10 Amazing Single Seasons Of Television
This was a challenging list to create. Along the way, I realized (full disclosure) there are a lot of amazing shows I’ve never seen. In a way, writing this article put the spotlight on shows like The Wire & The Sopranos. Two series I have yet to experience for one reason or another.
There are also shows missing from this list I wanted to include (Walking Dead) that are among my favorites of all time. However, this list is all about single seasons of television, not the series themselves. I also limited this list to hour long dramas. If I included sitcoms I would have never finished. (At least 6 seasons of Seinfeld would have made the list!)
So with all that in mind here are 10 of my favorite single seasons of television:
Daredevil Season 1
Netlfix his home to several incredible television series. The company has slowly become a major player earning Emmy nominations (and wins) as well as pioneering a completely new way to consume television. Binge Watching.
What do you get when you combine the rising power of Netflix with the king of cinematic universes, Marvel Studios?
Opening up an entirely new corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Daredevil ushered in street level heroes and villains. Daredevil’s debut season introduced us to Matt Murdock and equally fascinating Wilson Fisk.
Featuring silver screen level fight sequences and memorable character moments, the first season set the bar pretty high for future seasons. Having said that, Daredevil vs Punisher sounds like a pretty good follow up to me.
Mad Men Season 1
If I’m being honest, Mad Men never struck me as a show I would like. I’m happy to admit I was wrong. I was absolutely blown away by how interesting the world of Mad Men was. Every time Don Draper was in a room pitching a new campaign, I was inspired by the skill in which he inspired his clients and coworkers.
The writers behind this show constantly found ways to surprise in a show that should have felt ‘slow’. Instead viewers were treated to one of the finest seasons of character development ever created. Creating a classic character like Don Draper is difficult enough but surrounding him with equally compelling supporting characters? Amazing.
Heroes Season 1
I love comic book movies and the entire ‘people with powers’ genre as a whole. Heroes was easily one of my most anticipated television shows of all time. I couldn’t wait to watch every week. The show was stylized, modern and delved into fascinating themes and creative uses of ‘powers.’ Sylver vs Peter was a particularly thrilling plot thread to follow.
When it all wrapped up, I had extremely high hopes for season 2 and beyond. Subsequent seasons may have failed to live up to expectations but I still loved that first run. Save the cheerleader, save the world.
(And yes, I’m looking forward to the series’ revival in 2015!)
True Detective Season 1
True Detective is an anomoly. A show that delivers stand alone seasons will always face an uphill battle when the first season delivers incredible drama. Woody Harrelson and Matthew Mcconaughey are brilliant in this slow burning show that spans decades.
These two vastly different detectives converse like no characters I’ve ever seen and their prey? They Yellow King was a terrifying villain whose very presence nearly destroyed these two men.
True Detective Season 1 will always be a disappointment because the stellar cast will never return. This was our first and only glimpse of Cohle and Hart in action and what a season it was.
SEASON HIGHLIGHT? This:
Game Of Thrones Season 3
Each season of Game of Thrones contains awe inspiring twists and unpredictable character deaths. Each season of Game of Thrones contains new locations and memorable characters. Each season of Game of Thrones is amazing.
So how do you pick a single season? Especially since the series is still enjoying the peak of it’s popularity?
I came to my decision because of four words: The Rains of Castamere. When the haunting credits rolled, I was absolutely stunned at what transpired. The entire series was flipped upsidedown and the internet broke thanks to the infamous Red Wedding. What makes this a memorable season is how skillfully the pieces were carefully moved into place for this one pivotal moment.
So for this entry, my clip of choice isn’t a trailer or an unforgettable moment. Instead enjoy this compilation of reactions from die hard fans. You can actually pinpoint the second each and every one of their hearts rips in half.
Breaking Bad Season 5
I got into Breaking Bad extremely late. I started absolutely crushing episodes on Netflix when season 5 ‘Part 1’ ended. Needless to say it didn’t take long to catch up. Each and every season of Breaking Bad got better and better. Normally a television show suffers the opposite tragectory.
Walter White’s journey became more and more fascinating as his power rose and his personal life fell apart. Breaking Bad’s final season took on the impossible task of wrapping up an immensely popular series in an effective way.
In my opinion, the way creator Vince Gilligan tied up every story thread was nothing short of brilliant. Highlighted by my favorite episode of the entire series ‘Ozymandias’, the show truly became a classic in my eyes.
I can’t wait until time permits and I can watch Walter’s journey unfold from the beginning all over again.
CLOSE CALL | Season 2 | This season was structured brilliantly with mysterious cold opens that continually added intrigue from ‘Seven Thirty-Seven’ to ‘ABQ’.
Note: The clip may be from season 4 but I couldn’t resist. The entire series was amazing!
House Of Cards Season 2
Normally, the events that take place in the season 2 premiere episode would be saved for a finale. House of Cards broke all the rules when Frank and Zoe faced off in the subway tunnel.
I discovered this show a few months after season 2 began. Thanks to the glowing recommendations of several close friends, I waited to start both seasons until my daughter was born.
House of Cards season 1 & 2 proved incredibly useful during late night feedings, dishes, laundry & other infant related duties. I highly enjoyed season 1 but Frank’s back and forth strategic battle with Raymond Tusk was impossible to resist. Phenomenal season of television that began with an unforgettable moment and never let up.
Lost Season 3
If you could divide Lost fans into two categories it would be fans who felt like enough answers were provided and fans that didn’t. Personally, I was okay with certain mysteries remaining… Mysteries. I don’t need to know why the statue had four toes.
I believe what fans enjoyed most was speculating on and debating the show’s most intriguing elements of it’s mythology. (Cracked attempted to answer the big questions here.)
I believe these questions were left open so the debate could continue. I’m not saying that’s the smartest decision they could have made. People were heavily invested in this show. It was the very definition of a phenomenon and left a gaping hole in the television landscape that remains unfilled to this day. Networks are still searching for the next Lost.
I chose to include season 3 in this list because it completely flipped the shows mythology upside down. For 2 seasons we wondered what the island was and how the castaways would get off. Nobody could have predicted a desperate need to go back!
Changing the flashback formula on which this show is based was risky but it completely paid off. It strengthened the characters we loved and truly solidified Lost as a true classic. It also gave us one of the show’s most emotional deaths… Also it’s not Penny’s boat.
* Don’t click play if you wish to avoid spoiling awesome moments in kick ass television programs.
Dexter Season 4
If it wasn’t for Game of Thrones’ heartbreaking Red Wedding sequence, the finale of Dexter season 4 would reign supreme. If you truly invested in this show there was no way to avoid the shock of Trinity’s last laugh.
At that point, each season of Dexter was relatively self contained. Each season presented a compelling villain and a new aspect of Dexter psychology to explore. In season 4 the writers constructed a new story structure that led us to a cliffhanger that changed everything.
Not too mention the fact that John Lithgow’s Trinity Killer is one of the most disturbing villains in television history. His journey is just as (if not more) fascinating than Dexter’s quest to balance family and his ‘Dark Passenger’.
It was a moment I’ll never forget.
UNDERRATED MOMENT | “Hello Dexter Morgan”
Prison Break Season 1
Prison Break season 1 blew my mind thanks to the sheer detail in the planning of each episode. At the center of it all, a story about two brothers and the impossible odds they face.
I remember my Prison Break experience well. I got to see the first few episodes and then I lost track of the show because I moved to a new city and didn’t hook up my cable right away. (There were zero streaming options back then.)
Months later, I woke up and made my way to Wal Mart to buy the box set the DAY it was released. I had to know how it ended!
It took three days to power through all 22 glorious episodes. A few weeks later, my sister came to visit for a week and I watched every episode AGAIN. I’ve seen it a few more times since then and each time, I’m amazed at the suspense they generate in each scene, commercial break & episode ending cliffhanger.
Now… The show collapsed under the weight of it’s own premise when season two premiered but season one remains one of my favorite television experiences. Ever.