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TV 2014

I might have watched fewer TV shows this year than ever before. I certainly lost the thread on many that I was watching. It wasn't for lack of interest necessarily...I just made a choice to watch sports or read or do something else instead. Still, there are some shows that I thought were great...

1. Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Michael Schur took everything he learned from launching Parks & Recreation (I'm rewatching the show now and those first 6 episodes were not great) and applied it to getting this show out of the gate. The show came out swinging in the second half of the first season with "Pontiac Bandit"as its first episode of 2014 (a great episode that just had a sequel) and continued to throw comedy haymakers all year long as the second season got underway. This is a top-notch cast (Andre Braugher as the straight-laced Captain Holt is the best) performing material that is truly funny. The jokes aren't just jokes either (though there are plenty) - much of the humor comes from character and they have established the characters very well in a short amount of time. If you haven't given the show a chance, you really should. It's great.

2. The Flash - I was worried about this one. The Flash is one of my favorite comics characters, albeit the Wally West version instead of the Barry Allen one. Still, I always liked Barry too as well as the universe of the comic - the Rogues, the Cosmic Treadmill, and so on. I am happy to say I have not been disappointed in this show. It's so good. Grant Gustin is perfect as Barry; Jesse Martin does fantastic work as Joe West; and Tom Cavanugh is marvelous as the creepy and enigmatic Harrison Wells. Oh, and Carlos Valdes frequently steals the show as the nerdy and gung-ho Cisco Ramon. The show does the speed sequences very well and is building not only its own world but referencing the DC Universe. This season is already great and I can't wait to see where the show goes in the coming years.

3. Bob's Burgers - The Belchers are the best. Your own favorite may vary (mine is Tina) but as a unit, this is my favorite family on TV. Sure, the show is always funny. There are many funny shows. How many of them give us an episode like "Work Hard or Die Trying, Girl?" That particular episode has two competing musicals (Die Hard and Working Girl, natch) and is so smart and hilarious. And that's just one episode! I was late to the party on this show and still have a bunch of episodes I haven't seen. That makes me happy.

4. Fargo - Here was another show to be skeptical about. A TV show based on one of the Coens best movies (The Big Lebowski is their best), how would that even work? Well, it worked by them taking a small part of the movie and spinning a new tale that had the same feel as the movie but stood as its own story. Allison Tolman was fantastic as Deputy Molly Solverson and Billy Bob Thornton brought the strange menace of Lorne Malvo to life. The rest of the cast, from main players like Martin Freeman and Colin Hanks to more supporting ones like Adam Goldberg and Keith Carradine and Bob Odenkirk were all fantastic. This is a 10 episode gem.

5. 24: Live Another Day - Look, I'm as surprised as you are. It's not like I was a die-hard fan of 24. Heck, I didn't even watch it until Season 5, which I loved. That made me go back to earlier seasons but I quickly got burned out (made it through Season 1 but I don't know that I saw all of Season 2, or Season 6). So, it had been a while. For whatever reason, I decided this 12 episode season would be a good one to try and reconnect with the series. I was right. Everything I loved about the series was there - the break-neck action, plot twist after plot twist, a bit of improbability about the whole endeavor. Kiefer Sutherland did his Jack Bauer thing but I also thought Yvonne Strahovski was great as Kate Morgan. In fact, I liked it so much that if the show comes back again, I will definitely watch. Oh, as a bonus I also got my wife hooked on the show and it was her first 24 experience.

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