The Race 2014-2015: The Results (Dun-Dun-Dun…)

RaceImageWell, it happened. Not sure I wanted it to happen, but it did. This year, a new show raced past old favorites to clinch the top spot. Not that this will shock the pants off of anybody, but that new show was Forever. I fell noggin-over-feet in love with the pilot, and my adoration only grew bigger and brighter over the course of the season. ‘Course, then it got CANCELLED, and I still don’t know what to do with that horrible decision on ABC’s part. The fans have been fighting for the show like pissed off cats all summer long, but a few days ago Forever‘s creator, Matt Miller, basically told us it’s all but over.

Forever wasn’t the only loss, either. Far from it. Other victims of the “axe” included Stalker (CBS), Red Band Society (FOX), Battle Creek (CBS), and – one of my all-time favorites – The Mentalist (CBS). In other words, it was a bloodbath out there!

But this review isn’t about what happened after the season ended. It’s about the awesomeness we got to watch while our shows were still on the air.

So, in that spirit of celebration, I give you the final results of this year’s 2014-2015 TV season, ranked from highest to lowest.

Forever: 9/10

This one just grabbed me. Right from the get-go. And it held on tight all season long. The commercials really didn’t do Forever justice (probably a big part of the ratings issue). While the ads (which became rarer as the season progressed, and non-existent at the end) focused on mundane case-of-the-week details, the true beauty of this show is in the small moments between characters, the richly-textured flashbacks, and the clever way in which past, present and future weave together for a character who has all the time in the world.

There are too many phenomenal individual scenes to list them all, but some end-of-season highlights include the final showdown in the tunnel with Adam, the touching moment when Henry learned that the slaves had not died because of him, Henry and Lucas’ final scene together in the lab, Jo and Henry saying what they mean to each other in the car, and Abe’s poignant search for his missing mother.

But the biggest, most epic scene for me was when Henry actually physically found Abigail’s remains at long last. It was just pure, straight-up heartbreak as he ran down that slope, flashing back to all of their moments together over the span of their relationship. Such a beautiful and well-developed love story, resolved in a powerful and satisfying (if utterly devastating) way. If Forever doesn’t come back to life on some network, sometime, in some form, it will be a crime.

The Mentalist: 8/10

As evidenced by the copious amounts of fanfic I’ve written for it, this show has been one of my absolute faves for years. It wasn’t easy to say goodbye, but we knew it was coming (unlike Forever, grrrrr) and we at least got some decent closure. Both the writers and the actors did a fantabulous job of making viewers fall in love with a whole new team at the FBI. Wylie was an instant favorite, Abbott morphed from dangerous adversary to amazingly loyal friend, and Michelle quickly won over our hearts by being her own woman – a real woman who made mistakes, learned things from them, and improved as an agent. Her Cho-worship was pretty endearing, too. If I were on that team, I’d be fangirling Cho, big-time. He owns cool.

Of course, we did lose Michelle. I have mixed feelings about that creative decision, because it didn’t serve the purpose I expected (driving Jane away from law enforcement for good). I guess her death was just something to remind us of the darkness in life, and how you can eventually step out blinking into the sunshine and feel warm again.

The end of The Mentalist‘s 7.5-year run was warm. It made me feel good. I loved the revival of the fake psychic stuff in the final eps. Not sure about the wedding, though – it seemed too soon for Jane and Lisbon to tie the knot, seeing as he had, seemingly just days before the wedding, decided to leave town (and wouldn’t even return her calls!). Also, they hadn’t resolved a major, deal-breaker issue in their relationship: Jane wanted Lisbon to quit the FBI due to the danger of her profession.

Nonetheless, as RedFi over on the Paint It Red Forum aptly pointed out, it was like the show came full circle – when we met Jane, he’d lost both his wife and his child, and when we left him, he had a new wife and child. A whole new beginning. Also, Simon Baker acted the freakin’ crap out of that scene where he found out Lisbon was carrying their child. Wowza. He looked unearthly beautiful in his wedding attire, too. That vest really brought out his eyes in wonderful ways. Lisbon looked gorgeous, too (loved the dress!!!), but Cho was clearly in the bathroom when she picked out that veil/headpiece thingy. Not sure what it was supposed to look like, but it missed the mark by about fifty yards.

In the end, The Mentalist left us with a fresh new start, all options wide open. It left me with a smile on my lips, a feeling of hope in my heart, and a strong hankering to write lots more fanfic.

It also left me asking, “Why?” Because, as my mom kept loudly repeating over the course of the season, “This is still a great show! Why are they taking it off?” Why, indeed?

Realizing The Mentalist had been on for seven-and-a-half seasons made me also realize that this is the first time in all those years that I fell in love with a new show (Forever). Great TV, for me, is that rare. There are so few shows I would write fanfic for…

…And two of them just went off the air. Wonder how long it’ll be before another great rises up. And how quickly it, too, will get cancelled in favor of mindless, cheap-to-produce reality junk.

😦

Supernatural: 7.9/10

At least this old battle-horse is still in the race! I honestly don’t know what I’ll do when Supernatural is gone. No need to think about that now, though – my final remaining “fanfic show” will happily be back next year for its eleventh season.

As for Season Ten: strong overall. The beginning was a bit on the rocky side, but after that I was a pretty satisfied customer. The theme for the year was obviously “family” and the writers found interesting and creative ways to carry this over to all of the different characters. Cass went on a quest to locate and help his vessel’s troubled daughter, Claire. Crowley, meanwhile, had to deal with his hilariously horrible, literal witch of a mother, Rowena. And of course, Sammy spent the whole season trying to save Dean, which just fills up our glasses with delicious brotherly love.

One thing that tainted the whole family vibe – Charlie’s death. I didn’t see the necessity of killing her off, and I sure as heck didn’t like it. Also, it happened in a stupid way. Stupid deaths are just the worst. AlsoX2, I didn’t fully believe that it happened (still don’t) because of the way they didn’t show it onscreen. I would not be surprised (just really, really elated) if she showed up next year, our bad@$$ hacker with the D&D tattoo, returned from having faked her own death.

As it was, I couldn’t even cry at her funeral. I felt like an emotional pancake – totally flat. Something about the way it was filmed, maybe? Or just the fact that I didn’t completely “buy” the death? I don’t know. FYI, I actually didn’t cry at Bobby’s death, either (hey, stop throwing stuff at me!). It’s not that I didn’t love him. It’s just due to issues of how the episode was written/filmed. Bobby’s coma was compared to two different situations: Dean’s coma (from which death was the only escape) and Rufus’ coma (from which death seemed like the only escape, yet Rufus found a way to wake up and survive). When Bobby flat-lined, I didn’t think there was anything necessarily final about it, because the ep didn’t do a good job of making that point clear.

Anyhow, back to Season Ten – some stuff I LOVED from the last few episodes: Sam trying to kill Crowls, and Crowls busting out with the red eyes and saying how he loved every minute of being evil. **happy sigh** Great stuff. Also, everything with Cass and Claire – that was really touching. The Stein storyline was also clever and very cool.

One nitpick: Dean should not have been able to whup Cass’ butt so thoroughly in their fight! Especially without the blade. So, what the crap was that? Maybe Cass was letting Dean win to see how far he’d go? Not sure.

And of course I hated Dean being horrible to Sam (“It should be you on that pyre”…Damn!), Dean letting another hunter die, Dean almost killing Cass, etc, etc. I know the mark was poisoning Dean, but it still hurts. Guess that’s how Sam fans felt in Season Four, when Sam was all meany-pants. I feel your pain now, Samgirls!

The finale itself was good. My only complaint here would be that this was the first season finale that didn’t seem EPIC, you know? It mostly just felt like a regular episode. The whole “darkness” thing was cool, but it should maybe have been touched on earlier in the season so it didn’t feel like the writers were just pulling it out of their…well, you-know-where. I did love Dean saving Sam and killing Death (major repercussions, anyone?). Oh, and Cass – you better not kill Crowley, okay? We need the King in Season Eleven!

iZombie: 7.9/10

Though I don’t think iZombie could ever take Forever‘s place in my heart, this new CW offering is definitely a balm on my cancellation wounds. I was already looking forward to this show before it aired, thanks to a synopsis in TV Guide‘s special Comic-Con issue last year. I am happy to report that iZombie did not disappoint. In fact, it rose above my expectations in surprising and wonderful ways.

Two moments in the pilot episode when I knew this show was something special:

1.) When Peyton (Liv’s roomie) said something like, “I know I should have just written you off by now, but…you’re my freaking heart, so, if you could step up?”

2.) When Liv looked surprised upon hearing that Ravi was trying for a zombie cure. And Ravi said, “What, did you think you were going to stay this way forever?” Awwww.

Sometimes this show – which typically oscillates between comical, creepy, and outright disgusting – has these moments of such pure heart that it makes my breath catch and brings actual tears to my eyes.

More cases-in-point:

-Liv holding the hand of her dead college friend while Ravi begins the girl’s autopsy.

-Lowell’s sweet mouthing of “I love you” before getting his head blown off on a suicide mission.

I hated that they killed him, btw. He was one of the real highlights of the show. Lowell and Liv were SO great together – zombie love!!! Also, he shouldn’t have had to die. Liv just totally choked in front of the sniper rifle – first time I ever felt truly disappointed in her.

Overall, though, a very strong first season. The finale wasn’t quite as epic as I wanted (not sure why – they really pulled out all the brains – er, stops). There were major revelations, people turned into zombies, zombies turned back into people…I don’t know, I guess I just thought it would end with Liv locked up in a Max Rager lab or something.

Still, some really good cliffies for next season. (And yes, thankfully, there will be a next season).

Only thing I hate about this show: it looks really real when they’re eating the brains. Like, it makes me almost puke. I feel a little nauseous right now, just writing about it – no joke. Fewer brains next year, please! My stomach can’t take it!

Castle: 7.8/10

Looking back on the epic season opener (and all the hopes and expectations that sprang from it), I have to say this season ended up in the “good” category, rather than the “phenomenal” one. I confess to feeling a little let down by the partial explanation/resolution of Castle’s disappearance. Not sure if they’ll ever pick it up again, but there’s definitely more story to tell on that front (we still don’t know how he got shot). At least we got to see the case that made Castle become a mystery writer – been waiting for that all season long, and it didn’t let me down like the other storyline did.

End of the finale was a bit anticlimactic, though. Maybe because they didn’t know whether they were coming back. Those either/or season/series finale thingies are always tricky.

Unless you’re Supernatural, and it’s the end of Season Two, and you manage to pull out a masterpiece of an episode that gives impressive amounts of closure while launching some great new storylines at the same time. Still my all-time favorite ep…**happy sigh**

Back to Castle, though – my wish list for next season: more storylines that shake up the status quo (e.g. this season’s arc about Castle becoming a private detective), more scifi-themed eps (e.g. the invisibility suit, the parallel dimension artifact, the simulated mars mission, etc), and please, please don’t kill off any major characters! Thank you!

Red Band Society: 7.8/10

Another one bites the dust. It did go out with style, though: Jordi found the courage to go through with his surgery, Dash fell for his “unicorn” (and realized he could never harm her), the whole society rallied around Leo (especially Emma, who completely let go of the whole Kara/sex thing and showed herself to be a hero of a friend), Kara and Hunter’s love story spanned the gap between life and death, and Charlie TALKED!

Favorite exchange:

Hunter: “One day, you can take your kids to Paris, and it’ll be for a good reason. You can tell them what I did for you, and what you did for me.”

Kara: “What did I do for you?”

Hunter: “You lived.”

Awwwwwwww.

And of course, the ending was perfection: A new patient entering the pediatric ward, scared and alone, about to join the Red Band Society.

Wish this one could’ve gone on. Shows with real heart and soul are becoming an endangered species these days…

Grimm: 7.6/10

Man, this show had a much higher rank for most of the season. The last few eps got very dark, though, with Juliette sailing past the point of no return. She actually let Nick’s mom get decapitated. Not just killed, decapitated. Holy $#!T. And then Trubel killed Juliette with a crossbow (still hoping she’s not really dead). I don’t think Juliette was actually going to kill Nick, and the presence of those agents makes me suspicious that something else was afoot. Maybe the actress (Bitsie Tulloch) wanted off the show, though…

(Why????)

Up until Kelly’s murder, I was loving dark!Juliette and her awesome new powers. But now I’m just sad.

Only bright spots in the closer:

-The little girl escaped the Royals

-Sean lives, and he’s no longer harboring a murderous spirit in his body – yay!

Still, overall, a total bummer of an ending. Nick holding his love’s lifeless body…Waaaaayyyy too dark for me. Hope next season’s a touch brighter. Note to writers: this is supposed to be my fun show. If I want to be depressed, I’ll watch Supernatural‘s Season Five ep, “Abandon All Hope.”

Chicago PD: 7.5/10

Prepare to witness history. For the first time ever, CPD‘s final season score is higher than big sister CF‘s. PD was just plain stronger this year. The crossovers are special highlights, but even the regular eps are more focused than CF‘s and when CPD kills a character, they do it for the right reasons. I HATE that Nadia’s dead, but I don’t hate the show for doing it, because the resulting storylines were good – Erin’s downward spiral, Trudy’s fight to get Nadia recognized, etc. Plus the fact that Nadia was a beloved supporting character, not a beloved lead.

I do have an itty-bitty confession to make though. I haven’t actually seen those two eps (SVU and CPD) where Nadia meets her horrible end. I have them on tape, it’s just…every time I go to watch them, I think it’ll make me too sad…

(Miss you so much, Nadia!)

So, maybe it isn’t even fair for me to rank this show. In fact, it almost certainly isn’t. Nonetheless, a trusted fellow fan has told me the eps are heartbreakingly excellent and I don’t doubt her.

PD was all strength and no weakness this year, plus they added a little touch of joy at the end to lighten things up and make my shippy heart all aflutter: Burgess and Ruzek got ENGAGED!!! WOO HOO!!

They even got their own ep, earlier in the season – well technically it was a Burgess and Roman ep, but Ruzek was worried about her, and that’s how she and Roman got saved! Romance. Yum. Good stuffs.

P.S. In that same ep, did anyone else want to see where Jay got tazed? :/

This show really has it all – heartbreak, love, violence, and the funnies. Congrats, CPD, on outshining your big sis!

Gotham: 7.4/10

Gotham probably deserves a higher rank, but to be honest, I don’t enjoy this show that much. It’s gloomy and super-violent and easily more disgusting than the brain-eating on iZombie. Barbara butchering her own parents (Btw, is she dead now, or just knocked out? Methinks dead.), that crazy girl snapping bird bones, Selena shoving that guy out the window, Penguin making that old married couple fight each other to the death (or pretty much anything else Penguin does)? All of it equals a big, fat EW.

And yet, despite its grotesque nature, I am compelled to continue watching. Gotham makes you need it, even when you don’t want it. But…will it still be the same gripping drama next year, without the vital presence of Fish?

I’m not sure, but I’ll definitely tune in to find out.

Elementary: 7.3/10

Still a good, entertaining show. I enjoyed many of the eps this season, but the “personal” ones are the ones that make me sit up and pay attention, and once again, there were too few of those. I’d love some more continuity and ongoing storylines that span between eps, so it’s not just a long line of stand-alones.

The high points:

-Kitty and her storyline
-Andrew’s murder and the subsequent fallout, eventually resulting in Joan moving back in with Sherlock (they’re better together)
-Artificial Intelligence ep, Settlement $ ep, Zebra ep (yeah, I know they weren’t zebras, but I don’t know how to spell what they were)
-Sherlock’s budding friendship with his sponsor Alfredo
-Ep where Sherlock had to revisit a case he handled at the height of his drug abuse days

The finale was strong, and very personal – definitely suited to my tastes (and hopefully a glimpse of things to come next season!). The end was super-dark, though, and I wasn’t sure if Alfredo was still alive after transport to the hospital (I couldn’t read the text on Sherlock’s phone) and I really needed to KNOW if Alfredo was alive (I think he was?). Also, the end was a bit ambiguous for me. I’m guessing that Sherlock succumbed to his addiction after holding out for the whole episode. They never showed him take the heroin – just the aftermath. The whole thing was horrible (yet very compelling and well-written), taking Sherlock to all of those places, making him find the girl dead like that, when her brother already knew (great twist, btw).

So, after some interesting (and not-quite-as-interesting) standalone eps, we’re now back firmly in character-driven territory. Despite a mediocre score for Season Three, next year looks HIGHLY promising.

Meeting Sherlock’s dad at long last? I vote “YES.” Hope it happens for real. Other wish list items: Moriarty’s return, Watson gets to do more medical stuff, Mycroft’s return, more personal stories for Gregson and Bell. Oh, and Alistair comes back from the dead. I know that last one can’t happen, but a girl can dream, can’t she?

Chicago Fire: 7.2/10

Yeah, I’m being mean to this one right now, putting it in dead last. I’m just still not over Shay. And now Peter’s gone, too! It’s like, first the writers pulled out the show’s heart, and now they’re slowly dissecting it!

Yes, Severide is still may favorite character on either of the Chicago shows, but it’s hard when you can’t get attached to anyone involved in his storylines – they all just leave, in one way or another. The man is a freaking island. (And I want to build a bridge there, dang it!)

At least I don’t feel so bad about Lindsay dumping him anymore. Apparently she just likes dumping guys (ask Jay, he’ll tell you all about it).

Aside from major, BELOVED characters leaving, another thing this show suffers from is misleading advertising. I noticed it several times over the course of the season: ads showcasing one minor scene and making like the whole episode would revolve around that scene (two notable examples: the Severide Gets Trapped on a Train Episode and the Severide Gets Crushed Inside a Van Episode). If you’re wondering which eps those are, I don’t blame you – both situations were brief, quickly resolved, and NOT the focus of the whole episode.

I’d love to blame the people who make the ads, but in this case I can’t. The issue, unfortunately, was that many of the episodes didn’t really focus on any one particular rescue, event, or storyline – there were just a bunch of minor ongoing storylines and random rescues scattered throughout.

Don’t get me wrong, I love that this show has so much continuity, and that storylines carry over from ep to ep, but each episode should also be a complete story in its own right. This is where PD has a big advantage – being a procedural, they follow one case from start to finish every episode. Fire can’t do it quite so neatly without having a MAJOR disaster every episode (unrealistic), but they could probably do it better than they have been.

Good examples of eps this season include the explosion in the ER (although having Jay’s brother black tag Severide was a little stupid – there were few serious injuries and TONS of docs around – no need for black tagging in that situation). Nonetheless, it was an emotional, complete storyline. Another good one was Herrmann’s ep where he bonded with a little boy’s father, then found out the father was BAD NEWS. I love Herrmann.

So, more eps like that. Oh, and the one that started the most recent crossover event (that I haven’t watched the last 2/3 of)! That one was really good, with the guy who thought he started the fire having a breakdown and almost killing himself – and Gabby saving the day! Great stuff, and for once CF wasn’t the weak link in the crossover chain.

Wish list for next year: More “complete” episodes (but still keep up with the great continuity), bring back Peter, bring back basically anyone in Severide’s life, and don’t you dare kill off Matt (The undercover story is ridiculous, btw. Why? Because firefighters don’t go undercover! He’s not a cop! He has no training! Grrrr.)

So…there you have it. Hopefully I didn’t forget any important episodes or details, but knowing me I probably did. If so, feel free to point it out in the comments section. In the meantime, I’ll be busy basking in my summer shows, Beauty and the Beast (Thursday, 8pm, CW) and Aquarius (David Duchovny! Thursday, 9pm, NBC).

Don’t forget to tune in next fall for all of our returning faves. And if your fave got cancelled, at least know you’re not alone. Lots of other fans are bumming with you. And really, that’s the great thing about being part of a fandom – you always have someone to talk to about your latest obsession, and you never truly have to say goodbye. After all, the best shows will always live on in message board discussions, fanfiction and art, and, most importantly, our hearts.

 

 

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