Ok, so we’ve done movies, but we haven’t covered TV yet. What were your top shows this year?
Here’s my list.
Inside No. 9 - I’ve probably bored everyone enough with talking about this series, but for my money it’s one of the smartest, most inventive and well-put together shows in many years. You never know what’s coming next, which is a great feeling.
Better Call Saul - This season took things slowly but it all paid off in spades from the middle of the season onwards. So few shows explore their characters in this much depth, and the performances are strong enough to make even the simplest conversations electrifying.
The Handmaid’s Tale - A difficult show to watch and not necessarily something to ‘enjoy’, but this was a powerful and well-acted series that did justice to its source material. I’m not sure how far they can take things in future seasons, but this season stands alone as a complete story well enough.
Blue Planet II - Beautifully photographed, educational and hugely entertaining, this was a pleasure to watch. I found some of the animal behaviour on show here as gripping as any drama.
Doctor Who - It was always going to appear on my list, but this year was an especially good season: Bill proved to be a great new companion, there were lots of great one-off stories as well as a decent through-line with Missy, and everything built up to a dramatic finale that will ultimately conclude at Christmas. Capaldi’s final year was also his best.
The League of Gentlemen - A late entry, but these Christmas specials demonstrate that the magic of this show hasn’t gone away. In fact, it may be the most enjoyable series yet, which isn’t something you can often say about these revivals.
The Trip To Spain - Yes, it’s more of the same, but when the formula is this enjoyable I’m not going to complain about that. I could watch Coogan and Brydon chatting all day.
Game of Thrones - This season was more uneven than most, but it also delivered some of the most powerful moments in the show so far. At the time, there was a lot of nit-picking over timelines and implausibilities, but I’ve found that I’ve largely forgotten that stuff while still remembering the good bits.
Curb Your Enthusiasm - What a comeback. Another comedy revival that didn’t succumb to the law of diminishing returns. While some episodes were stronger than others, overall it was a great season that made me laugh a lot.
Red Dwarf XII - This is one where sentimental value sways me a little bit too much. It’s not the same show as it was in its glory days, but I’ll never be unhappy to see new Red Dwarf, and there were some cracking episodes here (alongside a couple of misfires).
Incidentally, I fully expect Black Mirror’s new season to force its way onto this list as a very late entry when it arrives on 29th December.
Honorable mentions include Star Trek Discovery (which is quite uneven but got better as it went along), American Gods (which worked better in some places than others, but was a bit too slow overall), Motherland (a very funny new sitcom with well-observed humour about being a parent of young children, but which got a bit repetitive by the end), Catastrophe (not as great as it once was but still good) and Back (a good start for a fun new sitcom that is a bit hit-and-miss with its jokes but benefits from some good performances).
I also watched Broadchurch and Taboo this year but they haven’t lived very long in the memory.
Oh, and I’m way behind on Stranger Things, Legion, Mr Robotand Preacher - I haven’t even finished the first season of each yet - so I’ll probably catch up with them next year.
1 Twin Peaks
4 Feud: Bette and Joan
5 The Americans
6 Rick and Morty
7 Bojack Horseman
8 Game of Thrones
10 The Gifted
As I think some more, the list may change but the top three are set in stone.
She’s Gotta Have it.
Comrade Detective (not as a comedy, but as a procedural, it’s well done)
Probably some more I’m not thinking of right now, but those for sure.
NBA basketball- As has been the case since the mid-1980s it’s the most dramatic, funniest, most exciting thing on TV with more artistry than anything else too. Now it has fully spilled over into the best thing on social media. 10/10
The Superbowl- My favorite won the most dramatic Superbowl ever and it’s #2? That speaks to how strong the National Basketball Association is. Still, 10/10
Tim and Eric’s Awesome Show Great Job- The best non-sports show of the last decade didn’t have new episodes on the air but I saw them live and played a new episode for a crowd of hundreds of fans and it was awesome. Great job! 10/10
Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later- This was a step down for the franchise but it’s still a pretty good franchise. 7/10
I don’t think I saw any other TV this year.
My number one for this year is easy:
Leftovers - The series concluded so well, and has solidified itself amongst one of my favorite shows of all time
Stranger Things - It was such a fun season and once it was over, I was at a complete loss for what to watch next since it had such a different feel from any other show.
Futureman - This is what ended up following up Stranger Things for me, and I thought it was the stupidest thing I could ever watch at first. But with a baby in my arms I just let it roll and it just kept getting better to the point where I was totally captivated by it.
Legion - what a refreshing superhero series. I enjoyed this immensely as it was so incredibly different from any other super hero tv, which was all getting very stale to me. I hope future Marvel and DC shows take risky directions like this and change things up.
It definitely doesn’t do anything to dissuade that opinion. The first few episodes have some absolute groaners. But the characters and premise really do branch out. What a rush.
Without ranking things:
Honorable mentions - The Gifted (pleasant surprise), Runaways (a bit slow, but well done), Taboo (Tom Hardy is crazy), Rick & Morty (always fun)
It was a pretty good year for TV.
Inside No.9 and League of Gentlemen. These guys are geniuses. There focus on plot and characters is always great, without sacrificing laughs, always subverting expectations and trying to reinvent their creations. 3 episodes of LoG is not enough though, after last nights it just seems like they’re getting started. Bring on No.9 series 4 in Jan.
Great year for TV. Like the film thread, I don’t watch everything so I’m only commenting on what I did watch.
NBA - as Robert says, it’s the most dramatic thing on TV and this year has been gangbusters for intrigue, drama and seeing teams and individuals do what they can to get an edge.
Happy - I’ve only seen two episodes, but if they’re the tone for the series then this is one of the greatest shows of or time. The lead actor just throws himself into the role and he carries the series effortlessly. I love this show and look forward to more people discovering it.
Black Sails - a satisfying ending to the series. They always managed to ramp up the action, and Toby Stephens should be lauded for his acting. I’ll miss this show.
Preacher - this season got some real AMC problems with it. Entire episodes would pass and it felt like nothing happened. Cassiday was a non factor this season, after being the star last season. It’s weird writing, and it feels like it’s going to Walking Dead itself into a dragged out boring TV show. However, Herr Starr was amazing. Just incredible, and any time he was on screen this show was electric.
Better Call Saul - I think in future years we’ll debate if this show is the equal of Breaking bad or not. It’s different, the stakes aren’t the same, but it still feels the same when you’re watching. I do hope the trouble ramps up next season as this one felt like it didn’t quite pay off.
Game of Thrones - I watched the whole thing again over the summer. Lord seasons 2 & 3 were great. This season was better than the most reason seasons, and had some really great moments. It feels weird that the story is almost over, like they’re rushing after taking years to set the stage.
Stranger Things - really made successful by the cast. I think the shorter seasons help it alot as you don’t get these tired boring episodes. Ultimately I hope they’re going somewhere cool with the series, but I do find myself hoping things are a bit different for season 3.
Vice Principles - sometimes it would get too stupid, and the way the cast behave and interact is ridiculous at times. That said, Walter Goggins is so fantastic in this that you end up forgiving alot of the dopiness. I’m really sad we won’t get more Goggins in this role.
Curb your Enthusiasm - Pretty, pretty, pretty good. In some ways it’s just the same jokes being told again and again, but when the act is so well crafted you don’t mind that much. Leon, as ever, is the real star of the show. Used just enough to make him amazing without getting overexposed with him. LD really understands how to frame a show.
Vikings - just not as good as previous seasons. Moving to the sons has been tricky and their acting hasn’t been the best. Herst I think has fallen for the political soap opera storytelling crutch that he had avoided for much of this series. There’s less focus on this weird Viking society and instead it’s all schemes to overthrow one or the other.
I’m still working through Master of None, Narcos and Punisher. American God I found to be gorgeous but it dragged too much. Defenders was garbage. Catastrophe is treading water and lost a few steps. The Crown was a bit yawny really, I thought it’d have more to say on the Queen but it didn’t have the teeth I thought it should. Still to watch Handmaindens Tale, Leftovers, Legion, Expanse, and a bunch of other stuff.
Wow I forgot they were making a Preacher show. I guess it’s good?
And Happy is in my DVR somewhere but I thought it was one of Grant’s D-level concepts?
- Rick and Morty
- Game of Thrones
- It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia
- Stranger Things
- Twin Peaks
- The Mick
- Silicon Valley
- South Park
I didn’t like the comic at all. The TV show elevates the comic to a whole other level. It’s successful despite the Morrisonisms in the comic.
Preacher TV show is great. Again, very different from the comic but it elevates the material as a result. These are pretty loose adaptations, and I think that’s a huge strength as we move into the Vertigo phase of superhero media.
It didn’t do very well but I really liked it. It’s a lot fresher and simpler than the usual Morrison concept (which is why I think he was able to sell it).
Ken Burns’ The Vietnam War - Essential watching.
Jeopardy! - Best reason to own a television.
MLB and the World Series - Best year in baseball since '85 and '87. Rockies went farther than imagined, Dodgers were wonderful, and there was a ton of drama due to floods and home runs.
Game of Thrones - Wow. Payoff time!
Flash - Better than last season, which was wrapped in depression and misery. Really like that Barry and Iris are going to a therapist! (And it’s Donna Pescow, and she’s really a good actor.)
Arrow - What horrible decision will Oliver make this week? Oh, that one!
Legends - Tremendous fun.
Supergirl - Much more uneven. They need to grow the cast a bit past the CW teenybopper mold and define some roles. And get rid of Olsen/Guardian.
Gotham - R’as al Ghul makes magic. Gordon makes for the dull. Harvey is nuts.
Agents of SHIELD - Somewhat better.
The Gifted; VICE News; Real Time with Bill Maher; Colbert, Meyers, Kimmel, Fallon (in order); The View.
Blindspot - Made it through most of the first season, then it turned into a furball of self-referencing.
Big Bang Theory / Young Sheldon - First five minutes of Young Sheldon poisoned the pool of humor established over years. No longer funny.
I think it was slightly misunderstood too. To me it felt like his attempt to do an Ennis-style book in the sense of being dark and gritty almost to the point of absurdity, and peppering that with ridiculous touches and an outrageously cartoonish foil for the hero. But from some reviews I’ve seen, I think some people took it more seriously than it seemed to be intended.
I haven’t seen the TV show but I might try and catch it at some point. The trailer looks like it’s captured the tone of the comic pretty well.
I honestly didn’t think this year’s World Series would top last year’s Cubs triumph but DAAAMN, the Astros/Dodgers battle will be a legend in the history of baseball.
I haven’t seen the show but read the comic. For me, the “gritty” aspect of the book was too cliche cartoonish. I think if Morrison had grounded the book more and had it feel more real, it would have balanced and highlighted the contrasts with the fantastic elements of the story a lot more.
That’s an interesting point. I can see that angle. For me the whole thing was very deliberately over-the-top, but maybe a more grounded ‘reality’ would have worked better.
I know I read the entire thing, but mentally I checked out during the first pages of the guy in the cockroach costume.