Following on from my best list of new television shows I look at the best returning ones of the year. Once again, I’m not up to date with every drama so don’t expect to find Parks and Recreation or Mad Men on here unfortunately – I would love to put them on but have not seen any episodes from 2015 of these shows yet! So without further ado, here’s the Top 10. As usual, they’re not in a particular order and you can find the last list here.
This has unfortunately, been the final year of the Kentucky-set crime drama featuring Timothy Olyphant and Walton Goggins but was one of its best yet, giving satisfactory endings for everyone involved including a near perfect finale that was one of the best endings I’ve ever seen from a TV show. Unpredictable, tense and engaging from the start to end of Season 6, Justified was on top form.
Unfortunately, this is the last year for the twisted series about the legendary fictional serial killer/cannibal Hannibal Lecter, but Hannibal went out with a bang. First the arc in Italy. And then when we returned to America, we got the freaking Red Dragon played by Richard Armitage. It doesn’t get much better than that and as usual, Mads Mikkelsen and Hugh Dancey were on top form. It’s just a shame that this show has seemingly not been able to find a home on another network, because it certainly deserves one.
If possible, Season 2 was even better than the first as we took the action into the past, during the nineteen eighties, for some great gang war drama that featured a stellar soundtrack and some stellar characters including a breakout role for the psychopathic psychological serial killer’s actor, and some nice, black humour that worked really well.
THE LEFTOVERS (HBO)
Few shows have a second season as big and as awesome as The Leftovers did. Even if it wasn’t quite the ratings juggernaut like HBO’s more popular Game of Thrones is, it still excels and reached near perfection in Season 2. Featuring stellar performances from the likes of Justin Theroux and more, The Leftovers remained compulsive, depressing and confusing television that reached a fantastic high bar. Hopefully next year’s final season can pick up where Season 2 left off.
THE AMERICANS (FX)
This period drama about two spies living undercover in America working for the Russians reached its peak in Season 3 earlier this year as one of their children began to expect that their parents weren’t everything they said they were. Featuring some fantastic acting from all corners, especially from Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell, The Americans was on excellent form from start to finish.
PERSON OF INTEREST (CBS)
If you’ve been following me for a while now then you’ll know that Person of Interest is my favourite network television show. It’s smart, subversive and one of the best around, weaving compulsive entertainment through fully serialised arcs, with some great dry wit. Season 4 took things into dark places as it reached a fairly depressing conclusion, and left us with one of its biggest cliffhangers yet, so given the fact that the show seems to have been shunted back to the Summer and with a reduced episode count on top of that, things aren’t looking good. But with a stellar fourth season featuring some great episodes over the course of its second half of the season like the finale in particular which featured an excellent use of Welcome to the Machine by Pink Floyd, this show continued to be great.
HALT AND CATCH FIRE (AMC)
There are two shows on this list that are perfect replacements for fans of Mad Men and Halt and Catch Fire is the first. Its sophomore season improved a lot on the strong but flawed first, giving women a key role in the tech revolution and improving some already strong characters with the actors Lee Pace, Mackenzie Davis and Scoot McNairy getting plenty to do. Boasting a killer 80’s soundtrack as well, Halt and Catch Fire remained on top form throughout its second season and it’s great to see it renewed for another go.
MANHATTAN (WGN AMERICA)
The other show on this list that’s the perfect Mad Men replacement, Manhattan is an excellent show that really excels in its period drama. Taking audiences into the struggles to launch the first atomic bomb during the second world war, Manhattan provided nonstop twists and turns over the course of the second season that grew from strength to strength, culminating in the dawn of the atomic age. With some excellent acting from lead cast members, particularly John Bejamin Hickey, this is a must watch show.
THE KNICK (CINEMAX)
Coming from HBO’s little brother Cinemax, The Knick utilised bleak humour and a dark storyline well to weave an intoxicating show set during the early days of medicine in New York City. Directed by Steven Soderbergh, he who was responsible for Ocean’s Eleven, The Knick makes the best use out of Clive Owen and it’s techno soundtrack from Cliff Martinez, and now that Hannibal is over, The Knick might have just also become one of the goriest shows on television.
THE 100 (The CW)
Quite possibly the best science fiction show on television at the moment. It fixed pretty much everything that was wrong with the first season in the second, taking us to darker places that makes Game of Thrones look like a light soap opera in comparison. With a strong female protagonist at the heart of the show, The 100 used its characters and storyline well to weave a captivating, unpredictable and traumatising second season that was must-watch television. Season 3 can’t come quickly enough.
Runners Up: Like the best new television shows of 2015 list it wouldn’t be a list without having some Runner’s Up, so here are the 10 shows that didn’t quite make the cut: BBC America’s Orphan Black aka The Tatiana Maslany show, The CW’s vampire drama The Originals, Showtime’s double whammy of gothic horror Penny Dreadful and spy thriller Homeland, HBO’s fantasy epic Game of Thrones, Cinemax’s pulp action thriller Banshee, AMC’s uneven but still strong zombie drama The Walking Dead, The History Channel’s Vikings, Starz’s pirate period drama Black Sails, whilst FOX’s police comedy series Brooklyn Nine-Nine and ABC’s tense lawyer drama How to Get Away With Murder round out the list that could have easily were it not for the above shows been my own top 10 of the year.
What are your favourite recurring shows of 2015? Let me know in the comments below. I’ll have a review of The Force Awakens up at some point tomorrow as well, so stay tuned for that.