Most people watch TV and a lot of people follow television shows, so this one seems like a no-brainer. However! As I was thinking about the category, I realized that my favorite, Doctor Who, might not be the best by my own standards. I feel like any work nominated has to stand on its own, or at least mostly on its own. In the sense that a reader or watcher shouldn't have to have seen/read every work that came before in order to make sense of what is happening in the nominated work. I applied that to my judging of the graphic novel category, I have to apply it here. The work has to make sense on its own... because otherwise the nomination is effectively nominating the entire series up to the point of the nominated work, and the whole series does not fit the category (less than 90 minutes long). So I decided I had to rewatch the Doctor Who episode, but first I'd find and watch all the other nominations.
- Orphan Black: "By Means Which Have Never Yet Been Tried"
I decided to go into this one completely cold. I know nothing at all about the show except there are clones involved. The cast of characters seems to be infinite, but I gather the main character is Sarah. It was far too confusing to really get into, with all the strange characters, but it definitely had style. I suppose it would mean a lot more if I knew more about the series, but as a stand alone... well, it doesn't. I followed the plot of the episode well enough, which was about rescuing people from a sinister corporation, but without a slightly better understanding of the characters, it did nothing for me.
- Grimm: "Once We Were Gods"
Another one I went into completely cold. All I know about the show is that it has something to do with the Brothers Grimm. While I didn't know the characters, they were introduced carefully enough for me to catch on quickly. There was a subplot about a character who saw something incredibly strange and was dealing with the consequences, and the main plot had to do with non-human mummies. I learned quite a bit about the show from this episode, which was also a solid tale about respect for other cultures. It was able to stand alone, which I wasn't expecting, and it was good. Worth a Hugo? Maybe.
- Game of Thrones: "The Mountain and the Viper"
The only reason I had any idea what was happening in this episode was because I've read the books. Orphan Black was difficult to understand: this also didn't make a whole lot of sense at all, jumping from plotline to plotline. I didn't recognize some of the plots, but I think I caught most of them... even so, it wasn't really my style. The acting was great and the settings impressive. The designs were lovely. As a single episode of an ongoing series, it's fine I'm sure. As the best dramatic presentation of 2014? I'm just not sure.
- The Flash: "Pilot"
This one I'm very familiar with, having watched this series and Arrow from the beginning. I rewatched this episode and spotted a lot of things I didn't notice the first time, including Grodd's cage and hints of Professor Wells true nature even before the final scene. There's a lot to absorb, but because this is the first episode and origin story, it's easy to get into. The series may be the best superhero television show ever made, and it started here. It's an excellent episode.
- Doctor Who: "Listen"
I rewatched this with an eye towards viewing it with only the most basic facts about the show. I didn't expect it to hold together too well, but actually there are a lot of hints and context given that I believe make it work. It's a stand-alone story that's also part of a larger arc. It's also got some incredibly quotable bits, like the "are you scared?" speech. How can I not give this the highest ranking? I really enjoyed it, and I would be lying if I claimed I didn't think it was the best of the year out of the five nominees.