Monday, 21 December 2015

My Top 5 TV Shows of 2015


It might be an adage repeated so often that it's lost all meaning, but we're currently enjoying a 'golden age' for TV. When else has there been such a wide-ranging variety of quality shows for viewers to choose from across so many versatile platforms, akin to a delectable buffet where the next engrossing treat is just waiting to be unearthed and gorged upon.  

My 2015 has been filled with some truly amazing TV; from The CW's excellent ongoing superhero shows to the vast array of Netflix Originals arriving on a monthly basis.

Before we start, some ground rules - obviously, I haven't watched every single show that aired in 2015. That'd be ludicrous. I'd never leave the house. Neither have I 'caught up' with every show I do watch (Parks and Recreation Season 7, True Detective Season 2), so I can't judge how good their most recent runs have been. This post is simply to illustrate my TV highlights from what's new in 2015.

Honourable mentions: The Flash Season 1/2 (The CW), Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Season 1 (Netflix), Marvel's Daredevil Season 1 (Netflix), The Walking Dead Season 5/6 (AMC), Modern Family Season 6 (ABC), Arrow Season 3/4 (The CW), Doctor Who Season 9 (BBC), Brooklyn Nine-Nine Season 2 (Fox), Humans Season 1 (Channel 4/AMC), The Legend of Korra Season 4 (Nickelodeon), Star Wars Rebels Season 1/2 (Disney XD)


5th - The 100 Season 2 (The CW)

Best episode(s): 'Human Trials', 'Spacewalker', 'Resurrection', 'Blood Must Have Blood Part 2'

How many other shows on TV right now can claim to cover everything from teen love triangles to mass genocide? The 100 has come a long way from its 'Imagine Dragons' moment in the pilot and reached a point during Season 2 where the show consistently ranked among the best currently in production. 

It has everything from the moral dilemmas of Star Trek, the attractive young cast of The Hunger Games, the sci-fi mysticism of Battlestar Galactica and the surreal plot twists of Lost, all wrapped up in a neat, sleek CW package that slowly unravels to reveal a gritty undercurrent of blood and action.

After a patchy first season, this surprisingly adult show from The CW stopped taking prisoners and finally let loose; the remaining Ark survivors are now confronted by not just the Grounders, but by the imposing men inside Mount Weather. With all of their friends held against their will, Clarke (Eliza Taylor), Bellamy (Bob Morley), Octavia (Marie Avgeropoulous) and the rest of the group must put aside their differences with Lexa (Alyica Debnam-Carey) if they are to figure out a way to come to their aid. It's a helter-skelter season that doesn't stop to pause for breath from start to finish; heart-pumping action and plot twists for days, this is probably one show you should pick up and binge right now. Good news is, the first season is available on Netflix right now!


4th - House of Cards Season 3 (Netflix)

Best episode(s): 'Chapter 28', 'Chapter 32' and 'Chapter 37'

The third season of House of Cards saw Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) step into the White House as the biggest and wiggiest of all wigs - the President of the United States. Across 13 brilliant episodes, Frank and his wife Claire (Robin Wright) face backstabbing and betrayal at every turn as they claw their way from dismal polls to Democratic leadership front-runners.

Whether it was the plotting Jackie Sharp (Molly Parker), past ally Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly), Russian rival President Petrov (Lars Mikkelsen) or power rival Heather Dunbar (Elizabeth Marvel), Frank and Claire certainly had enemies lining round the block to stick the knife in.

It was a tense and twisting season that constantly threw up surprises - but none where larger than that final bombshell. If House of Cards seasons 1 and 2 spent time building up our central duo, season 3 was more concerned with tearing them apart. Frank might be on the summit, but without Claire he's only a few steps away from slipping out of power, and they both know it. Roll on Season 4.


3rd - Game of Thrones Season 5 (HBO)

Best episode(s): 'Sons of the Harpy', 'Hardhome' and 'The Dance of Dragons'

HBO's Game of Thrones delivered yet another exciting and spectacular season in 2015 - packed with all the twists, turns and sudden deaths that we've come to expect from the show, Season 5 deviated wildly from its source, taking characters to new and far-off lands like the sandy shores of Dorne as well as the wintery wastes well beyond the Wall.

The show also proved to be a major talking point for what is and isn't fair game on television; many people were upset by the swift departure that Jon Snow (Kit Harington) was dealt in the final episode, but the most controversial storyline was undoubtedly Sansa's (Sophie Turner) wedding night in 'Unbent, Unbowed, Unbroken.' For better or worse, the show continues to dominate popular culture and maintain the untouchable production quality that we now take for granted; if you need reminding, just give Episode 8 - 'Hardhome' - a rewatch. Another major deviation from the books, the shocking battle that concluded this episode puts some major fantasy films to shame.

With at least another three seasons promised, Game of Thrones continues to garner the attention of millions every April and May - so here's to another three successful years of murder, betrayal and sex! Hooray!


2nd - Marvel's Jessica Jones Season 1 (Netflix)

Best episode(s): 'AKA 99 Friends', 'AKA Top Shelf Perverts', 'AKA Sin Bin'

Where Daredevil was a brooding vigilante yarn, Jessica Jones steered the Marvel universe towards even darker pastures; grim, paranoia-infused crime noir with a tough-as-nails female protagonist that likes leather jackets, hard sex and even harder liquor. It's quite possibly the least Marvel thing that Marvel has made to date, with not a single mask, cape or helicarrier in sight.

Across 13 excellent episodes, this whisky-stained detective drama oozed coolness and sexiness from every pore; Krysten Ritter was amazing as the PTSD-suffering PI with a dark past whilst Rachel Taylor, Mike Colter and Carrie Anne-Moss rounded out a supporting cast that did so much more than just hang around on the periphery of the narrative.

However, the real star of the show was David Tennant as the maniacal Kilgrave, a power-crazed villain who has returned to Hell's Kitchen to weave his way back into Jessica's life. The definition of a character you just love to hate, Kilgrave got another one-up on Daredevil by becoming the best MCU villain to date. Take a bow, you evil sadistic bastard.


1st - Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Season 2 (HBO)

Best episode(s): '2015 FIFA corruption case', 'Edward Snowden'

I'm not usually the kind of person who watches the news. The news is scary and, quite frankly, I'd much rather unplug my brain and watch something fun. That's why Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, a show that actually makes me care about the news, is something extra special.

Whether it was making national headlines here in Australia when he called out Barnaby Joyce and his vendetta against Johnny Depp's dogs, or engaging in an epic mud-slinging grudge match with ex-FIFA VP Jack Warner (complete with dramatic music and fireworks), John Oliver turned his satirical news show into a weekly event. Whomever his gaze locked upon would be instantly catapulted into the international public eye and discussed, usually with high levels of sass, via social media.

Amongst the extravagant monkey costumes, the downing of a Bud Light Lime or the little game where the countries are in the wrong place on the map, it's easy to mistake Oliver's show as light humour that glazes over sticky stuff. In actual fact, Oliver's blend of investigative journalism and insightful commentary makes Last Week Tonight one of the most consistently informative shows of its kind currently on TV - long-form topics like uncovering televangelism proved that Oliver's show takes itself seriously just as much as it hates Gwyneth Paltrow's fashion choices. Look no further than his excellent interview with Edward Snowden if you're not convinced.

I could go on - there are just so many moments from this season that had me both in stitches and dumbstruck at the harsh truths put forward. Simply put, Last Week Tonight quickly became the highlight of my week, every week. Keep doing what you're doing Mr Oliver because it is bloody brilliant.

What have been your TV highlights of 2015? Let me know in the comments section below! 

6 comments:

  1. I enjoyed Last Week Tonight with John Oliver but was a lot late to the game because a couple of episodes in, the season has already ended. I have yet to watch Jessica Jones, hopefully I'll get to it this holiday season. One of my favorite shows this year has been Master of None, it's really good. Great post!

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    1. I've read a lot of great stuff amount Master of None, I'll have to get onto it! Thanks for commenting.

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  2. I've heard some really good things about The 100, even though I wasn't thrilled by the original trailers. Might have to pick that one up in 2016! I'm only a few episodes in to Jessica Jones but I'm loving it so far :)
    - Allie

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    1. Trust me, stick with the first 4 or 5 episodes and The 100 really picks up. My girlfriend and I raced through Season 2 in just a few days.

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  3. I have seen none of these. I did watch the pilot of House of Cards and didn't feel all that drawn to it. I may have given it a second chance but I don't really do a lot of TV anyway.
    I do hear lots of Oliver clips and he seems worth watching for sure.

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    1. TV is always a hard one for me because there is so much to watch and so little time! Plus, it's a much bigger investment so I can see what you're saying.

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