T&A Take on TV 2015

A thoughtful and abstract look at the best and worst of TV in 2015.
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In which Shawn and Kim reflect on their favorite televison programs and the disappointments.

Shawn: We've had a few opportunities in 2015 to write about the TV shows that entertained and frustrated us.  But I thought it would be good to put a bow on the year with the Best and Worst moments of TV 2015.  In no particular order.

BEST MOMENTS

1.)  THE WALKING DEAD (AMC) - We started the year with Tyreese's death and end up with the death of Deanna.  In between, we had developments that I didn't agree with and ones that intrigued me.  I know I can find things to criticize the show.  But most of those are procedural.  In the end, it's still the only show I watched mostly in "real time" every Sunday night.  I'm as invested in this show as any other on either side of this list.

2.)  FARGO Season 2 (FX) - I went into this with as much doubt as you can have about a second season of a show that I loved as much as I did the first season of this show.  And I'm not saying it beats Season One but this is a case of 1 and 1A.  I am floored by how entertaining of a story they created that compliments the original story.

3.)  GOTHAM Season 2 (FOX) - I wanted to give up on this show about 24 different times during the First Season.  I think I held on because I liked the cast in general.  Then I was rewarded with a season-long story revolving more around the villains.  The addition of Cameron Monaghan, who plays an almost as twisted character as Ian Gallagher on Shameless has made this a show I can't stop watching.

4.)  THE FLASH / iZOMBIE (CW) - The best 1-2 combo of the week is on a channel I used to say I'd never watch.  Both shows have unique and fun senses of humor.  With all the dark and gritty shows around - this is a breath of fresh air.

5.)  RAY DONOVAN (SHOW)  No one is watching this show.  I don't end up even bringing up how much I've enjoyed the last season.  It's about as intense as 60-minutes gets on cable tv.

6.)  DAREDEVIL (NETFLIX) - Gotham and The Flash are at opposite ends of my superhero spectrum as far as tone goes.  I don't even know where to put Daredevil except off the map.  It took a character I've only rarely been interested in and made him and his universe one that I want more of.  The only thing that keeps this show down is questionable casting of the supporting characters.

7.)  BETTER CALL SAUL (AMC) - Sometimes you see one commercial and you know you are going to love a show.  Perfectly illustrated.  It's one of the top shows of the year.

8.)  HALT AND CATCH FIRE (AMC) - It was a great year for second seasons.  This show had to really change gears this season and it may actually have picked up steam.  The story became so much more about the people that the '80s settting felt much more natural and not so forced.

9.)  ASH VS. THE EVIL DEAD (STARZ) - We have had a revamp of horror shows on television but this show found that horror comedy spot I've had an itch for since Army of Darkness.  It's nice to see "the old guys" can still get together and make a relevant television show.

10.)  DOCUMENTARY NOW! (IFC) - Never has a parody show shown such love and high regard for its source material.  If you have friends that haven't seen the originals of these parodies - they might be easily fooled that these are the real deal.  Best moments - the Thin Blue Line takeoff and the Vice tribute.

DISAPPOINTMENTS

1.)  AMERICAN HORROR STORY: HOTEL (FX) - I spent much of the Fall of 2014 and early 2015 catching up on the previous seasons of this show.  I have had mixed feelings on most of them but remained generally entertained.  Most of it has been the acting that saves the show.  This season has taken the show to an all-time low.  Mostly with how miscast almost every single character feels.  The biggest surprise is how much I love Lady Gaga who is the only one who's perfectly cast but wasted.  I hope she gets another chance somewhere along the way.

2.)  TRUE DETECTIVE Season 2 (HBO) - I tried.  It was just a mess.  It started with the promise of being a David Lynch-esqe take on Los Angeles police and politics mixed with an updated version of Chinatown.  In the end it was a big "meh".

3.)  CONSTANTINE (NBC) - It was too much of a slow burn for NBC and it was surely on the wrong channel and evening.  This show didn't hit me at first but by the end of the season it was one of the most intriguing superhero shows out there.  I love the character and I'm disappointed we won't get another season to finish the open stories.

4.)  HEROES REBORN (NBC) - I am disappointed because I wanted this to work.  But after a decent first couple episodes, I've left them on the DVR just gathering the dust of indifference.  

5.)  THE BASTARD EXECUTIONER (FX) - The show wasn't the worst of the year.  In fact, there was quite a bit to be intrigued about from the very beginning.  But everything seemed against this show succeeding.  It had a pretty complex plot that I couldn't explain in one minute to people who weren't already watching it, so if you missed the first night, you were already two hours behind.  It was on a terrible night of the week and just wasn't going to find a audience in the crowded Fall field.  It's too bad, Lady Love, we hardly knew ye.

6.)  ARROW Season 4 (CW) - Well, to be fair it started dropping off for me in Season 3.5.  The show has lost much of the wonder for me.  I'm tired of their forced flashbacks and that this whole season feels like a setup for the spin-off.  It's telling that the best episodes have been the crossovers with the Flash and when Constantine showed up.

7.)  FEAR THE WALKING DEAD (AMC)  Casting Kim Dickens was a sure way to get me to commit to a full season.  The pacing was such that I felt completely disconnected from the characters until we got to the Season Finale.  I'm not going to bail on Season 2 just yet because Kim Dickens but I'll have a much shorter rope before I leave it on the Summer junk heap.

8.) AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D (ABC)  It pains me to say that I just don't care much anymore.  The stories aren't terrible when I do play catch up but they are derivative and seem to be where we have been stuck for a couple seasons.  I can't even put into words what I want to see to make this relevant again.

9.)  NONLINEAR STORYTELLING - It's not clever or particularly groundbreaking to tell your story out of time order.  Jumping forward and backward in time can be effective occasionally.  I remember it being of good use in X-Files and Breaking Bad (thanks, Vince Gilligan), and Lost took it to another level.  But now it feels like shows are doing it just because they can.  It doesn't make you seem smarter or the story more interesting.  I'm sick of your flashbacks, Arrow, and Walking Dead, you are clearly in my sites.  Take this last season of Walking Dead and tell it straight and I think you get an even better season full of more suspense.  Let's get back to going from Point A to Point B.

10.)  SUPERSIZED EPISODES - It used to be a big deal to get extra minutes of The Office.  Now just try to record any show off of FX.  Kurt Sutter started this trend back on Sons and continued it into Bastard.  But it's AHS too.  It's spread to AMC, HBO, Showtime, and even some of the network shows now.  Trust me - you could tell your story in the 60 minutes with a little thing called an editor.  There's too much filler in most hour-long shows as is.  Work harder and it'll pay off.  Trust me.

Kim: I was trying to think of how I'd categorize shows here.  Would I just follow your lead and comment on your things?  I mean, I generally do that in a crowd, but some people don't dig that.  I think I'll do my highs and lows.  Keep in mind, I don't watch a whole lot of shows and a couple of these things may not actually be 2015, that's just when I watched them.  I'm going backwards from you.  I will start with the bad and end with the good - you know, starting a new year on a positive note and all that jazz.  

DISAPPOINTMENTS

(And no, I'm not talking about how my mother felt about my teenage years.)  

1.)  The cancellation of a couple of shows, most notably Constantine and The Bastard Executioner.  I loved both of these shows for different reasons.  I think they were both plagued by really shitty time slots.  TBX was a hot show for smart people (I'll talk about it again, don't worry) and maybe all of the really smart people were sleeping for work the next day.  Constantine was consistently entertaining for me.  I like spontaneous combustion though, so there's that.

2.) The 2015 MISS UNIVERSE PAGEANT - This was the single most uncomfortable thing to watch in all of 2015.  I don't have much to say about it all, but wow.  No one had any idea what to do for a few minutes and even after Steve Harvey gallantly owned his mistake, they still didn't know what to do.

3.)  AMERICAN CRIME - This. Show. Sucked.  I have trouble sentencing.  It was incredibly predictable, right down to the end.  I found it trying far too hard to be socially relevant.  There were zero likable characters in this show. Zero.  I don't think I've ever watched a show where I hated every single character.  I'm pretty sure that's not how I was supposed to feel when watching it. 

4.) THE FLASH - I have a problem with the Flash.  I have a problem with things like Gorilla Grodd and Earth 2.  I don't like that I already have to suspend belief for Flash and the local metahumans, but now we've got these other people and suddenly regular Earth metahumans have...um...disappeared?  Don't matter?  I don't even know.  But hey, set up for your new show there, CW.  I get it, I really do, but...

5.) ARROW -  The Olicity thing at the beginning made me want to puke.  It got better, but there was a whole lot of whining so far this season.  We spent a long time setting up the new show as well, including Sara and Ray and the Twins and Savage and crossover with Flash and OMG, just stop it.  Stop it.  This is a good show.  Oliver is dark and brooding.  Oliver is supposed to be dark and brooding.  He's not this goofy guy with cheesy lines.  He's just not.  This is what happens when people you want to get together in a show do. Can't we just make Flash do a time-jump every time Ollie and Felicity get close and so they start all over with the sexual tension and brooding?  I didn't like Flash the first few episodes.  Know why?  I thought it was too goofy.  That's what they're turning Arrow into.  Less cheese, more shirtless Amell.  Please. 

6.) AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. - When this came back on this Fall, I watched the first episode and then I never went back.  This was more like the Agents of DAISY.  Pass.  Sorry. 

7.) INTO THE BADLANDS -  I have no idea what this show was about.  There was a cool fight scene in the first episode and...what time period is this?  Did they have motorcycles back then?  Is it modern times?  Why are they dressed like Mad Max outcasts?  What is happening here?  I don't know,  Next!

8.) FEAR THE WALKING DEAD - Biggest piece of shit I've seen in forever.  It was painful to watch.  I've ripped it apart when we did our official weekly recaps and I'm not wasting more time on it right now.

9.) THE WALKING DEAD - This show.  It is my heart.  It is my soul.  It has consistently been the most exciting hour of my week from October to December and again February - April.  Until this season.  Go read our recent columns on this, and you'll see why I've listed it as a disappointment.  

10.)  I don't have a number 10.  Let's do a MadLib instead!  (NAME OF SHOW) was the (adjective) show of 2015.  All of the actors were (plural noun) and couldn't (verb) their way out of a paper (noun).  

AWESOME SAUCE

1.)  DAREDEVIL - I thought this might be the darkest, most entertaining thing Marvel has put together.  I'm so hopeful for the next season when we get Jon Bernthal as The Punisher and this show is going to be even more kick ass.

2.)  JESSICA JONES - Speaking of kick-ass - this show!  This is dark humor and sexy and excitement and story all rolled into one and so well done that I don't even recognize it as a Marvel product.  I can't say enough about Jessica Jones.  I really can't say enough about Luke Cage, either.  

3.)  THE BASTARD EXECUTIONER - This appears on both my boo and yay list.  I loved this show (and Lee Jones).  I thought it was original, imaginative, and intriguing.  It was incredibly ambitious and I really think it was written for smart people with an interest in religious history. To be honest, if you didn't follow that or have a strong background in English history, you'd hate it.  Not me though. Also, I didn't care how long it was, with the exception of running the first two together (bad move).  Sure, there were confusing parts, but this is every show I watch.  That's why you watch it again and get all of the things you missed.  

4.)  iZOMBIE - This is the best hour of any given week.  It's funny and imaginative and makes me happy.  Here's a little something fun for you.  You know how the butcher shop was called "Meat Cute"?  Well, "Meat Cute" is the name of the place where this one girl from another show works.  She goes on a date with a guy named Soos in the episode where he pisses off the Anime videogame girl.  The show is Gravity Falls.  What do I win?  

5.)  QUANTICO - This show is so ridiculous.  It is filled with pretty young people, all having sex with other pretty people.  There are explosions and constant flashbacks and returning to the present or future and running and mystery and intrigue and it's more exciting than this run-on sentence that I just keep typing because I want you to know how exciting it is to watch a show full of red herrings that are explained and then maybe not explained, no explained, No wait!!!  OMG, I can't wait until I see the next episode because I'm an addict.  Sorry, I love this show.  I'm concerned that it's on opposite of The Walking Dead.  I'll remain hopeful.

6.)  THE WALKING DEAD - Not only my biggest disappointment, but it is also the only show I will never DVR because I watch it live.  It's still the best show out there, even though it fell flat for the first eight episodes in 2015.  Can't win 'em all.  Hopefully it gets some viagra over this break and comes back ready to go for at least four episodes.  

7.)  Hot guys on all of the above shows! - *AHEM*  Stephen Amell, Norman Reedus, Lee Jones, Charlie Cox, Mike Colter, Rahul Kohli, and Jake McLaughlin.  You are all so, so beautiful.  I would like to make you some bacon and just watch you eat it.  You should be shirtless.  I'll throw in coffee.  If you don't eat meat or bacon (what?!?!?), I will make a coffee cake.  Or buy you something.  The only thing I ask (besides being shirtless) is that before you leave, you tell me I have a lovely home. Oh, and pose for a shirtless picture while holding a mop or a broom or something.  Shhhhh...don't ruin my fantasy.  

I don't have an 8, 9 or 10, but only because I haven't watched a couple of things that I'm still meaning to:  FARGO, ASH VS. EVIL DEAD, and MAKING A MURDERER.  So I'll list them, officially, as hopeful.  

Happy 2016.  I hope it brings me a lot more of the hot guys, a lot less of the boredom, and an improvement in the shows I've loved for a while that just didn't cut it for me in 2015, much like the last six weeks or so of the NFL Season.

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