Last week, we brought you our favorite movies of last year (finally saw Inside Llewyn Davis, by the way, and yes, it would have made the cut). This week, we change channels to focus on TV. We’re doing things a little differently this time out, with separate top 10 lists for new shows and returning favorites. Though there were a lot of new shows I enjoyed over the past year, I’ll admit I couldn’t stretch them to 10; instead, I’ve got 8, while Paul’s just crazy enough to have a full 10.
As always, there are shows we couldn’t get around to: I haven’t seen Rectify, Top of the Lake, Broadchurch, or The Wrong Mans, all of which I’d hoped to see in time for this list. Oh, and to absolve him of all guilt, I should mention that Paul has never seen Breaking Bad. Wait, I don’t think that absolves him.
PAUL: 10. HANNIBAL (NBC)
I wasn’t particularly interested in a television adaptation of the Thomas Harris characters. But names like Hugh Dancy, Mads Mikkelsen, and Bryan Fuller pulled me in. It’s one of the most visually stunning and hauntingly…haunting shows ever to make it to network television. It’s also one of the most shockingly violent and grotesque. All positives in my book. But I can’t put it any higher on my list because it’s crushingly depressing.
Lizzy Caplan and Adam Scott in 'Party Down'
You’ve probably never seen an episode of Party Down. It had dire ratings; this past Friday’s season finale, for example, only garnered 74,000 viewers. My rationale was that it was on premium cable channel Starz (which, we can agree, does not have the luster of HBO or Showtime) but with that channel’s relative hit Spartacus: Blood and Sand, I was proven incorrect. Each episode was also available on Netflix Instant Viewing, but I doubt that expanded viewership much. Perhaps it was just too bleak; good things rarely happened to its team of fame-seeking caterers, and it reveled in the art of schadenfreude almost as much as the British Office. Or maybe it just wasn’t on the right channel at the time, or something.
What I do know is that for two seasons, it was the funniest show on television, or at least tied with Parks and Recreation. It was hindered by the fact that its stars were only signed for season-by-season contracts, which meant it lost Jane Lynch after season 1, and would have lost Ryan Hansen or, far more troubling, main caterer Adam Scott after this season. (The irony here is, of course, that they lost Scott to Parks and Rec.) But I presume that Rob Thomas, John Enbom, and the rest would’ve carried on and would’ve continued to make one damn funny show. Alas, Starz officially announced that the series was canceled today.
Now that Party Down is over, there are only a handful of worthy sitcoms left on the air: Parks and Recreation, Community, Modern Family, and maybe 30 Rock (this season was good, not great, but maybe it can come back; I have no such hopes for The Office).
I still haven’t watched the finale. I think I will right now.