Tag Archives: Top of the Lake

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.

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Ranking the Shows That I Watch – 2013 Edition: 16-13

31 Jan

Three comedies, two of which air back to back, and one seven episode miniseries that has just about as much lack of humor to counter act all three comedies combined. 16 through 13 below.

16. Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Andy Samburg and the gang

The best new comedy of last year, Brooklyn Nine-Nine isn’t perfect but it is far ahead of the curve for where most good sitcoms are at this point in their runs. Created by Parks and Rec veterans, Brooklyn Nine-Nine is the work of writers who know what it’s like to start slow and build from there with the great Parks & Rec, and many of the errors from that show’s first season and a half aren’t present here. There’s still building and character establishing to do; it be nearly impossible for there not to be with a first year sitcom. But the elements are there, the jokes are fresh and funny, and the actors are good. Andre Braugher as I continue to shout to the world, is a national treasure whose presence should be, well, treasured wherever it is.

15. Top of the Lake

Top of the Lake to you, Elizabeth Moss

This is a seven episode miniseries, but that already means it’s longer than the 2013 output of some other recurring series on here so I’m including it. This is definitely a series that when I finished it, it both made me want to watch it again instantly because it was dense, confusing, and complicated, and never again because it was shocking and disturbing. Elizabeth Moss gives a bravura performance, as does Peter Mullan. If New Zealand is really like this, it’s a far scarier place than I had ever imagined. The mood is eerie, and it just feels like there’s something off with every character and every series of events, and I don’t mean off in a bad way, I mean rather like they’re not quite kosher. There’s seediness lurking everywhere, and Moss can’t rest for a second without risking someone turning on her, whether it be someone she knows or someone she does. It’s creepily meditative; before there was True Detective’s Rust Cohle, there was Holly Hunter’s GJ, spouting quasi-philosophical possible nonsense. All writing this makes me realize is that I really do need to see it again.

14. Bob’s Burgers

The Belchers

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Bob’s Burgers makes me smile. That’s about all there is to it. Don’t get me wrong, it also makes me laugh. In particular though, what makes Bob’s Burgers stand out amongst my favorite comedies is that there’s no show I’d rather watch before bed after a tough, stressful, or depressing day (or even a happy day, but there’s more leeway than). There’s no way that has the ability to change my bad mood and put me on the road towards pleasant dreams. I like dark humor, and I like cutting humor, and I like uncomfortable humor in different extents when done well. Sometimes though it’s nice to watch a comedy like Bob’s Burgers  that dispenses with any of those; that’s fun and zany and light, even when our favorite family is losing and Jimmy Pesto is putting it to Bob once again. The show has ramped up over the years, and the formula shows no signs yet of slowing down. I’m only sorry I didn’t jump on this bandwagon earlier, but I’m glad that the show keeps getting renewed without much stress.

13. New Girl

It's Jess! And friends

It’s been an interesting run for New Girl. The second half of the second season last spring featured a mind-bogglingly killer run of episodes that, had I been ranking right then, would have almost certainly put New Girl in the catbird seat for the highest ranking comedy, as it was last year (the second season was just really good overall). The third however, has had a higher share of fits and starts as the show tries to figure out how it’s going to handle Nick and Jess romance and deal with Schmidt and his relationship missteps. It’s still a first tier comedy, and almost all episode have laughs, but it’s seemed a little more inconsistent episode to episode. I’m still hopeful. It’s a good show with good actors by good people; they’ll probably figure it out. But a yearly review couldn’t be written without mention of its occasional third season struggles.