We love good TV. Nothing is better than looking forward each week to a show you can trust to have great writing and great acting. We’ve made our way through several series again this year, trying out pilots for new shows and adding them into the DVR queue–if they made the cut. Many didn’t. We also re-try series that didn’t prompt us to watch in prior years. Most lose out because they rely on shock over substance and storytelling. Where we ended up was a list of what we love, and what we have recommended all year. These series are our Best of the Best for 2014.
Our biggest disappointments? The cancellations of the brilliant, futuristic Almost Human and the reboot of the TV classic Dallas–these shows were written by the best script writers around and will be sorely missed. We hope you’ll give some of the following shows a try next year, or catch them on streaming media, if you’re not watching already.
Forever — Best TV Series, Best TV Fantasy Fix, Best Actor (Ioan Gruffudd), Best Actress (Alana de la Garza), Best Supporting Actor (Judd Hirsch), Best Villain (Burn Gorman). Contenders for the year’s best series were easy to spot: ABC’s Forever or NBC’s Gotham. In years past at borg.com we have favored cable programming, yet this year the networks surged ahead with these two superb series. Forever nudged out Gotham for top prize because of its straightforward storytelling, small talented cast, superb dialogue, and fun situations. Ioan Gruffudd (Horatio Hornblower, Ringer, Fantastic Four) and Alana de la Garza (Law and Order) were perfect foils for each other in the lead roles, and each created compelling characters. Judd Hirsch played son to younger Gruffudd’s unsinkable doctor and gave us the best father and son team on TV in years. Burn Gorman’s chilling performances toward the end of this season were a great addition, setting us up for more fun next year.
Gotham — Best TV Series Runner-up, Best Supporting Actress (Jada Pinkett Smith as Fish Mooney), Best Supporting Actor Runner-up (Donal Logue as Harvey Bullock). NBC’s Gotham did many things we normally wouldn’t like, including taking source material and standing it on end and adding new characters to a classic story’s established cast. Yet it all worked somehow with this intriguing re-imagining of Bruce Wayne’s backstory. Catwoman and Batman were friends as kids? The Penguin was a mole and stooge for key crime families? Commissioner Gordon took Bruce Wayne under his wing as a child? All of this worked, yet the best view into Gotham life was provided by Gordon’s partner, played by Donal Logue (Life, Vikings), and Jada Pinkett Smith’s sultry and ruthless gangster Fish Mooney.
Dallas — Best Retro Fix, Best Writing, Best Supporting Actress Runner-up (Judith Light). Only a popular series like Dallas could have re-emerged decades later with the same gusto as the original. The best writing on TV for the past three years came from this series, which could wind us in and out of several major events in each weekly episode, keeping what was a long-dead series fresh and new. Both older cast members from the original and the new cast led by J.R.’s son John Ross, played by Josh Henderson (an up and coming actor to watch), never failed to surprise us. An Emmy contender can be found in Judith Light who played the vile mother of trucking magnate Harris Ryland (The X-Files’ Mitch Pileggi), a cutthroat manipulator of anyone getting in her way. So many plot threads are left, for now, with the cancellation of this incredible show.
Arrow — Best TV Superhero Fix, Best Actress Runner-up (Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity Smoak), Best New Character (Ray Palmer, played by Brandon Routh). CW’s Arrow forged ahead this year with the addition of sister show The Flash, and its crossover episodes were a series highlight. The death of a key character set up Katie Cassidy’s Laurel Lance to finally pursue her destiny as Black Canary. The writers listened to fans, with more episode time on Emily Bett Rickards’ plucky Felicity Smoak than in prior years, giving us a look at her home life, her dark hacker past, and sending her over to S.T.A.R. Labs for even more screentime. With Brandon Routh’s smartly played Ray Palmer aka The Atom, we can’t wait to see what is in store for 2015.
Grimm — Best Horror Fix, Best Second Wind. With the addition of new character Trubel (Jacqueline Toboni), Grimm went from a show that seemed to be slowing down last year, to one catching a second wind this season. Stealing Adalind’s baby, the introduction of Captain Renard’s mom, Nick losing his powers, and Monroe and Rosalee struggling with Wesen culture all kept the series alive and jumping.
Doctor Who — Best TV Borg (the Half-Face Clockwork Man, from “Deep Breath”), Best Makeup, Best Actor Runner-up (Peter Capaldi), Best Guest Star (Nick Frost as Santa Claus). We were already fans of Peter Capaldi, yet we didn’t know what to expect from his new Doctor on BBC America’s Doctor Who. Capaldi accomplished what he needed to, replacing a beloved actor and making the part his own. The year’s best Doctor Who episode aired on Christmas Day, with Nick Frost as a surprisingly good Saint Nick. No other franchise, TV or movies, can compare to the work of the series’ make-up artists. Stuck in a world of bipedal actors, the make-up shop at Doctor Who always creates characters that are unique and not mere knock-offs of other franchises’ monsters. The show offered up our favorite TV borg of the year in the pilot episode’s incredibly rendered Clockwork Man.
Major Crimes — Best TV Episode (Season 3/Episode 7, “Two Options”). An episode like no other from the entire run of The Closer and Major Crimes, the search for the bad guys begins with a helicopter pursuit over Los Angeles and ends with FBI Agent Fritz Howard coming into his own. Tons of breathless moments showing the potential of the show and begging for a spinoff starring Jon Tenney, it was simply the best hour of TV this year.
White Collar — Best Series Finale. Series enders don’t often satisfy. Usually they are canned, gimmicky wind-ups that leave you feeling like you wasted years watching the series. Not so with the finale to the USA Network’s White Collar. Neil Caffery (Matt Bomer) left all his friends living large and got almost everything he hoped for. All the loose ends were tied up and fans were left completely happy. A well done series all around.
Orphan Black — Best British TV Series. Although the second season of the clone series didn’t quite match its first season, there was plenty to love on season two of BBC America’s Orphan Black, including the entire character development of Helena over the season and Donny accidentally killing Dr. Leakey as high points of the show.
Star Wars Rebels — Best Animated Series. The sneak-peek YouTube videos did not leave us thinking we should watch this series, but luckily the series was far better than expected, with high stakes and interesting new characters. Although we’re still not sure about the rebels, the way Disney XD is giving us great scenes with the dark Empire, complete with music and sound effects, has so far made us enjoy its episodes over the Star Wars Clone Wars series.
Secrets of the Dead “Resurrecting King Richard III” — Best Cosplay Fix. Best Real Science. The discovery of Richard III’s body under a parking lot in England was amazing enough. But when scientists rebuilt what he actually looked, like they never thought they’d encounter a local cosplayer/medieval re-enactor with the same spinal condition who could help them solve other mysteries about this famous King of Shakespearean lore. No use of cosplay was better–or cooler–this year.
Mythbusters — Best Reality TV Fix, Best Nerd Moment (The Star Wars Special). Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman topped 15 years of shows this year with their Discovery Channel Star Wars special, testing myths shown in the original trilogy. Mixing science with science fiction was like peanut butter and chocolate. If only all reality TV was like this series.
The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon — Best Music Video. Jimmy Fallon and band The Roots playing on toy instruments with pop singer Meghan Trainor in Fallon’s SNL days selfie style was great fun. And it looks like the toy band bit going to be a recurring item for the show. Fallon really made late night TV relevant again this year, for the first time in decades.
My Bionic Pet — Best Borg Tech — Animal Bionics. The PBS documentary we discussed here was the best news on borg science this year–helping animals with bionics. Check out this show for some great stories.
Come back tomorrow as we reveal the best of the comic book world and other books for 2015, as well as a few other Best of the Best entries.