2015 – My TV Picks

Sorry this has arrived a tad late, but I wanted to make sure I finished the second season of Fargobefore compiling this list.
Here is a breakdown of the TV shows that I managed to catch during 2015. I’ve listed them alphabetically:
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Season 2 Part 2)
I think I’m done with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The fact that I’d set myself the goal of reviewing every episode was my encouragement to keep on with season 1, but season 2 dragged without that drive. That being said, the show did have its moments (1.17 to 2.10 was a pretty great run) but that just meant the weaker sections sagged unsustainably (too much of 2.10 to 2.22 for my liking). I won’t be returning for season 3.
★★
Broad City (Season 1)
If I were pushed to pick a series of the year, this brilliant comedy from Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson would probably get the nod. I loved this opening season and, from what I’ve heard, it just keeps getting better!
★★★★★
Catastrophe (Seasons 1 & 2)
Catastrophe was the show to beat during the first few months of the year. So, when Channel 4 announced it would be returning for a second season less than a year after the first, my girlfriend, Natalia, and I couldn’t have been more excited. Unfortunately, that excitement wasn’t quite merited by the final product. Season 2 pulled a series of narrative bluffs which, while admirable, provided a frustrating disruption to the pacing. But a first class initial six episodes and an ambitious, albeit more troubled, second six stills makes for a pretty great show.
★★★★
Daredevil
I loved Netflix’s debut Marvel series. The action sequences are brutal, the central cast is great and it’s spot on tonally. While Jessica Jones is arguably tackling more challenging subject matter (see below), Daredevil paved the way brilliantly.
★★★★
Fargo (Season 2)
Fargo season 2 was one of my most anticipated TV picks going into the year. After a great opening episode, I struggled for a few weeks to really get emotionally involved in this 70s-set narrative. The style was there (in abundance), but Noah Hawley and his team hadn’t yet matched that with a deserving emotional core. The second half of the season rectified that no end, giving us a handful of contenders for the best individual episodes of the year. When it finds its groove, Fargois ‘the best show on TV’ material.
★★★★★
Humans
I made it through the whole of the first season of Humans, the science fiction coproduction between Channel 4, in the UK, and AMC, in the US, and enjoyed it for what it was. The show looked as slick as pretty much anything on British TV and it was playing in a (somewhat derivative) thematic sandpit I enjoy dipping my toes into. But, I just never truly connected and I won’t be tuning in to season 2. I can’t imagine I’ll miss it.
★★★
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
I binged Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt in a weekend back in March, and what a weekend that was. Tina Fey and Robert Carlock have created the perfect star vehicle for the gloriously off-kilter Ellie Kemper. There are cameos galore, but they never steal the show from the real stars; the central cast. Pinot Noir, caviar . . .
★★★★
Red Oaks
I’ve got Natalia to thank for this one. We were both drawn in by Craig Robert’s involvement, but I started to drift after the solid opening pilot. It was Natalia who encouraged me to stick with it and, boy, was that the right call! The show smashes ace after ace from episode 5 through 10. Hell, even the body swap episode has its charms.
★★★★
The 100 (Season 2)
The 100 is without doubt the most improved show of the year. I’m so glad I stuck with season 1 as they ironed out the teen-iness and began to find their own path through the dime a dozen young adult environments. The show found its feet by the season 1 finale, but season 2 is when everything really got going. The 100 is mature, subversive, challenging science fiction. This is definitely one to catch up on!
★★★★
The Last Man on Earth (Season 1)
This is the one show I didn’t stick out to the end of a season, giving up on it just over halfway through the first run. Will Forte’s fun and some of the elaborate physical comedy is good, but it never fully drew me in and made it surprisingly easy to just slip away.
★★
Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp
I raved about this in a video review over the summer. I must admit, it hasn’t stayed with me that memorably, but I had a blast at the time. I loved the limited run format (8 episodes) and it improved on the film no end. And there’s no question that First Day of Camp featured the best cameos of the year!
★★★★
And there are two shows Natalia and I are currently partway through . . .
Bloodline
Suiting the show, this has been somewhat of a slow burn for me. I got a few episodes in over the summer, but have only come back to it sporadically. As a result, I’m left stranded somewhere in the second act. That being said, I love the tone of the show and Kyle Chandler is pretty much my dream leading man, so I hope to take the plunge once more. It looks gorgeous as well!
★★★★
Jessica Jones
Now, this has been less of a trouble. Natalia and I started this just before the Christmas break, so not being able to continue has been through no choice of our own. The ace opening episode hooked us in brilliantly and, if things seemed to be slowing down a bit over the following hours, episode 5 is a cracker. Kilgrave is an immensely disturbing and brilliantly crafted villain and the thematic undertones (domestic abuse, manipulation and trust etc.) are more substantial than pretty much any other superhero screen adaptation out there. I can’t wait to get back to this one!
★★★★

2 thoughts on “2015 – My TV Picks

  1. I agree with your assessment of Daredevil and Jessica Jones (though she can be a bit whiney at times – I suppose due to her traffic life and angst).Fargo did begin slowly but I didn't see it come around as you did. I lived through that period here in the States,so maybe that appeal is lost on me, but I just never connected with any of the characters… as I would suppose the writers are trying to find some part of us that would connect even a little bit with a/the characters(s). Last year's Fargo was brilliant. The characters were fleshed out fantastically. The season never dragged, I anticipated each episode. This year, there were times I almost gave up watching. Last year the season left me with an over-filled belly. This season I was left hungry.

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  2. That's interesting to hear you say that. I think I'm with you on preferring the first season, if only by a hair. Although I think the second half of season 2 is the best the show's ever been, season 1 gets the top spot primarily for being more consistently engaging. And, I agree that the central characters in season 1 (Malvo, Lester, Molly and Gus etc.) mostly win out against their counterparts. But, season 2 felt more confident to me, especially stylistically. I was blown away time after time by the sheer virtuosity of season 2 in a way that I rarely felt during the first year. I can't wait to see what they have in store for season 3!Thanks for commenting!

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