Best of 2015: The best new TV shows from 2015 include ‘Empire,’ ‘Better Call Saul,’ ‘iZombie,’ ‘Master of None’

“Ash vs Evil Dead”
Ray Santiago, left, and Bruce Campbell star in “Ash vs. Evil Dead,” which retains the film series’ gory charms.
(Aaron Lam / Starz)
Los Angeles Times Television Critic

Giving love to 14 shows in 10 items, all new to TV this year:

“Detectorists” (Acorn TV): Mackenzie Crook’s lovely pastoral romance/bromance in which hopeful rural Britons go into the woods and fields looking for treasure, beautifully shot and modulated. Shakespearean, even.

“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” (CW): Star and co-creator Rachel Bloom blows through West Covina like a singing, dancing, self-conflicted, crazy, crazy-making yet deeply likable tornado. Sweet, smart, fast, funny and the best TV musical since “The Monkees.”

“Show Me a Hero” (HBO) / “Wolf Hall” (PBS): Politics then and then. David Simon and William Zorzi’s miniseries about public housing and race relations in Yonkers in the late 20th century was tragic and thrilling; “Wolf Hall,” with Mark Rylance as Tudor fixer Thomas Cromwell, made the past seem particularly present.


READ MORE: Television is becoming a truer reflection of who we are and where we’re going 

“Togetherness” (HBO): Brothers Mark and Jay Duplass, of indie filmmaking and sundry acting projects, created this dreamy everyday comedy about four people living under one roof in Eagle Rock; Melanie Lynskey brings the wounded wonder.

“Empire” (Fox): Which is mostly to say, Taraji P. Henson as Cookie Lyon in a relentlessly truthful performance full of comedy and drama and sex and love.


“Ash vs. Evil Dead” (Starz) / “iZombie” (CW): My kind of walking dead: In “Ash,” Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell revive their 20th century horror comedy film franchise as a series whose technical upgrades do not dilute the original’s shaggy, gory charm. Supernatural procedural “iZombie,” with undead Rose McIver incognito as a coroner’s assistant, finds the space between “Veronica Mars” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” and owns it.

“The Grinder” (Fox) / “Grandfathered” (Fox): A pair of solid sitcoms in which late-blooming leads, played by leading men of an earlier era (Rob Lowe, John Stamos, respectively), connect with family and grow a little. Family-friendly but not drippy or denatured.

“Better Call Saul” (AMC): Bob Odenkirk’s Saul Goodman and Jonathan Banks’ Mike Ehrmantraut being the characters that kept “Breaking Bad” watchable for me through its later seasons, I would naturally be inclined to like a series that, like this prequel, puts them at the center. Odenkirk’s performance as a good-hearted screw-up on his way down is shaded in ways the earlier series only suggested.

“Master of None” (Netflix) / “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” (Netflix): Tales of new New York and overcoming arrested development. In his first starring role, Aziz Ansari offers a mature take on generational immaturity; in Tina Fey and Robert Carlock’s “Kimmy Schmidt,” Ellie Kemper makes up for years lost in an underground bunker.

“Schitt’s Creek” (Pop): Canadian import re-teams “SCTV” and Christopher Guest stock company partners Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy (co-creating with son Dan), adds Chris Elliott and Emily Hampshire in a family-out-of-water comedy; the premise (rich people forced to live poor) is familiar but what follows follows its own kind of quirk.

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