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43 TV shows to watch in 2014
New series like Gotham and A to Z take their place among old favorites like Boardwalk Empire and Brooklyn Nine-Nine
 
Watch what will become of Nucky Thompson and his criminal empire in the final season of Boardwalk Empire.
Watch what will become of Nucky Thompson and his criminal empire in the final season of Boardwalk Empire. (HBO/Macall B. Polay)

It was going to be tough to top the staggering array of high-quality TV shows that aired in 2013, which included Netflix's aggressive forays into original programming, top-tier dramas from England, and the triumphant end of AMC's Breaking Bad. It's been said time and time again, but it bears repeating: We're in the midst of a golden age of television — and fortunately, 2014's lineup is just as strong.

With so many new and returning TV shows hitting the air, which ones are your best bets? A guide:

1. A Young Doctor's Notebook (Ovation, Aug. 19)

Wonderfully offbeat and unlike anything else on television today, A Young Doctor's Notebook stands out in a crowded TV lineup. Daniel Radcliffe stars as a doctor sent to a remote Russian hospital in the early 1900s; Jon Hamm plays the same character, decades older, who regularly appears to advise and torment his younger counterpart. A Young Doctor's Notebook is funny, sad, and utterly original — and with just four 22-minute episodes per season, it should fit easily into your regular viewing schedule.

2. Boardwalk Empire (HBO, Sept. 7)

Once positioned as the heir apparent to The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire has never quite managed to match the quality or acclaim of that legendary series — but it has carved out a quality niche of its own. Picking up after last year's tragic, gruesome season finale, this final season follows Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi) as he continues to build a criminal empire in 1920s Atlantic City.

3. The Good Wife (CBS, Sept. 21)

In the wake of a season that featured The Good Wife's all-time buzziest twist (and just weeks after Julianna Margulies picked up a second Emmy for her starring role), the CBS drama is poised for another big year. Often hailed as the best network drama on television, The Good Wife routinely shows that you don't need cable to see quality, serialized stories.

4. Gotham (Fox, Sept. 22)

Arguably the most heavily promoted new show of the fall season, Gotham takes a relatively novel approach to the Batman universe: there's no Batman in it. Instead, the series takes place when Bruce Wayne is just a child, pivoting the narrative to newly hired detective James Gordon (Ben McKenzie). Younger versions of classic Batman villains, including the Penguin, the Riddler, and Catwoman, are also slated to appear.

5. Sleepy Hollow (Fox, Sept. 22)

No one had high expectations for Sleepy Hollow when it premiered last year, but the series surprised critics and won a cult fan base with tongue-in-cheek dialogue, genuinely surprising twists, and a slew of strong performances, anchored by Tom Mison as the fish-out-of-water Ichabod. Season two promises more of the same, and given last year's limited run, fans are more eager than ever to return to Sleepy Hollow.

6. Key & Peele (Comedy Central, Sept. 24)

For three seasons, Key & Peele has consistently offered the funniest, edgiest, and most surprising sketch comedy on television (and counts President Obama among its fans). For its fourth season, Comedy Central has upped the order to a full 22 episodes, offering a bigger opportunity for viewers to take in Key & Peele's delightfully warped take on the world.

7. How to Get Away with Murder (ABC, Sept. 25)

ABC doubles down on the massive success of Scandal with time slot partner How to Get Away with Murder, a legal thriller executive-produced by Shonda Rhimes. Viola Davis stars as a morally dubious college professor who grooms a series of students to work at her law firm. If How to Get Away with Murder can deliver the same kind of enjoyably ludicrous, social media–happy thrills that made its sister show a hit, it's bound to attract a similarly passionate fan base.

8. Transparent (Amazon, Sept. 26)

Amazon's latest original series chronicles the ripple effect on a family when its patriarch (Jeffrey Tambor) comes out as transgendered. The full series was greenlit after Amazon streamed the well-received pilot in February. Creator Jill Soloway — a former writer and producer on HBO's Six Feet Under — brings a customarily thoughtful eye to the complexities of familial relationships.

9. Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Fox, Sept. 28)

Brooklyn Nine-Nine was easily the best of last fall's freshman sitcom crop, offering a clever, original premise and one of the most stacked casts on any network sitcom. With two Golden Globes already under its belt, Brooklyn Nine-Nine aims to build on last year's rock-solid foundation as detective Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg) goes deep undercover.

10. A to Z (NBC, Oct. 2)

A to Z comes with a gimmick: we meet Andrew and Zelda as they begin their relationship, which, according to an omniscient narrator, will be over within the year. Think How I Met Your Mother meets (500) Days of Summer, and you'll be on the right track. There's always a risk that this kind of narrative trickery will end up wearing thin and impeding the actual storytelling — see the aforementioned How I Met Your Mother — but stars Cristin Milioti and Ben Feldman are both enormously appealing, and the show's snark-free take on small-screen romance stands out from the fall season's more jaded looks at love.

11. American Horror Story: Freak Show (FX, Oct. 8)

FX's nutty horror series, which reboots itself every year, heads to 1950s Florida for its latest incarnation, Freak Show. As usual, much of the series is shrouded in mystery, but there are plenty of returning actors, including Kathy Bates as a bearded lady, Sarah Paulson as a pair of conjoined twins, and Jessica Lange as the German ex-pat who runs the freak show.

12. The Affair (Showtime, Oct. 12)

Showtime's twisty new drama chronicles the extramarital affair that develops between a man (The Wire's Dominic Cooper) and a woman (Luther's Ruth Wilson) during a New York summer. The series comes with a novel conceit: each episode will split its time evenly between the two main characters' perspectives, promising a nuanced and fully realized look at the way our perceptions color our actions — including our betrayals.

13. The Walking Dead (AMC, Oct. 12)

AMC's insanely popular zombie drama has never lived up to the promise of its brilliant pilot, but hope springs eternal as The Walking Dead moves into its fifth season. At the very least, the series will begin on an intriguing note, as Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and his allies attempt to survive their capture at the hands of people who are almost certainly cannibals.

14. About a Boy (NBC, Oct. 14)

NBC's adaptation of Nick Hornby's novel has never been a ratings smash, but the series has hummed along on the charms of a strong cast that includes David Walton, Minnie Driver, and Al Madrigal. About a Boy is classic hang-out television: low concept and low stakes, but likable enough to make for a breezy good time.

15. Constantine (NBC, Oct. 24)

At a time when networks are racing to bring big comic-book heroes to the small screen, Constantine is both the riskiest experiment of the bunch and the most intriguing. The series, which follows an occult detective, has already been adapted into an underwhelming movie, but a procedural TV series seems like a better fit for the character. The key question? Whether or not John Constantine's distinctively adult narrative will make it to NBC intact.

Shows that premiered earlier this year:

(Our original previews for each of these shows were published earlier this year. We've left those curtain-raisers untouched, but appended updates to each item.)

16. Justified (FX, Jan. 7)

FX's stellar Justified is one of TV's most unjustly overlooked dramas, and the series returns for a fifth season in characteristically riveting fashion. Dim-witted criminal Dewey Crowe (Damon Herriman) is thrilled when a settlement with the government leaves him $300,000 richer. But his lucky break also attracts the attention of several shady family members, who come to roost in Harlan County. As protagonist Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) deals with this feast for Crowes, Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) mounts an increasingly desperate campaign to free his fiancee Ava from prison, bringing him to as as dark a place as we've seen him since Justified's first season.

UPDATE: Justified's fifth season has been unusually uneven, but as always, it's impossible to turn away from the perfectly pitched performances of the series' central cast. Here's hoping the writing is back up to snuff when Justified returns for its sixth and final season next year.

17. Parks & Recreation (NBC, Jan. 9)

Fans were disappointed when NBC delayed Parks & Recreation's sixth season, but look on the bright side — at least we'll have more episodes to watch in 2014. The back half of the season will pick up where we left off, as Leslie Knope seeks a way to hold on to her City Council seat while preparing herself for the departure of her friends Anne (Rashida Jones) and Chris (Rob Lowe). Parks & Recreation's sixth season hasn't been quite as sharp as the all-time great seasons that came before it — but even off its A-game, it shouldn't be missed.

UPDATE: Parks still feels a little aimless this year, but the show has managed a run of solid episodes even without Jones and Lowe, and has smartly moved underutilized characters like Donna (Retta) to the forefront. The latest overarching story sees Leslie contemplating a job that would take her to Chicago — a smart way to raise the stakes in the aging sitcom.

18. True Detective (HBO, Jan. 12)

HBO's stunning new series stars Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson as two mismatched cops investigating a possible serial killer in rural Louisiana. On paper, the premise is pure cop-show cliche — but the execution is unlike anything you've seen before. True Detective alternates between 1995, when the crime took place, and 2012, as the two detectives reflect on what happened. It's clear that the case took a significant toll on both detectives — in particular, the physical change in McConaughey's character from 1995 to 2012 is startling — but the series unspools its secrets gradually, lingering in the meantime on questions of philosophy and morality. True Detective is less about investigating a crime than what happens to the people who investigate it.

UPDATE: True Detective's finale didn't quite live up to the promise of its early episodes, but the series set high ratings and earned mammoth buzz on the strength of its top-notch acting, strong direction, and twisty storytelling. It'll be fascinating to see what creator Nic Pizzolato has learned when season two premieres next year.

19. Shameless (Showtime, Jan. 19)

It may be based on a popular U.K. series, but Showtime's U.S. version of Shameless has gradually carved out its own unique identity, and largely on the strengths of its talented lead actors, William H. Macy and Emmy Rossum. The fourth season begins with the dysfunctional Gallaghers finally approaching the middle-class lifestyle to which they've always aspired — even as forces both internal and external threaten to tear them down.

UPDATE: Shameless' recently concluded fourth season was darker, more effective, and more acclaimed than ever. Expect more of the same when it returns next year.

20. Looking (HBO, Jan. 19)

HBO's new dramedy has been described by many critics as "the gay Girls," but that's an unfairly glib and dismissive way to approach a series that's clearly attempting to do its own thing. Jonathan Groff (recently of Frozen fame) leads an ensemble of young men adjusting to changing attitudes about homosexuality in both the cultural and political landscape as they navigate life in San Francisco.

UPDATE: Looking is lower-key than virtually anything else on HBO (and perhaps a little too meandering), but there's still promise in the honest, human-sized adventures of Patrick Murray and his friends. Production on season two begins later this year.

21. Sherlock (PBS, Jan. 19)

The BBC's modern riff on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's legendary detective, which stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes and Martin Freeman as Dr. Watson, has already premiered across the pond. But U.S. viewers won't get the chance to see how Sherlock Holmes managed to come back from the dead until Jan. 19. The third-season premiere earned series-high ratings and strong reviews in the U.K., and there's no reason to believe this twisty, clever thriller won't be just as much of a smash in the United States.

UPDATE: Sherlock's latest run of episodes offered exactly what fans wanted: Twisty mysteries, winking references, and no shortage of the prickly chemistry between Sherlock and Watson. Scripts for a fourth season have been officially commissioned, and a fifth season is also reportedly in the works.

22. Black Sails (Starz, Jan. 25)

Despite the billion-dollar success of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, we landlubbers have been denied a pirates TV show for a variety of reasons: The production expense, the difficulty of filming on water, the challenge of conceiving an extended storyline. But Starz is attempting to right that wrong with Black Sails, an adult-oriented drama that introduces viewers to a band of pirates hunting down a massive treasure trove. The pilot is intriguing, and Starz clearly has a lot of faith in the drama's ability to find both its audience and sea legs; the network has already ordered a second season of 10 episodes.

UPDATE: Despite a solid premise and a gorgeous production, Black Sails failed to establish a clear identity for itself. Still, season one is only half of the story that Starz commissioned, and the long-in-the-works second season will be a fresh chance for a new impression.

23. Fleming: The Man Who Would Be Bond (BBC America, Jan. 29)

What kind of man creates a a character as indelible as James Bond? That's the question behind BBC America's enjoyably goofy-looking miniseries Fleming: The Man Who Would Be Bond. Dominic Cooper takes the title role in this (perhaps slightly exaggerated) life story of James Bond author Ian Fleming, who joined Naval Intelligence during World War II, an experience that eventually led him to create his legendary superspy.

UPDATE: Fleming turned out to be a fizzy, silly, utterly inessential project that was notable primarily for Cooper's lead performance. Bond fans are probably better off watching Goldfinger again.

24. House of Cards (Netflix, Feb. 14)

Netflix's first big gamble on original programming debuts its second season on Valentine's Day, as newly appointed Vice President Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) sets his sights on the Oval Office. As with the first season, Netflix plans to drop all 13 episodes at once, so anyone attuned to the show's relentlessly cynical view of politics should plan their binge-watch accordingly.

UPDATE: After a big shocker in its first episode, House of Cards' second season settled into a groove that saw Frank Underwood steamrolling all his enemies in his inevitable rise to power. The real question: What will be left for him to conquer in season three?

25. The Americans (FX, Feb. 26)

FX's tense Cold War-era drama, which follows two Russian spies posing as American citizens (Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys), earned stellar reviews but middling ratings. So if you want to find out what the fuss is about, now's your chance to get in ahead of the curve. In the wake of the high-stakes events from its season one finale, The Americans is poised to offer a similarly tense blend of espionage, political intrigue, and betrayal.

UPDATE: The Americans has remained every bit as nail-bitingly tense in its ongoing second season — though the ratings still aren't what they need to be to ensure its long-term future. Start watching now, before it's too late.

26. Vikings (History Channel, Feb. 27)

After a freshman season that earned impressively solid ratings and a loyal fan following, History's Vikings is returning for a second season that takes some impressively dramatic steps toward shaking up the show's status quo. Vikings returns as protagonist Ragnar Lodbrok (Travis Fimmel) adjusts to a position of leadership, setting a course for expanding his civilization's reach while juggling relationships with both his strong-willed wife and his pregnant mistress.

UPDATE: Vikings' second season is smarter and deeper than its first, and History is clearly thrilled to have found its flagship franchise — a third season has already been ordered.

27. The Red Road (SundanceTV, Feb. 27)

Last year, the Sundance Channel (which has since been re-christened SundanceTV) made a strong case for being the next great home for TV drama with Rectify, Top of the Lake, and The Returned. The Red Road — the network's second original drama — is similarly ambitious, with a story that simultaneously follows a troubled small-town cop (Martin Henderson) and a dangerous member of a federally unrecognized Indian tribe (Jason Momoa, best known as Game of Thrones' Khal Drogo).

UPDATE: The Red Road has its moments, but it doesn't stack up next to SundanceTV's earlier, more successful series. The show will return for a second season.

28. Hannibal (NBC, Feb. 28)

Just when it seemed like legendary Silence of the Lambs baddie Hannibal Lecter had overstayed his welcome, Bryan Fuller managed to breathe new life into the franchise with Hannibal, an impressively original take on the material that casts Mads Mikkelson as the titular cannibal in the years before he gets caught. The second season picks up after the dark coda to season one, which left Special Agent Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) in unexpectedly dire straits.

UPDATE: Hannibal has come back with a second season that's every bit as dark and distinguished as its first. Bryan Fuller has described a long-term plan for the series that sounds fascinating, so let's hope its passionate fans are enough to earn Hannibal a long-term home on NBC.

29. Game of Thrones (HBO, April 6)

Game of Thrones fans have spent the past nine months poring over every minor update from the set of the fantasy drama. To be fair, there's plenty to obsess over; after a third season that included several of the series' most memorable moments — including the long-anticipated Red WeddingGame of Thrones has set the bar very high. Fortunately, George R.R. Martin's source material lives up to the task; with major storylines ahead for characters like Tyrion, Jon Snow, and Daenerys, fans have more reason to be excited than ever.

UPDATE: Though it never quite surpassed the buzz surrounding the Red Wedding, Game of Thrones turned in another triumphant season this year, buoyed by top-notch writing, consistently nuanced performances, and some brilliant additions to the cast (particularly Pedro Pascal's Oberyn Martell). The real test will come next year, when the series begins adapting George R.R. Martin's more discursive novels, A Feast For Crows and A Dance with Dragons.

30. Veep (HBO, April 6)

HBO's terrific satirical sitcom returns for a third season following protagonist Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) as she aims for the presidency. Veep's bleak vision of contemporary American politics is both darker and funnier than anything House of Cards can offer, and the stacked supporting cast — which includes Anna Chlumsky and Tony Hale — manages to nail every comedic beat the writers throw at them.

UPDATE: Veep's third season raised the stakes by following Selina Meyer as she explores a possible bid for the presidency, and came back stronger than ever. Julia Louis-Dreyfus just won her third consecutive Emmy for her starring role in the series; if you haven't caught up yet, do it before season four premieres next year and she wins another one.

31. Silicon Valley (HBO, April 6)

King of the Hill creator Mike Judge returns to television with a series about a group of young programmers attempting to strike it rich with their own tech startup. With Silicon Valley, Judge delivers the same incisive look at soul-deadening corporate culture that turned Office Space into a cult classic — but with companies like Google and Apple serving as an even more pointed target.

UPDATE: Silicon Valley is HBO's best new comedy, balancing some pointed digs at the tech industry with a well-cast ensemble of nerds hanging out. The series will return for a second season next year.

32. Mad Men (AMC, April 13)

Mad Men is set to premiere the first half of its seventh and final season on April 13. Series creator Matt Weiner is notoriously secretive, but it's safe to report that the very strong season premiere picks up sometime after the events of the season six finale, which found series protagonist Don Draper (Jon Hamm) at a personal and professional crossroads. Despite AMC's irritating, mercenary decision to split Mad Men's final season over two years — the final seven episodes, which are being called "The End of an Era," will air in 2015 — Mad Men remains one of TV's most gorgeous and best-acted dramas, and no fan should miss the beginning of the end.

UPDATE: After its mildly disappointing sixth season, Mad Men roared back with a half-season that included several strong contenders for the best episode of the series. Mad Men has officially finished shooting, and the final seven episodes will premiere next year; if they're as strong as this year's crop, the series may finally rake in an Emmy for at least one of its terrific cast members — none of whom, inexplicably, has ever won.

33. Fargo (FX, April 15)

FX's adaptation of the Coen brothers' Oscar-winning 1996 noir Fargo inspired a fair amount of skepticism. But in the months since the project was announced, there have been more than a few heartening signs that the network could actually pull this off. First, the Coen brothers themselves signed on as executive producers. Next, Fargo assembled a top-tier cast: Billy Bob Thornton, Martin Freeman, Bob Odenkirk, Kate Walsh, and Colin Hanks. Finally, FX revealed that Fargo would be a 10-part limited series — which, like the network's American Horror Story, will allow for a story with a definitive beginning, middle, and end.

UPDATE: Fargo is one of the surprise hits of the spring TV season: a deep, clever riff on the classic movie that stands both alongside it and apart from it. The series was an Emmy darling, taking home the trophies for Outstanding Miniseries and Outstanding Directing. Though the first season ended, as promised, by closing the story, Fargo will be back for a second season covering a different crime and time period.

34. Orphan Black (BBC America, April 19)

There were plenty of snubs at the Emmys last year, but none stung more than the omission of Orphan Black star Tatiana Maslany, who played seven different characters over the course of the sci-fi drama's serpentine first season. Fortunately, Orphan Black's second season, which promises to double down on the first season's brainy thrills, will give everyone who missed Maslany's remarkable performance another chance to see her range.

UPDATE: Orphan Black's second season was messier and less focused than its first, but Tatiana Maslany's bevy of independent performances remain as mesmerizing and chameleonic than ever. The series will return for a third season next year.

35. Salem (WGN America, April 20)

WGN America is aiming high with Salem, its first original scripted series and a surprisingly graphic supernatural drama set during the witch trials that earned Salem its infamy. Salem is shot on an impressive recreation of 17th century Salem in Louisiana, and populated with a cast that includes Shane West as a roguish war veteran and Janet Montgomery as an icy villager with a seriously freaky secret.

UPDATE: Salem's frequently grotesque approach to horror alienated plenty of viewers, but managed to draw in some of the American Horror Story crowd. The series will return for a second season next year.

36. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO, April 27)

Since taking over in 1999, Jon Stewart has become inseparable from his role as host on The Daily Show — but it was still hard not to feel a twinge of disappointment when John Oliver's three-month stint as guest host ended last summer. Fortunately, HBO has provided a win-win situation by offering Oliver his own weekly talk show. Expect more of Oliver's zany, political, distinctly British take on news and culture — but with HBO's total lack of censorship.

UPDATE: Last Week Tonight has been a welcome addition to the late-night landscape, with Oliver's cheeky, once-a-week variation on a time-tested format offering unique context and perspective. Oliver is under a two-year contract, so viewers can expect to see Last Week Tonight for quite a while.

37. 24: Live Another Day (Fox, May 5)

Four years after it went off the air, Fox's hit thriller 24 is back for a limited "event series" that drops the original series' real-time format and moves the action over to London. 24 didn't end with the strength or inventiveness with which it began, but the idea of seeing Jack Bauer in a modern political context — alongside new actors like Game of Thrones' Michelle Fairley and Chuck's Yvonne Strahovski — is too intriguing to pass up.

UPDATE: 24: Live Another Day earned solid ratings and reviews, though some complained that it didn't push far enough beyond the original show's conventions. No word on a further continuation of the series, though there have been recent rumblings about a movie.

38. Penny Dreadful (Showtime, May 11)

Showtime's upcoming horror series — which combines the origin stories of horror icons like Dracula, Dr. Frankenstein, and Dorian Gray into a single narrative — is still largely shrouded in mystery. But between The Walking Dead and American Horror Story, the genre is having a bit of a renaissance on television, and it's long past time for Showtime to get some skin in the game. Also intriguing: Penny Dreadful's eclectic cast, which includes Josh Hartnett, Eva Green, and Timothy Dalton.

UPDATE: Penny Dreadful is one of the best new shows of the year, and the best horror story currently on television. The series packs a clever premise, stunning visuals, and an unforgettable performance by Eva Green. It will return for 10 episodes next year.

39. Halt and Catch Fire (AMC, June 1)

AMC's enigmatic new drama aims to do for the 1980s what Mad Men has done for the 1960s. Pushing Daisies' Lee Pace stars as Joe MacMillan, an early innovator in the burgeoning personal computer market whose success threatens the stability of giants like IBM.

UPDATE: Halt and Catch Fire earned poor-to-middling reviews and extremely disappointing ratings. Despite its troubles (and the predictions of many industry analysts), AMC opted to bring the series back for a second season, which will premiere next year.

40. Orange is the New Black (Netflix, June 6)

House of Cards got all the early buzz, but Netflix's sharpest and most groundbreaking original series turned out to be last summer's Orange is the New Black, which uses its women's prison setting to tell a story that's far more diverse than you'd normally see on television. Anticipation is at a fever pitch for the next batch of OITNB episodes, which pick up after the eventful finale of the first season. If you haven't yet succumbed to the show's charms, it's not too late to start binge-watching season one — what are you waiting for?

UPDATE: Orange is the New Black delivered a second season that managed to eclipse its first, expanding the scope of the story and boasting one of the few truly femme-centric shows on television. The series will return for a third season.

41. The Leftovers (HBO, June 15)

HBO's newest original drama, which is based on Tom Perrotta's novel of the same name, chronicles the fallout of a "Rapture-like event" in which two percent of the Earth's population suddenly disappears. The Leftovers follows the people who didn't disappear as they attempt to figure out what the inexplicable event means for their own lives. It's a rich, intriguing concept, and showrunner Damon Lindelof — who co-created Lost — is no stranger to crafting a sprawling TV mystery.

UPDATE: The Leftovers has turned out to be a bit of a head-scratcher, offering an uneven, slow-moving narrative that shows occasional flashes of brilliance. It's clear that the show's creative team is still working out some kinks, but they have plenty of time to figure everything out; HBO has renewed The Leftovers for a second season.

42. Rectify (SundanceTV, June 19)

After a brief and highly acclaimed six-episode run last year, SundanceTV's first original series — which tells the story of a Georgia man who was exonerated in the rape and murder of his ex-girlfriend after spending 19 years on death row — returns in June. Despite its CSI-worthy premise, Rectify isn't just another police drama; it's a quiet, thoughtful exploration of the unexpected and far-reaching consequences that one terrible crime can have for an entire community.

UPDATE: Rectify's longer second season was also bolder, pushing against what the first season established about its troubled protagonist and the world he lives in. The series is arguably SundanceTV's flagship drama, and unquestionably its most accomplished; it will return for a third season next year.

43. The Strain (FX, July 13)

FX's other big project comes with a similarly impressive pedigree. The Strain is based on Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan's co-written vampire novel of the same name, but the project actually began life as a TV proposal. The story, which follows a group of humans attempting to combat a vampiric epidemic, will be carried over to the small screen by creator del Toro and a host of veteran TV actors that include House of Cards' Corey Stoll, Game of Thrones' David Bradley, Alias' Mia Maestro, and Veronica Mars' Francis Capra.

UPDATE: For all the buildup to its premiere, The Strain has been a major disappointment; the inventive, gory horror scenes aren't enough to make up for the weak dialogue and inconsistent characters. Nevertheless, ratings have been solid, and the series will return for a second season.

This article was originally published on Jan. 8, 2014 and last updated on Sept. 8, 2014.

 
Scott Meslow is the entertainment editor and film and television critic for TheWeek.com. He has written about film and television at publications including The AtlanticPOLITICO Magazine, and Vulture.

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