by Benn Ray
Too much TV. Too much watchable TV. Too much good TV. And I don't even have a podcast!
1. Breaking Bad (AMC)
Perhaps the best finale season to a show ever. Lots of theories - was the finale just in Walter's dying mind - there's the character color theory, etc. Characters that were introduced late in the series who I liked but was afraid would be under-ultilized weren't. And, of course, we knew the whole time that Walter would never be able to escape his fate. Great writing, great acting.
2. Justified (FX)
The best show on TV that you're not watching. This Elmore Leonard production reinforces why he's such a beloved writer. Not sure how much longer it can continue without him, but I'm hoping for a while. Tons of character actors doing much of the best acting of their careers - which seems like it should be easy for them since they're given such great dialogue.
4. Boardwalk Empire (HBO) / Downton Abbey (BBC)
These shows take place roughly at the same time. One is set in New Jersey, the other in Downton. Is it weird that I have long and involved fantasties about these two shows crossing over? Couldn't Nucky end up at Downton the next time he goes to Ireland to deal guns with the IRA via the uppity socialist chaffeur? Please?
6. The Walking Dead (AMC)
Each season of this show continues to get better, and this season was the best yet. The effects get better, the characters less detestable, and the acting more passable. The Governor's side story, while frustrating to some, was as close to artistic as I want my zombie-based entertainment to get.
8. Hannibal (NBC)
This is one of those shows you can't believe is on network TV. Stylistic, moody, and creepy as hell. My theory is that Hannibal Lecter isn't a serial killer, he's just a misunderstood extreme foodie. Oh yeah, and Mads is a better Hannibal than Hopkins ever was.
9. Misfits (BBC)
After a stumble last season, this British delinquent superhero show refinds its footing and wraps up splendidly. There's woman-on-turtle love, and a guy who can fuck the superpower out of you. There are rumors that series creator Howard Overman may be taking the Doctor Who reins from Moffat. Please, please, please!
10. House of Cards (Netflix)/Veep (HBO)
I'll admit part of the appeal of these shows is playing "Where's Waldo" with Baltimore landmarks (as our city stands in quite a bit for DC). But it feels great to be impressed by Kevin Spacey again in House of Cards, and Julia Louis Dreyfus' ability to beautifully withstand humiliation after humilation as Vice President makes me wonder that a Joe Biden reality show would be like.
11. Top Of The Lake (BBC)
I'm not a huge Jane Campion fan, but her New Zealand-set crime series had me captivated - and it also made me realize that rednecks aren't just an American invention. This show moves at an odd but interesting pace - the show's structure, like the english the characters speak, is familiar but also quite different from what most Americans are used to.
12. Archer (FX) / Bob's Burgers (FOX)
Archer remains as good as it's ever been, and Bob's Burgers just keeps getting better. I could listen to Jon Benjamin read the Bible and love it. But more importantly, in one crossover episde, Archer made Bob's Burgers an extension of the Archer universe. So when you watch Bob's Burgers, you're just watching Archer.
13. The Daily Show (Comedy Central) / The Colbert Report (Comedy Central)
Ever since Stewart came back from his summer movie project, he's been better than ever. He's scaled back on the "Punching The Hippie" shit that drives me crazy. The above clip alone warrants The Daily Show's inclusion on this list. And Colbert continues to be one of the smartest political satires going. Every episode of Colbert makes me laugh, but every week there's one episode where you can just tell he's wound up and batshit crazy and rarin' to go - and I challenge you to find a better half an hour of TV.
14. Girls (HBO)
The fact that Lena Dunham gets so much unwarranted hate makes me want to like her (not that I have to want do, I just do). Her show reveals her as a voice of her generation. Are the characters likeable? Kind of? The coke episode was a masterpiece. And while the new season doesn't count until next year's list - each episode seems to only reinforce my suspicion that all the characters are sociopaths. So, are Millennials just a generation of sociopaths?
15. East Bound And Down (HBO)
For fans of Kenny Powers, this final season seemed kind of off. Kind of weird. Kind of crazier than usual. You have to get to the series finale for it all to make sense. I love a show that can totally change the way you view a season in one episode.
16. American Horror Story: Coven (FX)
Each season of American Horror Story starts off interesting and about halfway through it gets tiresome - not so this season. It's a battle of witches, and witch hunters. And bringing in Stevie Nicks - brilliant.
17. Arrested Development (Netflix)
So it finally happened. Arrested Development was finally brought back from the dead. But the show had such expectations to live up to - and its time away only increased those expectations - that I'm not sure any show could hold up. That being said, it was still great seeing the Bluths back in action, and it was fun watching the construction of this season.
20. Now With Alex Wagner (MSNBC(/Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC)
When I'm looking for news, perspective and/or political commentary, I turn to both Wagner and Maddow. When Maddow is on her game, you'll be hard-pressed to find a sharper political head. And Wagner just seems to have so much fun, it's hard to watch her and not have fun too.
1. Arrow (CW)
I really don't know why I keep watching this show - it's not good. I suspect it has something to do with getting excited when Solomon Grundy or Barry Allen show up. Really, what I want is DC Comics to bring its universe to life instead of continuing to remake the same lame Superman movies. In otherwords, I blame that nerd part of myself I haven't managed to strangle yet.
2. Sleepy Hollow (FOX)
This show is just ridiculous - Crane as a time-traveling demon-fighter preventing the apocalypse with a modern-day cop. I find the reworking of American history into some sort of horror mythology pretty fun.
3. Nashville (ABC)
At this point, this show is pretty much just a straight up soap, but the music is still interesting. And I keep trying to get my head around the "is this the way the music scene there really works" disbelief.
4. Reign (CW)
Like Game of Thrones, but set historically, without the TE&D.
5. Under The Dome (CBS)
The premise of this Stephen King novel-based show is not sustainable. In fact, it's pretty damn ridiculous - a mysterious dome comes down over a city - but there are small things like the cow bisected by the dome that makes it fun - at least for the time being.