TV in 2015: A Review

I swear I’m wrapping up the end of year lists and reviews but before I do it would be rude not to take a look at the best Television and Film from 2015. *spoilers ahead*.

There were a fair few shows that I didn’t manage to catch yet. It looked a strong year for comedy and I recommend you join me in catching up with the finale series of Parks & Recs as well as checking out Looking. Having been impressed by earlier seasons I’ll also be looking for time to catch up with Girls and especially Silicon Valley which is probably my pick of the punch. Despite not hugely enjoying the first season, I’m going to give The Leftovers another go as I’ve heard incredible things and also I’ll be looking to give Empire, House Of Cards and Better Call Saul another go after they all bummed me out on early episodes this year. Lastly the one show I want to see which I missed this year was Mr.Robot. From what I’ve read it does sound like one of the best pieces of TV from 2015. I am tempted to check out Amazon’s WW2/futuristic show The Man In the High Castle and lastly despite it looking a bit lame, I’m going to give Supergirl a chance to win me over.

I also watched some shows this year which weren’t new but I hadn’t seen before. Leading these were It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia which I can honestly say is now one of my favourites of all time. Charlie Day as a human is the funniest person on Earth. I smashed through all TEN seasons and never tired of the ridiculous situations that our five anti-heroes, who are literally the worst five people on the planet, get up to.

I shall talk about my favourite Ten shows of the year a little bit but before I do there are others that I watched which deserve honourable mentions. It was a fantastic year for Netflix original shows and whilst some make it into my Top 10, some just miss out. Most recently Marvel’s Jessica Jones is a change in tone and finally a show I love Krysten Ritter in (god I hated her in Breaking Bad!). David Tennant also does a fine job as the antagonist for the season Kilgrave. Netflix also gave us brilliant new sci-fi show Sense 8 which was impressive and likeable despite sometimes feeling weighted as the season progressed. Some characters I didn’t connect with as much as others but I was left wanting more Will, Riley and Sun and less of Lito and Nomi who seemed to dominate most of the season. Capheus was pretty badass though. Lastly on the Netflix train was Orange Is The New Black season 3 which didn’t really get up to much. I can’t actually remember the plot, I just remember getting a bit closer to characters I hadn’t before so if I could call it anything, OITNB was pleasant this season.
Continuing seasons of Arrow and Elementary had different outcomes. Arrow had a very difficult, but over scrutinized, season 3. The same can be said for Elementary but where the latter has still been dull into season 4, Arrow has come out fighting with enough twists and new characters to re-freshen things up. Entering its second season Fargo took the interesting approach to solve it’s “How do we make a multi-season show based on one film?” question by doing an origins season for a supporting character from season 1. It worked for me and Patrick Wilson was fantastic in the lead role.
And finally, two shows finished this year which I have been with from the beginning. Glee wrapped up its troubled-self with a fairly subpar season which gave fans all they could hope for in a relaxed and overly safe manner. What was way more interesting was creator Ryan Murphy’s new project Scream Queens which is a one off show, completely unique and cheesy but kind of essential viewing. And then to Community which finished (again) after the dream Six Seasons! Thank you to Yahoo for keeping the fans’ dreams alive and despite the show missing too many parts to make a whole (Pierce, especially Troy and now Shirley), there was still some magic moments to be had. Now let’s have a movie!

10. Gotham (Season 1 & 2)
Favourite Character:
Penguin is electric to watch in every episode
Favourite Episode: Season 2, Episode 2: Knock Knock (aka the raid on the GCPD)
Gotham has been far better than I expected it to be. I watched all of Season 1 this year and grew quickly to some characters (Penguin, Fish Mooney) but others annoyed me and I couldn’t hugely get into our lead, a young Jim Gordon. It’s difficult to have a superhero show without a superhero, but many humanized villains. There’s a lot the show can’t do with its budget and therefore some week-to-week villains have been fairly weak sauce but when the stakes are high and death comes to visit, the show can be fairly shocking at times. Hopefully the second half of season 2 picks the stakes back up well as the show isn’t anywhere near suspenseful enough at the moment.

9. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Season 1)
Favourite Character:
John Hamm’s villainous Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne was a laugh and a half.
Favourite Episode: Episode 10: Kimmy’s In A Love Triange due to the side story of Titus learning how to act as a straight character by the brilliant guest star Dean Norris (Breaking Bad’s Hank).
Who would have thought that a show about a survivor of a kidnapping religious cult would have been so light and easy. Tina Fey does the trick with a great sit-com surrounding the beautiful Ellie Kemper’s titular character as somebody finding their feet in a new world, which just so happens to be New York City. With her sassy gay flatmate Titus, her quirky landlady Lillian and a show stealing Jane Krakowski as the very blonde boss for Kimmy’s maid job, the supporting cast were all great too for a show with a lot of heart.

8. The Walking Dead (Season 5 & 6)
Favourite Character:
Abraham’s had quite a lot of good screen time but I gotta give it to returning Morgan.
Favourite Episode: Season 5 Episode 9: What’s Happened And What’s Going On. The swansong episode of fan favourite Tyreese, this is arguably the best episode the show has ever made.
Don’t get me wrong, The Walking Dead has had a year of up and downs. With the exception of Tyreese’s passing, Season 5B was actually quite boring and never picked up from when the group found Alexandria. Even Noah’s horrific ending didn’t seem like essential viewing. However the show has come back strong with 6A by the style of storytelling. Not a lot has actually progressed in the story. We have had a failed walker herding and two raids (one human, one walker) but that’s happened across eight episodes. The way that the direction team have gotten around this is to have centralized episodes for characters. This has worked well for everybody to be honest. Daryl and Morgan have had singular episodes devoted to them whilst Glenn, Abraham, Maggie and Michonne have had enough time to be fleshed out. Glenn’s quick brush with death was an awesome moment in pop culture with everybody talking about it, and bringing him back was not a cop out at all. Season 6B should hopefully keep up the danger levels but I’d like to see more storytelling from Carol and Rick’s perspectives.

7. Game of Thrones (Season 5)
Favourite Character:
Kit Harrington stood up tall for Season 5 making Jon Snow THE hero to back.
Favourite Episode: Season 5, Episode 8: Hardhome. The shock battle sequence which took up the final half hour of the episode was the best thing I’ve ever seen on television and made my mouth water for more.
I’m not wholly convinced that there has been a drop in quality for Game Of Thrones but Season 5 has been the least enjoyable season by some mark. This may be due to the source material turning very bleak around this time but there isn’t a lot excitement coming to our various groups week to week. Kingslanding has certainly taken a hit with Tyrion leaving for Khaleesi land, Jaime leaving for Dorne and Tywin leaving for hell. This leaves very dull Cersei Lannister vs all story which I couldn’t get into. Dorne and Khaleesi tales were also really boring with Bronn and Jorah being the saving graces in lands I just didn’t care about. All of what matters seemed to happen in the North. The Boltons did some horrible things to Sansa and then did horrible things to Stannis after he did horrible things to himself, the tool. Arya’s adventures in the Braavos are passable and I’m interested to come back to see her struggles in Season 6 but the winning formula was all north of the wall. I could have happily watched ten episodes of Jon Snow, the one true hero of Westeros as he led the Nights Watch against the horrors of the cold night. Let us never forget that despite people fighting each other, the true coming evil lies North of the Wall and Hardhome makes us remember that. The shock at the end of the season hints towards me not enjoying season six a lot, please let him be alive!

6. The Flash (Season 1 & 2)
Favourite Character:
Tom Cavanagh’s Harrison Wells is a great sympathetic bad guy but it’s got to go to Barry’s foster father Joe West for being Dad of the Year.
Favourite Episode: Season 1 Episode 15: Out Of Time in which things reach breaking point with Barry telling Iris he is the Flash as well as Wells revealing his identity. The episode ends with a tsunami heading towards Central City. Shame they copped out and reversed it all.
The Flash for me has hit the ground running at a great pace. What makes it good is that despite it feeling like a week-to-week catch the bad guy show at times, the central plot does run through every episode and there is a good, sometimes great, cliffhanger at the end of each episode. This culminates in brilliant mid and full season finales and great villains in Reverse Flash and now Zoom in season 2. Long may consistency continue for this brilliant show.

5. Daredevil (Season 1)
Favourite Character:
I was rather fond of Kingpin’s first in command and friend Wesley.
Favourite Episode: Season 1 Episode 2 – Cut Man. With it’s incredible one shot action sequence in the final act, this episode was the best starters guide to the show.
Marvel’s best TV show yet, Daredevil offers much in the style department with the setting of Hell’s Kitchen looking marvelously deadly and also offers some fantastic action sequences through-out it’s season. Comedy comes from Matt’s law buddy Foggy and there is real depth in both Matt Murdock but also his enemy Wilson Fisk. If Season 2 can make The Punisher half as interesting as Kingpin then we will be in for a treat.

4. Fear The Walking Dead (Season 1)
Favourite Character:
The only junkie I’ll ever love, Nick.
Favourite Episode: Season 1 Episode 6 – The Good Man. The finale of Fear The Walking Dead was genuinely terrifying and gave several characters, namely Travis and Liza, good resolves to their Season arcs.
Fear The Walking Dead was a very successful project which ended up being far consistent than its main show was in 2015. Fans of The Walking Dead’s world have always wondered what the end of the world looked like for other people and not only did we get that but we also got to see what it was like as the outbreak happened in a big city and residential area. Perhaps the most intriguing part of the show was finding out how the military reacted to the outbreak which was scarier than the walkers themselves. The new characters aren’t quite Rick and Carl but still likeable enough for us to care about their survival.

3. Doctor Who (Season 9)
Favourite Character:
Clara bless her soul
Favourite Episode: Season 9, Episode 11 – Heaven Sent: Doctor Who’s attempt at a one-man bottle episode was a huge success in my opinion with The Doctor having to work his way out of an impossible trap whilst being pursued by a big scary monster. Let’s call it Time.
Season 9 of Doctor Who was one of my favourites since the show returned in my lifetime. Peter Capaldi really has settled into his role and is doing incredible work as the titular character. We did have Missy and Osgood return amongst others and we had Maisie Williams join the show in a large role but it was Clara who stole the show for this season and she will now be sorely missed. The re-introduction of double episode stories mostly added to the quality of the episodes but when you get a naff story you have to sit through two episodes of it which is the bad side of that double edged sword.

2. Fortitude (Season 1)
Favourite Character:
DCI Eugene Morton, the best character on television all year expertly played by Stanley Tucci.
Favourite Episode: Season 1, Episode 9. The non-weird supernatural storyline finishes in the penultimate episode with DCI Morton finding out who killed Pettigrew and why.
Fortitude was my favourite new show of the year with Sky Atlantic bringing a sub-zero, supernatural version of Cluedo to us. After a grisly murder in a lovely Arctic Circle town, everybody is a suspect (with the exception of American DCI Morton) and everybody has motives. Strange things happen, it’s not all completely sane and it’s a bit gory at times. The reason it’s awesome is that each character is deeply explored so we really are unsure who to love and hate week after week.

1. Hannibal (Season 3)
Favourite Character: I loved the arc for Hugh Darcy’s Will Graham.
Favourite Episode: Season 3, Episode 7 – Digestivo. The mid-season finale ends the first half of the season and the Verger/Italy acts perfectly. They say the enemy of my enemy is a friend and that’s exactly the attitude that Hannibal takes when using Will and co. to take down Mason Verger once and for all.
It’s difficult to describe just how incredible Hannibal has been over the past three seasons. People are put off thinking about The Silence Of The Lambs and the horror parts of the legacy of Hannibal Lecter but the show is beautiful. It makes gore and death something to love, something pretty. It’s cast including Lawrence Fishbaurne have been stellar and at the centre of it is a love story between a psychoticly stoic and stylish therapist Hannibal Lecter and his FBI Crime Scene Investigator patient and friend Will Graham. We come into season three with Hannibal on the run after he was discovered and hurt our three heroes really bad (broken back, slashed throat and a gutting respectively) but they are not dead. Hannibal lives in Italy and is chased by Will, Alana and Jack each on their own terms. Will also goes to Hannibal’s home and becomes a killer himself, becoming closer to Hannibal. The season hit’s a turning point as Mason Verger, the baddie from season 2 catches up with everybody and plans to exact his revenge on Hannibal. Ofcourse it all goes sour for Verger, with the season’s best episode. Once this is done we are set up for one last ride with a famous villain from the source material, The Great Red Dragon played by the strong and scary Richard Armitage. This sees the whole show out with style as Hannibal and Will must work together to take him down and the finale is truly beautiful with just the right amount of potential for the cancelled show to return in the future. For now though, this is Hannibal’s design.

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