Here’’s to the brightest stars of 2014 in TV

As the second half of the television season wraps up this month, here are some standouts who deserve to take a bow:

The Grim Reaper. Unexpected departures on “The Good Wife,” “The Walking Dead,” “Scandal” and “Game of Thrones” gave us a proper jolt and a reason to watch in real time so we could safely play on Twitter. Now if only the Angel of Death could do something about “Two and a Half Men.”

Noah Hawley. Where did this guy come from? Before this year, he was best known for contributing stories to “Bones” and creating TV shows nobody saw. All that changed when he created FX’s “Fargo,” a series that manages to channel the Coen brothers without stealing from them. Might have to find some time for reruns of “Bones.”

Julia Louis-Dreyfus. The actress retained her title as the funniest actress on the planet with another terrific season of HBO’s “Veep” and a promotional campaign that included comically erotic photo spreads in GQ and Rolling Stone. At 53 years old, she’s never been sexier or more sensational.

Jimmy Fallon. His monologue is the weakest on the air, and as an interviewer, he’s about as hard-edged as a reporter from Tiger Beat magazine. So why is he the king of late night? Because Fallon is killing it with kindness. In this snark-infused climate, what’s so wrong with that?

Leslie Moonves. Smart network executives save the drama for their programs. There’s no one smarter than the Godfather of CBS. It’s clear that Moonves was more than prepared for Dave Letterman’s retirement announcement, sliding Colbert into the hold position within a week. That eliminated a lot of jockeying and speculating that would have interfered with our full enjoyment of the last year with the most influential comedian of this generation.

Tatiana Maslany. You’ve heard about her amazing ability to play multiple characters on BBC America’s “Orphan Black,” seen her on the cover of Entertainment Weekly and been charmed by her appearances on late-night talkers. Now all you have to do is actually watch her show.

Chris Licht. Just when morning TV was starting to feel like artificial sweetener in your coffee, Licht was hired to executive produce “CBS This Morning” and give us the best reason in years to get out of bed. The former “Morning Joe” creator is proving that you don’t need concerts and cooking segments to make a compelling program.

Cary Fukunaga. It’s rare that one person will direct every episode of a series. It’s even rarer when he can make each hour feel like a big-budget movie. That’s exactly what Fukunaga pulled off with HBO’s “True Detective.” Matthew McConaughey may get the red-carpet treatment, but Fukunaga deserves a few “all right, all right, all rights” of his own.

Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer. Women may still be underrepresented on late-night TV, but they made considerable strides this past year in prime-time comedy. Leading the pack are these two Upright Citizens Brigade veterans who created Comedy Central’s “Broad City,” the Amy Poehler-produced sitcom in which two best friends take the slacker life to a whole new level.

More in Life

Hear new songs from Josh Clauson at Saturday release party

The producer of the Summer Meltdown music festival and Flowmotion band leader has a solo album out.

Get schooled on Texas BBQ at this Monroe restaurant in a bus

Brisket, pulled pork, sausage, chicken and the fixin’s all await you near the Reptile Zoo on U.S. 2.

Spy comedy ’Kingsman: The Golden Circle’ is laugh-out-loud funny

It’s a superficial but energetic sequel to the 2014 film about a clandestine British secret service.

39th annual Arts of the Terrace attracts regional artists

The Mountlake Terrace juried show features paintings, drawings, photography, miniatures and more.

Ben Stiller was born to play title character in ‘Brad’s Status’

Writer-director Mike White’s script has plenty of Brad’s voiceover, so this movie feels like a novel.

See both versions of ‘The Odd Couple’ on Historic Everett stage

The Outcast Players perform Neil Simon’s classic comedy with alternating male and female casts.

The ‘Whimsical Woman’ shares what she learns on the trail

Jennifer Mabus came here from Nevada and Hawaii. She leads hikes and blogs about them.

‘Friend Request’ a horror flick about the dangers of Facebook

Though it’s a little behind the times, Simon Verhoeven’s film about social media is effectively done.

Branch out: ‘Tasting Cider’ recipes call for hard apple cider

Top cider makers share how they like to make hush puppies, bread pudding and the pear-fect cocktail.

Most Read