Top 10 television shows for 2015

Mad Men 2015

It’s December, and the thing the internet loves the most at this time of year is the end-of-year Best Of list, so they can disagree with them. This is my first time writing such a list, and it’s difficult. I thought about writing a separate list for Australian shows, but I don’t want to ghettoise them, so they’re in here too. There are things that aren’t on here because I don’t watch them (The Walking Dead, Hannibal) or haven’t had time to catch up (Transparent, The Leftovers, Parks and Recreation), so just know I haven’t forgotten them. I didn’t forget anything, there’s a reason I left it off. Fargo isn’t on here because while I thought it was very good, I didn’t love it – although Kirsten Dunst did give one of the best performances of the year. My favourite show of the year has the top spot, everything else is in alphabetical order. Hopefully the shows I’ve collected here are a good range of the different things I’m enjoying right now. Writing a Top 10 list is hard, and while I’m only super passionate about half to two-thirds of the shows on this list, they’re all here for a reason. I’ve written about all of these shows previously, so there’s just going to be a paragraph about why each one is there, with some links to some things I’ve written. My only warning is that if you watch the “Best episodes” of the show, you will be spoiled for some plot developments.

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Justified, Season 6 Episode 13: “The Promise”

Raylan: After everything we’ve been through, there’s one thing I keep coming back to.

Boyd: We dug coal together.

Raylan: That’s right.

This is the final exchange that takes place in Justified, and it’s perfect. All along, ever since the pilot, this show has been about Boyd, Raylan and Ava. I wrote a couple of weeks ago about how Boyd was supposed to die in the pilot, “Fire in the Hole”, but Graham Yost and company decided they liked Walton Goggins so much that they changed their minds. In the end of the short story Fire in the Hole by Elmore Leonard, upon which Justified is based, Raylan kills Boyd but he isn’t happy about it. Art asks him why, and Raylan replies, “I told you. We dug coal together.” I was worried that the series finale of Justified would end up as a bloodbath, and even though the finale wasn’t as bloody as anyone was expecting, ending on Elmore Leonard’s words felt right. The bond between Boyd and Raylan that formed in those mines transcends any animosity they had four years previously. They also have more in common than either of them would like to admit. This is your only spoiler warning.

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Justified, Season 6 Episode 12: “Collateral”

Boyd Crowder: You’ve given up everything that you are so that you can murder me.

A now well-known fact about Justified is that Boyd Crowder was supposed to die in “Fire in the Hole”, as he did in Elmore Leonard’s short story of the same name, but Graham Yost and company were so impressed with Walton Goggins that they decided to keep him on. And really, Justified wouldn’t be half as good as it is without the character of Boyd Crowder. Walton Goggins is phenomenal and he has such great chemistry with Timothy Olyphant that Boyd and Raylan’s antagonism towards each other wouldn’t be the same if they had taken a different direction. This show wouldn’t have just been another procedural if Raylan hadn’t had an antagonist. Maybe he would have stayed with Ava. Maybe Aunt Helen would still be alive. The hypothetical final season would probably come down to a Raylan/Arlo confrontation, but that wouldn’t be as good as what we’re getting now, because Raylan and Boyd dug coal together. I have no idea who’s going to get out of this alive next week, but if it’s only one of them, my money’s on Loretta. And Constable Bob.

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Justified, Season 6 Episode 11: “Fugitive Number One”

This is going to be a rough one, guys. I’m sick and I didn’t take notes as I was watching the episode because I had just finished baking a cake. Anyway. This week’s episode of Justified didn’t have the fantastic gut punch of last week’s, but there were still some great moments (Wynn and Mikey 4EVA), and the chessboard has been set for the last two episodes of this show.

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Justified, Season 6 Episode 10: “Trust”

He’s too smart. – Raylan and Boyd, about each other.

I was not predicting what happened at the end of the episode, even though it makes perfect sense from both a story and character perspective, so I have no idea where this review will go. I don’t normally post spoiler warnings for my reviews, but they’re implied by the way I write them after every episode. I’m going to leave the big stuff for after the jump, but FYI, it’s going to be fairly spoilery. So for now I’ll leave you with what I wrote before the episode started and my first few dot points of notes:

This week on Justified, there’s a big thing that happens, based on the way the internet is reacting to it! Did Boyd or Ava die?

  • We’re going back to Dewey Crowe?
  • Mikey has a code – is he going to rat on Wynn?
  • Is Wynn the one who dies?
  • This is the issue with knowing that something big happens

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Justified, Season 6 Episode 9: “Burned”

Raylan: Boyd ain’t gonna stop. He’s just going to go after it harder and stupider.

Rachel: And to think there was a time I was excited about having the big office.

If there’s one thing we learned from this week’s episode of Justified, it’s that you should always make sure your solarium is secured just in case the Marshals come to visit. This week we focused in on our Harlan characters, Raylan, Boyd, Ava and Loretta. We also learned who the snitch was in the Grady Hale case, and Avery Markham’s money did not get stolen by Boyd Crowder. The quotes up the top are those that best describe Raylan and Boyd. When Boyd suffers a setback, he doesn’t give up. Instead, he doubles down. Raylan does this too, and Rachel has been learning how difficult it is to keep an eye on Raylan (and by extension, Boyd), and that having the big office isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Then again, maybe her job would be easier if Raylan wasn’t working for her. Not that Raylan really works for anyone.

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Justified, Season 6 Episode 8: “Dark As A Dungeon”

You could just have easily been an outlaw as a lawman – Ava Crowder

Ava spat that at Raylan in a fit of anger today, as she has no idea what’s going to happen to her while Boyd and Raylan keep circling each other. The most significant aspect of this line is the fact that it’s true. The only reason he never became an outlaw is because his father was one, and Arlo was the person he hated most in the world. We saw as much when Raylan burnt Arlo’s possessions and prepares to sell his house by removing his body and gravestone. Raylan doesn’t particularly care where Arlo’s body ends up, he’d even prefer not to know. Winona’s speech did a number on Raylan last week, and he’s getting ready to leave Harlan. As much as Winona and Raylan say they love each other, Raylan doesn’t have that connection with Winona the way he does Ava or even Boyd. They grew up together, they dug coal together, and now they might die together, in the darkest possible ending for Justified. This is the third episode of the season in which Raylan and Boyd shared a scene, and it was delightful as always, but definitely more menacing.

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