10. Boardwalk Empire (Season 4)
Boardwalk Empire should have the tagline, ‘the show that just loves to kill off there best characters.’ In my humble opinion, this show never recovered from the loss of Michael Pitt’s Jimmy in the season two finale. Season three, while not as strong as the previous seasons, was compelling because of Bobby Cannavale’s villainous Gyp Rosetti. But what did the show do? It killed him off in the final episode of that season; a big mistake because it created a void that was not properly filled.
But the past is the past. The fourth season shined spotlights on characters that played secondary roles in the previous seasons. Characters like Chalky, Nucky’s nephew, and even Margaret Schroeder were given their own storyline; some of them succeeded, while most of them did not. However, the best storyline of this season was the Chicago storyline with Michael Shannon’s Van Alden and Stephen Graham’s Capone.
But when the episodes stayed in Atlantic City the audience was treated with new characters: FBI’s Agent Knox and Harlem’s Valentin Narcisse. Agent Knox started off as an interesting addition but soon his storyline became terribly predictable. By the end, the character became extremely whiney and downright maddening with his dim-witted decisions. Yes, I rooted for Nucky to escape the clutches of the FBI, but at least give the audience a FBI agent that is three-dimensional; so at the least, it blurs our liking of Nucky.
Now, Jeffrey Wright is a phenomenal actor who has been enjoyable in countless films. I really thought Narcisse was going to fill the void that Gyp left but he was not an interesting character. Yes, it is different because he was more of an antagonist to Chalky than Nucky, but I felt Narcisse to be one-dimensional. Perhaps, it is good that they kept him alive because they might eventually give Jeffrey Wright something to work with. As negative as I sound, this show was still better than most other shows out there. The recent season finale proved that again, when the audience said goodbye to a beloved character. But it is not as good as it used to be and I am glad that they are ending the show after next season.
9. Arrow (Season 1 Part 2/Season 2 Part 1)
To be honest, over the years I have been more of a Marvel fan than DC. However, in recent years I have read more DC with the reboot of the ‘New 52.’ That was why I was excited when Arrow started two years ago. While the origins of the Green Arrow was a lot like Batman (which does not hurt the show in my eyes), the show was going to survive based on the performance of its lead actor Stephen Amell; he did start off slow but his acting has progressed well enough to say that he has been a competent leading man. While many believe that the show started out on shaky ground, I have loved this show since the beginning. Yes, it was not the best-written show on television; certain dialogue was cringe-worthy. But I always have a good time watching it.
Furthermore, a lot of the show’s problems from the first season were corrected. The action scenes seem crisper and better shot. The dialogue has not been perfect but it has been better. Some of the side characters, including Laurel, have a lot more to do. And the island scenes, which were the highlight of the first season, have become even more exciting. I love every detail about this show and the geek in me gets excited when characters like Deathstroke or Dead Shot were included.
I do not know if I ignore the problems of Arrow because I am a huge geek, but in the end I do not care. I have way too much fun watching this show and as long as the show keeps the same pace I will continue to tune in.
8. Justified (Season Four)
I am currently watching the new season of Justified and absolutely loving it. However, this may skew my opinion of last season because it premiered all the way back in January 2013. From what I remember it was fun and action packed, but not perfect.
Last season, was the first time the show took on an over arching cold case. Yes, each episode was its own contained story, but throughout the season they built up this case until the eventual solution. The main problem with the solution was how predictable it was. This show is nothing like a procedural cop show, but in most average procedurals it is easy to figure out the guilty party with the process of elimination. At the end of Justified’s fourth season, if one was to eliminate all those who could not have committed the crime then they were only left with one possible suspect; and sure enough he was the killer.
But the contained stories of the season were still amazing. Between the Detroit Mob, Wynn Duffy, the new preacher, and Colt (my favorite side character) the show was still extremely entertaining. Last, Timothy Olyphant and Walter Goggins are the sole reasons most viewers tune in every week; these actors have been amazing and get more and more interesting each season. Yes, the fourth season had to follow a very strong season in 2012, which had a powerful antagonist; but season four still delivered. And this show still remains one of the most underrated gems on television.
7. Homeland (Season 3)
I know! A lot of people had problems with the third season; but I am in the minority because I loved most of it. Yes, I even loved Dana Brody’s love story, something that the general public vocally detested; so if you absolutely despised this previous season you might as well skip to the next show.
This seems like a common theme of this article, but the main problem with this season was the predictable midseason twist. SPOILER ALERT. During the season, the CIA blamed Carrie’s ignorance for the Langley bombing. Quickly, she was blackballed, and in fear that she might reveal government secrets, Saul threw her into a mental institution. How did I guess this was an act? Well throughout the past seasons, one realized that Saul would almost never go against Carrie. Even though Saul was now the head of the CIA, he put his career on the line way too many times for her. So, it felt like more of a ‘con’ than reality. Sure enough it was soon revealed that Carrie withstood all this torture to get close to a Pakistani agent.
Now that I am done summing up half the season, I do have to commend the writers for doing something different with the show; but the twist was not as hidden as they thought. Was it as strong as the previous seasons: far from it. But the show still had some great surprises and the final half of the season could only be described as an unstoppable train.
Through the good times and the bad, the show survived more on its acting than writing. Claire Danes lip quiver was as great as ever; Patinkin and Damian Lewis played great passive characters. And the supporting characters were equally maniacal and conniving.
Last, I loved how they ended the season, but I really think the season finale should have been the series finale. It would have been the perfect way to cleanly wrap up this contained story. However if this show continues, then it is going to be severely revamped. So to all the people complaining about this season’s Homeland, watch it again, because next year we might be getting a very different product.
6. Walking Dead (Season 3 Part 2/ Season 4 Part 1)
Walking Dead has the ability to go from fantastic to dreadful in less than an episode. Now, at this point most know that Frank Darabont departed the show after the first season; he is now suing AMC over the show’s profits. Many people thought the first season was slow moving and was happy to see Darabont go. But his departure did not fix the so-called troubled pace; an entire season was devoted to Hershel’s farm, where a lot of nothing happened. I have learned that the same people who complain about this show one week love it the next.
I take this show for what it is: a zombie television show. Who would of thought a zombie television show would be on a cable channel? If you had said that to me over a decade ago, I would have laughed in your face. Yes, in some episodes they achieved great character moments, but most of the time it was too inconsistent to fully praise.
During the two seasons that took place last year, there were many changes to the cast: characters people hated said goodbye to the show and Rick’s mental state was in question. But the one consistent thing was the action, which was gruesome and elongated. This was a good and bad thing. It was good because the action furthered the Governor’s storyline, which were the most compelling episodes of the last two seasons. On the other hand, the overblown action made me wish for the quieter moments of the first two seasons. Was this show ever subtle? No, but the first two seasons had a quietness to them that is now dearly missed.
The problem with this show is that it is after all a zombie show; it will never please everyone. Those who tune in to see a straight zombie show expect the action and gore ‘jam-packed’ in every episode. Meanwhile, those who want to watch a character driven show were teased throughout the seasons with little moments that were too inconsistent to mean anything. I like Walking Dead, but I realize it is the farthest thing from perfect. The only thing that kept me watching was the Governor’s storyline, which was what saved the past two seasons.
5. Parks and Recreation (Season 5 Part 2/ Season 6 Part 1)
This is the only sitcom that I have ever seen that seemed to get funnier with every season. Most shows fade out by the time they reach their sixth season, but not ‘Parks and Rec,’ which has seemed to hit its peak in popularity and hilarity.
This show has been on the cancellation bubble almost every summer and every year I am ecstatic that they bring it back. It has some of the best characters on television: Ron Swanson, Andy Dwyer, April Ludgate. If I did not stop naming characters I would have probably named every single one on that show. Ron Swanson alone is funnier than most sitcoms out there because he is “Ron f@cking Swanson.”
Right now, this is the most consistently funny show on television and for once every main character is incredibly likeable and heartfelt. There is something about this show that makes me feel good no matter when I watch it. And that has to count for something.
Congratulations to Amy Poehler for a much deserved Golden Globe. Hopefully the Primetime Emmy voters will wise up and give Poehler and Offerman the Emmy they deserve.
4. House of Cards (Season 1)
Well it looks like Netflix is the newest network to emerge with quality television. While it saw minor glory with shows like Lilyhammer, Netflix emerged as a powerhouse in 2013 with Orange is the New Black and my number four pick House of Cards. Most people do not watch this show because they think a political thriller sounds boring, but I have to say that this was one of the most entertaining of 2013. Kevin Spacey was brilliant as the maniacal Frank Underwood, a man who was crossed by the newly elected President. As he plotted his revenge, maneuvered in the seedy underbelly of the political system, and manipulated the weaker willed; Frank materialized into one of the most exciting, egotistical, and evil characters on television.
If I had a small gripe it would be that at first Frank seemed too perfect; something one does not normally see with a narcissist. However, his plan slowly unraveled toward the end of the season, when he added wildcards like Kate Mara’s Zoe Barnes and Corey Stoll’s Peter Russo. However, no matter how bad and unpredictable Frank’s situation got he always seemed to escape the predicament. One could make the comment that he always seemed two steps ahead, but in reality, his blinding ego caused the problems.
I have watched this series a few times now and every part of the show was plotted out in perfect detail. The writing, directing, and acting have been impeccable. The little details like Frank’s breaking of the fourth wall fits his egotistical character perfectly. I have to congratulate Beau Willimon for making a hell of a show that kept me on the edge of my seat, as well as, binge watching. The cliffhanger ending of season one made me even more anxious for the second season.
3. Sons of Anarchy (Season 6)
I have been preaching about Sons of Anarchy since its first season. It is violent, over the top, and at times utterly ridiculous, but at the center of the show is a beating heart. As the show progressed, I could not help but become emotionally invested in these characters. Even if they just committed a heinous crime, I was still rooting for them.
If one was new to the show its very simple to describe; Kurt Sutter used the template of Hamlet, an already violent story, and placed it in a violent-fueled biker gang world. This show dealt with extreme themes, particularly the last season; themes not everyone will be comfortable with. With this said, Sons of Anarchy should just be experienced instead of talked about. That is why if you are on the fence just watch it and see how you feel. It is relatively easy to watch: all but the sixth season is available to watch on Netflix.
Yes, at times I have realized there were flaws with the acting or perhaps direction (the show constantly ends with snippets of the gang while a melodramatic song plays in the background), but I ignored the flaws because the show made me feel for each character. I was devastated by the sixth season, which said goodbye to several loved characters; but at the same time, one could tell that this show is fueling up for its last hoorah. I cannot wait to see what happens in the seventh and final season .
Oh and will someone give Katey Sagal a damn Emmy already. She deserved it the first day Gemma Teller graced the small screen.
2. Breaking Bad (Season 5 Part 2)
Now, this is where I am going to get the most flak. Most critics or bloggers feel obligated to put this show number one because it was the last season. While they were not wrong about the quality of the last season or the perfect way it ended, it was still not my favorite show on television.
Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul were given roles of a lifetime and they did not waste them. The writing, as always, was superb and the show did not overstay its welcome. It was a finite story that needed to eventually end. But once it ended I sort have forgot the show; I know the end resonated with other people, but for me it was a great show with a great ending and nothing more.
Other shows have me revisiting their seasons constantly, but I do not feel the necessity to do that with Breaking Bad. Does that detract from the show in anyway? No, I say again it was a great show. But years later I do not see this show being in my top five favorite series of all time. That is why I could not rank this show number one.
1. Game of Thrones
It is very simple: I am a Game of Thrones addict. Between reading the books, watching countless hours of videos on detailed back-story, and debating hours on minute story details, I have realized that the world of Westeros has taken over my life.
As a huge fan of the books, I love the detail that went into putting the vast world on screen. It was clear since the beginning that the show runners, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, were avid fans of the books. They constantly have me tuning in because I cannot wait to see where the series goes.
But we are here to talk about the previous season and how amazing it was. I think fans (who did not read the books) realized with the death of Ned, that no one was safe. But even with that realization, I bet no one expected the infamous Red Wedding. I have read the books, so I knew what was going to happen; but that did not lessen the blow of the event. Just like with the book I was utterly devastated by what transpired on the screen. If the event was not depressing enough, the show decided to kill a few extra characters than the book. This shocked me, but at the same time, the extra deaths made sense. The writers have been slowly departing from the books season to season: whether it was for budget reasons, or simply to move the plot forward. This seems to bother most, but not me. If the show maintains this pace they could make any changes that they deem necessary; at this point I trust the writers to do what is best for the show.
I swear if I was to write a true review for Game of Thrones it would turn into a novel; the world is rich with characters that almost anyone could relate too. But what makes this show amazing was the progression of these characters throughout the seasons. Characters who were utterly despised in season one become sympathetic and fan favorites. Jaime Lannister was a deplorable character in the show, but as he progressed he became relatable and good-natured.
These characters feel like real people who are forever altered by what happens season to season. Even Cersei, has emotionally fueled moments that alter the audience’s perception of her. Every character is in some way relatable to the public and that is why so many non-fantasy fans watch this show. Well every character except Joffrey; if you relate to him I ask you to seek psychiatric help immediately.
But as I was saying, girls who laughed at the expense of Lord of the Rings, watch this show because Daenerys or one of the many brilliantly written females are their favorite. This show has broken down boundaries and showed that fantasy is not only for nerds and geeks; a feat that needs to be recognized.