Disclaimer: Before reading this list of the five TV shows that stood out to me in 2014 I feel it important to state that I am not saying that the shows on this list are the absolute best shows of 2014 and that everything else was sub-par in comparison. These are simply the TV shows that grabbed my attention and held onto it for dear life, these shows demanded my attention and they certainly got it. Finally this list is in no particular order because it didn’t feel fair to pick favourites, anyway onto the shows.
2014 was another brilliant year for TV. The shows that graced our screens this year really stepped up their game and for me personally this year had some of the most consistently good television. Whether they were from online streaming services or tried and trusted channels there was a ton of great stuff for me and everyone else to sink their teeth into and then talk about it with their friends in length. So saying all that, let’s get onto the list.
The Leftovers was a show that didn’t immediately pop up on my radar and so was a show that I came a little late to seeing but after the first episode, the show quickly became a must watch each week it aired.
For those that haven’t yet seen the show, The Leftovers is the story of people dealing with the disappearance of it least 2% of the Earth’s population, think of a Rapture like event. The show primarily looks at the effects that such an event has on a small fictional town near the city of New York called Mapleton. Now what the show does different from what many others might have done in that it doesn’t focus on trying to figure out where the people gone or how they might get them all back, it instead focuses on the trauma that such an event has on people and their families. In fact more than just that it looks at how it effects the large scale side of things like a community dealing with the loss of people but it also looks at the things that you might not first consider like how the local church deals with a sharp decline in people’s faith because for a lot of people they think that God is punishing them.
I loved the concept that the show was working with from the beginning but what I loved the most about the show was its focus on the characters. The Leftovers gives so much time to developing its characters and showing you the real world effects of having people lose their entire family or their best friend from down the street. In particular is the actor ‘Justin Theroux’ who is the lead of the show and he plays ‘Kevin Garvey’, a man whose family is split apart (but not how you may first think) and also the chief of police who has to keep a fracturing town together and safe while also trying to keep some semblance of normality in his own home. Theroux is astounding in The Leftovers, he brings is all to the role and is one of the characters/actors that you just can’t take your eyes off (get ready to see that saying a lot more during this list) and each moment he is on screen is an award nominating performance (also get ready to see that a lot more as well).
So yes The Leftovers was not a show that I was aware of straight away but I am so glad that I took the time to sit down and watch it, it is definitely a show that if you haven’t seen yet, you should take the time to do so.
House of Cards
The next show on the list is the tour de force that is Kevin Spacey and his classic looking towards the audience and making you feel like a part of his devious little schemes. House of Cards is a show that from the first time I saw I knew I was going to love, but now we’re in the second season of the show and it was always interesting to me to see if the writers of the show could keep the level of quality and the out of the blue craziness that is ‘Frank Underwood’s’ life continually compelling and binge watch-able and for the most part I’d say they did.
This season of the show certainly upped the stakes for what Frank Underwood who was now the Vice President and so had to deal with, Trans-continental shouting matches over building contracts, Raymond Tusk who seemed to be the first real threat for Spacey’s character and a dwindling trust between him and the President of the United States. The show certainly increased the levels of intensity and suspense from the previous season but what it did above and beyond season 1 the most was that it ramped up the shocking moments that me as a watcher had no idea were coming and for those who have seen the show will know a few in particular that immediately jump to mind.
Nearer the end of the second season is where the plot perhaps lost me a little but the show has such rich array of characters to continually pick from is doesn’t really matter. Kevin Spacey as Frank Underwood is sublime and will continue to receive award nominations for as long as the show runs but it’s also important to remember some of the other great talent that this show has behind it, in particular David Fincher himself who brings that wonderful look that so many have come accustomed too with his films, but one actress who can never be over looked is the wonderful Robin Wright who plays Claire Underwood. It is very difficult to stand out in scenes when Spacey is doing what he does best but Wright is the actress to do it, these two actors/characters are a scary force to be reckoned with when it comes to their performances.
It’s safe to say that I am so excited for the new season of House of Cards when it returns in February and just hope they can keep the level of quality that has come to be expected and loved.
Peaky Blinders is one of the best British shows on television at the moment, there I said it. During a time when the two main exports of British television are Sherlock and Doctor Who I feel it important to highlight one that doesn’t seem to get the recognition or love that it should.
Peaky Blinders follows the nefarious antics of the Shelby family and their brilliantly named gang, The Peaky Blinders who take part in illegal betting on horses and roughing up the occasional problem to say the least.
Lead by the captivating Cillian Murphy, Peaky Blinders is a show that captures the look and feel of post-World War 1 expertly. I’m not sure of the budget of this show but the level of detail that goes into every scene of this show is unbelievable, whether it is the coal covered streets of Birmingham or the vodka soaked floors of a London club, this is a show that just screams authenticity.
This is also a show that pays great attention to the quality of its acting and the characters that inhabit this world. It’s is safe to say that Cillian Murphy deserves a large spot light shone on him for the level of work he puts in to bringing Thomas Shelby to life, he really is the crowning glory of this show. Now that’s not to put the rest of the cast down as Sam Neil (Inspector Chester Campbell), Paul Anderson (Arthur Shelby) and Helen McCrory (Aunt Polly), deserve just as much praise. This really is a show filled with impeccable performances and a simply crafted story line that you’d be mad not to sit down and give it, its due. Additionally the second season has the sublime Tom Hardy joining the cast and I don’t need to tell you how brilliant he can be.
Yes this is a show that I have loved from the moment I first heard its unique sounding score. If you haven’t already, watch this show and hopefully love it as much as I do.
In what may be one of the most bold, visually striking and daring shows to grace television at the moment, Hannibal is a show that is hard to ignore.
There is nothing quite like the first time you see the levels that this show is willing to go to, to bring the madness of a kill orchestrated by Dr Hannibal Lecter to the screen. I am still amazed that a network like NBC is willing to show half the imagery that ends up in an episode of Hannibal; this is very much not a show for the weak of stomach.
The second season did not disappoint, continuing with the my personal favourite on screen representation of Dr Hannibal Lecter by Mads Mikkelsen and his unsettlingly bizarre friendship with Will Graham who is played by the wonderful Hugh Dancy. This is a show that takes you to the absolute extreme of visual gore and mental anguish and I feel was an appropriate continuation on from the first season which might be one of my favourite seasons of a television show. Where season two stands out the most though is its last few episodes leading up to the finale, with some of its most unsettling imagery and concepts, the last few episodes of the show certainly push the bounds and really make you squirm in your seat. It is the last episode though (don’t worry there will be no spoilers) that really is a test of your fortitude, not necessarily because of any uncomfortable imagery but what it does for the story line and the characters that I have had two seasons to get to know and love. Season 3 of Hannibal might be one of my most anticipated shows of 2015 because this is a finale that certainly leaves you clambering for more.
I absolutely adore this show and every perfect detail about it. From how the show looks, to the flawless acting, to a wealth brilliantly created and unsettling crime scenes, everything that this show offers is on another level and is a show that has continually came back to me throughout this year. If you haven’t seen this show yet then I recommend you make the effort to fix that as soon as possible.
The final show on the list is the superb True Detective. A show that is headed by not only Woody Harrelson (Detective Marty Hart) but also the newly revitalised Matthew McConaughey (Detective Rust Cohle), both of these actors bring the level of commitment and solid acting that you would expect in what is definitely the sleeper hit TV show of 2014.
Nic Pizzolatto, the head writer and creator of the show and director Cary Fukunaga bring to the life a story that is at times difficult to stomach and at other times an incredible accomplishment of the visual medium. One episode in particular saw director Fukunaga utilise one continuous shot while we watched a house invasion get out of hand and quickly turn into an escape/kidnapping of a necessary informant. The scene is brilliantly directed and choreographed and it is scenes like this one that help to elevate this show high above the rest.
What particularly drew me to True Detective was the writing by Nic Pizzolatto, his deep, drawn out, existential looks into the human psyche and the elements that go into making it tick are an absolute joy to listen to and they’re of course helped by the fact that they are being delivered by the mysterious and intriguing character of Rust Cohle who would perhaps not as been as captivating had it not been for McConaughey and is award winning performance.
This is a show of extremes, whether it was the uncomfortable circumstances in which the crimes were taking place and the motives behind them or it was the intensity and fury of the two main characters, True Detective was a show that bowled me over and though I don’t like to pick favourites, especially when this list is filled with some incredible television shows I do have to say that if I could only recommend one show (for whatever reason that may be) it would have to be True Detective. This was a show that was like no other, now we just have to hope that the second season can continue with the greatness that this first one graced us with.
So there you have it, these were the five TV shows that where my standouts this year, I would happily recommend any one of these shows to anyone, they are must watches for anyone who has a love and appreciation for good television.