It’s that time of the year when all your shows are on break, at least until the holidays are over and done. 2014 was rather surprising for TV, although there were a few disappointments along the way. This list counts the ten shows that premiered in 2014 that I found engaging both in terms of story and characters.
10. Selfie (ABC)
This freshman comedy was basically a modern retelling of Pygmalion/My Fair Lady. The catch being that Eliza Dooley (Karen Gillian) isn’t a girl with a cockney accent, but a woman obsessed with internet fame. It was hilarious in the way that it poked fun at people’s social media habits, but was unfortunately cancelled following low viewer ratings.
9. Stalker (CBS)
I love procedural crime drama, I should probably put that out there. I admittedly felt a little weird watching this one at first – owing mostly to the fact that I’ve seen and used the term stalking lightly that I’d forgotten the bigger behavioral issue behind it. I wouldn’t recommend it to those easily triggered, but it’s definitely something to watch when you want to see just how quickly that kind of behavior can escalate.
8. Forever (ABC)
I’ve seen a lot of shows that mix detective work and supernatural beings. In this one, Dr. Henry Morgan (Ioan Gruffudd) is a medical examiner in the Big Apple. He also happens to be functionally immortal. Going by the title, it’s a play on the question “what would you do if you could live forever?” but then the answer to that is completely subjective. Its biggest appeal lies in Henry’s history, and how it affects the way he moves in the present.
7. Scorpion (CBS)
They call a bunch of scorpions a cyclone, apparently. I’ve always called them a seething horde of death and destruction. I’m a sucker for dramas that center on misfits trying to find their place in the world, and this show happens to center around a bunch of geniuses (most of whom have IQs close to or at 197) who feel like they can’t fit in a world of “normals”. Loosely (very) based on the life computer expert and self-proclaimed genius Walter O’Brien, it feels something like a tech’d-up MacGuyver most of the time. I found it worth watching for all the “I’m so smart I can’t process my feels properly” moments, and the moments of unabashed smart-alecky interactions. It also shares a universe with NCIS.
6. How to Get Away With Murder (ABC)
The youngest of three shows produced by Shonda Rhimes’ ShondaLand Productions, this legal drama actually has plenty of sex (at least one scene per episode). The pacing and the plot aren’t half bad, and I can understand why this – along with Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy – makes up ABC’s Thursday night primetime lineup. I will confess that the legalese can make my mind slip a little, and I would like to have at least one lawyer beside me the next time I catch it. I would recommend it to anyone wanting the same level of drama within Grey’s, minus the fact that said show has been on forever.
5. Constantine (NBC)
Yes, I know that the movie was basically the lite version of Hellblazer, and I’ve actually yet to read the comics. What I do know is that this show is hot on the heels of Sleepy Hollow in the TV Do-Over of a Movie area, and not to its detriment. Watching this show makes me hungry for the comics and the mythos behind all of it. Constantine (Matt Ryan) is one of those people who’re quite literally haunted by their past, and everything he does is in his pursuit of forgiveness, and if he happens to save the world along the way… That’s just cricket.
4. Outlander (Starz)
This one was surprising. The show was based off of Diana Gabladon’s novel series, and is half-science fiction and half-romance fantasy. As of the moment, there are more questions to it than there are answers, and inasmuch as I would love to spoil myself by reading the books, I’ll wait it out. The series’ tagline “What if your future was your past?” is enough to make you wonder, really. It also begs the question “Is this a paradox?” like in Continuum, but again… I’ll need to stay tuned to find out.
3. Penny Dreadful (Showtime)
I’m not great with the horror genre. Ask anyone, jump-scare scenes launch me right out of my seat. This show gets its name from the 19th century British fiction publication. It published stories that were considered lurid and sensational for its time, and the show itself borrows characters whose exploits were also originally published in the same era (Frankenstein and Dracula, to name at least two.) This one makes my top three because the stories told in the first season were just top-notch, the actors (particularly Eva Green and Rory Kinnear) were breathtaking in their roles, and the jump scares were just shy of being too much to handle. It’s only in the third spot because I found it short (and even that wasn’t a bad thing.)
2. The Flash (CW)
2014 was, arguably, a good year to be a kid who grew up with comics. I loved Arrow from the moment it aired, as it showed me a different take on the man and the hero – I don’t think I’m the only one who screamed when Barry Allen made an appearance on that show. Now, here we are eight episodes into the first season and I’m in love. Of course, the season isn’t done yet, and I’m thirsty for more. The Flash takes the #2 spot on account of the fact that they’ve managed to connect to the DC Universe without making the placement too obvious.
1. Gotham (Fox)
My sister actually asked me why I put Gotham at the top, but bear with me here. We’ve seen the Bat at his prime, we’ve seen his Rogues come at him with everything they have, but none of that matters yet. Gotham is a crime drama first and foremost. It happens to be set in Gotham City and the overarching plot is the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne. At its core, this is the story of James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) at the start of his career. The GCPD isn’t clean, and neither are the streets of Gotham. The visuals are stunning, and the take on the city is refreshing. As I watch it, I find myself more curious about how James cleans up the GCPD and goes to all-out war against the crime families of Gotham.
All in all, it’s been a great year for TV. Of course, viewer ratings will affect which shows come back next fall, and already one on this list has been cancelled. With all our favorite shows on break, it may be time to check out some of the other shows you’ve had queued forever.