Well, I had a rough year on this blog. I was reminded via an automatically generated email — in a very congratulatory way — that I only had 59 new posts this year. Ouch. But hey, here’s number 60.
It only seems fitting in this very up and down year in TV to give a shout out to some of the best and worst moments. While I may have been writing little, I’ve still been trying to watch.
So here goes, with the 2014 Awards from Raked.
Best Surprise Series: The 100. I’ll start with what sticks out in my mind as one of my biggest surprises of the year: The 100. For a show that was touted as the CW’s version of The Hunger Games when first pitched, it quickly became one of my favorite shows. And it’s one of the few that I’m eagerly anticipating week to week. It increasingly surprises me with its twists and turns, and it’s not afraid to make its beautiful cast dirty. No, really. Very few other shows do this, but most of its characters are running around with mud, dirt, and blood streaking their faces all the time. Hair is tangled. Cuts are revealed. Kudos to making it real, especially for a sci-fi series.
Best Season Finale: The Vampire Diaries. Holy crap, Bonnie and Damon died. You could see it coming (heck, Bonnie even knew), but this episode still had me hopping from one leg to another in anxiety as the episode progressed. I was so upset, I wrote about it twice. TWICE. Talk about a cliffhanger. This then leads us to…
Best Dynamic Duo: Bonnie and Damon, The Vampire Diaries. For two characters that despised each other, it was great to see them have to work together in a love-hate friendship back in 1994 (and quite frankly, I just loved revisiting 1994!). I personally think they separated these two too early in the season, but it was nice to hear that sentimental phone call that Damon left on Bonnie’s voicemail once he was back in the present.
Most Ridiculous Branding Ploy: Once Upon a Time. Because OUAT can’t seem to let anything Disney go, we pulled in Frozen. And while I do like the movie, and Elsa and Ana eventually grew on me, at the end of the day, it was a weak storyline that was solely for the purpose of grabbing all those Frozen fans into the series and spreading the Frozen brand. Personally, I’d prefer content over Disney’s attempt to control the world.
Biggest Reality TV Controversy (at least in my house): Top Chef. Should a contestant ever give up immunity? That was the question in last season’s Top Chef (sneaking into 2014 by the skin of its teeth — a January air date). No one had ever been asked to do this before. And it’s a competition show. You’ve won immunity; you shouldn’t have to give it up, whether you made a mistake or not. But be the big man and get yourself back in during Last Chance Kitchen. All this — and more — was debated. It made Nick a jerk but ultimately the winner. Where do you stand on the topic now?
Lamest Use of Guest Stars: Girl Meets World. I’ve been really amped about seeing my favorite Boy Meets World characters return to TV, and the show has done a good job of it with the return of Minkus and Harley. But the recent return of Sean and Cory’s parents was lacking. Overdramatic, unfunny, and not highlighting what I like best about the characters. For example, suddenly Topanga and Cory’s mom have some issues in the kitchen. And diving into the reasons Sean is MIA just seemed over the top. Stick with the best friend bit — the highlight of the episode — and leave the heavy emotion at the door.
Best New Show I Never Thought I’d Watch: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. Not that I have anything against John Oliver, or the Daily Show style type of show he was launching at HBO, but I got tired of the Daily Show a while ago; you can only make fun of depressing news (and 2014 had plenty of that) so many times before it wears you out. But Oliver’s weekly show turned out to be hilarious, and carefully measured out at once a week intervals to avoid oversaturation, and his one long story per episode always dug into an important but off-the-radar issue.
Best Season-long Procedural You Watched: True Detective. We didn’t write about it here, but we were continuously impressed with the series. That shouldn’t be much of a surprise. But I did want to reiterate it.
Best Season-long Procedural You Didn’t Watch: Gracepoint. I’m back and forth about the ending — certainly there could have been improvements — but ultimately, I enjoyed the FOX series Grace Point, which was based on a UK series. Good cast. Good acting. It’s too bad no one really saw it.
Biggest Cancellation Mistake: Selfie. Many people mocked Selfie. In fact, when you read the pitch, you probably would, too. But it was cancelled just as it hit its stride. I raise my glass to you, Selfie. You probably could’ve been a good little comedy if you just had a little more time.
Biggest Cancellation Mistake, Part 2: Manhattan Love Story. The mistake here wasn’t cancelling the series. Manhattan Love Story was by far the worst new series to hit the airwaves. The mistake here was that they didn’t cancel it sooner.
Biggest Question of the Year: “Will Zeke Die?”, Parenthood. My goodness, have we gone through the ringer on this one. Previews have hinted at it. We’ve had close calls. And now we’re waiting until January because another promo shows him having heart issues. It’s the final season, so we kind-of expect it. But then again, wouldn’t it be nice to have him holding Amber’s baby as a final scene of the series? And speaking of finales…
Biggest No-Win Situation: How I Met Your Mother. Yes, I was one of those frustrated and outraged by the end of HIMYM. And I still contend that the final episode was unfunny and could use some work. But in the time sense, I’ve given it some thought. The writers of HIMYM couldn’t win. If they did the predictable episode where it ended with Ted meeting the mother and that was it, viewers would complain that it was boring and ask why we spent all this time looking at Robin if it was all moot. But at the same time, the current ending had people complaining the opposite? Why say it was about the mother when it wasn’t? Really, artistic vision, viewer expectations, whatever — they were in a tight spot. It really was a no-win situation.
Worst Forced Christmas Special: Chasing Life. Chasing Life had a lot going for it — but it’s “Christmas episode” was not one of them. Not only did it kill the cliffhanger we were left with, but they forced Christmas in May. The dialog was stilted. The decorations were sparse. If you’re going to do it, do it right. Or better yet, don’t do it at all.
Worst Christmas TV Movie: Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever. I can’t even describe how bad this was. Oh wait. I did here. If you don’t want to read it, just imagine Aubrey Plaza’s voice saying, it was bad! Stop asking me!
TV Movie I’d Like to Forget: The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story. It was boring. Just boring. And poorly cast and acted. And I read Dustin Diamond’s book in advance of it. I want all that time back.
Well, those are my picks. But what do you think? What should be added to this list? What’s been the best and the worst for you? I know I’m missing some big series. Let me know in the comments.
And here’s to more good and bad in 2015!
*Photos by The CW, FOX, and CBS