Is there any more First World problem than “peak television”? “Wah! There’s too much stuff to watch!” But it’s kind of true. Between the various streaming services, HBO, and the networks, there have never been more hours of quality viewing available. There’s no keeping up with it all (and also having a life).
So, no one needs another list of TV shows to watch. Nevertheless, with apologies and with recognition that it most certainly leaves out many fine programs that I didn’t have the time or the inclination to watch, herewith is my best TV viewing of 2015.
Note: I was going to attempt to describe each listed series in this one post, but then I realized that could get really long. And who would have time to read all that, what with all this TV to watch? So let’s just make this a series. (Though like any series, one subject to cancellation at any time.) What could be more fitting for this medium?
Within each category, programs are listed in alphabetical order, as I can’t imagine ranking such vastly different series against each other.
Under the radar
Programs that, seems to me, aren’t that well-known.
- The Americans – Shomi / FX: I wrote about The Americans earlier in the year. Season 3 on Shomi later this month!
- Borgen – TVO (originally on Danish television)
- Catastrophe – Shomi / BBC: I wrote about Catastrophe as well. Season 2 available about now…
4. Today’s feature: iZombie – Shomi / CW
The premise: Based on a comic book, iZombie stars Rose McIver as Liv Moore, an over-achieving medical resident who, as shown in flashbacks, is zombified at a party a few months before the series starts. In this world, zombies retain their mental capacity as long as they regularly consume human brains. Liv manages her dietary needs by working at the coroner’s office, where her partner, Dr. Ravi Chakrabarti, clues into her condition in episode 1. Everyone else in her life is mystified by her new behavior and look.
Adding to Liv’s challenges is that when she eat someone’s brain, she temporarily takes on some of their characteristics, be it passionate artist, warm country singer, reclusive computer genius, or psychopath killer. She also gets visions of what the deceased went through, and she uses these to work with police detective Babineaux (who thinks she’s a psychic) to solve murders.
Notable participants: It’s produced by the same people responsible for Veronica Mars, Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero, and shares with that series the rapid-fire wit. As for the actors, though, I personally am not familiar with any of them. But Rose McIver is very good in what must be a challenging (but fun!) role. The casting, generally, is nicely diverse, and Robert Buckley, as Liv’s former finance Major, reminds me a lot of Scott Speedman.
What’s good about it: I like that that this series has self-contained, weekly murders to solve along with ongoing, season-long storylines. And that the characters have complexity and evolve and are generally likeable (even the villains). And that it’s mega-funny, yet delves into complex moral issues of what it means to be human. Happiness is complicated and rare for these characters (especially Liv and Major), but it’s not a depressing show.
It’s not quite at Buffy levels, but like that show, there’s more to it than its title and premise would suggest.
Any qualms? Whenever the characters apply actual science to zombie-ism (Liv and Ravi are doctors, after all), it doesn’t quite work for me. Zombie-ism just doesn’t seem scientifically possible.
- Mozart in the Jungle – Shomi / Amazon
- The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt – Netflix
We’ve all heard these ones are good. I generally agree—though some are likely overrated.
- Agent Carter – CTV / ABC
- The Jinx – HBO
- Transparent – Shomi / Amazon
(I’d add Netflix’ Jessica Jones here—or in some category—except that we haven’t finished the first season yet.)
A fair number of people watch these shows. The public isn’t always wrong.
- Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – CTV / ABC
- Amazing Race Canada – CTV
- Grace and Frankie – Netflix
- Silicon Valley – HBO