…That you should NOT miss in 2014. All right Kiddies, it Thursday, the day when my opinions jump out of my brain and into this Fellowship. Let us dive right in!
Being mid-January, I doubt anyone wants to read cares about my top ten list of last year’s television shows. Besides, it has already been done and way better than I ever could! But here are some shows that you should be watching in 2014*, and in one case, catch completely before an American version airs.
(*I obviously omitted shows that have come to an end like Breaking Bad. If you haven’t seen that show by now, I doubt you were ever going to begin anyway. But just so you know, they invented this thing called Netflix. And Hulu Plus. And Amazon Prime…And AMC.)
These include spoiler-free, sometimes brief synopsis, of the following shows.
8. The Walking Dead (Season 4 returns on February 9 at 9/8c on AMC)
What you’ve been missing: Yes, I included a very popular show on this list, but I would be remiss not to incorporate a show that is constantly evolving, polarizing, and killing off their characters week after week. There are some of you out there that have either never seen the show or abandoned ship after the slow burn of season 2.
And yes, creator Robert Kirkman is treading familiar ground with another story about the zombie apocalypse, but is it really? A survival tale, sure, but often the real terrors are not the living dead moseying along outside; it’s the horrors brought about by the fear in others.
Based on the long-running, beloved graphic novel, The Walking Dead centers around a cast of complex characters led by Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), a former cop who wakes up from a coma to find the world gone way of Romero, and their search for peace in the land of the dead.
How you can catch up: Seasons 1-3 are on Netflix. Season 4 is currently streaming at amctv.com.
What you can expect 2014: More deaths. More tears. New locations and new series regulars.
7. Masters of Sex (Season 2 premieres sometime in 2014 on Showtime)
What you’ve been missing: My third favorite new show of 2013, Masters of Sex is an innovative and brave look at human relationships and how each interaction defines who we are. Michael Sheen leads a stellar cast in this period drama about Dr. William Masters and Virginia Johnson and their revolutionary research into sexuality at Washington University in the late 1950’s.
The real draw and star of this series is Lizzy Caplan, whose unabashed and dynamic screen presence will keep you yearning (ha!) for more.
How you can catch up: Showtime Anytime to see the first 12 episodes.
What you can expect 2014: The finale was a slight disappointment for me, but I expect the show to come back with a bang (natch). Expect less attempts to recreate Mad Men and more innovative storylines.
6. Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Currently airing Season 1 Tuesdays, 8:30/7:30c on Fox)
What you’ve been missing: Golden Globe winner Andy Samberg charms his way through “cases of the week” in this brilliantly-executed, modern sitcom about a Brooklyn precinct of cops and their hard-nosed Chief (Andre’ Braugher). The show is unashamedly silly, equally fun and heart-warming, and everything you loved about The Office, only Brooklyn takes far more risks.
How you can catch up: HuluPlus; Fox.com
What you can expect 2014: More guests stars (probably SNL alums) stopping by to rob liquor stores or kill gas station attendants. High-concept comedy, and most likely, a new couple.
5. Doctor Who (Series 8 returns Autumn of 2014 on BBC America)
What you’ve been missing: Only FIFTY years of the best sci-fi fantasy ever to grace the screen! Yes, you’ve missed fifty years, but the greatest thing about this show is the built in “reboot” that happens every time the Doctor “dies.” Twelve men have played the Doctor, each with a distinct personality and wit, and after Matt Smith’s regeneration at Christmas, next up is Peter Capaldi.
A (roughly) one thousand year-old Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey, the Doctor travels through space and time, though he lands in London and Cardiff frequently, in his TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimension In Space) (it’s like a spaceship/time machine) (you’ll catch on; it’s fine) with a (typically) human companion (sidekick). Reimagined by Russell T. Davies in 2005, the show is more popular than ever, and it consistently brings some of the best writing and emotions to television.
You’ve seen it on Facebook and Pinterest and Twitter and posters and blogs and conventions…the Doctor is everywhere. Just get on board.
How you can catch up: Netflix. There are a myriad of alternating ways to dive into Who. I recommend: starting with my favorite episode “Blink” (Series 3, Episode 11 of the 2005 Update) and then going back to “Rose” (2005, Series 1, Episode 1). If you are not hooked after that, you have no soul.
Then, for fun and reference, go back and start in 1963 (if you can find those episodes…Netflix starts with ’64).
What you can expect 2014: No one knows the kind of Doctor Peter Capaldi will be, but if this is any indication, we are in for a load of f-ing fun.
4. Parks and Recreation (Season 6 is currently airing Thursdays, 8:30/7:30c on NBC)
What you’ve been missing: There has never been another comedy like Parks; the show has hit no sour note since finding its stride. You may find yourself wondering if it is possible to join a show that just aired its 100 episode, but with Parks and Recreation, you can start with any episode and find yourself in stitches. Each character is so defined, never alternating from the core of the person they are, that the audience is never confused about their motives.
Golden Globe Winner (YAY!) Amy Poehler stars as wide-eyed city worker Leslie Knope, who bucks the stale bureaucratic system in her local Pawnee, Indiana government and works tirelessly to excite those around her about civic responsibility.
It took exactly three episodes for the show to find its creative footing, and with the dynamic additions of Adam Scott and Rob Lowe at the end of season 2, Parks never looked back. No moment is built without comedy or heart. You care for these people, and at times, find yourself tearing up for their big moments.
How you can catch up: Netflix Seasons 1-5. HuluPlus current season.
What you can expect 2014: Creators Greg Daniels and Michael Schur have revitalized storylines seamlessly by offering Leslie a huge challenge at the beginning of Season 6. By posing the questions: “What do you do when you’ve gained, and subsequently lost everything you’ve always wanted? Where do you go from there?” new trials and stories await.
3. Sherlock (Series 3 returns Sunday January 19 at 10/9c on PBS)
What you’ve been missing: Um…Smaug and Bilbo BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH and MARTIN FREEMAN (!) star as Sherlock and Dr. Watson in this contemporary version of the Sherlock Holmes saga (and yes, it began before Elementary on CBS).
Every episode is presented with its own marriage of drama and humor; it’s like nothing else on television. The mysteries are deeper and more realized that many films, and the “slow burn” never feels quite so slow.
The chemistry between Cumberbatch and Freeman is far superior than any couple in years; I cannot think of a better suited duo.
How you can catch up: Netflix.
What you can expect 2014: After a tremendously clever end to Series 2, three opens with a proverbial bang, albeit a quite one. Expect more mystery, friendship, and obsession.
2. Orphan Black (Season 2 premieres Saturday, April 19th at 9/8c on BBC America)
What you’ve been missing: Tatiana Maslany stars as, well, several people. It begins when Sarah Manning, a down-on-her-luck (again) screw-up ends her relationship with her abusive boyfriend in order to connect back with her daughter. An orphan, Sarah was raised by Mrs. S, Maria Doyle Kennedy with a few secrets of her own, along with her “brother” Felix, basically her only friend.
Sarah witnesses the suicide of someone who looks entirely too much like her, and with that, the story begins. I am giving nothing away to say that Sarah meets more people that look like her. The “clone club” as they call themselves, but are they really?
An original concept, to say the least, the show takes risks that have, so far, paid off to mind-blowing degrees. The plot frequently zigs where you fully expect a zagging action, and it never feels unearned.
How you can catch up: Season 1 is on bbcamerica.com
What you can expect 2014: More clones, a deeper dive into the mystery of why each exists, and the hunt for Sarah’s most important love.
1. Broadchurch (It’s over. You have to wait for the American version for “new” episodes)
What you’ve been missing: Broadchurch is simply the best thing I have seen on television in YEARS, maybe ever. Each shot is fully realized, captivating photography, captivating cast, heart-wrenching moments, terrible and true emotions, you are transported into the world of Broadchurch, a small British town on the coast.
The beach is lovely but covered in a haze of fog and shadow; the isolated town is a snapshot of what could be anywhere.
The story begins on the morning when Danny Latimer, a young skateboarding pre-teen goes missing. It is not long before a body is found on the shore and the mystery begins. Trouble Detective Inspector Alec Hardy (David Tennant) and his reluctant partner Detective Sergeant Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman) must battle the family, reporters, and the town’s growing fear in order to solve the murder before all out chaos ensues.
The show was a limited series of 8 episodes, but it was announced in October that we will get an American remake for Fox.
How you can catch up: OnDemand at Dish, DirecTv, TWC, Cox, etc. Amazon Prime. iTunes.
What you can expect 2014: No airdate has currently been announced for Gracepoint, the American remake, but production begins in the coming weeks. Gracepoint will start David Tennant, reprising his role, and Anna Gunn (Breaking Bad). We have been assured a new mystery and a new ending…so you will gain nothing from skipping Broadchurch. I cannot believe you’re still reading! Go watch it! Right NOW!
Happy Watching in 2014.