The Best of TV 2014 Pt. 212/31/2014
“You’re the Worst”(FX)
Like the equally surprising “Broad City,” “You’re the Worst” shattered preconceptions of the “edgy” cable comedy with smarts, heart, bracing moments of relationship realism (and outright debauchery), and a fearless cast led by relative unknowns Chris Geere and Aya Cash. No worries that the Toxic Twosome and gang are moving to FXX this year … right?
“The Bridge” (FX)
Apparently, FX can only sustain so many quality dramas: “The Bridge” was canceled after a low Season 2 turnout, and those who did show up were treated to a Tex-Mex stew that was a little overcooked — and it was still better than most crime dramas.
“The Strain” (FX)
Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s vampires-bent-on-world-domination tale transitioned from novel to TV series with only a few bumps and a whole lotta scares (not counting Corey Stoll’s hairpiece), and reclaimed bloodsuckers from the glam universes of “Twilight” and “True Blood.”
“Ray Donovan” (Showtime)
His sketchy character’s name is the title, and star Liev Schreiber did his damndest to take the show back from father figure Jon Voight in Season 2, mostly succeeding while taking on a twisted new FBI antagonist (Hank Azaria, killing it).
“Masters of Sex” (Showtime)
There’s no power couple on television as compelling and confounding as Dr. William Masters (Michael Sheen) and Virginia Johnson (Lizzy Caplan), and they’re barely “together,” in any sense. Was anything easy in the ’50s? Besides Virginia? (Rim-shot.)
“Welcome to Sweden” (NBC)
This Swedish import turned up on NBC’s summer schedule seemingly by accident, a subdued and charmingly awkward comedy that should have no place on a American network — and yet it worked fantastically. Watch for “Welcome to Sweden” when it “accidentally” comes around again.
“Sons of Anarchy” (FX)
The seventh and final season of “Hamlet on Harleys” was overwrought, overindulgent and over-the-top — and you expected, what? For all his faults, showrunner Kurt Sutter is still a passionate storyteller, and the finale of “Sons of Anarchy” was a fittingly chaotic closer that tied up (almost) all of the loose ends. Time to retire the patch, and the musical montage.
“The Blacklist” (NBC)
James Spader’s “Red” Reddington is one of the best villain-heroes (villo?) ever, and Season 2 of “The Blacklist” has found his FBI foil Lizzy (Megan Boone, finally free of the wig) stepping up her game, if not her crazy. And kudos for selling Pee-Wee Herman(!) as an underworld “fixer.”
“Foo Fighters: Sonic Highways” (HBO)
Idiotic Foo-hater rhetoric notwithstanding, Dave Grohl’s Great American Music Roadtrip uncovered gems even the most hardcore music geek wouldn’t be aware of. Real people playing real instruments writing real songs — embrace it while you still can.
“American Horror Story: Freak Show” (FX)
The best elements of three previous seasons came together on No. 4, “Freak Show,” along with more gorgeous cinematography, more sympathetic characters and more Jessica Lange than expected. The early loss of Twisty the Clown seemed like a misstep, but the rest of this season has been perfect.
“The Comeback” (HBO)
The first season nine years ago was merely uncomfortable; “The Comeback”’s out-of-the-blue comeback was borderline torturous — in the funniest possible way. Lisa Kudrow’s depiction of fame-junkie desperation is so masterful, you have to wonder why anybody’s even paying attention to Jennifer Aniston.
“Mike Tyson Mysteries” (Adult Swim) Whatever drugs were responsible for the creation of this … thank you.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.