TIME Television

Review: The Colbert Report Is Dead. Long Live Stephen Colbert!

"If this is your first time tuning into The Colbert Report, I have some terrible news"

It’s a rare man who gets to attend his own funeral. It’s an even luckier man who gets to cheat his own death, dust his prints off the murder weapon, read his own eulogy, and rise to live again in another form.

That’s what Stephen Colbert did Thursday night with “Stephen Colbert,” in a show that sent his bloviating host character — one of the greatest sustained performances in pop culture, TV or otherwise — off into TV eternity. And his final Colbert Report was both a sweet ending and a perfect summation of the show’s spirit — smart and surreal, sly and sincere. The finale nodded to the massive creation that Colbert wrought over nine years, and — as he flew off with Santa, a unicorn Abraham Lincoln, and Alex Trebek — promised something different to come.

Colbert began his last Report by riffing on what pop-culture commentators have been riffing on all week, his show’s legacy, though tongue-in-cheek. “I did something much harder than change the world,” he said. “Folks, I samed the world. Another Bush governor is running for the White House. People on TV are defending torture. We are sending troops into Iraq.” When the Report began in 2005, he said, “I promised you a revolution, and I delivered. Because technically, one revolution is 360 degrees right back to where we were.”

But Colbert revolutionized much more than that in between. A quick rundown of some of his greatest stunts over the years — the Rally for Sanity and/or Fear, the SuperPAC — was the closest he got to breaking-character sentiment: “You, the Nation, did all that. I just got paid for it.”

Then, following a bizarre setup in which one last “Cheating Death With Dr. Stephen T. Colbert, DFA” ended with his killing Grimmy and becoming immortal, Colbert launched into a grand, punchy sing-along of “We’ll Meet Again,” with a celebrity cast of dozens that demands DVR rewinding but included, in part: Randy Newman, Willie Nelson, Bryan Cranston, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Tom Brokaw, Big Bird, Keith Olbermann, Katie Couric, Gloria Steinem, Samantha Power, Michael Stipe, James Franco, Charlie Rose, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Patrick Stewart, Christiane Amanpour, Arianna Huffington, Alan Alda, George Lucas, Henry Kissinger, Vince Gilligan (still chained in Colbert’s basement after the Breaking Bad finale), soldiers in Afghanistan, Esteban Colberto, Bill Clinton, an astronaut, JJ Abrams and Smaug.

Read more Why Stephen Colbert Is Signing Off at the Perfect Time

The all-star sendoff is a staple of talk-show finales, but this one seemed to say something here about the vast world that Colbert created with the Report. The show itself was not the sum total of the production that Colbert has put since 2005. It was just the flagship product of a larger performance that extended to the Internet, to public rallies, to political campaigns, and even to space.

By transforming himself into a character, and taking his performance far beyond the thirty minutes of the show, Colbert was engineering a way to satirize a subject — the media and political culture — that had moved almost beyond satire. It started with one big idea: that in American discourse, gut feeling and team affiliation had replaced reason (indeed, had labeled reason itself a kind of contemptible bad faith). The Report debuted just after a Bush adviser speaking to reporter Ron Suskind dismissed, in pre-satirized terms, the “reality-based community.”

So Colbert created not just a show but a massive work of performance art set in the reality-liberated community. It opened with not just a hilarious routine, but what felt like a summary of the era, in which Colbert introduced the concept of “truthiness.” The nation, he said, was divided between “those who think with their head and those who know with their heart.”

It was funny, it was perceptive, and you might expect that to fuel a show for, what, half a year? That Colbert was able to be “Stephen Colbert” at such a high level for some nine years was the 56-game-hitting-streak of American comedy, a feat we may not see equalled again. He kept it up in part by taking the show on the road. He brought his act to the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, got Doritos to sponsor his favorite-son run in the 2008 South Carolina primary, and — in what was probably his high-water mark — in 2011 went through the process of founding a real SuperPAC. It was simultaneously an epic work of performance-art satire and genuine public-service education.

Read more 5 Times Stephen Colbert Changed the World

Before the finale, Colbert was already in the process of letting go of “himself”; on Wednesday’s show, he held a yard sale of Report memorabilia, unloading a copy of his correspondents’ dinner speech to a crying baby, selling a bottle of “Ass Juice” to a lucky bargain hunter. He seemed at peace, and why shouldn’t he be? He’s going on to something new, taking over for David Letterman at CBS. And while that’s generated much interest in what Colbert will do as himself, I’m not too concerned.

Because truth be told, one of the undersung aspects of the Report was how he infused his satire with his actual character, from his geeky enthusiasm for Tolkien to his sincere passion for ideas and ideals. If you expected him to give us a taste of what we’ll see from him on CBS, though, you’ll have to wait until later next year. Except for a post-credits sequence of him cutting up with Jon Stewart during a 2010 taping, he maintained his rock-solid professional facade.

But the plaintive strains of “Holland, 1945″ by Neutral Milk Hotel — a favorite band of the honest-to-God Colbert — clued us in to the bittersweetness of this see-you-later. Right up to the end, Stephen Colbert did not break character. But the rest of us can be forgiven if we broke down a little, saying goodbye to America’s greatest, most genuine phony.

Read next: Stephen Colbert: A Great Talk-Show Host? No, the Greatest!


Mythbusters Will Take On The Simpsons


The bubble-bursting masters will test the assumptions of one of America’s most beloved cartoons

The good people at Mythbusters are turning their skeptical eye next toward a show about a little family from Springfield: the Simpsons.

For the hit Discovery Channel show’s 13th season premiere, Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman will test assertions and assumptions in some classic moments from the show.

“We set out to test Bart throwing a cherry bomb into the toilet that makes all toilets in the school act like geysers,” Savage says.

They’ll also put to the test the time Homer put himself between a wrecking ball and his house in order to save the structure—with two real life houses to wreck—or not wreck, if somehow Homer’s feat actually works—plus a life-sized Homer replica.

Read more at Entertainment Weekly

MONEY Leisure

Why a Hyped New Lottery Game Went Bust in a Hurry

The "Monopoly Millionaire's Club" lottery launch at Times Square on October 20, 2014 in New York City.
The "Monopoly Millionaire's Club" lottery launch at Times Square on October 20, 2014 in New York City. Andrew H. Walker—Getty Images

A new Monopoly-themed lottery game was expected to be popular enough to warrant its own TV show. But the game has already been killed after flopping with lottery players, who often had no clue if they won or lost.

State lottery sales have largely gone flat at the same time that much of the country has come to rely more and more on the revenues sanctioned gambling provides. To boost sales, state lottery commissions are constantly trying to capture the imagination (and dollars) of players by rolling out exciting new games. As one economist explained to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch this past summer, a lottery game “follows a life cycle like any product… You get this increase in sales. It peaks. People get used to it, and then you get this slowdown.”

Hence the need to regularly create and market new lottery games, like the Monopoly Millionaires Club, introduced in 23 states in October as the first multi-state lottery game to hit the scene in 12 years. At the time, state lottery commission press releases (like one published for Arizona) and news outlets in participating states (such as New Jersey) had trouble explaining all of the game’s particulars. It was a “two-pronged game,” but with potentially multiple winners and “three different ways to win a million dollars,” and each ticket came with a series of numbers as well as a traditional Monopoly property, like Marvin Gardens or B&O Railroad. Anyone with a ticket matching all six numbers would win the jackpot (starting at $15 million), and when a jackpot was awarded, other randomly selected players would win $1 million apiece. But if nobody won the jackpot, nobody else was eligible to win $1 million either.

Oh, and players were supposed to enter an online sweepstakes to win a trip to Las Vegas to be on the associated TV show, to be hosted by Billy Gardell (Mike on “Mike & Molly”), where more millions could be awarded. And each ticket cost a pricey $5. “This $5 price point strengthens the game’s play value while differentiating it within lottery draw game portfolios,” the Arizona press release explained. Whatever that means.

From the get-go, people were puzzled. “Monopoly Millionaires’ Club is like a cross between Powerball, the Pennsylvania Lottery’s Millionaire Raffle, and McDonald’s Monopoly game, which makes people collect various game pieces,” one Philadelphia Inquirer writer summed up. “Plus, there’s a TV show,” and unlike popular scratch-off lottery tickets, “there’s nothing ‘instant’ about” about the Monopoly game. While it could possibly pay off big-time for players, the game was so confusing it might “set records for people who fail to realize they won, as well as people who mistakenly think they did.”

Turns out people don’t like confusing lottery games involving delayed gratification, and they certainly don’t like forking over $5 a pop to play such games. Citing “sales that have not met the lottery industry’s projections,” Texas announced last week that it was suspending the Monopoly game, and all other states followed suit recently. By December 26, the game will disappear nationally. To borrow from Monopoly lingo, this game is going indefinitely to jail. Do not pass Go; do not collect $200—or any amount.

TIME Television

Friends Isn’t the Only Goodie Coming to Netflix This January

Cast of "Friends" on the "Tonight Show with Jay Leno"
In this handout photo provided by NBC, the cast of "Friends", actors Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, Courteney Cox-Arquette, David Schwimmer and Jennifer Aniston sat down with Jay Leno for a special "Tonight Show," on the set of Central Perk Getty Images—Getty Images

Mean Girls also headed to a laptop screen near you

Netflix will begin streaming Friends in all of its 236 episode glory starting Jan. 1 — but that’s not the only new treat to be coming to the service in the new year.

Netflix released a list of its biggest films and TV shows that will be coming to a laptop screen near you:

Jan. 1
101 Dalmatians
Bad Boys 2
Bruce Almighty
Cast Away
(season 3)
Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas
The French Connection

Fort Bliss
Mean Girls
Shall We Dance
To Be Takei
Wayne’s World 2

MORE: Netflix Wants New Original Content Every Three Weeks

Jan. 3
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
White Collar (season 5)

Jan. 8
Psych (season 8)

MORE: 26 Streaming Shows You Should Get Addicted to This Winter

Jan. 9
Z Nation (season 1)

Jan. 16
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Jan. 28

Read next: 8 Netflix Tricks You Just Can’t Live Without

TIME Television

REVIEW: Khan Job: Netflix’s Ludicrous Marco Polo

Phil Bray / Netflix

This tour of the Mongol Empire is a sprawling mess.

If there is an equivalent in today’s TV business to the Mongol horde and its cavalry, it may well be Netflix and its algorithms. Not only has the streaming service’s recommendation engine threatened long-standing TV empires and conquered our video habits by sending us from binge-watch to binge-watch–“If you like this, you might like this”–but also, so the company says, it has allowed Netflix to use its copious data to precision-target an audience for its original shows.

Marco Polo (first season debuts online Friday), the lush drama set in the 13th-century court of Kublai Khan, feels less like precision targeting than a flurry of wildly fired arrows, the scattershot, overstuffed result of a “You Might Like…” algorithm run amok. If you like Game of Thrones, and historical drama, and pay-cable softcore, and martial arts movies (like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, whose sequel Netflix is also making)–and you want them crammed together, narrative sense be damned–you might like this gorgeous but ludicrous saga.

But you might also wish Netflix and creator John Fusco had anticipated that you “might like” credible dialogue and characters as well.

The series begins with Italian explorer Marco (Lorenzo Richelmy) being left by his merchant father as a gift/servant/hostage for the Khan (Benedict Wong), in hopes of winning access to the Silk Road. Kublai rules a massive empire, but still has unfinished business: the holdout remnants of the Chinese Song dynasty, as well as fellow warlords who fear that conquest has softened the Mongol out of Genghis’ grandson. The Khan sees the quick-witted “Latin” Marco as a useful scout and spy, dispatching him on reconnaissance missions among enemies and frenemies.

Marco is the protagonist only in name; Richelmy is too bland to be more than the handsome camera through which we explore the empire. The imposing Wong, on the other hand, could be the show’s compelling star–a Mongol Al Swearengen–if the series didn’t make him such a growling B-movie tyrant. Early, he’s challenged as to whether he wants to be a Mongol or Chinese ruler. “Emperor of Mongolia, Emperor of China,” he roars, “I will be Emperor of the world!“–and impales a map with his sword. It’s a mission statement for the series, if that mission is to make you laugh unintentionally.

Mission accomplished, repeatedly. Mind you, this is no amateur production. Filmed in Kazakhstan, Malaysia and Venice, Marco Polo looks like it took the riches of east and west to make. (Reports put the season’s price tag at $90 million.) The vistas are stupendous, the sets and costumes gorgeous (and purportedly researched in detail). This would be a great show to watch on a new giant-screen TV you’re getting for Christmas.

And even more so if the sound doesn’t work. Marco Polo quickly becomes a travelogue of pulp clichés: the oily Song chancellor intoning proverbs about “the strike of the mantis break[ing] the back of the cricket”; the concubine-spy (Olivia Cheng) who leaps up fully nude in slo-mo to take down two armored soldiers in her bedchamber, as if in a Rated-Adults-Only video game; and Hundred Eyes (Tom Wu) the sightless martial-arts master who trains Marco with a stream of listen-carefully-grasshopper nuggets–“Untrue by an inch, untrue by a mile” and “Of the yin and the yang, you have an abundance of yang.”

The series’ problem, too, is how badly it balances its contrasts. Making Marco Polo dumb fun would be just as legitimate as making it weighty historical realism. But the show tries to be both (sort of, though producers freely admit to playing with facts and the timeline), lurching between modes without warning. Sometimes it’s a study of court intrigue, as when we see the Song leaders riven between diehards who want to fight the Khan and those who would sue for peace. Other times, it’s like someone watched the most caricatured Dothraki scenes in the first season of Game of Thrones and asked, “Could we have a show of just this?” Then there’s the obligatory sex, worked in a gracefully as pop-up ads; an orgy montage in the pilot, which intercuts naked, red-lit courtesans with images of Hundred Eyes kung-fu-posing with a cobra, is Orientalist hoohah as pure as the spun silk of distant Cathay.

You can’t say Marco Polo isn’t committed to spectacle and popcorn entertainment, and that may make it a hit worth its price tag. But it reminds me of the Simpsons episode in which Homer gets to design a car that has every feature he wants, and ends up with an expensive monstrosity that includes bubble domes, multiple horns and shag carpeting. It may be that Netflix really knows just what we want. With Marco Polo, it’s giving it to us good and hard.

TIME Television

Sons of Anarchy: The Long Goodbye


The series died as it lived, as an emotional, excessive--and sometimes seemingly endless--classic-rock jam.

Spoilers for the series finale of Sons of Anarchy follow:

Did you know how Sons of Anarchy was going to end? If you’ve watched the show for any length of time, I bet you did. Maybe you didn’t know that Jax would arrange his exit from the club and from Charming, that he would die and that he would give himself up to death by crashing into a truck riven by Michael Chiklis’ Milo, a nod to Chiklis’ The Shield, which SoA creator Kurt Sutter once worked on. (See Melissa Locker’s recap for more details.)

But you knew it would end with a montage.

The montage would be long (around seven and a half minutes, scored to the original “Come Join the Murder” by house band The Forest Rangers). It would be mournful. It would intercut the series’ final actions with resolutions and goodbyes to cops and club members and family members, zipped up body bags and California landscapes, a presidential motorcade of police vehicles and a heavenly/hellish murder of crows flying an aerial salute to Jax before he raised his arms in a crucifixion pose and drifted into the path of Milo. (Who yelled, correctly, “Jesus!”)

If it was not a great ending, it was a fitting ending for Sons of Anarchy, which, for better and worse, was always an extended classic-rock song of a show. It was unedited and undisciplined, a colossal anthem taking up a whole vinyl album side, with cowbell and extended drum solos and a dozen guitarists lined up on stage to get a turn to riff over the coda. If it felt an emotion, it primal-screamed it. It threw in intrigues and complications like a jam band throwing in bridges and time changes. At its best it was “Sweet Child o’ Mine”; at its worst, “In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida.”

This was the reason I drifted out of the show’s lane over the last few seasons, though I was a fan early on. There was a strong story at the core of it: J.T.’s legacy, Jax’s conflicts with Gemma and Clay and the question of whether Jax could change the club and himself. But as the show sustained itself over seven seasons, that became buried under a vast amount of gang wars and investigations and bloody machinations with the Irish and the neo-Nazis and black and brown and yellow and for all I know purple.

As the show got more and more popular, the complications only multiplied. It became clear that Sons of Anarchy the show was not going to give up its violent entanglements any more than Jax was going to get SAMCRO the club to do so: too many people were too invested in keeping the mayhem going. And at the same time, the show took an approach to storytelling that was emblemized by those montages and its growing episode run times. It left everything in: to SoA, everything was important, but that undercut the sense that anything was particularly important.

For all that, there were moments in the last few episodes that still hit me, as a longtime viewer. Katey Sagal’s final moments in the garden as Gemma were genuinely affecting as she accepted, even invited, her fate. In the finale Jax’s recognition that his only hope for his kids was that they grow up hating him was a simple, powerful admission. Both characters’ ends returned to the show’s tragic theme: these people knew they couldn’t really change their fates or their selves. But it was also diluted by the long, long walk of goodbyes and tying up loose ends.

Sutter, of course, was not interested in making a show for people who wanted less, and I assume he made the maximalist finale he wanted. There was enough talent and thoughtful provocation in SoA‘s best moments that I’ll watch with interest what he does next. But I’m hoping it’s a little more punk rock.

TIME Media

Google’s Chromecast Overtakes Apple TV in Battle for the Living Room

Google Unveils Updated Nexus 7 in Push Against Apple, Microsoft
Google's Chromecast Bloomberg via Getty Images

But Roku is still the king of streaming devices

As tech companies vie for control of the television screen, a relatively new entrant is already making big gains.

Google’s Chromecast streaming stick managed to outsell the Apple TV in the first three quarters of 2014, according to research firm Parks Associates. Chromecast comprised 20% of the total sales for streaming devices in the U.S., while Apple TV netted just 17%.

Longtime market leader Roku continues to dominate with 29% of sales, but that’s down from around 45% in 2013. Amazon, another new competitor, has made solid progress with its Fire TV devices, gaining 10% marketshare in 2014.

Google’s quick ascent shows that the simplicity of the Chromecast, which allows users to stream content from their phones or tablets, may be a long-term winning strategy — its price, $35 to the Apple TV’s $99, probably hasn’t hurt either. Roku and Amazon, which started out with set-top boxes, both released cheaper Chromecast-like streaming sticks earlier this year.

TIME Television

The Top 10 TV Episodes of 2014: The Best and the Rest

Elisabeth Moss as Peggy Olson and Jon Hamm as Don Draper - Mad Men _ Season 7, Episode 6 - Photo Credit: Courtesy of AMC
Elisabeth Moss and Jon Hamm in Mad Men's "The Strategy" AMC

Let's be honest: even a TV critic can't watch every episode of TV in a year. But here are 10 that I'm glad I did.

My list of the top 10 TV episodes of 2014 is now up here at time.com. You can see my post about my 10 best series of 2014 list for an FAQ explaining my general principles of listmaking, but here are a few more specific to my episodes list.

Wait a minute. How come none of your 10 best series have episodes on this list? Well, it’s really a testimony to the deep bench of great TV shows this year–

I don’t believe you. That’s not a question.

Sorry, let me rephrase: I don’t believe you? All right, fine. That answer was mostly true. But also, this list is sort of a cheat. It’s true that, as I worked on it, I found I had many candidates that were not on my best-series list. And I’ve always tried to favor shows on this list that were not already on Best Shows, because a Best Episodes list made up mostly of the same series would be dull. This year, I realized I had enough episodes worthy of this list that I could–for this year, anyway–rule out all the series from my Best Shows list, so as to honor more of the great things TV has done this year.

So why did you put Breaking Bad‘s “Ozymandias” on your list last year, when the show was on Best Series? Because I would have had to have my head examined if I didn’t. This year, there wasn’t a similar situation. Last year I had a few shows overlap between the two lists. Next year, I may do something different again! That’s what makes life exciting!

I loved True Detective‘s “Who Goes There,” but how could you not also put on “The Secret Fate of All Life”? I’ve only got 10 slots, and there’s a lot of TV, so one show, one episode.

How can you say “_____” is better than “______”? Honestly, even more than with the Best Series list, this one is apples and oranges. I used a finely calibrated ranking system involving gut instinct, alcohol, and a 10-sided die.

You forgot “______.” You know what? I probably did! A TV critic can watch every major new series that comes out in a year, but it’s physically impossible to watch all of TV, so it entirely possible there was a kick-ass night of The Strain that I missed, and if so, I apologize. (Also–as with my Best Shows list–I had to finalize this list early in November, which I am well aware leaves out nearly two months of TV.)

Now, the short version of the list (see the full feature for my longer reviews of each episode):

1. Mad Men, “The Strategy”
2. The Leftovers, “Guest”
3. Bob’s Burgers, “The Equestranauts”
4. True Detective, “Who Goes There”
5. Game of Thrones, “The Lion and the Rose”
6. Masters of Sex, “Fight”
7. Review, “Pancakes, Divorce, Pancakes”
8. Outlander, “The Wedding”
9. Girls, “Flo”
10. The Knick, “Get the Rope”

And here’s a by-no-means-complete, no-particular-order list of other standout episodes from the year:

High Maintenance, “Matilda”
Happy Valley, “Episode 4″
Silicon Valley, “Optimal Tip-to-Tip Efficiency”
Veep, “Debate”
Community, “Bondage and Beta Male Sexuality”
True Detective, “The Secret Fate of All Life”
Transparent, “Best New Girl”
Fargo, “Buridan’s Ass”
The Americans, “Echo”
Louie, “In the Woods,” “Pamela (Part 3)”
The Good Wife, “The Last Call,” “Oppo Research”
Orange Is the New Black, “We Have Manners. We’re Polite”
The Affair, pilot
The Leftovers, “Two Boats and a Helicopter”
Boardwalk Empire, “Devil You Know”
“Too Many Cooks,” Adult Swim

Be sure to add your own in the comments!

TIME Television

The Top 10 TV Shows of 2014: The Best and the Rest

Amy Landecker and Jeffrey Tambor in Transparent. Beth Dubber

Here's how I chose my list, and why I left off that one show that you like.

TIME’s annual collection of top-10 lists is up, including my Top 10 TV Shows of 2014. (Also up is my list of Top 10 TV Episodes, which I explain in a separate post.)

Some of you will hate my choices–which, let’s be honest, is half the reason top-10 lists exist at all, so have at it. Others will have questions, and some of the same ones come up every year, so here’s a short FAQ:

* Why do you hate ____? This is not the Top 10 and Everything Else Sucks list. I liked far more than 10 shows on TV this year; these were tops. It’s not a matter of what was wrong with the shows I left off, but what was right with the shows I put on.

* Don’t you like ____ anymore? Sure I do. (Probably.) But there are no lifetime slots. Last year, for instance, Mad Men and Game of Thrones were on my list. I still love them! But this list is only about 2014: I didn’t feel the first half of Mad Men‘s last season gave me enough to put it on, and Thrones just had a weaker season. (Both, though, are on my Best Episodes list.)

* How is _____ better than _____? Beyond the first few, honestly, the rank order is fairly arbitrary and apples-to-oranges. I didn’t measure these shows with a nuclear qualitometer. Think the #9 shows should be #6? Sure, fine. Print it out and rearrange them. For that matter, there are probably 20 shows that I could just as easily put in the bottom 5 of this list.

* Aren’t top 10 lists just shameless trolling for readers? You caught us! Also, they’re sort of a lie. Yes, this is, more or less, list of what I thought were the 10 best shows of the year. But I also think a list should be a document in itself–a statement, as a whole, of what I value in TV and what TV did best this year. So it’s, sort of, a list of the 10 best shows of the year and, sort of, a list of the 10 shows that represented the best in TV this year–which are related, but not exactly the same thing.

* Um, it’s not the end of 2014 yet. Thanks for pointing that out! Because of our production deadlines, I had to finalize this list early in November. They still kept making TV, though! I may be regretting some choices already–and it’s all undeniably unfair to shows, like Jane the Virgin, that just started their seasons–but at some point you just have to let it go.

* So which shows would you pick for 11–20th place? HA HA HA HA HA NO, nice try. I will be, however, be doing a 10 best new shows list for Hitfix’s poll, and I’ll post about that later.

* You forgot _____. Probably not! I keep a running list of potential shows starting in January, and revise it throughout the year. (My top-10 episodes list, about which I’ll post separately, is a different story–I can’t watch everything, and I almost certainly I did forget things.) This is a very subjective list, but if it’s a likely candidate, I’ve probably at least considered it.

Apologia out of the way, here’s my list (but read the full writeup to see what I thought of each show)…
1. Transparent
2. The Americans
3. The Good Wife
4. Orange Is the New Black
5. Fargo
6. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
7. Broad City
8. Louie
9. High Maintenance
10. Silicon Valley

… and here, in alphabetical order, are some shows I liked, considered for the list, but didn’t quite make it (here I’ve certainly left some fine shows off)…

Bob’s Burgers
The Bridge
The Comeback
Friday Night Tykes
Game of Thrones
Getting On
Happy Valley
The Honorable Woman
Inside Amy Schumer
Jane the Virgin
Key and Peele
The Knick
The Leftovers
Mad Men
Masters of Sex
Olive Kitteridge
Orphan Black
True Detective

And post your own top 10 in the comments. Let the TV wars begin!

TIME Television

Portlandia Gets Dramatic in the Trailer for Season 5

“I’ve concluded that we’re looking for a weirdo”

The trailer for Season 5 of Portlandia is a little bit Law and Order, a little bit Michael Bay. With a dramatic soundtrack building suspense in the background, Fred, Carrie and their cadre of famous guest stars scream, fire machine guns, set gasoline aflame, and hang from ledges by their fingertips. If they weren’t so goofy, it would almost be suspenseful.

Of course, take out the action movie score and you’re left with the same old shenanigans we’re used to — namely, campaigning about the benefits of unpasteurized milk and attempting to free the whales at Sea World. And we wouldn’t have it any other way. After four seasons of milking the Portland stereotype nearly dry, Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein keep coming up with more ridiculous spoofs of the dog-loving, bike-riding, coffee-drinking, organic-obsessed city that is Portland.

The trailer includes cameos from Jeff Goldblum, Ed Begley, Jr., Justin Long, Olivia Wilde, Paul Reubens, Vanessa Bayer and Brigitte Nielsen. IFC has announced that Paul Simon, Oscar the Grouch, Steve Buscemi and many others will also appear this season.

The season premieres on Jan. 8, 2015.

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