12/28/15

Best of 2015 - Favorite TV Show . . .


As I've mentioned many, many (perhaps too many) times we don't have cable. We are not too good for it - we're to cheap (and I'm tired, despite what I do for a living, of the advertisements and most of the shows on today (because of declining audiences, greater budgets and creative opportunities, etc. elsewhere) are just not enough to keep me around.

That being said it is both more (and less) difficult to talk about "good" shows when you're a little over four years cable/TV free. I'm pretty much relegated to streaming which means binging which means less exposure by way of number of shows one might watch (I used to watch 30 different shows a week - now I watch every episode of one and then work my way through the other 29) in a year. So - all that said - here are my favorite shows of the last year (regardless of when the rest of you got to watch them).

10) Mozart in the Jungle - (Amazon Prime) I didn't read the novel but when I first saw the pilot for this show during Amazon's "Pilot Season" in 2014 I could not WAIT for the whole series. To summarize the show is a look at the "behind the scenes" (fictionalized as they likely are) of classical/orchestra musicians in New York City. As someone who has always loved the idea of making your living doing something you love and/or through art the show is both inspiring and level-setting. I found it charming from start to stop. Season two comes out later this week.

9) TURN - Something else I've always been curious about . . . what it would have been like to live through the Revolutionary War. To be clear not all those living in the colonies during the war wanted to be in a war or even to revolt from the crown at all. And, as part of that, it made loyalty and fighting and strategizing probably very difficult for all involved. Turn, which is going to have a third season (I've only seen season one) in 2016, is a great snapshot of what it would be like to fight - in many meanings of the word - through that era.

8) Wolf Hall - (PBS, PBS App/Amazon Prime) The Tudor dynasty has never been more ugly or sexy than in this adaptation of the trilogy of narrative non-fiction books from Hilary Mantel that went to Broadway and then to PBS and now to streaming. I had not heard of Thomas Cromwell before this show (and the books got ALL the buzz) but he was a fascinating bastard that worked with and for bastards at a bastardly time). This show was splendid.

7) Miss Fisher's Murder Series - (ABC (Australian Broadcasting Company), Netflix) I may have (indirectly) mentioned maybe one time at once a long, long time ago on this blog how much I enjoy detective shows and mysteries on my idiot box. Okay, fine. I've mentioned it twice (times one million) and alllllll my favorite shows fall under this flag. SADLY 2015 was a quiet year for murder mysteries and detectives with a sense of humor and large database of "fabulous" friends who fall dead. This show - set in the charming 1920s Australia - has some of the best costumes in the history of television and a "lady detective" lead character that offends SLF's feminist sensibilities. Perfection.

6) The Rachel Maddow Show - (MSNBC) You know who does NOT upset SLF's love of empowered women? Rachel Maddow. I've loved (in a very real, very strong way) Rachel Maddow since her nationally-syndicated radio days in 2005ish. That love has only deepened since. I listen to her now on podcast but ANY time I am in a place with a TV/real-time programming on weekday evenings I'll watch and delight in the show.

5) Rectify - (Sundance, Netflix) The story of a man found guilty of and sentenced to death for the rape and murder of a girl he new from high school who is, nearly twenty years later, released after DNA evidence complicates things. The show is layered - part "What really happened?" part "How is a man changed by prison?" part "How much do you miss if you're 'away' for twenty years?" part "How is this man's conviction and release and attempt to readjust to life going to impact me? And why do I think that matters more than what he's going through?". Really, really good stuff well made and well acted and well nuanced.

4) BoJack Horseman - (Netflix) The story of a horse who was the star of a hit sitcom in the 90s who is now struggling with life after fame ends and sorta comes calling again - BoJack Horseman is truly absurd and the horse in question is so unlikeable you want to like him again. I can't support this show enough because it makes me laugh for all the crass, crude, and mean-spirited reasons Archer, Family Guy, The League, Always Sunny in Philadelphia, etc. always have (and still do).

3) How to Get Away with Murder - (ABC, Netflix) So ridiculous that SLF and I spent the first three episodes looking at each other asking (aloud) "Are you even into this show? Should we keep watching it?" Then we spent the next ten (or whatever episodes) obsessing over it and the last three lamenting that we were running out of episodes. Shonda Rhimes forever. For. Actual. Ever.

2) The Fall - (BBC, Netflix) So there is a serial killer who is so handsome, charming, and bright (the guy from "50 Shades of Grey" for those who saw the movie (no need to raise your hand now, you're in a safe place)) that you sorta want him to keep getting away with his crimes (other than the, you know, sexual assault and murder part) and a detective so cold and awkward and cunning that you want her to stop this guy from his crimes. Combine that with backstories on all involved and a classic game of "Yes, I could shoot you now and end this cat and mouse game but that would, well, END this cat and mouse game" and you've got "The Fall". Get at it.

1) Bloodline - (Netflix) I wrote a weird, hack-TV-reviewer post on Bloodline in May but it has stuck with me for the year but, to be less fan-boy about it, Bloodline is the story of a complicated family and the struggles of past, family, legacy, anticipation, expectations, and outcomes when all of the above mix and match against people who only choose one or two of the above and pretend the rest don't exist. I am also happy to report Netflix has confirmed a season two.