Bullz-Eye’s 2015 TV Power Rankings


It’s another clean sweep for cable and streaming outlets for our annual list of the best shows on television. Netflix alone has four shows on our list, despite “House of Cards” dropping off. With so many outlets battling to create original content, the old TV networks just can’t compete when it comes to producing the best of the best.

Fortunately, in today’s world, if you’ve been missing out on some of the best shows, you can always find a way to binge watch and catch up.

We’ve kept the spoilers to a minimum, but you might want to skip over some of the write-ups if you’re behind on a particular series, as we naturally refer to recent events.

1. “The Walking Dead”

After the gruesome confrontation with the Terminus cannibals, Rick and the gang were tired and ragged without an obvious destination, so the introduction of the Alexandria safe zone offered an interesting twist to the story. Here the group suddenly found some much-needed normalcy in terms of their surroundings, while it was just a matter of time before the awkward interaction between Rick’s battle-tested crew and the clueless and sheltered inhabitants of Alexandria would lead to real conflicts. This year offered some interesting character developments as they got a much-needed though temporary reprieve from the daily battles with the walkers. “The Walking Dead” seems to get more interesting each year as the writers explore how humans deal with a post-apocalyptic world both on an individual and tribal level, so it remains our choice as the best show on television for 2015.


2. “Making a Murderer”

Imagine spending 18 years in prison for rape, and then finally getting released after DNA testing proves you’re innocent. And imagine a scenario where it appears the local sheriff’s department had it in for you, and the prosecutor ignored a more probable suspect that ended up being the real killer. That “true crime” story alone could fill a 10-episode series explaining the problems with our justice system, but it’s only the beginning of the story involving Steven Avery. The story gets even more bizarre when Avery sues the sheriff’s department two years later, only to then be charged with a murder by those same officers and ultimately convicted. This Netflix series has quickly become a phenomenon as viewers, journalists and many involved with the case debate the question of whether an injustice occurred again. Watch the first episode and you’ll likely be hooked!


3. “The Americans”

After a solid second season, “The Americans” came back stronger than ever this year as it became more and more difficult for Phillip (Matthew Rhys) and Elizabeth (Keri Russell) to hide their true identities from their teenage daughter, all while trying to help the Soviets battle the Washington-funded mujahedeen. This led to an expected but still powerful cliffhanger as their daughter Paige understandably had no idea how to process what she’s learned about her parents. Phillip and Elizabeth are two of the most interesting characters on television, and it’s fascinating to see how their marriage evolves in the context of their high-stakes missions. It’s a shame that one of the best shows on television hasn’t found a larger audience. This is a perfect binge-watching option if you’re looking for a new show to follow.


4. “Game of Thrones”

Fans of this show learned pretty quickly that no character is safe, and many popular characters (along with some hated characters) have been killed off in spectacular fashion on “Game of Thrones” over the years. That trend certainly continued in Season Five, though we’re happy to report that Tyrion is still alive and kicking. Season Five also featured some epic battle scenes as the threat of the White Walkers finally emerged in full force, and it will be interesting to see how this threat affects the battle for the Iron Throne as the story progresses.


5. “Narcos”

Pablo Escobar was a legendary figure in the Colombian drug trade of the late 1970s and 1980s as the head of the infamous Medellin drug cartel, and “Narcos” tells his story from his perspective as well and that of the DEA agents assigned to take him down. Brazilian actor Wagner Moura is brilliant as Escobar; his performance carries this show, but he’s also supported by a solid cast that includes Boyd Holbrook, Pedro Pascal and Joanna Christie.


6. “Mr. Robot”

Computer hacking has become a huge issue for all of us, whether it’s simple identity theft or massive security breaches at big companies, government agencies or dating sites for people cheating on their spouses. With that backdrop, a show about a cybersecurity engineer and hacker with serious social anxiety issues seems rather timely. “Mr. Robot” stars Rami Malek as Elliot Alderson, a young hacker who gets recruited by a mysterious organization of hacktivists led by “Mr. Robot” (Christian Slater.) Malek gives a brilliant performance as Elliot struggles with the implications of what he’s asked to do, making “Mr. Robot” one of the best new shows of 2015.


7. “Jessica Jones”

With the movie industry suffering from superhero overload, it’s hard to get very excited about the superhero genre getting even more exposure on television. But with the sassy and lovely Krysten Ritter starring in the lead role, this series deserved a look. With its film noir tone and willingness to address more adult themes, this isn’t your kid brother’s superhero show. Jessica Jones had a brief career as a superhero that ended tragically, and now she’s trying to rebuild her life as a private investigator. Early in Season One, she comes across Luke Cage, a man with superhuman strength who is unsure about how to handle his abilities. The interaction between them drives this compelling series.


8. “Fargo”

Unlike “True Detective,” which fell victim to the all-too-familiar sophomore slump, “Fargo” positively thrived in Season Two, perfectly towing the line between black comedy and crime thriller. Part of what makes the show so successful is just how well cast it is from the top down, and although Patrick Wilson, Kirsten Dunst and Jeffrey Donovan are among the standouts, there’s not a single weak link in the entire ensemble. The writing also continues to be top-notch, while the show’s absurdist tone works even better in a period setting. Creator Noah Hawley is in high demand these days, and for good reason, because he’s once again crafted an engaging crime saga that works both as a prequel to the previous season as well as its own entity. (Jason Zingale)


9. “Homeland”

One of the most ambitious shows in recent memory has settled into just being an excellent spy drama, which still makes it one of the best shows out there. The gripping yet over-the-top storylines for the first two seasons led to a disappointing Season 3, as the writers had to wrap up the Brody/Carrie relationship, but then the show rebounded with a solid Season 4. This was a pleasant surprise, as it would have been a share to waste such a great lead character in Carrie Mathison. Season 5 was set in Germany and built around Carrie, Saul and Quinn and some interesting new characters as they explored issues around the need for surveillance to combat terrorism in the modern world.


10. “Daredevil”

Our second superhero series from Marvel rounds out the top ten. “Daredevil” is also darker than your typical superhero feature, as the story follows Matt Murdock, a blind attorney who fights crime at night. Blinded as a boy, he uses his heightened senses to his advantage. You might remember Charlie Cox as the tough, Irish bodyguard to Nucky Thompson in “Boardwalk Empire,” and he gives an excellent performance in the lead role. Deborah Ann Woll from “True Blood” stars as Karen Page, who is introduced in the first episode. Like “Jessica Jones,” this series will lead to a “Defenders” crossover miniseries, but you don’t have to be a comic book fan to appreciate it.


Random Observations:

“True Detective”

Was there a bigger disappointment this past year than Season 2 of True Detective? Despite its bizarre and incomprehensible ending, the first season became the talk of 2014 with powerful performances from Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson. And while Colin Farrell was excellent as the tortured detective in the second season, it’s hard to imagine Vince Vaughn getting another dramatic role again after his strained performance as a criminal in way over his head. The convoluted storyline just might have worked with a great actor taking Vaughn’s pivotal character, but this is an unfortunate example of the importance of casting decisions.


“Fear the Walking Dead”

Like many, we had high hopes for this “Walking Dead” spinoff set in Los Angeles just as the virus was spreading. The prospect of watching civilization crumble as the walkers emerged seemed like the perfect setup for another hot series. And while there were some interesting twists and cool zombie scenes, the characters just weren’t interesting enough for this version to rival the original. We’ll keep watching, however, as the writers will have plenty of opportunities to introduce more interesting characters and storylines.


“Mad Men”

Even as it slipped out of our top ten for its final season, “Mad Men” maintained its excellence as it wrapped up the story of Don Draper and the rest of the gang. While I found the ending to be unsatisfying and a little bizarre, we’ve all come to expect the unexpected from this unpredictable series. I like how they wrapped up Betty’s story, as the sexy but pouty housewife from the early seasons grew into a wise mother and wife as she faced her unfortunate fate, while Peggy’s happy ending seemed a bit forced. If you’ve never watched the show, it belongs on your streaming list. Binge-watch the first season and you’ll be hooked.


“House of Cards”

This show became a Netflix sensation several years ago and helped usher in the streaming revolution, but unfortunately, it has slipped each of the past two seasons. As the storylines become darker and more ridiculous, it’s that much harder for Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) to keep our attention. I can’t even recommend Season One any more unless the writers find a way to breathe new life into this series.