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The Best TV of 2014 Pt. 1



(Almost) everything you should revisit, or discover, from the past year.


“True Detective” (HBO)

HBO's "True Detective" Season 1  Matthew McConaughey: Rustin Cohle Woody Harrelson:  Martin Hart Ritchie Montgomery: Henry Oliver Photo: Jim Bridges/HBO

HBO’s “True Detective” Season 1
Matthew McConaughey: Rustin Cohle
Woody Harrelson: Martin Hart
Ritchie Montgomery: Henry Oliver
Photo: Jim Bridges/HBO

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Creator/writer Nic Pizzolatto probably screwed himself by launching this mesmerizing crime anthology with stars Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson at the top of their respective games. Good luck following up these eight near-perfect episodes.


“Banshee” (Cinemax)

This left-field, visceral mashup of “Justified,” “Twin Peaks” and “Fight Club” went pulp-gonzo harder in Season 2, expanding the world of Banshee, Pennsylvania, just enough to introduce even more Amish mobster/Ukrainian thug mayhem. It’s that weird — and that cool.




“Shameless” (Showtime)

Things somehow got worse as they got better for the Gallagher clan in Season 4, with William H. Macy and Emmy Rossum delivering alternately heartbreaking and hilarious performances. This is America’s family.


“Justified” (FX)

Star Timothy Olyphant put his boot down and rescued Justified from becoming entirely Boyd’s (Walton Goggins) show in its fifth and penultimate season, and brought some new colorful characters along for the ride.

“Broad City” (Comedy Central)

Few comedies arrive as fully-realized as Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer’s Broad City (though it did have a head-start as a web series); their broke Brooklynites are the female flipside of Workaholics, only smarter, funnier and occasionally grosser.


“Helix” (Syfy)

Ronald D. Moore’s (“Battlestar Galactica”) arctic “Andromeda Strain”/“Walking Dead” hybrid crept up with no big splash, but it did earn a second season for 2015 — catch up on Netflix now.


“The Americans” (FX) Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys continued to out-spy “Homeland” while still stuck in Cold War 1981, facing down more danger (and wigs) than Carrie and Brody could ever imagine.


“Archer” (FX)

Meanwhile, Archer (code-named Archer Vice) blew up its spy premise and dove face-first into cocaine and country music. Literally.


“House of Cards” (Netflix)

Vice president Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) delivered a shocking twist in the first episode of Season 2, and the train didn’t stop a-rollin’ from there. As with actual D.C. politics, it’s best not to think too hard about the machinations en route to the presidency.


“Fargo” (FX) Lorne (Billy Bob Thornton), Lester (Martin Freeman) and Deputy Molly (Allison Tolman) shut down the “You can’t touch that movie” doubters from frame one with this dark, funny adaptation that faltered even fewer times than “True Detective.” Oh, you bet’cha.


“Bates Motel” (A&E)

Murder, drugs, love triangles, commercial zoning disputes — “Bates Motel” has it all. Norman (Freddie Highmore) became as intriguing as mother Norma (Vera Farmiga) in Season 2, no small feat, as did some of the supporting players. Why wait for Showtime’s “Twin Peaks” revival? It’s already here.


“Parks & Recreation” (NBC)

Parks and Rec.

Parks and Rec.

While excellent as ever, Season 6 probably should have been the last (maybe even halfway through), but at least we’ll get a proper sendoff for NBC’s last great Must-See comedy in 2015.


“Orange Is the New Black” (Netflix)

Season 2 leaned more dramatic than comedic, and pulled killer performances from everyone in (and out) of Litchfield Penitentiary. Creator Jenji Kohan is well on her way to achieving the heretofore-thought impossible: Topping her previous series, “Weeds.”


Coming next week: Part 2 — even more shows! CV


Bill Frost writes about television for Salt Lake City Weekly, talks about it on the TV Tan Podcast (Tuesdays on iTunes and Stitcher), and tweets about it at @Bill_Frost.


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