Every year a new crop of TV shows is released from the US and it’s survival of the fittest in terms of what manages to run past a first season.
Many shows fall by the wayside after only a handful of episodes but some shows do thrive and find a loyal audience. Some of the new shows are still only part way through their first season run so we won’t know for a few months yet if they’ll be coming back for another season in the 2015-16 line-up.
We watched a lot of TV in 2014 and we’ve selected the 10 shows that we simply couldn’t miss. Keep reading to find out what made the cut.
10. The Strain
We’re not going to lie, The Strain wasn’t without its problems during its first season (mostly some dodgy special effects) but the Guillermo del Toro helmed horror series provided plenty of genuine scares. The show tells the story of a vampire virus sweeping across New York and it’s down to former CDC employee Eph (Corey Stoll), his colleague Nora (Mia Maestro) and Professor Setrakian (David Bradley) to stop it before it wipes out humanity.
Political thriller Tyrant was one of those shows that was a genuine surprise. We didn’t know what to expect when the show began but what became clear quickly is that it was a tight politically-charged tale about Barry (Adam Rayner) a man who returns to his Middle Eastern roots after leaving his homeland for America. On his return he unexpectedly has to help his power mad brother Jamal (Ashraf Barhom) run the country and right the wrongs of their father. The show was gripping, bold and will be back this year for a second season.
8. Murder in the First
Steven Bochco has been behind many TV hits including L.A. Law, NYPD Blue and Murder One. For his latest he teams Taye Diggs up with Kathleen Robertson for a murder case set in San Francisco revolving around a young technology wiz (Tom Felton) who is the main suspect in the crime. The show is starting in the UK on Friday and we think it’s crime drama at its finest.
7. Mozart In The Jungle
The first of two Amazon original series to make out Top 10. Mozart in the Jungle premiered only days before Christmas but it was a no-brainer to add it to our list of top new shows. The series follows the story of unpredictable and unconventional conductor Rodrigo (Gael Garcia Bernal) who takes over the job of running the New York Symphony Orchestra and hires budding oboist Hailey Rutledge (Lola Kirke) as his assistant. The show features a stellar cast including Malcolm McDowell, Bernadette Peters and Saffron Burrows, and makes an unusual topic very entertaining and often funny.
Before Stalker had even aired it had been written off by some critics as ‘women hating’ and thoroughly mauled by the press. Creator Kevin Williamson (The Following, Scream) had no need to worry about the predictable outcry though as Stalker is a satisfying procedural that looks into a variety of different stalking cases. The show has two strong leads in Maggie Q and Dylan McDermott with solid support from Mariana Klaveno, Elisabeth Rohm and Victor Rasuk. It’s creepy, disturbing and utterly addictive.
5. The Leftovers
Many criticisms were levelled at The Leftovers following its first season. It’s fair to say the show is unconventional in its story-telling and it’s definitely not going to be for everyone. We found it pretty incredible to be honest and one of the most moving character-driven pieces of TV we’ve seen. Following the disappearance of 2% of the population, the show tells the story of the town of Mapleton as its inhabitants try to get on with their lives and deal with the constant reminder of what happened by silent cult the Guilty Remnant. Justin Theroux, Ann Dowd, Carrie Coon, Christopher Eccleston and Amy Brenneman lead the cast.
4. The 100
When we first heard the premise of The 100 we rolled our eyes and said ‘been there, seen that’. How wrong we were! The 100 turned out to be one of the boldest shows of 2014 that was distinctly more adult than the cast of beautiful teens would have you believe. The show tells the story of 100 criminal juveniles who are sent to see if the Earth is fit to inhabit 97 years after a nuclear war almost wiped out all human existence. The 100 is unflinching, brutal and often goes in the opposite direction to what you expect. The breakout performances of Eliza Taylor and Bob Morley (both of Neighbours fame) are a big part of the show’s success.
3. The Flash
There was no doubt that The Flash was going to be a hit. Cleverly using Arrow to launch the series, viewers were already invested in Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) before the show even aired. More Smallville in tone than the dark feel of Arrow, The Flash is superhero done right and has made a star out of former Glee actor Grant Gustin. The crossover with Arrow was perfect and the show quickly established itself as one of the must-watch shows of 2014.
Amazon waded into original programming in 2013 but it was 2014 that saw the company really make a mark in world of TV. Transparent quickly picked up critical acclaim and has since been renewed for a second season. The 10-episode first season mixed drama and comedy as patriarch Mort (Jeffrey Tambor) came out to his three kids as transgender under the name of Maura. The first season followed the fallout and reactions to Maura’s announcement and we saw his kids process the news whilst dealing with their own issues and complicated lives. Utterly compelling and beautifully acted.
1. How To Get Away With Murder
The buzz about How To Get Away With Murder was pretty epic before the first episode even debuted. Starring Oscar nominee Viola Davis as powerful criminal attorney Annalise Keating, How To Get Away With Murder is the latest show from the Shondaland production house. The sexy crime thriller has hooked us from the very beginning and we’re only part way through the first season. The show also features break out performances from Alfred Enoch and Jack Falahee as two of Annalise’s law students.