Our resident ProFans picked the shows (new and existing) of 2014.
Imaginatively disturbing visuals and a foreboding score leave Hannibal viewers on a knife’s edge, while the understated, elegant Mads Mikkelsen as Hannibal Lector and the ever-unraveling Will Graham, played by Hugh Dancy, are hypnotic. Dare I say? Even better than the movies. Guest star Gillian Anderson stole the season 2 finale as her recurring character, Dr Bedelia Du Maurier, made a ghastly decision. A story with no happy endings, every restrained moment mesmerizes, making Hannibal impossible to quit. Season 3 premieres in late spring, giving you plenty of time to catch up if you haven’t started it already. – ProFan Sarah
Robert Rodriguez’s El Rey Network is relatively new; because of this, it is still in the position of having to prove itself and find its place in the marketplace. You could absolutely tell that with their fantastic Matador. Matador, starring Gabriel Luna as a DEA agent who is recruited by the CIA to go undercover as a soccer player, began its season as what could be described as a typical action series. With a premise like that, what’s he going to do? Uncover steroid use and get in fights with roided-out soccer players? The answer is… kind of. Low-level things like that do happen, but with each successive episode, the world of Matador continued to expand and grow beyond the soccer field, beyond its Los Angeles setting, and even beyond the United States. By the end of its season, Matador had grown into a juggernaut on a global scale; it was such an ambitious series, and its success proved El Rey Network is not fucking around. Beyond the action, one of the best things about the series was the diversity of its cast and the fact that it was diverse without the diversity being what the show was about.
Although the series was given a second season before the first episode even aired, El Rey decided to cancel the series, following so-so international attention and the untimely death of actress Elizabeth Pena, who portrayed the mother of Luna’s character. Personally, I hold out hope that someone (Netflix?) will pick the series up, but if they don’t, its single season stands as one hell of an achievement for El Rey Network, and if it stands as a harbinger of what is yet to come from the station, El Rey has placed itself firmly in the original content game. – ProFan John
Sarah Lancashire needs to win an Emmy, a Golden Globe, an Oscar, a People’s Choice Award, a Tony, and a BET Award for her portrayal of Sgt. Catherine Cawood in Happy Valley. Cawood’s daughter committed suicide soon after giving birth to her rapist’s baby. Her death tore apart Cawood’s marriage and she now struggles to raise her grandson with some help from her sister. The divorce and suicide also left her with a strained relationship with her adult son. When the man she believes raped her daughter is released from jail, Cawood becomes obsessed with bringing him to justice and keeping her grandson’s existence from him. Meanwhile, a local man plots the elaborate kidnapping of his boss’ daughter. If you like compelling dramas with a dash of mystery and a whole lot of fantastic acting, check this Netflix original series, Happy Valley. – ProFan Nina
As a long-time fan of Sailor Moon, this series is bringing back a lot of fond memories I had from the original anime. Granted, I only saw it dubbed, but it was still awesome. I’m sure I still have the VHS tapes I made of the show floating around somewhere. This updated version of the story is spectacular, and – if you’ve been following my recaps, you know – it’s moving at a pretty steady clip towards its endgame. It’s going to be a lot of fun watching it get there, and I’m all in for the ride. – ProFan Joseph
What does life look like if 2% of the world’s population suddenly disappears without explanation? How would people cope with their loss through the sheer bewilderment of it all? These are the basic questions explored by the debut season of The Leftovers and while its premise seems simple enough, the show was anything but.
With its complex characters, multi-layered storylines, and rich imagery dealing with religion and borderline supernatural occurrences, it was hard NOT to talk and speculate about this show. The pacing was so delicately designed, providing answers exactly when they were most vital to the story and keeping you content while still longing for more. Many people dismissed the show early on, disliking its ambiguity and sorrowful tone. While I can agree that the vibe is most definitely tragic, solving the mystery of The Leftovers proved to be one of its most rewarding qualities in the end. The acting is exceptional, the score is hauntingly beautiful, and the tears you shed while watching are totally worth it. Also, Justin Theroux. Jogging in sweatpants. No brainer! – ProFan Jasmin
2014 saw Game of Thrones have its fourth and best season yet, and the same can be said for the latter half of The Walking Dead’s fourth season that kicked off in February. And while those are, hands down, two of my favorite shows, I have to pick The Flash as the best show of 2014.
First introduced during the second season of The CW’s Arrow, Grant Gustin stars as Barry Allen in the Arrow spinoff, The Flash. After being struck by lightning during a particle accelerator accident, Barry awakens from a coma to discover he can run fast. Very fast. Like, walk on water, run up the side of buildings fast.
Barry uses his new power to keep Central City safe and prove that his father didn’t kill his mother 15 years ago. Barry’s foster father, Detective Joe West (played by the wonderful Jesse L. Martin, who steals every scene he’s in) is in on Barry’s secret, as are a trio of scientists from S.T.A.R. Labs, the facility responsible for the accident.
The Flash’s pilot gave CW its highest ratings ever, and it’s easy to see why: solid writing, good special effects, fantastic acting and Grant Gustin. Gustin really sells Barry as a superhero-in-training struggling with his own demons and unrequited love for his best friend, Iris West (Candice Patton) – Joe’s daughter, who Barry grew up with.
The Flash will make you cheer and root for the underdog, who just happens to be the fastest man alive. – ProFan Nina