‘True Detective’ lands the award for best new TV show in 2014 but what other series also made the final cut for the best freshman series of the year?
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
Every year a slew of new shows roll out from seemingly a million different networks and by December it’s hard to remember what made an impact and what fell by the wayside. That’s not so much the case in 2014 because this year marked one of the most successful and critically acclaimed years for new shows in recent memory.
While there are always a few gems that pop out of an endless number of pilot projects, 2014 provided not only some great new series but a few that we believe will be stalwarts on TV for years to come. This year also marked a huge explosion in the ‘anthology’ series, which broke all the rules of traditional serialized television storytelling yet excited viewers with an encapsulated show all wrapped up in under 13 episodes with a fresh new idea ready to land a year later.
The leader of the pack this year fell into that category thanks to creator Nic Pizzolatto, who made not only one of the best series of the year, but also a pop cultural phenomenon as film stars Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson took on a show called ‘True Detective’ that ended up as maybe eight of the best hours of television in history.
The show was a massive hit for HBO with a huge list of award nominations for everyone involved with the series from creator to director to stars, and everything they earned was well deserved. This show was a juggernaut from the beginning with McConaughey and Harrelson attached to star, but no one knew just how great the series would become over the short span of just two months. Viewers were treated to the kind of dialogue that usually gets reserved for philosophical debates while each episode was tightly packed with equal parts of dramatic exposition, narrative and mind blowing action.
‘True Detective’ will go down as the best new show of 2014 and maybe one of the greatest of all time considering just how great these eight episodes will hold up a year from now or 20 years from now.
So as we continue our ‘best of the best’ awards for 2014, we are proud to name our top five new shows for the year with ‘True Detective’ taking home the grand prize.
TRUE DETECTIVE – Best New Show in 2014
The series set in Louisiana focuses on two detectives — Rust Cohle and Marty Hart — as they investigate a murder that leads them into a dark web of religion, occult and the deepest reaches of humanity before they are reconnected more than a decade later when it appears the job they started back in the 90’s is far from finished.
Flawless. There was nothing to dislike about this first season of ‘True Detective’. Matthew McConaughey’s delivery as existentialist cop haunted by his past was probably the best performance of the year and the best part was he didn’t overshadow Woody Harrelson as his partner, Marty Hart, as he portrayed the jockular alpha male detective most people probably visualize when thinking of the police. The story was taut and suspenseful, filled with nuance and the kind of visual effects that had just about everybody watching going back to watch each episode again for clues that might lead to solving the crime. Police stories are commonplace on television. ‘True Detective’ was probably the best exploration of a criminal case on television that’s ever been done and that’s not hyperbole — the show was just that good.
Prospects for 2015:
The show was renewed for season 2 and like all anthology series, this year will feature an entirely new story and setting as well as a new cast. Colin Farrell, Taylor Kitsch, Vince Vaughn and Rachel McAdams are set to star in the series that will be set in California following the murder of a prominent transportation executive. Filming has already started with a summer 2015 debut date on HBO expected.
THE BEST OF THE REST
In the wake of a sudden departure where two-percent of the world’s population just up and disappears, a small town in upstate New York deals with loss, tragedy and unbelievable sadness. While the focus on the show was mostly centered around a Sheriff and his family, the reach and scope of this event was far beyond any one group of people or places.
The show came from ‘Lost’ co-creator Damon Lindelof so there was plenty of praise and criticism, but at the heart of it all he managed to create another extremely well crafted series wrought with emotion — in this case a whole heap of sadness and depression. If you were teetering close to the edge, ‘The Leftovers’ probably pushed you over but the reality was this series was written with a razor’s edge and could easily cut the happy and the sad alike.
Prospects for 2015:
There were some early concerns that the show wouldn’t be picked up, but HBO ultimately opted to give ‘The Leftovers’ season 2. The show is expected to return in 2015, although currently word is the series will be casting a lot of new actors and actresses to replace many of the regulars from the debut season. It will be interesting to see which direction the show goes in the second season.
Vampires sitting in the shadows for centuries finally decide to lay claim to the world by unleashing their virus into the human population, which quickly overruns New York City in a matter of weeks. The only people aware of what’s going on who try to stop it including a former Center for Disease Control doctor, an exterminator and a pawn shop owner who has quietly been battling vampires for decades.
The show debuted to great ratings for Sunday night original programming on FX and brought a brand new spin to the vampire genre that permeated TV for the past few years. Corey Stoll did a great job leading the cast, especially after his run on ‘House of Cards’. The rest of the cast was perfectly placed especially with Kevin Durand and David Bradley in supporting roles. Solid action and effects combined with story telling based on original books from Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan.
Prospects for 2015:
Already picked up for a second season expected to debut in the summer of 2015. The original source material was three books and the producers behind the show have already stated that the series could probably only survive for about four or five seasons at most, which is the current plan if they continue to get picked up beyond next year.
A life long loser runs into a cold-blooded hitman and when their paths cross and bodies start piling up, the craziness ensues. Based loosely on the original Coen brothers movie of the same name while taking place in a similar setting in rural Minnesota with all the flavor of the source material while creating an entirely new universe.
Much like ‘True Detective’, this was another anthology series set up for a single run with 10-episodes and no chance of the same people coming back for a second season — that said this was a spotless run with drama and comedy mixing together in perfect harmony. Billy Bob Thornton was disturbing yet hilarious as hitman Lorne Malvo and the discovery of Allison Tolman, who played Deputy Molly Solverson, was maybe the best part of the entire show.
Prospects for 2015:
The show was already renewed for another run in 2015 with creator Noah Hawley back at the helm. This time ‘Fargo’ will take place in the late 1970’s with a few of the same characters appearing from the first season, but with different actors playing the parts. The two leads have already been cast with Kirsten Dunst and ‘Breaking Bad’ star Jesse Plemons playing husband and wife in the new season. The show is expected to debut next year.
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