Every year I talk about how good TV is on this site. It’s almost like I don’t know how to originally think of a way to start these articles. But the level of quality is getting ridiculous. Instead of a Top 20 this year, I have a Top 35 and there are still a dozen awesome shows that I’m not able to write about. In 2014, I watched over 100 shows while only dropping a handful of them. (Fun unrelated fact, I was unemployed for a few months this year! I’m better now!) Next year marks the end of plenty of beloved shows but as you can see from the influx of new shows on my list, the quality just keeps coming.
Yet remarkably I did sleep a couple of times this year so I wasn’t able to see everything. I’m either very behind on or haven’t seen Babylon, Derek, Father Brown, Getting On, Happy Valley, High Maintenance, The Honorable Woman, The Knick, Line of Duty, Over the Garden Wall, Parenthood, Peaky Blinders, Penny Dreadful, The Real Husbands of Hollywood, Shameless, Silk and A Young Doctor’s Notebook. I really liked the pilot for Mozart in the Jungle but that season isn’t dropping on Amazon until December 23rd so…
This is going to be impossibly long so I should quit stalling and get right to…
Key and Peele Season Four (Comedy Central)
“Do we throw something other than rice?”
“What would you throw?”
“I don’t know. Cous cous. Skittles.”
There were a ton of great films last year. SO MANY GREAT FILMS. I saw 135 films that came out in 2014 and I liked, in one degree or another, 97 of them. There are still a ton of them I would like to see that I’ve missed including The Blue Room, Calvary, Coherence, The French Minister, Get On Up, Happy Valley, The Inbetweeners 2, The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness, Life of Crime, Love is Strange, A Master Builder, Miss Meadows, The Missing Picture, A Most Violent Year, The Mule, Norte the End of History, Omar, Particle Fever, Showrunners, The Skeleton Twins, Space Station 76, The Strange Little Cat, The Unknown Known, Vic and Flo Saw a Bear, Wetlands, Why Don’t You Play in Hell? and Willow Creek.
Since I’m writing about so many films, I’m going to try to keep it brief until I get later in the list. I say that now…
Destruction seems like something that will be inherently cinematic, but not every film is able to pull off the emotional weight of it. By the end of this film, you’re really able to feel the impact of all the consequences that these characters had control of and the ones they didn’t.
No matter what we watch, my friends always want to discuss TV shows more in depth than movies. That doesn’t mean that they like these shows more than the movies we watch, but there’s something subject to debate when you break up a story into installments. There’s the theorizing about what happened next and arguing what episode was better. To view a show in segments tricks you to analyze parts of the whole and to watch the show over a course of weeks makes you more invested.
So I love talking with my friends about their thoughts on these excellent shows. Every year I like to ask them to write for my blog and show everyone their perspective. Here are 23 of my friends and myself writing about some of their favorite episodes of the year equipped with their Top 10 list. Due to when I’m posting this, there are few episodes in 2013 that sadly won’t be up for consideration like the Treme series finale, Matt Smith’s final episode of Doctor Who and the Downton Abbey Christmas Special.
At the very end you can read about what episodes were the collected Top 10 with other bits of trivia. But first let’s head over to the CW…
“Three Ghosts” (Season Two, Episode 9)
By Aaron Wittwer
TV may be getting too good. I tried to write a Top 10 and found it to be almost impossible. Luckily I’m in control of my own blog so now I have a Top 20. It’s not just that my favorite shows keep getting better, it’s that more channels are making quality entertainment. The Sundance Channel proved to have some of the year’s best programs, Netflix made huge waves with launching entire seasons at once and more and more foreign imports are making its way stateside.
People are trying to say that the Golden Age of Television is fading, but it only seems to be growing stronger. Almost half of my shows on this list are first seasons of new shows. Every week of the year seems to have at least a half dozen great shows on the air. So even with watching so many shows, there are some that I have missed usually because I don’t have the time to catch up with them.
Thus, I apologize (not really) for not being caught up on Call the Midwife, Enlightened, The Good Wife, The Legend of Korra, Parenthood, Scandal, Shameless (both versions), Skins and A Young Doctor’s Notebook. Also I haven’t even started Arrow, Bad Education, Borgen, Dancing on the Edge, Last Tango in Halifax, The Venture Brothers or The White Queen. So many shows and now here are the seasons that were the best of 2013…
20) Treme Season Four (HBO)
“So what is it exactly that you want to do, hmm?”
“I want to get Caldonia’s reopen. Take over Raul’s lease, revitalize Rampart Street, fight the good fight for live music and New Orleans.”
This year I want to go even crazier. I want to talk about my Top 61 films because I see this as one of the best years in cinema I’ve ever experienced. Also I think the film market is changing. Right now you have access to amazing films so you don’t have to go see The Legend of Hercules. There are more options!
Last thing before this gets any longer (Ha!), even though I waited to see more movies, that doesn’t mean I saw everything. I still missed About Time, After Tiller, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, Bastards, Best Kept Secret, Beyond the Hills, Caesar Must Die, Clear History, Deceptive Practice, Ernest & Celestine, Escape From Tomorrow, Go For Sisters, The Hunt, Night Across the Street, Paradise: Love, Pieta, Post Tenebras Lux, Sightseers, Smash & Grab: The Story of the Pink Panthers, Something in the Air, Starbuck, Tim’s Vermeer, A Touch of Sin and You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet. I’ll get to those…one day.
Last first thing, why 61 films? Because I was going to do 60 and then I realized I forgot to put one on my list halfway through writing this. Why even have this many? Make it to the end of the article, but now let’s get started…
How to Make Money Selling Drugs
This movie is so obviously influenced by The Wire it’s even bold enough to have scenes from the HBO masterpiece and interviews with David Simon. The gimmick of making this movie a “How To” guide is a lot of fun and serves as a nice counterbalance to the depressing financial statistics about how the decades long War on Drugs has severely damaged America.
One of the reasons why I like television so much is that it feels more communal than any other form of entertainment. Usually walking out of a movie, my friends don’t like to talk about it as much but if they finished a season of a show they need someone to talk to. So once again, I have recruited my friends to talk about their favorite episodes of 2012. Below you will see a wide range of opinions and writing styles which makes it all the more fun.
Small warning, there is occasional foul language and in one circumstance a lot of foul language. Most of the time, the author is vague about what happens in the episode or season, but in cases where that is not true, a spoiler warning is attached.
At the very end of this very long article, check out what episodes occurred the most Top 10 lists as I formulated the results of everyone’s picks.
“The Man From Jupiter” (Season Three, Episode 4)
By Ryan Lugar
Burt and Ernie. Buzz and Woody. Cheech and Chong. These are some of the most dynamic duos over the course of history, but they all fall second to one last duo. A duo that can do no wrong, in all the wrong ways. I am of course referring to Sterling Archer and Burt Reynolds. The combination of Archer’s black turtleneck and Burt Reynolds’ amazing moustache cannot fail.
Man, TV was awesome this year. That’s such a strange thing to type when we had a pretty lousy fall premiere season for the networks. Reality shows continue to plague existence and they only seem to be getting lazier. Did you know the CW aired a game show that is a mix between musical chairs and Wipeout hosted by Jamie Kennedy? That’s the world we’re living in.
Yet we’re also living in a world where there is an excellent show on every week of the year. By the time Breaking Bad concludes, Homeland is about to start and then Justified is on and then Game of Thrones begins and then Mad Men starts up and as that concludes it’s time for Breaking Bad again. That’s perfect if you only watch those five shows, but the truth is the calendar is jam packed with amazing programming. I juggle a lot of shows and there are still plenty that I am missing. (See at the bottom). Continue reading
2012 was an incredible year for films. Every year has had a handful of really great films that inspire and awe, but this year was something special. Usually I post my Top 10 with a bunch of honorable mentions, but I loved so many movies this year I’m posting a Top 35. For most that is a really high number, but sadly that still only counts as my top fraction. For I’ve now seen 169 films from 2012 thanks to being a film critic for The Film Yap, working at the Heartland Film Festival and having way too much downtime while I’m in Texas.
Before I start, I do want to clarify that I have seen a lot but I haven’t seen everything. Some of the big ones that I’ll catch up with one day are Rush and Bone, In the Family, I Wish, Headhunters, The Woman in the Fifth, 2 Days in New York, The Gatekeepers, No, Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God, The Central Park Five, Room 237, Bill W., The Ambassador, The Forgiveness of Blood, Red Hook Summer, Detachment, Crazy Horse and Dark Horse. Also maybe one day I’ll see The Amazing Spider-Man but I still can’t bring myself to do it.
Anywho, HERE WE GO!
#35 – Compliance
Years ago I heard the story about the brutal scams being performed in fast food restaurants but they always seemed too fantastical to be real. Why would someone commit a strip search of a fellow employee just because a voice on the phone told them to do so? Compliance takes you through the hours of such a crime and the context is surprising. Logic is questioned and the more suspense is raised, the more you grow concerned for humanity. It’s a difficult movie to forget. Continue reading
One of the reasons I love TV so much is because the format is so freakin’ goofy. People don’t sit around comparing chapters in novels because we see it as a whole. With TV it’s as much about the parts as it is about the whole. Episodes are written to be seen separately and usually they’re viewed that way. A show can be terrible, but has one episode that is masterful. A series of great episodes in a row is an awesome feeling. It’s more common to rewatch specific episodes instead of a multiple season show.
Yesterday I wrote about the full seasons that were stellar in 2011, but I also want to highlight certain 30 or 60 minute blocks that were amazing. Instead of just having my opinion again, I brought in some friends. Each of us wrote about the best episode of some of the best shows of last year. Then we each supplied our own personal Top 10 list of the Best TV Episodes of 2011. We avoided spoilers as much as possible, but you are officially warned.
(Season Four, Episode 11, “Crawl Space”)
By Dennis Sullivan, Senior at Ball State University
[Major Breaking Bad Season Four plot SPOILERS]
Imagine you’re in way over your head. And I mean way, way, WAY in over your head. You know you’re going to be murdered in the near future and because of your actions, everyone you love is going down as well. Your spouse, your children, your brother-in-law are all in danger.
2011 was a great year for television and this was a year without some amazing shows like Mad Men or Sherlock. Instead we had a great number of returning shows make up for the lackluster new network arrivals. Shows that continually challenged how to tell a story and steered characters into fascinating new directions. Without further adieu—and with very limited spoilers—here are my Top Ten Seasons of 2011.
10) Archer Season Two
If a comedy gets to its second season, that usually means it’s time for something special. By this time the writers and cast have really been able to spend time with the show so it’s ready to go beyond its premise into something really crazy. To put it crudely, Archer got nuts. Archer Sterling is James Bond without all of the qualities that makes Bond an honorable spy. This season his plots became more insane while never losing focus on any of its incredible supporting cast. There is a multi-episode arc when Archer gets breast cancer that goes beyond being unprecedented and enters a league of its own. What’s that league called? THE DANGER ZONE