Sunday, December 27, 2015

My favourite TV shows of 2015 and the rest

2015 continued the era of great TV all around. I didn't watch all the shows that I was interested in, but I also managed to watch some shows that I didn't expect to enjoy as much as I did. My favorite TV shows of 2015 in no particular order are:

Daredevil
Although I wasn't a big fan of the actor playing Daredevil, the terrific supporting cast, amazing action sequences, and the Kingpin casting kept me coming back. It was a great origin story combined with some social commentary and a street-level view of the Marvel universe in the post-Avengers timelines. Can't wait to see the second season.

The Man in the High Castle
When I heard that Amazon picked up the adaptation rights for Philip K. Dick's amazing alternate history novel of the same name I was very skeptical. Previous Amazon shows were not my cup of tea. However, this show is amazing for so many reasons. The world-building is astounding and scary, the plot is sufficiently different from the book that it kept me wondering as to what was going to happen next. The show took its time to introduce new characters and relationships and explore the world rather than concentrating on action and plot all the time. It also showed an even darker and more fearful America than the one we have today, and makes a point about intolerance, hatred and fear in America today. Great show all around.

Mr. Robot
A show I didn't expect to like very much, Mr. Robot instead shows hacking in a very realistic and well-researched way with a great cast and a story with some very unexpected twists (although the big twist about Mr. Robot's identity I saw coming a mile away). Absolutely gorgeous and unexpectedly dark show. I can't wait for the second season.

Better Call Saul
I'm not a big Breaking Bad fan, but I always liked the character of Saul Goodman - the sleazy lawyer who has all ten of his dirty fingers in various criminal pies. I thought this show would be much of the same, but to my surprise it transcended my expectations in every way. This show is funnier and punchier than Breaking Bad, makes more of a social commentary on American justice system, features great cast, and its protagonist Jimmy (a.k.a. Saul Goodman) is a troubled but essentially good man (I think pun intended) who wants to do the right thing even when doing the wrong thing would be so much easier. I find him much more interesting and appealing than Walter White. Can't wait for the second season.

Jessica Jones
Another Netflix/Marvel show, where Daredevil is an origin story focusing on action, Jessica Jones is a story about what a retired superhero detective and focuses much more on investigations, personal relationships and dealing with trauma. It was quite a bit slower than Daredevil (a little too slow, there were a couple of episodes that could be easily condensed) and I didn't like all the subplots as much as the main plot, but the lead performances by Krysten Ritter as Jessica Jones and David Tennant as Killgrave (maybe the best villain in TV or film all year as far as I'm concerned) carried the show. It also ends on a sufficient cliffhanger that I would like to see more.

Broadchurch, season 2
Speaking of David Tennant, I didn't expect to see a second season of Broadchurch made, but it was, and it was just as nail-biting as the first season. This time, the main plot involves both the aftermath of Season 1 when the killer is on trial, and David Tennant's character's past case and family. I enjoyed it as much as the first season and the ending was very satisfying.

Mad Men final season
I didn't think it was possible for Mad Men to ever finish, or at least finish in any way that didn't involve its protagonist's death but AMC pulled it off. Satisfying finale to a show that occasionally felt like it outstayed its welcome.

The Expanse
This show came out of nowhere. I was vaguely aware that Sy-fy was going to do an adaptation of this terrific sci-fi novel (first in the series) but I didn't expect it to be as good as it was. I'm only 4 episodes in but I'm completely hooked. This is a great hard sci-fi show with excellent casting, great visual effects that recall the best of Battlestar Galactica show, and a very interesting and brisk plot. I hope the rest of the season will be just as good.

And the best show of 2015 for me was...
The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. I watched one episode, then immediately another. Then I stayed up half the night to watch the entire show. Then I went online to see when the next season will be out. This show is the funniest show I've seen all year, but it also has great social commentary, and truly heartbreaking moments as well. And the performances by every member of the cast are perfect. This show stole my heart.

Shows I wish I watched
I still have to catch up on the last season of Hannibal and HBO's Show Me a Hero looks great as well. I hope to finish both before the slew of 2016 seasons start. I also didn't watch Season 5 of Game of Thrones. Why? Well, I heard that there are some parts now that go beyond book 5 (A Dance with Dragons) so I'd rather wait for the book, however long it takes, and then watch the season. Fargo is another show I really want to catch up on, hopefully I'll have the time to do so in the early 2016. Wolf Hall - an adaptation of a terrific novel by Hilary Mantel, is another show I'd like to try just to see if it's even half as good as the book. Master of None is a comedy show and I'm usually not big on those but I absolutely adore Aziz Ansari's comedy, so I hope to catch up on it eventually. Narcos is a show I've started to watch, but I'm only two episodes in and I'm not completely convinced if I really like it or not. iZombie also comes highly recommended by everyone I know who has seen it, so it's on my list as well, hopefully before the second season is out. And of course there's another season of Orphan Black I haven't seen yet. Finally, I've yet to watch the third season Vikings and that's something I need to fix ASAP! Because Vikings has consistently been amazing in the past! And I guess since we're on a topic of Vikings I'm mildly interested in The Last Kingdom - an adaptation of Bernard Cromwell's excellent historical books about the Viking invasions but from the perspective of the Saxons.

Shows that disappointed me
I really really wanted to like The Knick but I just couldn't get into it. For some reason I found it hard to keep track of the characters, the subplots didn't really interest me much, and the show just didn't grip me. Rectify - I just couldn't care about any of the characters of their drama, by the end of episode 2 I was bored stiff. I really wanted to like the second season of Penny Dreadful, and there are some great episodes in this season, but overall I didn't enjoy it nearly as much as the first season - the ending was also quite a letdown.

Next up, my favourite films of 2015!