Ok, we’ve talked about our picks for the best TV shows of 2014. Now onto our worst. For this installment, we’ve looped in my soon-to-be sister-in-law, Ange. Drink up, ladies!
As good as TV was this year, there were still some stinkers. And we’re not talking about shooting fish in a barrel, here. (We’ll leave the rants about Stalker and Manhattan Love Story to someone else.) We’re talking about the shows that we really wanted to love, that had tons of potential and just didn’t live up to our expectations.
Nicole: The first on my worst list is Silicon Valley. I really tried with this one; I watched the whole damn season. But in the end, it just wasn’t worth my time. I kept hoping for it to turn around but it remained one-dimensional and boring.
Jen: I watched a couple of episodes, but then I bailed. The lack of good female characters really started to bug me.
Ange: I really tried to like this one but found myself feeling very ‘blah’ about the first few episodes. I like to give most shows at least six episodes so that they can find their footing, but there was just so much great TV available this year that I didn’t feel the need to waste my time here.
Nicole: There were a few cute moments. The self-driving car stuff was hilarious. But overall, it was a disappointment.
Jen: Ok, this is going to be a controversial pick, but my worst TV trend is HBO shows that critics loved, but that I thought were way overpraised. Namely, True Detective and The Leftovers. I think True Detective was incredibly well-acted (you gotta give props to Harrelson and McConaughey for selling all those “time is a flat circle” speeches), and well-directed (eight minute tracking shots!). But at the end of the day, it ended up just being a standard, typical story about buddy cops tracking down a serial killer. It was one of those weird instances where I ended up having more fun reading about the show than actually watching it. There were so many thoughtful recaps, analysis and tweets that the actual series just didn’t live up to.
Nicole: I felt the same way about The Leftovers. It was so boring. I didn’t like any of those characters! Who cares?
Ange: I absolutely love character-driven shows, and I remember seeing the trailer for The Leftovers and getting really excited for its arrival. Then I watched it and immediately wondered where the show I saw the trailer for went! I just wanted some progression to happen here.
Jen: Yeah, The Leftovers was so much worse than True Detective, IMO. They took a bunch of characters and did…absolutely nothing with them. I stuck through that whole damn season and ended up knowing as much about those people as when I started.
Nicole: Well then, I’m glad I gave it up after three episodes.
Ange: Me, too.
Jen: I’m jealous. The Remnants idea had so much potential. But their whole purpose never evolved beyond getting the town to “remember.” Are you kidding? That’s *all* the townspeople did. It was like all those characters were trapped in emotional amber!
Ange: Emotional amber – ha, love it!
Nicole: Was that a Fringe reference? Well done.
Jen: (I try to work Pacey-related references into every conversation. You should know this about me by now). There was zero momentum for that entire season of The Leftovers. If none of the characters are rooting for something to happen, how are we supposed to root for them?
Ange: Ok, so please don’t judge me, but I really wanted to love Selfie. As a HUGE Doctor Who fan I was all on board with seeing Karen Gillan on my screen again each week, but after seven episodes I just didn’t have any real investment in the characters or how things were progressing.
Jen: I was very unimpressed by the first few episodes of this show, but I have to say, it won me over near the end (much more than new sitcoms that stuck around, like Marry Me). The episode where Eliza babysat the receptionist’s kid slayed me (that wig room!), and they were moving in the right direction. Hulu is airing the remaining episodes, so I’m going to try to watch them over the holidays.
Ange: I liked the idea of someone in their late-30s mentoring a social media obsessed someone in their not-30s. I also thought that Karen Gillan and John Cho had great chemistry together, and think that Emily Kapnek’s previous show Suburgatory was adorable, but I wasn’t upset about the cancellation of Selfie.
Nicole: Okay, next up for me is Scandal — and to a lesser extent, How to Get Away With Murder. *sigh*. I loved Scandal from the first episode of season 1. I was an early adopter but this season is testing my patience. Why would anyone find the President attractive at this point? It makes me so angry. It is completely undermining Olivia’s character and I’m so tired of it.
Jen: Agreed. Last season was so, so bad, but I was willing to overlook it because they had to rework it for Kerry Washington’s pregnancy. But it’s still bad. I had hope for the first few episodes this fall. Fried chicken-eating “Smelly Melly” was perfect. And it felt like they were finally leaning in to Fitz being a moustache-twirling villain. But then she started making googly eyes at him again!
Nicole: I know! I loved Smelly Melly. It was such a complete turnabout. I see promise for Mellie’s character, especially after the fall finale episode. I’ll stick with it but it makes me angry.
As for How to Get Away With Murder, I’m on the fence. I was into it early on and then it became a chore. I have a few episodes piled up on my DVR and I’m dragging my feet getting around to them. Thoughts?
Ange: I found HTGAWM just really predictable after about five episodes. Also, I was WAY more distracted by Paris Geller’s hair and how washed out she looked than I should have been.
Jen: Ok, I stuck with HTGAWM until the winter finale, but I really shouldn’t have. Halfway through the last episode I realized that if someone put a gun to my head and said “Quick, name any character besides Annalise or Connor!” I would die a swift and brutal death. I should know some of those lawyer kids’ names by now, right? And Paris Gellar is one of my all-time favourite TV characters ever; the fact that the actress makes zero impression in this show is unforgivable.
The wig scene and the “Why is your penis on a dead girl’s phone?” line were amazing, but not amazing enough for me to stick with it.
Nicole: They need lines and scenes like that every episode, not one per season.
Jen: They also need to make Viola Davis the star of the damn show! I don’t want to watch these stupid kids when I could be watching her.
Nicole: Yeah, the writers will have to step it up and give her more than they do.
Jen: Ok, the next one on my worst list kind of breaks my heart, because it was on my best list last year: Sleepy Hollow.
Nicole: I never watched it. It seems too scary!
Jen: It’s actually not that scary. The first season was so engrossing and funny and bonkers. And the first few episodes of the fall kept that spirit alive. And then…it just stopped.
Nicole: It feels like a broken promise when that happens on a TV show you love.
Ange: As someone who was late to the Sleepy Hollow party, I was super excited for this season, but found it didn’t hold my interest like season 1. Many episodes sit unwatched on our DVR right now, and that kind of makes me sad.
Jen: It used to be really entertaining and charming. Ichabod spilling his heart out to the OnStar lady was one of the funniest things I’d seen on TV in years. But this fall stretch of episodes seems to have forgotten what made the show magic. They need to stop trying to make Katrina happen. They need to reunite the group so that Jenny and Frank are better integrated and drop this new Hawley guy. And they need to stop wasting John Noble (look, another Fringe reference!)
Ange: Sweet Lord – yes! John Noble plays good guy-turned-bad guy-turned good guy so damn well, and the writers clearly get that, but they really need to go balls to the walls with his character. (Side note: I’m due for a Fringe re-watch over the holidays!)
Ange: Next up for me is Gracepoint, an example of why UK remakes don’t always work. I remember being fixated for a week straight watching Broadchurch on my phone when commuting back and forth from work every day. Hell, I even cried at the damn bus stop during the final episode because I couldn’t stop watching for even a moment, it was that powerful! Gracepoint, not so much.
Jen: Agreed! I was willing to give this one a chance because I loved Broadchurch and the US casting was strong. But the idea to keep the first six episodes nearly identical to the UK version was a terrible mistake. I dropped it after the first two and only tuned back in for the finale. Though they added a twist in the last few minutes, they kept the big key scene the exact same (if you watched Broadchurch, you know exactly which scene I’m talking about). And unfortunately for Anna Gunn, she’s no Olivia Colman.
Nicole: I so enjoyed Broadchurch that I couldn’t bring myself to watch the US remake. It felt like the show would be a shadow of the original and by all accounts it was. For someone unfamiliar with the original, I’m sure it was fabulous but it was not for me.
Ange: I knew going into it that the US version was mostly going to be a shot-for-shot replica of its UK counterpart, but I was ok with that because of how much I loved Broadchurch. I was excited to see a new cast take on these characters and watch how things played out, but I found that they just fell flat as an ensemble. I also was not a fan of the US ending. I get that they were trying to change things for a new audience, so they took about two steps above and beyond the UK version, but it just left me wanting to quickly forget about it. I’m still super excited for Season 2 of Broadchurch (which starts in a couple of weeks on Showcase), but am a-ok with the cancellation of Gracepoint. UK shows generally don’t translate well to the US. (Take note Fox: Do not bring a US version of Luther here. Seriously, just don’t.)
Nicole: My biggest letdown was 100% How I Met Your Mother. It was a heartbreakingly terrible season, ending, casting. And I did not love The Mother; I found her too twee.
Jen: The finale was so, so bad! I actually liked the actress who played The Mother, but the fact that they seemed to think the audience wanted Ted and Robin together at all costs (even if it meant destroying Barney and Robin’s characters) was the most tone-deaf move ever.
Ange: I stuck with HIMYM until the bitter (and I do mean bitter) end. There were some really charming moments, and I really liked the slow introduction of The Mother and the small flash-forwards we got to see of her and Ted. I was even ok with them (predictably) killing her off just as the end began to near, but every horrid thing that eventually happened with Barney and Robin cast a sad shadow over all of that. I just really wanted there to be more charm and happy tears, you know?
Jen: Ok, the last in my “worst” list isn’t a show but a problem for Canadians who love TV. Why the hell can’t we legally access some of the most critically acclaimed shows of the year? I buy shows off iTunes and Google Play all the time. I have no issues paying for things like Transparent or Review, but we don’t even have that option. It’s like I’m waving my credit card in front of networks and yelling “Take my money! Please!” and they won’t.
Nicole: At least I can finally tackle the UK series Black Mirror over the holidays now that it’s on Netflix US. (Though even that will take some workarounds.) It frustrates me to no end that we have to wait until we’re visiting the US or use IP blockers to catch up on these shows we hear so much about.
Ange: Totally! I’m also willing to pay for my TV (and do!) but to not even have that option is just mean.
Ange: Speaking of mean, how about networks cancelling promising new shows and keeping the same tired stinkers on air? Fox has some pretty great sitcoms this year (Bob’s Burgers, The Mindy Project, New Girl, Brooklyn Nine-Nine), but I still haven’t figured out why the slotted Enlisted on Friday nights and let it die an early death.
Jen: Enlisted was amazing! I was heartbroken when that was cancelled. Even though it only aired 13 episodes, it was my most quotable show of the year (“Birthday husband stuff”/ “Unless it’s your grandma, a hug is never totally platonic.” / “Remember your story about how you lost your foot? Well, now *I* have a story about how I lost your foot.”).
I was also bummed by Trophy Wife’s cancellation. The world just feels like a darker place without Bert in it.