Let’s begin with the worst and then get to the good:
The unworthy successor to Sons of Anarchy, this boring, pretentious mess failed in every way that The Last Kingdom, the much less hyped competition, soared. Poor writing, unnecessarily convoluted plotlines, stiff acting and gratuitous nudity combined to make a show that couldn’t decide if it wanted to be GOT or Vikings and in the process had no identity at all.
Ryan Murphy strikes again with another racist, sexist and genuinely dumb show that wastes a talented cast. As always Murphy rips off better shows and films in an attempt to pay homage but fails spectacularly as his inability to actually put an original spin on old tropes rears its head.
A show that I looked forward to, Minority Report fell apart around the third episode. The idea of the show as a continuation of the 2002 movie is a good one, however the odd choice to not adhere to the concepts of that film nor the Philip K Dick short it’s based on make it a watered down wannabe that never really finds its own voice. In all honesty leaving the far superior Almost Human on instead would’ve been a better choice for Fox.
In the age of the DCCU and the MCU this sequel to the failed Heroes series was unnecessary and unwanted. Tim Kring, who never met a storyline from the X-Men and Teen Titans he couldn’t rip off, brings us to five years after the events of the finale of Heroes, wherein Claire told the world of the existence of superhumans. Filled with characters who were varying degrees of loathsome, played by actors who deserve better, this show simply wasn’t good.
Pauly D’s summary says it best: excellent fight scenes, beautiful costumes and scenery, absolutely boring story.
Now on to the good stuff:
The first of the Netflix/Marvel collaborations Daredevil is a triumph of storytelling that sets the bar, not just for the t.v. division but for the entirety of the MCU. Daredevil’s acting, pacing and overall feel are what happens when you have an excellent plot and engaging characters who just happen to have superpowers. It also gives us the MCU’s best villain since Loki in Vincent D’Onofrio’s Wilson Fisk: a man who is trying to save New York just as much as Charlie Cox’s Matt Murdock is. Two halves of the same coin, it will be interesting to see how this relationship, the foundation of the show, progresses going forward.
If Daredevil set the bar then Jessica Jones raised it by providing a psychological horror story. Based on the groundbreaking comic by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos the show explored topics that the MCU has either danced around (PTSD; the aftermath of brainwashing) or never touched (rape recovery, the day-to-day of living when you don’t have official/unofficial government backing, aren’t space royalty or have Tony Stark’s bank account).
It also gave us the second, out of sixteen properties, female leading lady and the first in which a black male character was not just there to be background support for the white leads but instead a major character in his own right. After Jessica’s defeat of Kilgrave in the season finale seeing how she and her friends move on from the trauma they endured will hopefully continue the trend of character based plot momentum.
An old favorite gets a new host, a former correspondent gets a new show and together they bring an international view and a different racial voice to the overwhelming white landscape of late night television. Trevor Noah’s unique perspective on American politics, as a South African immigrant, shows us just how the world views the U.S.. On the opposite end Larry Wilmore’s older and wiser mindset and round table discussions make him the cool dad who actually has something to say other than ‘Get off my lawn’. Combined they help all of us view the world a little differently and hopefully move us to take action on the issues that are important to us.
The show that in many ways succeeded where The Bastard Executioner failed. Featuring tight storytelling with equal parts exposition and action that made it worth tuning into week after week. This tale of how King Alfred’s nobleman Uhtred fended off the Danes is a great holdover for those who love Game of Thrones and can’t wait for the return of Vikings and it does it without getting bogged down in confusing plotlines.
The foundation of the show isn’t Kara Zor-El’s superpowers. It’s not even her relationship to Clark Kent/Kal El/Superman. It’s her relationship with her sister who is her best friend, protector and biggest champion. This show is about figuring out who you are, who you want to be and how you want to be. It’s fun, it’s thought provoking and it’s filled with a cast who absolutely want to be there and are having the time of their lives.
From the mind of Sam Esmail comes one of the most insane, mind bending shows to ever hit television. Taking its influence from the works of Chuck Palahniuk and Hunter S Thompson and combining them with our society’s unending need for self aggrandizement it takes you into the world of hacker extraordinaire Elliot Alderson as he tries to decide just how far he’s willing to go to aide anarchist Mr. Robot in his quest to free the world from the influence of E(vil) Corp. Rami Malek and Christian Slater give tour de force performances that make you question everything you think you know and just how far you would go to change the world.
Brandie – Netflix coming into its own
This year, Neflix proved that online streaming sites weren’t just for reruns of Gilmore Girls but for quality, first-run, top-notch television viewing. With intense dramas like Bloodline and LOL comedies like Grace & Frankie, Netflix sealed its status as a legit network, rivaling the big guy, HBO. When news of Marvel teaming up with Netflix hit the ‘net, geeks rejoiced at the potential for an authentic take on some favorite comics, without the fear of an FCC watering down that other networks could succumb to. Boy, did they deliver! Daredevil and Jessica Jones showed that Marvel not only could work on this platform, but that it thrived. The Marvel Universe that Netflix gave us is different than ABC/Disney, different from the MCU. It established a Marvel world that was grittier, sexier and often shocking while still remaining tethered to the Marvel that we are so familiar with. I applaud every risk that Netflix makes and still stand by the statement that they are the smartest business entity out there. With reboots, returns and more Marvel to come, I cannot wait to see what the next year has in store for us.
Honorable mentions of the good kind:
These are my picks for the best new television shows of 2015.
Agree, disagree or add your own in the comments below!