The Year In Television

The Year In Television
Dane La Born

Dane La Born

It’s been quite the year for the small screen. This last year we’ve seen network television stick to their archaic insistence on using the antiquated Nielsen system to find ratings, and we’ve seen them break away from tradition and point their wagons toward the wild west of the internet. Content has been pretty spectacular across the board, and I’m going to take a minute to reflect on some of the best.

You can’t talk about Internet-based television without talking about “Orange Is The New Black” on Netflix. What a show this is. Its inaugural season caught everyone off guard last year and its second season improved upon a great premise. It’s wonderful to have a show filled with such smart, well-written, beautifully performed characters constantly at your fingertips through Netflix.

“Orange” has proven that people are not only willing to watch a female driven show like this, but tend to praise it. Creator Jenji Kohen, of Weeds fame, knows this lesson well.

Across the pond, the United Kingdom was braced along with the rest of the world for the arrival of Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor in “Doctor Who.” What a season this last one was. For anyone who finds Nu-Who’s fantastical and romanticized nature a little off-putting because of the older Doctors, the twelfth season is the Doctor for you. A grumpy curmudgeon, this Doctor is decidedly Scottish and that attitude tends to come out. Where Matt Smith was goofy and David Tennant was kind, Capaldi is sarcastic. It makes for a refreshing change in a show that has been running for 50 years.

Comic Book TV

As for stateside network television, it seems to have given away its collective soul to comic book companies.

This year alone, we got three brand new comic book properties from DC Comics, as well as casting and filming announcements for Marvel’s series of Netflix programs (Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, and Daredevil will all be in the first batch.) DC’s desperate bid for equal footing in the studio wars incited by the big screen arrival of The Avengers helps to explain a lot of this.

Take “Gotham,” a re-telling of Batman’s origin, where instead of just Batman, they draw out the origin story for everyone Batman has ever met. The show is riddled with errors in continuity, but it mostly stands as a fun enough show. “Constantine,” on NBC, had hoped to bring in DC’s supernatural side, but problems behind the scenes and NBC’s unwillingness to allow some of the less savory character aspects be shown has insured that that won’t really be happening. “Constantine” is teetering on the brink of cancellation already.

The Flash appears to be safe though, and remains one of the most fun shows on TV right now. Meanwhile, “Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.” chugs along, awaiting the arrival of “Avengers 2” to actually get to show some of the stakes. It happened much the same with “Winter Soldier” as well. The first season was hit-and-miss until Captain America 2 happened and forever changed the landscape of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.


It has been a pretty rough season for comedy. Most of the new fall comedies to come out this year have already been canceled, and are just now finishing their 13 episode runs. “A to Z,” “Manhattan Love Story,” and “Selfie” have all been cut, though hope remains with myself and other “Selfie” fans that Hulu will pick it up. “Black-Ish,” arguably the only new comedy that worked this season, remains one of the highlights of ABC’s line up.


ABC also has Shonda Rhimes and the considerable weight she throws behind her shows. “Scandal” is as good and as watched as it ever has been, but the big talk of the Fall television season has been Viola Davis and her starring vehicle, “How To Get Away With Murder.” A show about a college law professor/criminal defense attorney and all of the moral grey that tends to come along with that. Davis made waves in the mainstream media a few weeks ago for a moment in “How To Get Away With Murder” where she takes off all of her makeup, and takes off her wig, and goes to bed. It was so unusual for a network television show to showcase its star without an ounce of makeup that it made national headlines. It made for a beautiful scene of television as well.

The Fall has been good, but the Spring is shaping up to be great. The final season of Parks and Recreation will air in the spring, and Yahoo’s Sixth season of Community will hit the internet then as well. Until then, keep watching and happy holidays!

Categories: Commentary