The year 2014 in television had the split personality of Stephen Colbert.
It was a year of very serious news concerning celebrity battles with cancer, the deaths of several local and national icons and the sale of a legendary Buffalo TV station.
It also was a funny year in which Buffalo had a hand in the Syfy sequel “Sharknado 2,” Channel 7 premiered a morning program focused on alarming weather that started with a picture-perfect day, and CBS’ terrific “Sunday Morning” came to bury President Millard Fillmore. Again.
Let’s quickly go to the videotape:
Biggest News: After years being run into the ground by a hedge fund, Channel 7 was bought by E.W. Scripps Co., which immediately began investing in new equipment and personnel.
Tough News: Legendary Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly, legendary Buffalo Sabres commentator Rick Jeanneret and legendary Channel 4 anchor Jacquie Walker were diagnosed with cancer. Each dealt with it in a different way. “Kelly Tough” became a national expression as the quarterback was the most public about his battle. He did several moving local and national interviews before being declared cancer-free. Jeanneret and Walker tried to maintain their privacy as much as possible.
Quote of the Year: It was a remark that the Canadian-born Jeanneret made to his wife, Sandra, after he decided to be treated in the United States: “I feel like an American.”
Funniest Line of the Year: On the day that Channel 7 premiered its new weather-centric morning program, meteorologist Autumn Lewandowski told the audience: “We don’t have much to say for Western New York.” She might as well have added, “so you can change the channel.”
Funniest Political Ad: Republican Congressman Tom Reed was featured in a series of ads with his sister that gave the impression that his campaign slogan was “My Sister Loves Me.” So did enough voters to return him to Congress.
Egotist of the Year: Donald Trump toyed with the media, pretending he might run for governor. Then he came back to reality. Literally. His latest edition of his reality show, “Celebrity Apprentice,” premieres in a week.
Viral Video of the Year: A motorist recorded the racist rants of a Cheektowaga woman, which prompted Channel 2 to go overboard covering a story it claimed was “a teachable moment.” That’s usually the term the media uses to excuse going overboard.
Guest Critic: Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw, who probably owes his job to the visibility he had as a former Channel 7 and Channel 2 reporter, went to Facebook and declared local news a “complete waste of time.”
World Cup Fever: “I Believe We Will Win” became a local slogan. It didn’t have anything to do with the Bills or the Sabres. The slogan became popular as this area fell in love with the early success of the United States in the international soccer tournament.
Super Coverage: Channel 2 had a built-in advantage covering the death of Bills Owner Ralph C. Wilson Jr. in March because it had done a thorough, award-winning special on him while he as alive.
But all the stations did a super job explaining Wilson’s legacy and may have made WNYers appreciate him even more than they had while he was alive.
Classic TV: There was a rise in the digital channels available free over the air, with Get TV, GritTV and Cozi TV joining Antenna TV in playing classic shows.
Free-Agent Acquisition of the Year: Meteorologist Andy Parker bolted Channel 2 for Channel 7 and its new, weather-oriented morning program.
Presidential Humor: Mo Rocca of CBS’ “Sunday Morning” visited East Aurora to do a hysterical, historical piece on underappreciated President Fillmore, and also did an amusing chicken wing piece for the popular program.
Leno Drops His Guard: “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno turned uncharacteristically emotional in his final broadcast, calling it “the greatest 22 years of my life.”
The Interview: NBC’s Christin Cooper faced Twitter outrage after getting U.S. skier Bode Miller to cry about the death of his brother after he won a bronze medal at the Sochi Olympic Games.
Selfie of the Year: Ellen DeGeneres set a selfie record for hits when she hosted the Oscars, which took attention away from how disappointing her performance was.
Staying Out of the News: The local stations reported about a Time Warner Cable rate increase, conveniently leaving out that much of it was because the cable company has to pay more to carry the local stations.
Talkin’ Proud: The director of “Sharknado 2” slipped into town to shoot some footage for the film set in New York City under an assumed name, which is as funny as anything in the intentionally schlocky film.
The Deaths of Giants: Robin Williams, Don Pardo, James Garner, Sid Caesar and Joan Rivers all died, with the deaths of Williams and Rivers getting the most attention because of the tragic ways they died.
Classic Ending: After signing off his Comedy Central show last week in one of the best finales in years, Stephen Colbert has several months to prepare for taking over for David Letterman by being himself instead of his character.
Station of the Year: Channel 2’s news success continues, as Channel 4 seems to be experiencing many of the same things that Channel 7 experienced before it went from first to worst. Channel 2 even is getting close to Channel 4 at 10 and 11 p.m., where Channel 4 has dominated.
Fall of an Icon: Comic genius Bill Cosby has turned into a punch line after all the women who have come forward claiming to have been sexually assaulted by him.
No. 2 Tried Harder: New York Yankee Derek Jeter even won over Boston Red Sox fans in a final season of TV love that included an incredible Nike ad honoring No. 2.
Strangest Announcement: Channel 7 announced it had hired reporter-anchor Ed Drantch at the same time he was reporting on a Channel 4 newscast.
A Fallen “Idol”: Quick, name the winner of last season’s “American Idol.” I bet you can’t even name the runner-up, who has Western New York ties. Jena Irene Asciutto was the runner-up, Caleb Johnson the winner.
Sexiest Anchor Alive?: Channel 2 sports director Adam Benigni had the embarrassing honor of being nominated for the People magazine competition won by Mike Woods of the Fox station in New York City.
“Oliver! Oliver!”: John Oliver made a seamless transition from “The Daily Show” to his own HBO comedy show, with one of his funniest weekly essays focusing on the Buffalo Jills lawsuit.
Baby, She’s Gone: Channel 2’s popular morning reporter Mary Friona left the station a few months before she had a baby.
Say Goodbye: Proving TV news isn’t the most stable of professions, Diana Fairbanks, Rachel Kingston, Anthony Congi and Bryan Shaw all left Channel 4 and John Borsa, Tiffany Lundberg, Cole Heath and Allen Leight all left Channel 7. Fairbanks, Kingston and Leight left the business.
Second Chances: Anchor Laura Gray returned to Channel 7 and investigative reporter Steve Brown returned to the area at Channel 2.
Painfully Funny Threshold: After CNN’s Pamela Brown told Anderson Cooper that there is a different standard on threshold of Buffalo blizzards, Channel 4’s Don Paul corrected that bizarre idea. “Our instruments don’t have a different threshold. It’s our people.”
Buffalove: There was a lot of it during telecasts of Bills games, but none greater than the day Terry Pegula took over as the Bills owner on a Fox telecast in October.
Who Would Have Predicted: Channel 2 scored with a late-night Sunday psychic show featuring Karyn Reece.
Who Would Have Predicted, Part 2: The CW series “The Flash” and “Jane the Virgin” got some of the best buzz of the fall. “The Flash” is a WNY winner, but Jane isn’t getting any love here.
Something to Brag About: WBBZ’s John DiSciullo did an admirable job as the host of the local game show “Bragging Rights.”
Don’t Blame Russert Country: David Gregory was ousted as host of “Meet the Press” in favor of Chuck Todd, but you can’t blame Tim Russert country. The show did decently here during Gregory’s reign.
Gold Medal Promos: Channel 2’s promos for the Sochi Olympics featuring anchors in sports gear were award winning.
Best in Show: “The Sixties” on CNN, NBC’s “Parenthood,” the second half of Showtime’s “Homeland” season, Comedy Central’s “Colbert Report” and “The Daily Show,” NBC’s “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” WNED’s documentary on Frederick Law Olmsted, ABC’s “How to Get Away with Murder,” Fox’s “Gotham,” HBO’s “The Newsroom,” “Silicon Valley,” “Boardwalk Empire,” “True Detective” and “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,” “House of Cards” on Netflix, CBS’ Sunday Morning,“ ABC’s “Modern Family.”