Another year, another crop of great TV. From old favourites to stellar new arrivals, 2015 was packed with binge-worthy shows and memorable performances. Keeping this list as spoiler-free as I can, here are my top picks for the best shows of 2015.
BEST TECHNICAL PRODUCTION
Game of Thrones
There is no show on TV that has such beautifully constructed sets, a seamless blend of CGI and practical effects, not to mention some gorgeous set pieces that could easily be mistaken for a feature film. HBO has proven with Game of Thrones that TV can have just as good a look as film.
BEST ARTISTIC PRODUCTION
With a second season that managed to somehow be better than the brilliant first season, Fargo Season 2 created a wonderfully unique aesthetic to capture the 70s era. Mixed with unconventional yet perfectly fitting musical choices and a symbolic colour scheme, Fargo is the most beautiful looking show currently on TV.
Every episode managed to improve on the previous one. The first season of this critically acclaimed show was filled with great characters and wonderfully composed dialogue. From a gripping introduction to an unbelievable final twist, Mr. Robot sheds a completely new light on the world of cyber-hacking in ways that films like Blackhat could only dream of doing.
Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk in Daredevil
Netflix burst onto the scene in 2015 with two brilliant shows that rank among the best things Marvel Studios has ever done. Featuring a gritty, realistic take on the superhero genre, Daredevil was a great show for many reasons, but one particularly is the layered, intense, and flawless performance given by Vincent D’Onofrio as the Kingpin. You’re never sure if you want to hate or love this guy, and often times you’re doing both.
BEST ENSEMBLE CAST
Patrick Wilson. Kirsten Dunst. Jessie Plemons. Ted Danson. Brad Garrett. Nick Offerman. Jeffrey Donovan. Kieran Culkin. A wide arrangement of names from film, TV, comedies, and dramas, all contributing to the richness that is Fargo Season 2.
Noah Hawley for Fargo
Turning one of the most memorable movies of the 1990s into a TV show seemed like a suicide mission for its creator. But Noah Hawley did the unthinkable over two seasons. He made a show that is actually better than that movie. And the fact that Fargo Season 2 is an improvement over Season 1 goes to show that Hawley is taking great care in the writing and the execution of this show, something Nic Pizzolatto from True Detective could have really learned from.
Jessica Jones in Jessica Jones
Creating synergy between the protagonist and the antagonist is one of the hardest things to do in writing. With Jessica Jones, we have the most conflicted, relatable, and intriguing hero of any major show released in 2015. Krysten Ritter plays Jessica with a wide range of sass and vulnerability.
Killgrave in Jessica Jones
No antagonist proved to be more of a flipside to the protagonist than Killgrave was to Jessica Jones. From the very first episode, his direct connection to Jessica drives the entire plot. A villain who is as worthy of your empathy as he is worthy of your fear and disdain, Killgrave is also played brilliantly by the Doctor himself, David Tennant.
MOST INTERESTING CHARACTER
Joanna Wellick in Mr. Robot
Joanna unexpectedly became a major player around halfway through this show’s first season, instantly showing us a different side of the main villain, Tyrell. Her attitude towards Tyrell, her cunning, wit, and aura of mystery that surrounds her makes Joanna Wellick a character I was consistently intrigued by. I can’t wait to find out more about her in Season 2.
BEST ACTION SCENE OR FIGHT
The Hallway Fight scene from Cut Man – Daredevil
Daredevil had the best action scenes of any show this year. Consistently finding new and creative ways of filming and choreographing fights, Daredevil peaked early in its second episode, Cut Man. As Matt Murdock attempts to rescue a child, he comes face to face with a pack of gang members. The scene is filmed in one take with the camera staring down a hall. The fighting is realistic, intense, and incredibly staged in a way that actually made the hallway fight in Oldboy seem amateurish in execution.
The One Night Stand scene from Plan B – Master of None
The term it’s funny because it’s true applies to the episode Plan B where Dev (Aziz Ansari) is in the middle of having sex and the condom breaks. The way he reacts is so accurate and so perfectly deadpan, it had me laughing hysterically.
Hannibal, Because It Ended
No scene in 2015 filled me with as much sadness as the knowledge of knowing that Hannibal’s third season would also be its last. This is the most criminally underrated show of the last ten years. Showrunner Bryan Fuller used this show to take storytelling risks and the performances by everyone involved were incredible. Not to mention it really is one of the most gorgeous looking shows ever produced. To see it end after only 3 seasons when a whole realm of story possibilities have been left unexplored; it’s just not fair.
MOST TENSE SCENE
Fisk confronts Urich in his home – Daredevil
As journalist Ben Urich comes home to begin work after a trying day, the camera pans around to show Wilson Fisk sitting in a chair behind Urich. As the two of them talk, the audience is kept on edge throughout the entire scene, as Fisk seems so calm and collected, which is the villain at his absolute menacing. What will happen to Ben? What is Fisk doing here? What does Fisk know about Ben’s whereabouts? The questions are endless and they lead up to one of the most shocking scenes in the entire show.
MOST SHOCKING SCENE
Glen’s “Death” – The Walking Dead
Never mind the cop out reveal a few episodes later. Remember how you felt when you saw how hopeless the group’s plan to move the zombie heard away from Alexandria in Season 6’s third episode, Thank You. Remember how you couldn’t figure out how Glen and Nicolas could escape. Then remember how you saw Glen covered in blood as what could have been his intestines being ripped out of him. And then the episode ends, leaving you in complete denial as to what you just saw. Admit it, you were freaking out.
MOST SATISFYING SCENE
The Killer’s Reveal – Scream
Generally with whodunit thrillers, the identity of the killer is never as satisfying as the build-up of trying to guess the killer. But to its credit, Scream managed to pull a shocker of a reveal, one that I not only didn’t see coming, but made sitting through much of the show’s pedestrian dialogue rather worth it.
Master of None
I admit that this is more of a love it or hate it type of comedy. But for those who enjoy this type of humour, there is so much to enjoy about Aziz Ansari’s humourous yet realistic depiction of a single man in his 30s trying to get his life together. No comedy had me laughing louder and harder this year.
Netflix and Marvel wisely turned the story of Matt Murdock into a crime drama, focusing on the psychological elements of its characters over the flashy bang of the action. Keeping the narrative centred on a small number of characters, Daredevil paints a much more realistic and down to earth depiction of the everyday humans living in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, and those smaller heroes fighting to make a difference.
BEST NEW SHOW
Filled with potential, Mr. Robot delivered on all its promises set up by its first season. It hooks you with a great ensemble of characters, a great premise, and almost perfect execution. A last episode plot twist is also handled very well.
Because of this show, we now have an entire mythology built around the film’s setting, a mythology almost as rich as any fantasy saga set in a fictional world. As each story ties into the other, Fargo is satisfying in every way.
Special Category: BEST DOCUMENTARY SERIES
Making A Murderer
Rarely do documentary series gain this much popularity so quickly, but Making a Murderer manages to piece together one of the most bizarre cases in American crime in the most engaging way possible.
What do think? Tell us in our comments, and stay tuned to TVEnthusiast for more coverage of all of your favorite shows. Lets have a great 2016!