At the end of every great TV series—The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, The Wire, 30 Rock—somebody usually jumps to declare the Golden Age of Television at an end, and somehow that prediction never manages to be right.
There's a ton of great TV around these days, from off-kilter comedies like Brooklyn Nine-Nine to unexpected dramas like Masters of Sex. More so than ever in the history of TV, the onus is on creators to be surprising, to be impressive and, most of all, to hold our attention.
A lot of this is a direct result of the stuff that (very reasonably) terrifies the people who run TV: the advent of streaming video on demand, the wars of attrition with cable providers, the mass exodus of young people to YouTube and gaming. All that stuff means that it's imperative for television content to be compelling enough to drag a potential viewer back from the new Uncharted game, or to motivate the writing of an angry letter when cable drops his or her favorite network.
And that means that this was a hard list to write, because so much new TV in 2014 was so good.