It is the time of the year for list-making and list-reading, and because we as a society now pay attention to things only if they are put in a numerical sequence, we at Channel Guide Magazine have debated, voted and compiled this list of the 17 best things we saw on TV in 2014, and a few things we saw that we wish we hadn’t. Since we’ve already pushed your attention span to its limits, let’s commence with the list:
17 SUPER Things Seen on TV in 2014
17. Brazil Waxed
The U.S. Men’s National Team’s tie vs. Portugal in the FIFA World Cup was a big win for ESPN and the most-viewed soccer match ever in the U.S. We won’t soon forget Germany’s 7-1 beatdown of host Brazil in the semifinals.
16. Superstar Selfie
How much awesomeness can one selfie contain? Ellen DeGeneres showed us during this year’s Oscars telecast with the snapshot seen round the world.
15. Under the Skinemax
The current healthcare system is far from perfect, but at least you’re not going under the knife — or some other early 1900s contraption — in Cinemax’s drama The Knick. The net known for softcore stuff took a hard look at race, gender, religion, medical ethics, politics and corruption.
14. Shock and Law
Didn’t see that coming. CBS’ The Good Wife stunned everyone with Will Gardner (Josh Charles) getting gunned down by his client in the courtroom.
13. Love & War & Time Travel
People came to Outlander on Starz for the romantic historical fantasy sci-fi drama. They stayed for ruggedly handsome Scottish star Sam Heughan. The second half of Season 1 begins in April.
12. “So Did the Fat Lady”
FX’s Louie returned after a long hiatus to deliver seven brilliant, brutally honest minutes of TV when Vanessa (Sarah Baker) confronted Louis C.K. with “I’m fat. It sucks to be a fat girl. Can people just let me say it?”
11. A Great Love Story
“It was just really fertile ground for great storytelling,” Mark Ruffalo told us of HBO’s The Normal Heart. “It’s powerful and it’s beautiful and it’s humanizing.” The star-studded movie was an unflinching, unforgettable look at the New York City gay community’s struggles in the early ’80s AIDS epidemic.
10. BAM! ZAP! POW!
Networks activated more successful small-screen adaptations of comic books this year, with FOX’s Gotham, The CW’s The Flash and (to a much lesser degree) NBC’s Constantine sending legions of nerds enthusiasts into euphoric fits in parents’ basements nationwide.
9. Oliver Twists the FCC
The Daily Show’s beloved Brit got his own weekly news-satire series with HBO’s Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, and he immediately went to work firing up net neutrality supporters who crashed the FCC’s website with their grievances.
The masterful pairing of Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson in HBO’s True Detective inspired fans to pitch some potential partnerships for Season 2 on Twitter. Sorry, DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince, but the job is taken by Vince Vaughn and Colin Farrell.
— ☢Rosedent Fieldvil☢ (@J_Rosenfield) February 20, 2014
7. Heeeeere’s Jimmy!
That SNL “Weekend Update” gig really is a nice stepping stone. The Tonight Show torch was passed from Jay Leno to Jimmy Fallon, whose uncanny impressions of musicians constitute half the web’s videos.
6. Every. Simpsons. Ever.
We came down with a serious case of yellow fever for 12 days this summer when FXX celebrated its acquisition of The Simpsons by airing 552 episodes in TV’s longest marathon.
5. The Legend of Lorne & Lester
FX turned the Coen brothers’ classic Fargo into a hot new series about coldblooded killers Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thornton) and Lester Nygaard (Martin Freeman) in cold Minnesota. Fargo returns in 2015 with new characters, new actors and a whole new story.
4. “Look at the flowers”
Of all the literal and figurative gut-wrenching in four-plus seasons of AMC’s The Walking Dead, there’s been nothing as morally terrifying as Carol (Melissa McBride) shooting young Lizzie (Brighton Sharbino) in “The Grove.”
3. Welcome to Shondaland
Creator/writer/producer Shonda Rhimes was chiseled onto the Mount Rushmore of TV Powerbrokers by landing a Thursday night threesome on ABC with Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and the new How to Get Away With Murder.
2. “Thrones” Takes the Crown
Game of Thrones Season 4 slayed The Sopranos as the most-watched show in HBO history, averaging a gross audience of 18.6 million viewers. Winter is coming for at least two more years, with Seasons 5 and 6 already ordered.
1. Fantastic Voyage
Rock star science guy Neil DeGrasse Tyson did Carl Sagan proud with the 21st-century update of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey on FOX and National Geographic Channel. Combining stunning visuals, epic storytelling and inspiring scholarship, it was the smartest thing on FOX since … well, ever.
And Then There’s This Crap:
Nudity-Free Nudity Shows
If you’re titillated by the pixilated private parts of idiots on Discovery’s Naked and Afraid or VH1’s Dating Naked, then just wait till you see this thing called the Internet.
How We Killed Off Your Mother Kids, How I Met Your Mother aired on CBS for nine years, gave us lots of laughs and made Neil Patrick Harris really cool again. Also, your mother is dead.
Poor Bob Costas. He lives to host the Olympics every other year, but an untimely case of pink eye benched him at the Sochi Games for nearly a week.
“Royal” Flushed The only people dumber than the women who were duped by a Prince Harry lookalike on I Wanna Marry “Harry” are the FOX execs who greenlighted this show.
Dystopia FOX’s “groundbreaking social experiment” Utopia threw a bunch of people (some of them attractive!) together to try and make an ideal society, but a society in which no one cared about Utopia is good enough for us. [Editor’s note: Run screaming from any show described as a “social experiment.”]
BONUS BADNESS!: Discovery Channel’s Credibility Eaten Alive by Stupid Snake Show
This year, we are all dumber for having watched Discovery Channel. Whether they’re peddling unscripted shows of dubious authenticity, duping real scientists into contributing to sham Shark Week shows or pestering a snake for a cheap publicity/ratings stunt, it’s a damn shame what’s happened to this once-respected network.