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.
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 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.