I always enjoy reading recaps and "best of" lists at the end of each season. It's fun to see if others feel the same way as I do about certain shows, characters, episodes and moments. With that I've decided to write my own series of lists and such based on this past television series. Of course this is completely opinionated, and it will only reflect the shows that I watched. No doubt there is quality television out there I'm not watching. Let's face it, I don't have THAT much free time.
In the coming days, I will be talking about many different categories. Categories such as favorite shows, favorite characters in comedy/drama/sci-fi, best finales, favorite new shows, most disappointed cancellations and so on. I will as always encourage people to chime in as it's always fun to hear what other people are watching.
Here are my top 10 new shows of this past season.
I have not been drawn back to HBO in the last few years since the cancellations of Rome and Deadwood, though I had enjoyed the short-lived Flight of the Conchords on DVD. This past television season that changed with two new shows (Boardwalk Empire and Game of Thrones). I will talk about Boardwalk further down the list. Game of Thrones is based on a series of fantasy novels called A Song of Ice and Fire. Though there are still a few episodes left of the season at the time I write this, this has been my favorite new show this year. It’s got fantasy and adventure, all while incorporating the big budget of HBO. It hasn’t surpassed Rome and Deadwood for me yet, but it is certainly off to a good start.
Americans sure love remaking foreign things into American products. It happens in both tv and film. This most recent example is Being Human, an American remake of British show Being Human. The show is centered around three roommates (a vampire, a werewolf and a ghost) who are all trying to lead normal lives. I haven’t seen the original series yet, but decided to give this a shot. SyFy has been angering me a lot lately (cancelling Stargate: Universe and Caprica while moving towards more reality shows), but this calms me down a bit. I really enjoyed the first season of Being Human. The casting was well done, and the main antagonist was a vampire played by none other than Mark Pellegrino (Jacob from Lost). Thank you SyFy for keeping some hope alive in me.
AMC has been producing some award-winning television the last few years (Mad Men, Breaking Bad), but Walking Dead is my first exposure to the network. Walking Dead is based on the graphic novel of the same name about a zombie apocalypse and the people struggling to survive. This could easily be number one on my list, but there were only six episodes to base it on. I do fear Walking Dead making zombies a bit too mainstream, but the fact is the topic works great as a television show.
A sketch comedy featuring an SNL cast member and a musician about the people of a particular city might not sound like the most exciting show out there, but Portlandia is a rare gem that many people don't know about. Located on the Independent Film Channel (IFC), Portlandia was created by, written by and stars Fred Armisen of SNL and Carrie Brownstein of Sleater-Kinney. The two of them have put together an array of Portland-centric characters that can be enjoyed by anyone, even if you’re not familiar with Portland. Portlandia celebrates the city and culture of Portland, Oregon, which includes hippies, musicians, vegans, cyclists, free spirits and so on. There were only six episodes in the first season, but it has been renewed for a ten episode second season. Guest stars in season one included Selma Blair, Heather Graham, Steve Buscemi, Audrey Plaza, Sarah McLachlan, Jason Sudeikis and Kyle McLachlan as the mayor of Portland.
An Idiot Abroad is a project thought up by friends Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant. They have another friend named Karl Pilkington, and the three of them have had a radio show on BBC for a while. Recently they turned recordings from the radio show into an animated show called The Ricky Gervais Show on HBO. This is not that, however. An Idiot Abroad is a travel show of sorts. Ricky and Steve decided it would be fun to send their bumbling friend Karl to see seven world wonders. Karl does not like to travel, so this takes him out of his comfort zone. Ricky sees it as the biggest practical joke he’s ever done. Karl travels to India (Taj Mahal), China (Great Wall), Jordan (Petra), Egypt (Pyramids), Mexico (Chichen Itza), Brazil (Christ the Redeemer) and Peru (Machu Picchu), but doesn’t just see the wonders. Ricky and Steve make plans to have him take part in local cultures and experience things that Karl is very reluctant to do. It is a very funny show, and a great spin on travel shows. They are working on a second season called An Idiot Abroad 2: The Bucket List where Karl will be experiencing things that are generally on people’s bucket lists. An Idiot Abroad can be found on the Science Channel (affiliate of Discovery Channel), which also is now the home of Firefly reruns! If you haven’t watched the Science Channel, please check it out. There is some great programming there.
The mustache is back on television! Tom Selleck stars as the New York City police commissioner in the new police drama Blue Bloods on CBS. The show is centered around the Reagan family, which includes Frank (Selleck) and his children, detective Danny (Donnie Wahlberg), assistant district attorney Erin (Bridget Moynahan) and recent Harvard Law grad and rookie police officer Jamie (Will Estes). I’ve never really been into procedurals, as I don’t watch any of the several Law and Orders or CSI’s, but I have become a fan of Blue Bloods. The cast and characters are very watchable (especially Selleck and Wahlberg), and there is a continuous storyline involving the questionable death of Frank’s other son and former officer Joseph.
HBO certainly loves period pieces. The newest one takes place in 1920’s Atlantic City amidst prohibition. Though slow at times, I found Boardwalk to be a quality show. Steve Buscemi stars as Nucky Thompson, a political figure in Atlantic City who also dabbles in illegal activities. The supporting cast is very strong, with Nucky’s protégé Jimmy (Michael Pitt), Nucky’s love interest Margaret Schroeder (Kelly MacDonald) and Federal Prohibition agent Nelson Van Alden (Michael Shannon) highlighting the cast.
What exactly is the event? The marketing campaign for The Event centered around what isn’t “the event”, and tries to pull you in by saying there will be some major event that takes place. It turns out this so-called event wasn’t mentioned until the final moments of the season (and series) finale, and takes place in future unseen events. Going into the show, I had no idea what the show was going to be about, but the mystery intrigued me. The storyline follows a group of aliens, though they look just like humans, who landed on Earth in the 40’s somewhere in Alaska. They had been detained for sixty-plus years with only a select group of people knowing about it. The aliens don’t age the same as humans, so the survivors from the crash still look the same today. The show is full of conspiracies and mythology. The Event was a bit silly and over the top, but it was consistent throughout. The show was purely entertainment, and it was fun unraveling the “truth” of everything as the season progressed. The creator has openly stated that although the show was cancelled, they would be releasing more info as time goes on. This way the story will continue, unlike most shows that get cancelled before they can properly finish their story. For that reason I say it’s worth watching The Event, being able to get a complete story. This was one of two new Monday night shows on NBC I watched, the other being...
Another NBC show that was cancelled after its first season was superhero show The Cape. The Cape was about detective Vince Faraday who is framed as the villain Chess. Thought to be dead, Vince goes underground thanks to a group of circus thieves called The Carnival of Crime. Their ring leader, Max Malini introduces Vince to a special cape that when used properly can do magnificent things. Vince is trained and becomes The Cape, a super hero looking to fight crime and restore his name. He targets the real Chess, who is actually Peter Fleming, the head of major corporation Ark Industries. Vince also is helped out by underground investigator Orwell (Summer Glau). The Cape clearly wasn’t going to be the best show on television, but I like comic book movies and enjoyed this series. It’s too bad it didn’t have much of a chance.
I was disappointed to hear SyFy was bringing in more reality programs. However, there was one new one that caught my attention. Face Off is a competition reality show in the same vain as Top Chef or Project Runway, except for special effects artists. Each week the artists would have to create something from scratch using the given theme and a model to work with. Themes included aliens, zombies and fairy tales. It was incredible watching what these aspiring artists came up with. Plus, most themes fell right into my favorite genres of film (science fiction, horror and fantasy). Face Off was renewed and I plan on watching it again. I’m still mad at you though SyFy.
HONORABLE MENTION: The Defenders, Perfect Couples, Outsourced, Harry's Law, Chaos