The Best New Shows Of Fall 2014

I’ve already had my say on the worst new shows on TV right now (The Worst New Shows Of Fall 2014) so now it’s time for some happy – the best new shows on TV, and there are quite a few. Three perfect tens (I just couldn’t pick a favorite) and tons of awesome new dramas (political, legal and mystery) await. 🙂

“Madam Secretary”

Madam_Secretary_(CBS)_Logo

My Rating 10 out of 10 Stars

The political drama series is about Elizabeth Faulkner McCord, the Secretary of State. Elizabeth McCord is introduced as a former CIA analyst, when she is recruited and trained by the current POTUS to become the new Secretary of State after the former Secretary of State dies in a plane crash. The President handpicks McCord because of his history with her in the CIA and asks her to become the Secretary of State because she can think outside the box.

Tea Leoni stars as powerhouse Elizabeth McCord, the apolitical politician. She doesn’t have time for bullshit, she likes to use common sense instead of following protocols blindly and she thinks outside the box – that is how she landed the job in the first place. The series doesn’t waste any time, just like its title character. Conspiracies of murder, a suspicious death and the truth of Secretary [of State] Marsh’s demise are all out there, along with McCord’s actual duties which are the focus of this show (for now). In the first six episodes Elizabeth McCord has saved American kids who are taken prisoner in Syria, thwarted a genocide in Africa, brokered seemingly impossible deals between feuding nations and dealt with the President playing politics with her, as well as his Chief of Staff who is just waiting for the chance to collect her resignation.

If I had to pick just one show, this season (and thank God I don’t!) this would probably be it!

“How To Get Away With Murder”

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My Rating 10 out of 10 Stars

This legal drama series follows the personal and professional life of Annalise Keating, an unconventional law professor at a prestigious university in Philadelphia, one of the most prestigious law schools in America. A successful defense attorney, Annalise selects a group of her best students to work as interns at her firm. They are: Connor Walsh, Michaela Pratt, Asher Millstone, Laurel Castillo and Wes Gibbins. In her personal life, Annalise lives with her husband, Sam Keating, but both are keeping secrets, and secret relationships, from each other. Soon it becomes clear that Annalise and her students have become entwined in a murder plot, or two…

Shonda Rimes, the genius behind “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal,” has done it again! In fact, with this show she has her own time block on Thursday nights, just for her hits, bringing about the phrase “Thank God It’s Thursday.” “How To Get Away With Murder” does not disappoint. Viola Davis as Annalise Keating is unstoppable and the series is full of twists and turns in every case, and in many of the characters’ personal lives. A series of flash forwards only heightens the suspense as the viewer begins to unravel the how, why and who of a murder, while the main storyline is focused on the murder of a sorority girl, and a cover-up that consumes Keating’s personal life, as much as it does her professional one.

The story is rich, the characters interesting and fully-formed and the intrigue of how the flash forward storyline meets the rest of the show will have you counting the days until the next episode. If you’re not watching this, you should be! There is something for everyone, and I’m not sure about you, but all I am thinking now is, “What is Shonda going to come up with next?”

“Gotham”

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My Rating 10 out of 10 Stars

New recruit of the Gotham City Police Department, Detective James Gordon, is partnered up with Harvey Bullock to solve one of Gotham’s highest-profile cases: the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne. During his investigation, Gordon meets the Waynes’ son Bruce, now in the care of his butler Alfred Pennyworth, and forms an unlikely friendship that will help shape the boy’s future in his destiny of becoming a crusader. And there are plenty of origin stories to some of Gotham’s most notorious future villains along the way! (Selina Kyle, Edward Nygma, and Oswald Cobblepot to name a few.)

A perfect ten and one of the most talked about new shows of the season is based on a story that has been done too many times to count: Batman. I mean here is a franchise that has had countless TV shows and movies done so chances are we’ve seen something like this before. Except we haven’t. “Gotham” is a successfully original take on the world of the caped crusader. It takes place immediately after Bruce Wayne’s parents were slain when he was a boy, and shows what would later be known as Batman’s origin story, as well as the origin stories of so many of our favorite villains from this franchise, along with completely new villains that blow us away (hey Fish [Mooney] I’m talking to you). With a cast of small names, who no doubt is about to hit the big time, who bring new life into these characters, “Gotham” is stylish, smart and quite frankly brilliant.

“Stalker”

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My Rating 9.5 out of 10 Stars

This police procedural drama follows the people who make up LAPD’s Threat Assessment Unit (TAU) which specializes in stalking cases. Detective Jack Larsen is a recent transfer to the Unit from New York City’s homicide division. Jack’s confidence, strong personality and questionable behavior had landed him in trouble before, but that same behavior may prove valuable in his new job. Jack’s boss, Lieutenant Beth Davis is strong, focused and an expert in the field. But her expertise is driven by her own traumatic personal experience as a victim, when she went by another name: Michelle Webber. Young but eager Detective Ben Caldwell and the deceptively smart Detective Janice Lawrence round out the rest of the team as they assess the threat level of cases and respond before stalking and intimidation spirals out of control, all while trying to keep their secrets and personal obsessions at bay.

This show has caught a lot of flak from critics and in nearly every review I could find (Variety, USA Today, The Huffington Post, and Rotten Tomatoes) there was a whole lot of hate. But I understand the hate, and actually think it just proves the show is on the right track. The gripes revolve around the show’s ugly storylines and twisted nature. But this is a show about violent offenders who stalk and terrorize those they are obsessed with, it is not a how about fluffy bunnies. I applaud “Stalker” from being honest about the subject matter without being gratuitous. (I worked as a sexual assault and domestic violence victim advocate – this show does not exaggerate or sensationalize. If anything, it holds back as much as it needs to in order to air to the public on a major network, in its current timeslot.) The same has been said about “Criminal Minds” which is still going strong – you can’t talk about the ugliness of humanity without getting a little ugly.

While people in a position to air their opinions to the masses disagree with me, viewers do not. In fact, the number of people who tune in each week is higher than two of my perfect ten shows, which critics rave about. Need something else to love about this show? Look no further than the cast. Each detective is complex and relatable on many different levels. But it is Dylan McDermott that has the show’s spotlight with some serious “stalkerish” tendencies at first. Maggie Q steals the show, however, in a quiet and unassuming way. Because her character Beth Davis has a secret that nobody else knows. Working with so many survivors and being one myself, Maggie Q nailed this role. I knew in the first half hour of the pilot she was a survivor. There are little things you pick up on, tendencies, habits – it is like a club where members are easily identifiable to each other, and yet nobody wants to be a member, or be identified.

If you like shows like “Criminal Minds” or “Law And Order: SVU” you need to be watching this show too. And if you can’t stomach these, as much as I love this show, I must warn you away from it. “Stalker” is a great show that takes a hard look at the seriously ugly.

“Red Band Society”

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My Rating 9.5 out of 10 Stars

This medical dramedy focuses on the lives of a group of teenagers living in the pediatric ward at Ocean Park Hospital.

I don’t know why I am into medical dramas. And I’m not really, I have only been into three (including this one, “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Private Practice”) ever, but this is just… wow. The show takes on so much: to show the lives (emphasis on life) of kids who don’t know how long they have, to deal with life and death and growing up, to capture the drama without being clichéd or heavy, to find a lightness to make you laugh as much, if not more, than you tear up, facing impossible monsters and odds, just hoping to see another day, because the chance of “normal” as you know it, is already off the table.

A lot of the credit of this show’s resonance goes to its cast and the characters they play. There is mean girl Kara Souders who is as afraid to be nice and “real” as she is of dying because she can’t get on a heart transplant list and needs one (the heartless girl who needs a heart – that irony was kind of obvious from the get-go); Leo Roth and amputee and cancer patient going through rehabilitation; Jordi Palacios who is all on his own and determined to survive the rare form of cancer he was just diagnosed with; anorexic patient Emma Chota who is caught between ex-boyfriend Leo, and potential love interest Jordi, but really needs to learn to like herself first; and Dash Hosney, a boy with cystic fibrosis and the funny man/sassypants of the gang. Stand-outs among the staff include Nurse Jackson (an amazing Octavia Spencer who is as good as she ever had been in this role) who is no-nonsense and deemed “scary” by a lot of the staff and patients because she tells it like it is and is a force to be reckoned with, and Dr. Adam McAndrew who is a good enough guy, but struggles with his own ego and really doing what is best for his patients. The show is narrated by a comatose boy named Charlie Rowe who communicates with all the other patients whenever they go under or come a little too close to the light.

I can’t understand why this show doesn’t have the viewership it should, and am chalking it up to what it is competing with: other top-notch new and returning shows. Hopefully DVR recordings will save it from a premature end. Because for this show, anything less than a second season renewal would mean it really was gone too soon.

“The Flash”

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My Rating 9.25 out of 10 Stars

This spin-off series from “Arrow” follows Barry Allen, who after witnessing his mother’s bizarre murder and his father’s wrongful conviction for the crime, is taken in by Detective West and his family. He goes on to become a brilliant though socially awkward crime scene investigator for the Central City Police Department. Allen is secretly obsessed about his tragic past and investigates cold cases, paranormal occurrences, and cutting-edge scientific advancements in hopes to find some answers. No one believes his account of a ball of lightning with the face of a man invaded their home and killed his mother, but Allen is determined to vindicate himself and clear his father’s name. When an advanced particle accelerator malfunctions during its public unveiling, bathing the city center with a previously unknown form of radiation, Allen is struck by lightning from the storm and doused with chemicals in his lab. He lies in a coma for nine months when he suddenly wakes up to discover he has the ability to move at superhuman speeds. The disgraced designer of the failed particle accelerator, Harrison Wells, describes Barry’s special nature as “metahuman” and soon Allen finds he is not the only one who was changed by the radiation. Allen vows to use his abilities to protect Central City from the escalating violence of metahuman criminals, aided by a few close friends who are the only ones who know his secret.

I knew that this show would be decent (I’m a fan of “Arrow” and superhero shows in general), but this show is one of the best new superhero shows that has been put out there in awhile. I can’t say it’s original, since it is based on a DC Comics hero that has been around for awhile, but this show is different than the other superhero shows on TV right now. There is a certain lightness and innocence to it, when compared to “Arrow” or “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” and similar shows. It kind of reminds me of the hit “Smallville” which portrayed a young Clark Kent and ran for ten seasons, in terms of its tone. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, but isn’t a big joke either.

“The Flash” has a mystery in the background and with a new baddie with a new superpower each week the show has an almost magical feeling. This show features a talented cast, and underdog for a hero and a new adventure every week – no wonder “The Flash” is a hit!

“Gracepoint”

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My Rating 9.25 out of 10 Stars

This is a remake of the UK drama series “Broadchurch.” The series follows two detectives who are investigating the murder of a boy in a small tightly-knit coastal town that has never seen a murder before and it soon becomes clear that everyone is a suspect.

I’m not sure whether this would be considered a show or a miniseries, but whatever it is, it is captivating. Think of a small town where everybody knows everybody – until they don’t. When a young boy is murdered the town and the people in it are suddenly under a microscope. The victim was the best friend of the son of one of the two detectives investigating this case, Det. Ellie Miller, who wants to believe more than anything this was the work of an outsider. But as the series plays out it is much more likely that the killer is someone else much closer to home. This series has a website: http://www.suspecteveryone.com/

What are you waiting for? 😉


These were just the best of the best; it almost was difficult to figure out where to cut off the list between the best and some of the runner-ups.

Stay tuned for those runner-ups later this week and make sure to check out these shows if you haven’t already! 🙂

-DMW

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One Response to The Best New Shows Of Fall 2014

  1. Pingback: New Shows Of Fall 2014: The Runner-Ups And Some Filler | Just A Little Red

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