2015 has been a great year for TV. In taking stalk of what shows have come out this year so far, I realized that I could write a great top 10 list of just shows from the first half of the year. And so, this week on TVEnthusiast’s Top 10 Tuesday, we take a look at the best new shows from the first half of 2015. In order to qualify, the series has to have debuted in the United States of America between January 1st and June 30th.
10. The Brink
HBO’s dark comedy series The Brink will place the same cast of characters in different international crisis events each year. The first year involved a potential war with Pakistan, when a mentally unstable general takes over the country. The series features a star studded cast which includes Jack Black and Tim Robbins
I recently wrote a Spotlight feature on this British dramedy about a PR crisis at London’s Scotland Yard. In the feature I actually compared the series to the #10 entry on our list, The Brink. The series shows different aspects of a PR nightmare involving police officers in London. The series can turn on a dime between hilarious and tragic.
This zombie series, based on a Vertigo comic book series of the same name, adds a high concept zombie storyline to the snarky adventures you would expect from series showrunner Rob Thomas (Veronica Mars). While the series can be dark, the hook to the series is the fun times spent with its charismatic cast of characters. iZombie nails the chemistry necessary to plow through the mostly generic case of the week episodic plots.
07. Marvel’s Agent Carter
Another comic book property comes in 7th on our list. Unlike other comic book properties, Marvel’s Agent Carter is based on a character within the general Marvel Cinematic Universe, rather than on a specific series. The series picks up after the climactic events of Captain America: The First Avenger. Agent Peggy Carter must move on from the perceived death of Steve Rogers, while contending with the sexism of 1940s America. The series took over the time slot for Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD during its mid season hiatus. The series retained the look, feel, and heart of the first Captain America movie while moving into the TV realm.
06. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Tina Fey’s hilarious follow up to her NBC series 30 Rock, wraps up the first half of this week’s top 10 list. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, originally planned for NBC before being picked up by Netflix, tells the story of a girl who has spent most her life in an underground bunker as part of a doomsday cult. As such, everything in the outside world is new to her, and she retains a plucky optimistic charm that is out of place in the series New York City setting. Kimmy, like 30 Rock, has an absurdest take on reality, which plays into much of its comedy. I was a late adopter of 30 Rock, and found myself happy to so quickly return to the imagination of Tina Fey with Kimmy.
Another Netflix series claims the first spot in the second half of this week’s list. Sense8 comes to us from the Wachowski siblings (The Matrix) and science fiction TV writer J. Michael Straczynski (Babylon 5). Personally, I found myself mostly excited by the involvement of German Director Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run), who has a certain human element in his storytelling that really sells the emotional context of the story in Sense8. Sense8 is about 8 individuals who discover they are psychically linked to each other, despite living in different places around the world. Though the central plot involves a conspiracy to contain and suppress them, the real strength of the series lies in the emotional connections made between these linked individuals.
This British remake of the Swedish series Real Humans tells the story of 4 and a half synths, a type of realistic android designed to assist humans. These specific synths, however, have free will and thought. As such, they have remained on the run, and under the radar, until some poachers abduct one of them to be resold. This event creates a series of connections between various characters that threatens to expose the existence of synths with free will. With many in the world already weary of synths, this possibility poses a real threat to public order. The series taps into similar themes the recent critically acclaimed film Ex Machina. Humans, however, tells a more balanced perspective on similar ideas, thanks largely to the longer format made possible by television.
03. Marvel’s Daredevil
As both the highest ranking new comic book series on this list, and the highest ranking Netflix series on this list, Marvel’s Daredevil spins a darker yarn within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As the first of 5 Netflix series in the MCU (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and The Defenders), Marvel’s Daredevil establishes the rules of this darker, lower stakes, and street level part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Daredevil’s titular character is a blind Lawyer by day, and exactor of vigilante justice at night. Somehow, Matt Murdock (Daredevil’s true identity) ends up squarely in the middle of a feud between elements of organized crime that hope to capitalize on the damage caused to New York’s Hell’s Kitchen district in The Avengers. At the top of the criminal empires is the physically imposing mastermind Wilson Fisk, who we know in the comic book universe as The Kingpin, masterfully portrayed by Vincent D’Onofrio (Full Metal Jacket).
02. Better Call Saul
Coming in at second place on this week’s list is the Breaking Bad prequel/sequel/spin-off Better Call Saul. Breaking Bad was one of the most masterful TV dramas of all time. Better Call Saul is expanding upon the world of Bad, by focusing in on the story of James Morgan “Jimmy” McGill, an ambulance chasing attorney who will one day become the infamously corrupt lawyer Saul Goodman. One of Breaking Bad’s greatest strengths was its attention to detail, and the way nothing was left as a loose end. Better Call Saul has already demonstrated similar qualities. While originally billed as a comedy, Better Call Saul is closer in tone to Breaking Bad then we had previously expected, though less tense. With great performances, impeccable writing, and unparalleled attention to detail, Better Call Saul’s only real failing is the lack of impending doom that consistently hung over our heads in Breaking Bad.
01. Mr. Robot
At the top of this week’s Top 10 Tuesday is USA’s much talked about hacker drama Mr. Robot. Previously I have written about Mr. Robot, and have referred to the series as a TV version of Fight Club, but with hackers. As Fight Club is my second favorite movie of all time, that praise is anything by light. Mr. Robot doesn’t rip-off or imitate Fight Club, but rather embodies everything that made Fight Club great. An unreliable narrator, a world that is presented as the narrator sees it, intensely atmospheric music, great cinematography, and an authenticity that never puts fails to suspend our disbelief. In Mr. Robot we are introduced to Elliot, a skilled hacker, who works at an internet security firm by day. Elliot meets the titular character (as portrayed by Christian Slater), who invites him to join a hacker collective known as FSociety. Their goal? The redistribution of wealth through the complete destruction of a massive corporations debt records. As the series continues along we begin to learn more about Elliot and his vulnerabilities, and as such, we discover that everything may not be as it seems.
What did you think of our list? Do you agree? Disagree? Tell us what your favorite show of the first half of 2015 has been, and stay tuned to TVEnthusiast for more coverage of all of your favorite shows.