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Decider Lists

The 14 Best Things I Watched At Work In 2014

2014…what a year, amirite? During each of the final 14 days of the year, the Decider staff will be counting down our favorite and most memorable moments of 2014. If you happen to miss an installment along the way, don’t fret! You can follow all the action on our official Best 14 Of ’14 hub page.

As we noted awhile back, streaming at work is a different beast than streaming at home. Still, it can be hard to resist, and hey—if you can listen to music at work, why not stream the shows and movies (and other videos) you want? EXACTLY. So here we go, the best 14 things I watched at work, on my computer, in a window in the corner of my monitor, in 2014.

1

Too Many Cooks

toomany_14
Adult Swim

Adult Swim’s masterful and dark take on 80s sitcom themes uses those seemingly family-friendly foundations as a springboard into a menacing world in which a greasy serial killer lurks behind every couch and around every bannister. In fact, it’s quite Lynch-ian. David Lynch masterpieces Blue Velvet and Twin Peaks were known for exposing the sordid underbelly of wholesome, All-American society. Too Many Cooks does the same, swapping out Lynch’s 50s-focussed imagery and instead using 80s sitcoms themes as its cultural safe place. I’ve only watched Too Many Cooks twice, and I may never watch it again, but as a work of art, I already know it will stay with me for a long time. [Watch Too Many Cooks on YouTube]

2

Music Vault

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Music Vault

Music Vault is a fully licensed library of video (and audio) performances spanning decades of rock, soul, jazz, and more, all legitimately acquired and then painstakingly remastered. The resulting collection is deep and mind-blowing: Talking Heads in 1980, for example, or Sex Pistols in ’77. How about some early 70’s Miles Davis, or late 70’s Tom Petty? There’s also less obvious gems like a 1986 Joan Armatrading show.  The best part? It’s all FREE on YouTube. For years Music Vault was subscription-based, but the reach of YouTube proved too difficult to resist. My personal favorite of the year? The Grateful Dead’s New Year’s Eve 1990/91 version of “Eyes Of The World,” pro-shot and glorious. [Watch the Music Vault channel on YouTube]

3

The Americans

theamericans_14
FX

Spoiler alert: I watched The Americans, my favorite show of the past few years, both at home AND at work. In fact, the work screenings were second (and third viewings). And why not? The Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys-starring tale of Soviet agents embedded in 1980s American society rewards repeat viewings, revealing the multilayered espionage at play, not to mention the tug-of-war of loyalties deep within Rhys’s often torn Philip Jennings. [Where to stream The Americans]

4

Transparent

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Photo: Amazon

No show or movie I watched at my desk this year resulted in a more broad spectrum of emotional facial expressions (on me, I mean) than Amazon’s masterful Transparent. A beautiful show. [Where To Stream Transparent]

5

Pink Floyd, "Louder Than Words"

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Pink Floyd

Twenty years after what was thought to be their final album (The Division Bell), the remaining members of Pink Floyd released The Endless River, a mostly instrumental, essentially ambient collection of music recorded in 1993 and 1994 (with some touchups in 2014), ostensibly as a tribute to keyboardist Richard Wright, who died in 2008. The resulting song cycle is lush and gorgeous, as well as melancholy and hopeful all at once. As a longtime Pink Floyd fan, the album was everything I wanted in a final statement from the band. The video, by Po Powell, features the typically fantastic visuals we’ve come to expect from Pink Floyd (and check out more essential streaming Pink Floyd here). [Watch “Louder Than Words” on YouTube]

6

History Of The Eagles

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History Of The Eagles

Looking back on their career, Glenn Frey is wistful, Don Henley is cocky, and Joe Walsh can barely talk. Here’s the biggest band of the 70s, reflecting on their mammoth, insane career forty years on. Also, I love that, as unknowns, they lived in the same building as Jackson Browne. Great, ridiculous fun. [Where to stream History Of The Eagles]

7

Skyfall

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Photo: Columbia Pictures, Courtesy: Everett Collection

Few things are more pleasurable to have on in the background than a good James Bond film. The first viewing is gorgeous and intense. The second? You can concentrate on other tasks (like, say, work) and look over during the particularly eye-catching sequences (which are many, admittedly). [Where to stream Skyfall]

8

A Bit Of Fry and Laurie

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A Bit Of Fry and Laurie

Americans know Hugh Laurie best as Dr. House, but really, his most gleaming talents lay in off-kilter yet engaging comedy, particularly when paired with his Cambridge college chum Stephen Fry. Watch the early 90s series of A Bit Of Fry and Laurie and laugh. Lustily and often. [Where to watch A Bit Of Fry and Laurie]

9

Mad Men (Season 7)

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Everett Collection

Mad Men’s engrossing seventh and final season began in March of this year… and still hasn’t ended. AMC or the show producers, or someone, decided to split the final season into two mini-seasons, with a year-long break in between the two. Boo. BOO. What a revolting trend. [Where to stream Mad Men]

10

Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talking About Him?)

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Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talking About Him?)

He had the best voice of his generation, and then destroyed that voice by partying years away with John Lennon. That may be an overstatement (even his weathered, Pussy Cats-era voice is memorable), but Harry Nilsson’s career arc is still tinged with sadness. That said, the wondrous joy of songs like “Cuddly Toy” is what should be remembered. A fairly straightforward doc of an unparalleled artist. [Where to stream Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talking About Him?]

11

The Leftovers

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HBO

Like everyone else, I hated The Leftovers at first. And like most of the people that stuck around til episode 3, I started to begrudgingly admire it… even like it. And then, it got even better. I’m not sure I could ever LOVE a show that’s a such an unrelenting downer, but I’m SERIOUSLY addicted. And speaking of addiction, who would’ve thought cigarettes would make such a high profile return to the zeitgeist. [Where to stream The Leftovers]

12

Peppa Pig

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My nearly-two year-old son loves Peppa Pig. His mother loves Peppa Pig. And I love Peppa Pig. Why? It’s sweet, easy-going, and quite witty—witty enough, in fact, that grown-ups seem to be as enthusiastic about the show as their offspring are. Anecdotal, unscientifically gathered evidence I’ve gathered reveals that just about every parent that’s seen Peppa Pig agrees. [Where to stream Peppa Pig]

13

Jane The Virgin

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Breaking: I watched the CW this year! All because of the hype surrounding a telenovela-inspired show about a thoroughly likable, delightful woman who becomes pregnant. I suppose I should also add that the titular Jane is also a virgin, and her pregnancy is very much a surprise to her. Crazy? Kind of. Quite good? Indeed. [Where to stream Jane The Virgin]

14

House Of Cards

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Netflix

No way Frank and Claire Underwood—the most gripping couple anywhere—don’t make this list. [Where to stream House Of Cards]