Week 0f 01/17 thru 01/24
Time for the hotly anticipated part two of our Subjective List in Ascending Order of TV. Before we continue with the countdown let me start by apologizing to those that just missed the cut.
New Girl – Sorry Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans Jr. The stink from your fall episodes is still pungent in my nostrils and prevents you from making this week’s list. Plus seeing D-Dubs Jr. on my TV screen just reminds me of the premature loss of the funnier Happy Endings. RIP. Cheer up though, your off to a solid 2014 and I fully expect to see you on this list next week, don’t disappoint, like I do my parents every day.
Downton Abbey – You lost me when you killed Lady Sybil. I do not think I’ll ever get over that pain.
Justified – This one is on me and the fact I’m two seasons behind on this show. Damn you Netflix for not owning the rights. Pay up, you cheap bastards.
Now, back to the countdown.
7. Parks and Recreation – This show has garnered too much respect over the years to slip any further down this list. The recent news of a seventh season is incredible, considering it has barely been picked up the last few years, but now that it is NBC’s top rated comedy Bob Greenblatt is showing it nothing but love. Beyond the joy of more trips to Pawnee to visit our favorite Pawneeites, this news will also help the show structure its story arcs.
“Farmer’s Market” felt like a filler episode, as a result of being in limbo for how many more episodes the show has. I’m excited to see a story where Leslie turns her attention away from Pawnee and swims in the ocean with the other big fish, something I’m sure the show will get to see more of after next week’s farewell to Rob Lowe and Rashida Jones. Despite repeating a tired storyline of Leslie relentlessly pursuing a local problem and ignoring all other opinions, the episode earns huge laughs from Andy Dwyer singing at a children’s birthday party, more please.
6. Arrow – The most fun hour on television. It combines CW soap with a comic book superhero universe.
Further evidence that two great things combine to make something super duper great. Who says too much of a good thing is a bad thing? Does it make profound statements about our society? Is it going to win a bunch of awards? Is Stephen Amell the next Dicaprio? No, no, and no, but that doesn’t diminish Arrow’s greatness. Season two ran with all the positive juju from last season’s epic finale. Anyone not watching this show is missing out on an enjoyable way to end your Humpday. Plus, my current best female character on TV, Felicity Smoak.
5. Trophy Wife – The funniest freshman comedy of the year. Brooklyn 9-9 might have more upside, but it it has not be funnier so far. Malin Ackerman has found her calling. As much as I loved her boobs on the big screen, she shines as the lead of this show, her charm works better on the small screen.
It also has the funniest cast of kid actors since the first season of Modern Family. Unfortunately the ratings might never allow us to know if it would fuck them up completely also. Warren’s attempt at sexy texting was the funniest bit on television this week. If you’re a Neilsen household, watch this show immediately, otherwise wait till the season is over and realize the great disappointment of this show only getting one season.
4. Archer – Adam Reed is everything Dan Harmon wishes to be. The funniest and ballsiest show on TV and this season proves it. All shows look to grow and evolve over time. They’ll make small changes, bring in some new characters, throw new problems at its characters that break from the traditional format, but no show has re-invented itself to the extreme that Reed is doing this season. It’s breaking down the most dysfunctional secret agency in TV history and sending its characters down a path towards becoming an independent drug cartel in Miami. The attempt alone would land it a spot on this list, but the fact that it is still piss your pants funny lands it in the top five.
3. The Good Wife – The show that proves network dramas can compete with its big, bad cable brethren. Network show runners face a lot more challenges, networks bent on selling advertisements over creative programming and more FCC regulations, but another common complaint is the challenge of producing 22 or 24 episodes a season compared to the 10, 12, or 13 of cable. The extra episodes can be seen as an obstacle that leads to pointless filler or it can be an opportunity to explore its characters in more detail, as well as take them on more adventures.
Good Wife not only accepts this opportunity, but thrives with it. This season’s rejuvenating arc of Alisha and Cary starting a new firm to challenge Gardner and Lockhart was set up from last season’s mock trial episode. The idea has led to a new focus in storytelling and the best episodes since the explosive first season.
2. Shameless – Never has a show had a more appropriate title than this one. It is shameless in being what it wants to be, no matter how offensive, disgusting, or abrasive that might end up being. At times it can be a bit uneven, but when it is hitting there are not many shows on television that can touch it.
Two episodes into the new season the show is still riding the wave of momentum from the end of last season. Emmy Rossum shines in the lead role and by the end of this season she could lock up the best female character on television belt.
Shameless has built an expansive universe on the South Side of Chicago and has a developed a great understanding of all its characters, from the leads to minor recurring characters who appear once or twice a season. All shows should strive to reach the level of self awareness that Shameless has.
1. Matthwe McConaughey (True Detective) – I touched upon how impressive his performance is in our Weekend Review, but it is worth repeating this is an other worldly performance. It is too early to call, but Bryan Cranston’s final run as Walter White might not be the best lead performance from this past television season, something I never thought I’d say.
Really it is unfair to compare any actor to this man right now, it’s like Kevin Durant deciding to dabble in D-League for a game and then being surprised when he drops 120. I’m so giddy about his performance that if the producers offered me the choice between an entire episode of Alexandra Daddario naked or McConaughey sitting in a chair, I would take McConaughey. Have I mentioned everyone should be watching True Detective?