Best of: 2014 Television (2/3)

Hello, all.

I haven’t been doing my “Best of” posts for the past few months, mainly because I haven’t been keeping up with much of this year’s entertainment. However, only four months remain in 2014 and I’m on a mad dash to catch up. So instead of an August post, I’m going to recap what I’ve liked for the year in a series of three posts. I’m starting with television, the strongest medium of the year to this point.

Best of: Television

I’ve really enjoyed television this year. Really enjoyed it. It’s been a slow summer, but that’s okay with me given the sheer amount of knockout series that have aired in 2014. Community finished off a strong fifth season (even without Donald Glover) and was saved by Yahoo! to carry on the dream of #sixseasonsandamovie. Sleepy Hollow has been my favorite newcomer so far. The FOX drama is one of the most interesting shows on television, and its second season should be a doozy (SPOILERS IN THE LINK.) The Walking Dead recovered from almost a season’s worth of disappointment to knock the second half of season four out of the park. Season five is shaping up to be its strongest yet. I said goodbye to Psych, one of my favorite comedies of all time, on a high note; the show had run its course, but ended with a strong few episodes. Here’s one of my favorite Psych compilations for those with an empty spot in your heart. Fargo was a nice little niche series that I’m still working through. And Game of Thrones continued to be the epic that all TV fans deserve, while still having the best title sequence ever. However, I believe two shows deserve special attention.

The first was an HBO miniseries that shook television to its core. Of course, I’m talking about True Detective. The premise is almost too good to be true: Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey as Louisiana detectives investigating a ritualistic murder. But creator Nic Pizzolatto offers up much more than a tantalizing acting duo. True Detective is the most complex and challenging piece of television I’ve ever viewed: yes, that includes Breaking Bad (though True Detective isn’t nearly as accessible.) Pizzolatto’s masterpiece is a haunting southern Gothic mixed with equal parts philosophy and horror with just a dash of the supernatural. It was (unfortunately) sent home mostly empty-handed at this year’s Emmy’s. But I’m convinced it would have made a clean sweep in the Drama categories if not for Breaking Bad‘s victory lap around the podium. It is not to be missed. However, if you choose to partake, be wary. While it’s ambition is unmatched, True Detective is as oppressively bleak as television comes. I’d suggest doing some research before watching, and if you do, take it slow.

The second series I want to highlight is another heavy-hitter which, in two seasons, has become the best long-running show on television…and it almost got cancelled this year! I’m speaking of NBC’s Hannibal; yes, that Hannibal. Hannibal explores the relationship between everyone’s least favorite psychiatrist and Special Agent Will Graham before the events of Silence of the Lambs and its sequels. Bryan Fuller’s drama is the most astonishing piece of visual work that exists in the medium. While they can often be quite graphic, the set pieces and color schemes are breath-taking. And that’s not to mention the excellent writing and acting. Hugh Dancy and Mads Mikkelsen are the best duo on television. Mikkelsen especially does great work. While Hopkins played Hannibal Lecter with extraordinary amounts of camp and dreadful glee, Mikkelsen displays the collected and complex thinker that Lecter is. While it can often be a mind trip, Hannibal is worth the ride. Again, be warned: the show can be quite graphic in terms of violence and gore. Also, if you choose to watch, start from the beginning. Starting in the upcoming third season will leave you quite confused.

That’s it for television. Film will be up tomorrow!

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