This week, I’ve revealed the 10 best shows of the year, along with the top 10 performances, and I’m still not done handing out accolades for TV in 2014. Today, I’m naming my TV VIPs of 2014, where I’m recognizing the shows, actors and networks that helped give TV one of its greatest years ever.
Comeback of the Year: Homeland
Just when I thought I was out, Claire Danes and showrunner Alex Gansa pulled me back in! After two frustrating seasons in which the show often seemed even more off the rails than Carrie Mathison without her meds, the drama returned to form in its second half by out 24-ing 24 itself (which Homeland‘s creators made their bones on). And most of the show’s missteps — hundreds of them! — will be forgiven if Sunday’s finale is anywhere as engaging as the last several episodes have been.
Gone Too Soon: Trophy Wife, Enlisted, The Bridge
While some low-rated wonders like You’re the Worst and Hannibal eked out renewals, this trio of terrific shows proved to be better than audiences deserved. Viewers who have been decrying the death of the TV comedy obviously weren’t watching Trophy Wife and Enlisted (and shame on ABC and Fox for treating them so shoddily). As for The Bridge, I understand why John Landgraf canceled it, even as I mourn the fact that the show had finally found itself in Season 2. Meanwhile, upstart outlets desperate for eyeballs — I’m looking at you, Amazon, Hulu and Yahoo Screen — have no excuse for passing on these discarded gems as they search for avid viewers.
Scene of the Year: Viola Davis takes off her wig in How to Get Away With Murder
At times early in the ABC freshman drama’s run, it seemed as if producers had forgotten that it had cast the Oscar-nominated powerhouse as Annalise Keating. But they sure remembered in episode four, which closed as Davis removed her makeup, and then her wig, and faced her husband, stripped physically and emotionally bare. It was a stunning revelation, and one that I hope is only the first of many How to Get Away With Murder moments in which Davis leaves us breathless.
Most Welcome Revival: Twin Peaks
It’s happening, again! I’ve been disheartened by Hollywood’s efforts to turn every movie into a TV show next year, but one reboot announcement warmed my heart: Twin Peaks, which Showtime will resurrect in 2016 as a limited series. With David Lynch and Mark Frost returning to the fold for the entire run, and bringing back many of the original characters (Coop!), I’m already jonesing for some damn good coffee and a heavenly slice of cherry pie.
Sweetest Surprise: Jane the Virgin
When I first heard the premise for Jane the Virgin, I thought I’d stumbled upon an Onion article. A virgin is artificially inseminated — by accident? Ugh, pass. Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Instead, the show has been a little slice of perfection each week. It still feels like it could all fall apart at any moment, but what a delightful ride it’s been.
The Anti-Moonlighting: The Mindy Project
Most shows succumb to the Moonlighting curse and start spiraling when they finally pair up their big couple (cough, New Girl, cough, Suburgatory). But The Mindy Project, which had captivated me even as it churned through plot and supporting characters, finally found its footing this season as it turned Mindy Lahari (Mindy Kaling) and Danny Castellano (Chris Messina) into a committed couple. Their wacky, wonderful relationship has brought out the best in each other, and the show.
Best Credits Sequence: Too Many Cooks
Please, as if this Adult Swim masterpiece had any real competition. I apologize for putting this into your head again, but…it takes a lot to make a stew!
Kids Show of the Year: Phineas and Ferb Star Wars
I’ve been forced to watch a lot of nauseatingly awful kids shows over the past several years, which is why I keep steering my children back toward Phineas and Ferb, which is equally as entertaining for parents as small fry. But the always-inventive show outdid itself with last summer’s crossover, Phineas and Ferb: Star Wars, which paid homage to the original Star Wars with an ingeniously-crafted parallel story. Bring on Phineas and Ferb: Empire Strikes Back! Okay, greenlight it first, then bring it on!
Network of the Year: FX
This boils down to one question: if I were stranded on a deserted island, and could only bring along one network’s lineup of 2014 programs, which one would it be? Of course I would go for the network that airs four of my top 10 shows of the year (The Americans, Fargo, You’re the Worst and Louie), along with The Bridge (RIP), Archer, Justified (which had its first off-year – but like pizza, even bad Justified is pretty terrific), American Horror Story and The Strain. Hell, I even stuck with Sons of Anarchy to the bitter, bloody end as well. FX, you’re peerless.
Best Comic Book Series: The Flash
It grabbed me from its fully-formed pilot and hasn’t let go: The Flash is the perfect comic TV show. It’s joyous and bubbly instead of broody (enough moping around, everyone else! Lighten the hell up!), with vividly-drawn supporting characters and villains who pop. I hope the oodles of superhero shows in development for next season are all watching The Flash — and taking copious notes. Go go, Grant Gustin!
Come back on Friday, when I’ll bring my week-long look at the Best (and Worst) of 2014 to a close with something … a little different.