Bryan Fuller

30 Best TV Series of 2014

2014 has been yet another fantastic year for television, one that continued the nichification of the medium, with highly specific and underrepresented voices breaking through in every genre. There was a comedy explosion, particularly on cable, with dozens of new series presenting confident first seasons and several returning shows reaching new heights. The dramas didn’t disappoint either, with visionary creators bringing new life to familiar settings and taking greater risks with their returning series, deepening their worlds. Throughout the year, directors and cinematographers brought lush visuals, composers pushed the auditory envelope, and an astonishing number of actors gave fantastic, memorable performances. More than a few shows delivered spectacle on a weekly basis, while others went small, deriving incredible power out of stillness and self-reflection. Some series swept the audience up, week in and week out, and others built subtly, only showing their hand in their season’s final episodes. There truly was too much great television this year for any one person to see it all (95 separate series were nominated by our contributors!), so limiting the discussion to 10 or even 20 series would be ridiculous. Instead, here is Sound on Sight’s list of the 30 best series of what has been another wonderful year for television.

30 Best TV Series of 2014

2014 has been yet another fantastic year for television, one that continued the nichification of the medium, with highly specific and underrepresented voices breaking through in every genre. There was a comedy explosion, particularly on cable, with dozens of new series presenting confident first seasons and several returning shows reaching new heights. The dramas didn’t disappoint either, with visionary creators bringing new life to familiar settings and taking greater risks with their returning series, deepening their worlds. Throughout the year, directors and cinematographers brought lush visuals, composers pushed the auditory envelope, and an astonishing number of actors gave fantastic, memorable performances. More than a few shows delivered spectacle on a weekly basis, while others went small, deriving incredible power out of stillness and self-reflection. Some series swept the audience up, week in and week out, and others built subtly, only showing their hand in their season’s final episodes. There truly was too much great television this year for any one person to see it all (95 separate series were nominated by our contributors!), so limiting the discussion to 10 or even 20 series would be ridiculous. Instead, here is Sound on Sight’s list of the 30 best series of what has been another wonderful year for television.

‘High Moon’ shoots Bryan Fuller back into space

While Bryan Fuller’s style may be a bit too quirky, macabre, or esoteric for some audiences, there’s no denying that the man knows how to give good pilot. The first episode of Wonderfalls was an endearing, fast-talking affair that gradually injected fantasy into early 20s/retail ennui. The first episode of Pushing Daisies was nothing less than a storybook brought to life, a vibrant spin on the matters of life, death, and what happens when the order of the two reverses. And the first episode of Hannibal was a visceral, otherworldly affair that made it clear from the outset it wasn’t your parents’ Hannibal Lecter.

This is Our Design #14: “Aperitif”

Hello and welcome back to This is Our Design, the podcast where everything’s made up and the points don’t matter. That’s right. The points are like every cookbook Hannibal has received for Christmas.

Hannibal, Ep. 2.13, “Mizumono” is one of the greatest television episodes of all time

I would imagine that if “Mizumono” screened in front of a live audience, it would get a ten minute standing ovation. Let’s just get this out of the way real quick: “Mizumono” will go down in the books as one of the greatest season finales of all time. There is a seriousness and an intensity here that is unlike anything on the small screen; everything that sets Hannibal apart from every other television show is contained in this season’s riveting last installment. This is a truly inspiring example of classy storytelling and unforgettable characterization, and the collaborative effort of Bryan Fuller, Steve Lightfoot, and David Slade has resulted in something very special for fans of the show.

Hannibal Ep 2.09 “Shiizakana” an extremely well-crafted slasher

NBC’s Hannibal returns with its latest entry “Shiizakana,” an episode that explores the strange and complicated relationship Will Graham and Dr. Hannibal Lecter share. Shiizakana’ begins with a clear-cut dream sequence in which Will has Hannibal tied to a tree with the end of each rope cinched around the legs of a black stag. Will exerts control over the animal by signalling the stag by whistling. With each whistle, the stag steps a bit further away tightening the cordage around Lecter’s neck. Will tells Hannibal he is waiting for an admission, but Lecter isn’t interested in a confession, and so as the stag is commanded to fully engage the rope and pulley system forward, our favourite psychopath is beheaded with a geyser of blood splashing across the screen. Will’s command of the both the stag and Hannibal speak volumes about his current state of mind. The opening scene reiterates Will’s capability, and perhaps desire, to do whatever it takes to beat Hannibal at his own game. The two have had their differences, but now their relationship has advanced to a new level. Will is more than willing to unleash the monster inside him, and in order to defeat Hannibal, he must become like Hannibal.

Hannibal Ep 2.08 “Su-zakana” elevated with splashes of twisted humour and moments of bodily horror

Hannibal’s “Su-zakana” is pretty much a palate cleanser; an episode representing a new start in the relationship between Dr. Lecter and Will Graham. Now halfway through season two, the series seems to be entering a new phase in which Will slowly lures Hannibal by using himself as live bait. Hannibal has never been subtle, and if you didn’t already guess based on the episode’s title alone (which refers to a palate-cleansing-Japanese-dish), this week is all about the concept of rebirth.

Hannibal Ep 2.07 “Yakimono” touched with moments of crazed inspiration

We knew it wouldn’t be long before Frederick Chilton was a goner for several reasons, but one can’t help but think it came a little too soon. Not only has Raúl Esparza provided the series with some much needed dark humour and a superb performance, but his character has a prominent and important role in both Thomas Harris’s novels and in their cinematic adaptations. That said, this is an adaption and a very different medium, and so Fuller is wise in deviating away from the original source material. Nobody needs a page by page, word by word, reenactment of the books; so while Fuller is using Harris’s novels as inspiration, this is his baby, and based on the week to week quality of the show, we shouldn’t complain. It’s unsurprising that the many literature-based TV series currently on the air have approached their source material with varying degrees of success

Hannibal Ep 2.05 “Mukozuke” as horrifying as it is beautiful

After her encounter with Hannibal in last weeks cliffhanger, the chances of Beverly coming out alive were extremely slim. But while her death doesn’t come with much of a surprise, the reveal of her fate is shocking, to say the least. Kudos to showrunner Bryan Fuller and Battlestar Galactica’s Michael Rymer, who directed “Mukozuke,” an episode crammed with stunning and unsettling images, and a tour-de-force performance from Hugh Dancy and Laurence Fishburne.

Hannibal Ep 2.03 “Hassun” a spooky courtroom drama

Legendary filmmaker Peter Medak (The Changeling, Romeo Is Bleeding) directs his second episode of Hannibal; unfortunately “Hassun” is the weakest episode of the series so far. This week, Will Graham goes to court, and despite knowing his innocence, he has no choice but to play victim to mental illness in an attempt to avoid the electric chair. Amid the courtroom circus, Graham’s trial becomes complicated when Will’s lawyer opens a letter containing a severed ear. As it turns out, the ear belongs to a bailiff who is found mounted on a stag’s head in his home, just moments after it is rigged to explode. The newfound murder sheds doubts on Will’s guilt, as the bailiff was killed in the exact same way Will supposedly killed his victims. Or so it seems. The killer has perfectly replicated the presentation, only reversing the mutilation process, and making use of a firearm. We learn this when Hannibal visits Will in prison and asks him what he sees. Hannibal and Will return to their role of last season, only this time, with prison bars standing between them.

Hannibal Ep 2.01 “Kaiseki” fires on all cylinders

The end of the first season of Hannibal left Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) locked up in the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane. Season 2 serves a promising start as Hannibal (Mads Mikkelsen) and Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) wine and dine on the episode title’s eponymous kaiseki, a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner. Following his arrest for the murders that took place in season one, Will finds himself in a tricky situation where he has to try and prove his innocence while trapped in a cell and while suffering from temporary memory loss. Hannibal Lecter steps into Will Graham’s shoes as the new FBI criminal profiler, and Will struggles to remember how it is Hannibal framed him for the crimes Hannibal clearly committed.

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