Yuletide Greetings: A TV Critic’s 25 Days of Christmas (2014)


As 2014 comes to a close and Christmas is nigh, it is time to share what this year’s 25 Days of Christmas brought for this intrepid television critic. Was it brightly wrapped packages in form of spectacular television shows and characters that dazzle and delight all year through? Or was there little bits of coal thrown amongst the treasured television landscape attempting to dampen the holiday of cheer? Looking back, it was a lively menagerie of both. Here are a few of the things that brought joy and a few that brought tears as the season counted down.

(Editor’s note: beware of spoilers. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!)

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me a day like no other: Cyber Monday. Alas, for television critics across the land, this is not a day for observance, but rather a day to forgo. Instead, time was well-spent celebrating the joy of OUTLANDER winning two TV Guide Fan Favorite Awards for Best Drama and Best Duo of 2014. Hip, hip, hooray for co-stars Caitrion Balfe and Sam Heughan. It was also a day for fun speculation as notorious sci-fi tricker William Shatner tossed out a tease of a potential HAVEN and ONCE UPON A DAY crossover, since both are fictitiously set in the wintery wonderland of Maine.

On the second day of Christmas, it was a day to delve deep into the mysteries of modern mid-east with a trip to visit the hallowed halls of USA Network’s new political thriller series DIG, which appropriately invites everyone to #DigDeeper. The only trick will be persuading all those HARRY POTTER fans that Draco Malfoy’s dad is the good guy this time. It was also a day to play in the intertwined comic worlds of THE FLASH and ARROW for the first night of their epic cross-over event — for what could be better than one superhero? How about two?!

On the third day of Christmas, it gave greedy fans a second night of epic-crossover as ARROW picked up where THE FLASH left off the night before. It also delivered a bit of a head-scratcher as THE 100 returned from its mini-Thanksgiving hiatus, where it had dared to take the show’s most valiant pacifist and turned him into a mass-murderer and then seemed to pardon him for such a gross oversight as if it were a mere incidental mistake. That was a bit of a head-scratcher. Then in the breaking news, it was great to see Steven Weber would be gracing our television screens in no less than 4 shows in 2015: CHASING LIFE, HELIX, IZOMBIE and SLEEPY HOLLOW. Talk about an early Christmas gift!

On the fourth day of Christmas, the formerly cheery and romantic series REIGN took a walk on the dark side and sparked fan outrage by subjecting its female lead to sexual assault. Talk about a downer. It is no wonder the show is shedding its formerly devoted and dedicated fanbase in droves. Given the outrage, it unfortunately overshadowed the news of TNT’s renewal of LEGENDS. But hey, TNT at least lived up to their promise to not kill Sean Bean. Points for that.

On the fifth day of Christmas, Syfy’s HAVEN delivered a whopper of a mid-season finale: it vamoosed the heinous Mara and unleashed poor Duke’s Troubles on everyone. Do we really have to wait ’til Fall 2015 for the rest of Season 5? Let’s hope not!

On the sixth day of Christmas, a holiday crisis was averted when it was announced that CBS and DISH Network had come to a new carriage transmission agreement and narrowly avoided a service black-out. After all, what would 2015 have been without THE GOOD WIFE, THE MENTALIST, MADAM SECRETARY, PERSON OF INTEREST or ELEMENTARY? Criminal, for sure. So that was good tidings, indeed.

On the seventh day of Christmas, it was a Hallmark double-header as it delivered its new holiday films “Christmas at Cartwrights” and “The Christmas Secret” — for who can resist the beaming smiles and charms of Alicia Witt and John Reardon?! Both warm the heart. Plus, it does a girl good to find out that BBC America’s THE MUSKETEERS returns for Season 2 on January 17th.

On the eighth day of Christmas, it was a curious day as it was calmly announced that television advertising had dropped 20% in Fall 2014 — as advertisers began their visible move to digital/online venues. Guess those cord-cutters are really starting to make a dent in traditional television profitability. In the good news, Canadian and U.S. fans were elated to hear that CONTINUUM would be back for Season 4 — proving yet again that all those tweets can make a difference.

On the ninth day of Christmas, ABC Family’s CHASING LIFE returned with a cheerful holiday episode — but then left fans hanging over the final fate of Leo. In a double-whammy, FX was not any kinder to their fans as SONS OF ANARCHY aired its final scene and delivered Jax Teller up in a deadly fireball, as perhaps only fitting for a true SAMCRO hero. Then as if television fans were not flummoxed enough, then THE FLASH tipped its hat and offered up Dr. Wells as the Reverse Flash — or did it?

On the tenth day of Christmas, a bright light shone across the TV land upon the news that Tatiana Maslany was nominated for a Screen Actor’s Guild Award. About. Frakking. Time. However, dimming the television lights a bit was that final scene in ARROW, where it seemingly killed off the show’s hero Oliver Queen, as he plunged over a cliff to his icy death. Fortunately, in better news, Adult Swim announced renewal of its comedy series BLACK JESUS for a second season — and more Andra Fuller on our screens next year is always a good thing.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, the North Star seemed to shine even brighter after JANE THE VIRGIN received two Golden Globe nominations. Someone surely loves the spunky little show — because it is the one that is universally lauded show by all television critics — and that is what we call a Christmas Miracle.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, GRIMM blew fans’ minds by revealing Juliette’s transformation into a Hexenbiest. Yeah, mull on that for a bit. Boggles the mind.

On the thirteenth day of Christmas, NBC delivered a special Christmas present to THE NIGHT SHIFT fans by announcing the show would return early for its second season on February 23rd. It was also a fun day with the double-dose of holiday cheer with Lifetime’s “The Santa Con” starring Barry Watson and Melissa Joan Hart, and Hallmark Channel’s “The Christmas Parade” starry AnnaLynne McCord and Jefferson Brown. Both were unexpectedly wonderful.

On the fourteenth day of Christmas, it was a day of cookies, presents and wrapping, while television took the night off. Okay, not really, but it is nice to pretend that it does sometimes.

On the fifteenth day of Christmas, the Syfy mini-series ASCENSION debuted and every sci-fi fan was left wondering: is it really science fiction if the ship is still on Earth and people only think they are in space?

On the sixteenth day of Christmas, CNBC’s docu-drama series THE PROFIT revisited prior business deals made by billionaire Marcus Lemonis on the show to see what happened next, demonstrating that hindsight does not always trump good business sense. The man just has a nose for profit. Then Syfy’s ASCENSION continued to confound viewers as it took them from a fake space ship right into the Twilight Zone.

On the seventeenth day of Christmas, Syfy’s ASCENSION concluded its 3-night mini-series and viewers are still not sure what they saw. Did a young child actually beam a man across the universe? If so, how on Earth could three generations of genetic programming have possibly achieved that? And now that the show has ended, we will never know. Also taking fans to the edge and then pushing them over was the CW series THE 100. Its “Spacewalker” episode only served to endear its ill-fated hero Finn, making make us hurt all the more once his lifeblood spilled from his body. So answer me this: what did we do to deserve that lump of coal?!

On the eighteenth day of Christmas, it was a day to hide under the covers. How dare THE 100 kill off such a beloved character? But not everything stops just because one character disappears from a television show. For it was also the night that WHITE COLLAR wrapped its series and left fans with one delicious parting gift — the hunt is on!

On the nineteenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me a day off — and days off are nothing to be sneezed at. It was a welcome break.

On the twentieth day of Christmas, a cool blast from the (recent) past came in the form of Syfy’s “Icetastrophe,” which reunited CONTINUUM co-stars Victor Webster, Richard Harmon, and Jennifer Spence. Betting that casting director had a twinkle in their eye over that fun in-joke for sci-fi fans — but it was a fun one. In other fun news, GRIMM co-stars Bitsie Tulloch and David Giuntoli revealed that they were dating, which explains all the hot chemistry on screen. Another win for casting directors!

On the twenty-first day of Christmas, Hallmark Channel delivered a marathon of holiday goodness with “The Christmas Parade,” “Christmas at Cartwrights,” “Mr. Miracle,” “The Christmas Ornament” and “A Royal Christmas.” It was a day filled with holiday cheer, romance and happy endings. What more could a holiday-and-romance addict want? Pure bliss.

On the twenty-second day of Christmas, TNT’s MAJOR CRIMES gave the gift of a Santa flash mob — during a bank robbery, no less. Impressive and fun.

On the twenty-third day of Christmas, the ghost of TV past shared happy tidings and reminded that was still just enough time to binge-watch a show or two before Christmas. Dare anyone guess which was the lucky show?

On the twenty-fourth day of Christmas, all the mice were sleeping when a Christmas angel visited with a good blessings for the upcoming new year.

On the twenty-fifth day of Christmas, well, we are not quite there yet, but here’s to hoping it offer a fun array of television delight — and fingers crossed that DOCTOR WHO does not break our hearts once again.

That’s a wrap on this special edition of a TV critic’s 25 Day of Christmas. ‘Til next year . . .

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