Top 14 of 2014: Television Series

Mei Baek, Staff Reporter

2014 brought with it some unforgettable seasons for our most beloved shows, and brilliant premieres for ones that will soon be our favorites. With horror, action, and plenty of crime and mystery, here is a list of the top 14 TV seasons of 2014.

The Walking Dead (season 4’s end in March, season 5’s beginning in October)

As the survivors of the apocalypse search for a safe haven from the zombies that pursue them wherever they go, leader Rick Grimes must make the right decisions to keep him and his team alive. They face a constant stream of new enemies, each testing their ability to survive and stay together as a group. With a healthy dose of emotion, liberal amounts of gore and plenty of roller-coaster action, the newest season of The Walking Dead, which premiered on October 12th, was greeted by no end of praise. The first episode alone garnered over 17 million viewers in the United States. Many fans suggest that this season was in fact the best in the whole series.

Hannibal (season 2 February)

Season 1 explored the life and mind of early Hannibal Lecter, before any of the events (Silence of the Lambs, Red Dragon) that made him famous as a deranged but genius psychopath and serial killer. As a psychiatrist, his job was to help the extraordinary Will Graham, a criminal profiler who can see into the minds of serial killers. In the new season, Will must prove his innocence while disproving Hannibal’s- but it seems that he has gained a mysterious admirer who seems intent on disrupting his trial. Season 2 was praised at a level far beyond its predecessor for its spine-tingling horror and dark creativity.

Orange is the New Black (season 2, June)

The second season of the fairly recent TV series kicked off with Piper Chapman, a woman arrested for transporting drug money, facing the consequences of her actions, leaving her carefully-held-together life falling apart. Bringing in fresh new characters without ruining the old ones, season 2 surpassed expectations that were set by the first season. Many praised the show for it’s new theme, comedy, dark drama, and vibrant ideas.

The Americans (season 2, February)

The promising young drama from 2013 only got better this year with the season 2 premiere. Set during the Cold War, the gripping and sensual storyline dabbles in religion, parenthood, American values, and more, a combination that seems likely to fall flat, but is executed with unbelievable skill. Soviet KGB officers Elizabeth and Philip Jennings pose as an American couple in the Virginia suburbs with their two unknowing children and an FBI agent for a neighbor. Delving into the couple’s married, public, and private life, the show was praised for its huge creative leap and its pulse-quickening scenes.

Doctor Who (season 8, August)

The first season for Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor received highly positive reviews for its darkness and depth, a contrast from the lightness and humor of Smith’s Doctor. While some disliked the somber and aged version of the wandering timelord, most agreed that the change brought by doctor number twelve was a good one. Episodes such as “Listen” and “Dark Water” were especially praised by critics. The whole season challenges the Doctor’s rules about what is right and what is wrong, forcing him to find the answer to the question: “Am I a good man?”

Grey’s Anatomy (season 11, September)

Over 9 million fans were there to view the first episode of the 24-episode season that premiered on September, 25th. Despite the lack of numerous important characters who had said their goodbyes in earlier seasons, critics complimented the mixture of humor and drama that the TV series was famous for, as well as the occasional heart-wrencher. Several loose ends were tied up, and some questions answered, in the most-recent addition to the riveting series.

Sherlock (season 3, January)

After a two-year long wait, fans were not disappointed by the new season, which brimmed with emotion, humor, and the classic mystery that makes Sherlock what it is. Sherlock returns to John’s life two years after his faked death, and finds that his friend’s life has been greatly changed in his absence. The detective might be in his element when confronted by a crime, but when asked to act as best man for his friend’s wedding, he finds himself out of his depth. While some watchers are critical of the fan service that is apparent in the season, most agreed that the occasional amusements did not detract from the spectacular scenes typical of the show.

Arrow (season 3, October)

A DC comic character reinvented and brought to the small screen, the Arrow is a hero every bit as dangerous as the villains he must face. With visual appeal, fresh new plots and a buildup of tension, the show portrays the Arrow with an intensity that sets him apart from most comic-book superheroes. With new characters added onto the set of Sterling City and new villains coming into the mix, fans were just as intrigued by the hero as they were in seasons 1 and 2.

True Detective (season 1, January)

Keeping a slow, steady pace that never drags, True Detective explores the darkness of the human mind with a brutal and beautiful honesty. Two brilliant actors, Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey, portray detectives Rust Cohle and Martin Hart on a 17-year hunt for a serial killer in Louisiana. Though crime and detective shows are in abundance, True Detective is unique for its highly intelligent views and unforgettable action scenes. The new show gained popularity with its absorbing plot and intriguing characters, and is promising to pull in more viewers with extra tricks up its sleeve.

Psych (season 8, January) more

The humorous adventures of the fake psychic and his sidekick brought a new take on the crime genre, gaining widespread popularity with its absurd comedy and free-form silliness. In the most recent season of Psych, which opens up with a Harry Potter convention, viewers can enjoy another round of laughs as the detectives investigate heinous crimes and mysteries, getting themselves in no end of hilarious situations while they’re at it.

How To Get Away With Murder (season 1, September)

While the plot is not entirely unique, the suspense and the thrills of the show hooked many watchers immediately on Sep. 25th. Professor Annalise Keating and four students from her class “How to Get Away With Murder” find unexpectedly that they must apply what they’ve learned to real life when a crime drags the professor’s husband into the mix. Brilliant and fun, this show demonstrates unlimited potential with compelling characters and intriguing mystery. Despite receiving criticism for its typical setting and failure to meet up with other crime shows, How To Get Away With Murder seems to be on the right track.

Game of Thrones (season 4, April)

Utilizing witty dialogue and deep characters, the most recent season of Game of Thrones brings with it war and drama beyond any previous seasons. A riveting plot with constant twists is brought to life by actors who keep fans glued to the screen. The slow pace, though criticized by some, only serves to increase the tension that has been growing over the course of the series, as King Joffrey’s wedding day approaches, Daenerys Targaryen’s army increases in size and power, and the Wildlings prepare to attack Castle Black.

Supernatural (season 10, October)

Even ten seasons and almost ten years after it’s beginning, this US TV series continues to amaze fans with stunning plots and spectacular themes. A new twist brings more complications into the lives of Sam and Dean Winchester, traveling brothers who hunt down all kinds of monsters and demons as well as more dangerous opponents- angels, reapers, and even Death itself. The newest season was described as riveting and moving, with fresh new ideas added to an old plot, though some criticized it for having numerous unnecessary filler episodes.

Once Upon a Time (season 4, September)

The introduction of Frozen to Storybrooke, the fairy-tale setting of Once Upon A Time, garnered mixed reactions. While some complimented the portrayals of Elsa and Anna, others complained about the overused plotlines, which were not helped by the addition of two new Disney characters. Most, however, found that the season did not disappoint, retaining the magic and humor that made it so popular. The “power of love” themes might not be the most unique, but they were sweet and earnest and reasonably well done.