John’s top 10 TV shows of 2015

These were my 10 favorite TV shows of 2015:

1. “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” (Season 1, The CW) – In blending musical numbers, broad comedy and genuine character drama about a troubled 20-something, Rachel Bloom’s brainchild is the most ambitious show of the year. By doing all three of those things well (particularly the musical numbers, which are consistently clever and catchy in the way they explore Rebecca’s and other characters’ neuroses), it’s also the best show of the year. I’ll be following whatever Bloom does next, but I hope this series defies the low ratings and sticks around awhile, at least long enough for an official soundtrack release. (Here are my 10 favorite songs so far.)

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‘Fear the Walking Dead,’ ‘Strain’ villains want power for power’s sake (TV review)

A couple seasons ago on “The Walking Dead,” Rick and the gang agree to march toward Washington, D.C., on Eugene’s promise that there was a governmental structure in place working against the zombie plague. While the characters never spoke in-depth about the question of whether the government – which demonstrably failed to stop the zombie plague — should be trusted, I felt strongly that once the gang got to D.C., they would not find a safe government-run utopia.

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2015: The summer of horror TV (Commentary)

Entertainment trends are a funny thing. Horror movie releases have slowed to a trickle, whereas a decade ago there was a new one in theaters every week. But horror TV shows were rare then, whereas today, the boob tube is covered with them. Even though horror is still scarier on the big screen for obvious reasons, TV is making a strong case as a home for horror in 2015 — some of the best horror TV ever made, actually.

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John’s top 10 TV shows of 2014

These were my 10 favorite shows of 2014:

1. “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” (Season 6, Netflix) – “The Clone Wars” saves the best for last with arcs delving into the Order 66 brainwashing, Palpatine’s manipulations to take over the galactic banking system, and Yoda’s surprising encounter with a dark avatar and his first communication with a beyond-the-grave Qui-Gon. Even the “Jar Jar in Love” arc works due to the Gungan’s odd-couple banter with Mace Windu. While Ahsoka is certainly missed in this straight-to-Netflix season, she nonetheless feels like the absent center of this canceled-too-soon series. We can only hope that the storylines will continue in books, comics or “Star Wars: Rebels.”

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The shows of summer – from ‘Fargo’ to ‘Garfunkel and Oates’ (TV commentary)


In this age of hook-laden, high-concept summer TV shows, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. “Fargo” (FX) maintained its momentum all the way through its first season, culminating in Tom Hanks’ son satisfyingly blowing away Billy Bob Thornton’s almost parodically vile Lorne Malvo. And it looks like “The Strain” (9 p.m. Central Sundays, FX) is in the process of solidifying its spot as a horror classic.

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‘The Strain’ is breaking out to become great, lights-out horror TV (Commentary)

Through five episodes, “The Strain” (8 p.m. Central Sundays on FX) is already shaping up to be one of the best horror TV shows ever. Its combination of wonderful Guillermo del Toro-style mood along with believable modern special effects would make for a fine horror flick, but the fact that it’s a 13-episode miniseries allows for more depth.

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First episode impressions: ‘The Strain’ (TV review)

On the heels of “Fargo,” FX continues its miniseries winning streak with “The Strain” (9 p.m. Central Sundays on FX), based on a novel and Dark Horse comic book series. Like “Fargo” and the more open-ended “The Bridge” (now in its second season), “The Strain” is deliciously and darkly stylish, as one would expect from co-producer Guillermo del Toro, who is also credited as a writer and director on some upcoming episodes.

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