons, and playing them against one another.  The super high concept episodes aren’t my favorite – the flashback episode, or the revolutionary war one, but I can appreciate that they’re trying.  Either way, after slightly souring on the show after the third or fourth season, the show has nicely plateaued into reliable laughs, and I’m pretty pleased about that.

19.  NTSF: SD: SUV

NTSF

It’s important to note as I go further, and I should have already, and will again, that the rankings are more useful in tiers, than they are in regard to exact placement.  For example, I’m pretty confident in picking my #10 show above my #22 show, but the distinction between #19 and #20 is pretty useless.  NTSF is the first of three eleven minute live action Adult Swim shows to appear on this list, and was the last one I got into.  I watched the first episode long before I watched any others, and it didn’t thrill me; I didn’t expect to keep watching.  However, as the show featured a number of actors I like (Paul Scheer, Martin Starr, and Party Down and New Girl veteran June Dianne Raphael), and appeared right after personal favorite Childrens Hospital, I decided, wisely, it turns out, to give it another chance.  NTSF: SD: SUV is a perfect fit with Childrens Hospital and with Adult Swim in terms of sheer absurdism of the type not often seen in live action television.  Nothing, wonderfully, has to make sense.  Each episode has a plot featuring the members of NSTF: SD: SUV trying to prevent some sort of scheme to destroy their beloved San Diego, but beyond that, everything’s fair game.  My likely favorite episode of the most recent second season featured time travel, as the agents, guided by the Time Angels, take a time slide back and forth to prevent a nuclear explosion and capture evil time slide-creator Leonardo Da Vinci.  It is ludicrous, filled with nonsensical time paradoxes, and wonderful.  When I first watched, I viewed NTSF as a poor man’s Childrens Hospital, and while I still regard Childrens higher, I now believe NTSF can be in its class.