Year in Review

Robert Lloyd's best TV shows of 2014

Robert Lloyd
Contact ReporterLos Angeles Times Television Critic
L.A. Times TV critic Robert Lloyd picks his favorite shows of 2014, including 'Broad City' and 'Black Jesus'

Here is Robert Lloyd’s look at the best of 2014 in television.

"Broad City" (Comedy Central). Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer's glassy-eyed aspirational comedy of friendship and survival feels like the future.

"Jane the Virgin" (CW). A delicate comic mix of telenovelistic melodrama and emotional naturalism, animated by fine performances of which Gina Rodriguez's is only the most discussed.

"Powerless" and "Happiness" (PBS). From the series "Independent Lens," two gorgeously rendered documentaries set at the intersection of old and new, the first about an Indian electricity thief, the second focusing on a 9-year-old Buddhist monk, a journey to the city and a television set.

"Foo Fighters: Sonic Highways" (HBO). Like "Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown," Dave Grohl's musical travelogue understands place as the desire to make a place.

"True Detective" (HBO). The nominal mystery was disappointing (another serial killer, meh), but more than offset by the mood, the talk and the two-headed lead performance of Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, getting to the bottom of each other.

"Black Jesus" (Adult Swim). Aaron McGruder's affectionately irreverent Christ-in-Compton fable is part Bowery Boys, part Boyz in the Hood, part loaves and fishes — funky, farcical, streetwise, spiritually correct.

"Last Week Tonight with John Oliver" (HBO). Working very much in the tradition of his old boss, Jon Stewart, Oliver makes the astonished rant his extended-play own; clips reliably go viral.

"Bee and PuppyCat" (Cartoon Hangover) and "Over the Garden Wall" (Cartoon Network). Old-school animation rules: Natasha Allegri's Kickstarter-funded series concerns a human girl and her pet-shaped alien roommate, inter-dimensional temp workers when inspired to get out of the house; Patrick Hale's sumptuous musical fantasy is an adventure through Americana.

"Cubed" (Above Average). Dry office comedy in 12 episodes/encounters; you could watch them all in the time it takes to drink your coffee.

"The Missing" (Starz) and "The Honorable Woman" (Sundance). Deliberately paced, beautifully shot, high-toned, twisty mysteries feature international locations, distressed parents, three-dimensional characters in the fore-, middle- and background, memorable acting everywhere.

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No, thank you: "Stalker" (CBS). 'Nuff said.

Follow me on Twitter: @LATimesTVLloyd

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