I know someone made a thread about the critics top 10s for 2016 - does anyone have a link to that? I'm just trying to get an idea of what the big things that came out where (particularly from before the new season).
I assume they got bought out, which is why Feinberg bailed earlier in the year.I don't know what happened to Hitfix recently, but I don't like it.
There's something to be said about a show that finds itself on its last legs earlier than expected, but comes away at the end being much stronger for it. There isn't much left in the repertoire of Person of Interest that really needs to be expanded upon after you watch the finale. The final season brings the entire series full circle in nearly every single aspect in what is probably an extremely action-packed, yet also reflective and introspective episode. It almost feels like it would be something planned much further ahead, but ended up coming together almost at a moment's notice. I wrote extensively about the final season of the show so there isn't much left for me to say than to celebrate it one more time.
One of the more exciting things about The Americans is that it continues to intensify year after year. The show always finds new ways to elicit the different senses of dread, despair, and anxiety. And it knows exactly how much of it to apply without going into excess. This season also marked a year where Holly Taylor definitely came to prominence for her portrayal of Paige Jennings, who finally learned about her parents' secret identities and dealt with being thrown into the world of espionage.
As someone who grew up but was not entirely aware of the whole debacle besides pop-culture snippets, the dramatic re-enactment of the trial of O.J. Simpson and the personalities surrounding it proved an enlightening experience about race relations, the role of 24-hour news networks, celebrity culture, and more - not only as a period piece, but as an interesting reflection of America in the present. Many facets, personalities, and events might have been exaggerated for dramatic effect, but sometimes a browsing of fact check articles would prove otherwise; sometimes life did imitate art. The miniseries deftly weaved aspects of the trial into a fantastic episodic format that makes it an interesting examination of one of the stranger events in American history. I did not get the opportunity to watch the documentary that aired the same year, but either way, the dramatic re-enactment is a fantastic, and well crafted show everyone should experience.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend continues to delight and amaze while also providing viewers with an interesting and nuanced look at romance, friendships, obsessions, and other, less addressed topics in the mental health realm. Many times I find myself realizing that either myself or people I know have been party to similar behaviours; much of the show is focused on the antics, poorly-laden plans, and the resulting embarrassing disasters of Rebecca Bunch, and the show always does its best to empathize with her while at the same time maintaining complete self-awareness of what she's done. Or how she's dragged other people along for the ride. And that the show does it so well while being a musical is definitely a delight.
There's not a lot to say about Better Call Saul except that it continues its trajectory as one of the more entertaining shows of the year. For a show that acts as part prequel, and part spinoff of Breaking Bad, there already aren't that high stakes for the show's two leads, Jimmy or Mike, considering where their fates lie in the setting's mythology. But what this show offers is an interesting character study of people who are willing to skirt the legal, moral, or ethical boundaries because it is in their best interest to do. Although on paper, Better Call Saul looks like it's charted territory, every time it returns to the screen it proves me wrong by showing us there's more to its characters.
Westworld is the continuation of Jonathan Nolan's ideas cultivated and explored upon in his television series Person of Interest. Although artificial intelligence is also at the heart of Westworld, much of it also leans on themes of identity and self, what it means to take control of one's destiny, and the power dynamics servitude and slavery. Westworld provides an extremely intricate story that, over time, reveals more nuance, complication and a rich backstory underneath, especially as it is crafted with a series of unreliable narrators. This is definitely one show worth rewatching when you've gotten the basic plot down, if only to see how all the pieces were planned to fall into place in front of your eyes over the course of the season.
Although 2016 declared outright that time travel was 'in' now as a storytelling device/plot dispenser, 12 Monkeys returns in its sophomore season and shows that time travel stories can be more than that, and knows that its strength lies in its characters. The show takes big chances likewise with their mythology and eventually they pay off because much of it still plays a central role with their characters, rather than leaving it to be background dressing to be taken for granted.
Colony takes all the best parts of a family drama and a sci-fi show and sets it in a world reminiscent of Vichy France, but set in modern day Los Angeles. The two leads played by Josh Holloway and Sarah Wayne Callies are a married couple at odds with how best to deal how the alien occupation affects their family. In fact, much of the show is about people at odds and is sometimes less about a story about humans dealing with aliens and more about what people will do to survive when an invading force occupies your homeland (or home planet, in this case), whether they be resistance fighters doing their best to keep the fight alive, or collaborators who believe it's best to keep some semblance of order in a new world.
Killjoys is a lesser-known, Canadian produced, sci-fi show (and the budget shows). But what it lacks in the occasional spectacle, it makes up with plenty of style (budget allowing) and plenty of substance. For any fans of fun sci-fi, I would heartily recommend something like Killjoys. It has all the hallmarks of a light-hearted adventure, plenty of chemistry amongst the cast, and interesting stories and locales that are backed by a strong calibre of writing in its characters, dialogue, and mythology. If the simple phrase, "Space bounty hunters go on adventures" piques your interest, then you owe it to yourself to watch Killjoys.
Even though summer television is no longer the sparse wasteland between major television seasons these days, The Last Ship stands out in a glut of shows that now airs over the summer months. Although it's marketed as a Michael Bay produced show and oozes a considerable amount of hoo-rah-rah about the US Navy (to the point of it being effectively advertising/indirect recruiting), this is one of those shows that captured my attention because beneath all that, there is a (if not smart) fairly considered tone to a show that's about a lone US warship and its crew taking on whatever the post-apocalyptic world has to throw at it. A lot of the third season is ambitious and sprawling in a global sense. Inbetween away teams engaged in rolling firefights or warships trading missiles and hiding from radar pulses, the show's thrilling globe-hopping adventures are mixed with a political thriller that exists in a post-post-apocalyptic world.
Another year, another one-season show that executed pitch perfectly, and then was snuffed out. The circumstances surrounding why Limitless was cancelled always bring me into a malaise. Although I had my reservations about the show initially, it proved time and time again that a show should deserve to impress itself upon a viewer. It's cancellation was probably also the collision of many factors that worked against it that sealed its fate. A CBS procedural based off a movie, staring a fairly young lead that made good use of pop culture references, and oozed a unique style but had substance to boot. I distinctly recognize this show also hooked onto many others who would normally be turned away by similar procedural fare, and it still remains a shame the show was not allowed to continue. Limitless was in another long line of procedural-style shows that proved (and still prove) the form is not some dead dinosaur left to the wayside as serialized cable television makes its progress, but that they could adapt and be as engaging as any prestige drama.
So Vanessa Ives decides to give herself to Dracula because he's been searching for her in every one of her lives. Okay, maybe she has a plan to destroy him after he lets her in, right? Actually... no, she doesn't. But her ward-cum-boyfriend and all-around hunk/werewolf Ethan Chandler returns to London to save her from Dracula... right? Ummm, wrong again. Vanessa, who was arguably the central figure of the series (in star power and the show's own mythology) decides to call it a day and asks Ethan to shoot her dead. At least the heroes defeat Dracula and save the day right? No, he just slips away after everyone teams up after being apart for an entire season and beats up a bunch of thralls (aka little bitches and not real vampires). And then everyone has a sad funeral for Vanessa at the end and Caliban is extra sad because he had to attend two funerals that morning (the other for his dying son who he just reunited with after remembering who he was before he was put together by Victor Frankenstein). Why did this surprise finale happen? I guess creator John Logan just wanted to be done with the show, or something. To quote Krusty the Clown, "What the hell was that?"
If the show didn't ooze so much style, this finale would've singlehandedly ruined the entire series as a whole. In some ways, it still definitely does.
Okay, so you've come off a fairly mediocre and poorly received second season because you decided to focus less on what made your show popular (the dynamic between Ichabod Crane and Abbie Mills) and focused more on the boring mythology your show makes up as it goes along through a boring and poorly written dynamic between a separated husband and wife (Ichabod and Katrina) and their son-turned-horseman of the apocalypse. Okay, so now you know what went wrong and you can fix it right? So you remembered that you really only had the one white guy only because he time travelled as product of occult magic and that your headlining villain is a woman and your lead heroes include two black women? Sounds like a slam dunk right? Oh wait, are we at the finale where you killed off the actual female lead because you've been dicking her around and focusing less on her even though that's what made the show popular to its fans and said actor wanted out? Oh, so it's been renewed for another season and it's now all about the male lead now probably because you didn't want to pay your female lead so you've gone looking for a new one, right?
I can't believe I want to watch the upcoming season.
Honestly, I don't even know where to begin. It would be easier to just forget about the show but the second season at times almost felt like a parody of the strengths of what everyone liked about season 1 and doubling down on what everyone hated. Now, there was really dramatically less time spent on the suitor and contestants because the crew behind the scenes had to enact their favourite soap opera plot lines. Or the fact that it's a plot point that everyone is pitched against each other in an attempt to make a reality TV show which actually sounds completely insane and actually unbelievable. Or that the show tries to tackle things like racism and sexism with mostly just shock factor and does not really genuinely engage in that subject matter. Or maybe it was the finale in which Quinn basically orchestrates a double murder and that they'll probably gloss over it at the start of season 3 even though the "accident" is probably the most incredibly shady thing ever?
But hey, a female suitor this time around will totally fix things, right?
This show gets a spot on my list if for nothing else then because it actually finishes the story it sets out to tell. They very easily could have made this show multiple seasons long if they wanted to but instead they decide to tell their story, conclude it, and put a nice bow on it. That is pretty damn great, especially when the source material is so open to the possibility of stretching itself out indefinitely. Time travel alternate history stuff is always interesting, and the set designs and actors are all top notch. With the recent election the thought of alternate histories and what ifs is as interesting as ever. That said, while 11.22.63 starts off with the premise of trying to stop the assassination of JFK, it quickly transforms into a love story which could have easily ruined the show but Sarah Gadon is so damn charming as Sadie that it is impossible to get mad. The limited series format is really kind to Stephen King's material and I hope we get to see more adaptations from showrunner Bridget Carpenter. Trailer link.
The best way I can think to describe this show is Dawn of the Dead meets Degrassi. It is a high school drama with zombies, with a group of kids being stuck in a school after an chemical plant explosion creates zombies. What really made the show entertaining for me was the acting. It is a cheesy goofy plot played earnestly by everyone with the exception of Chad Coleman who plays the lone adult. Coleman clearly realizes it is schlock and hams it up but everyone else plays things pretty straight which makes it much more entertaining. It is a stupid plot with characters that make stupid decisions and the show is filled with more than a few plot holes but the characters all being dumb high school kids really allows that stuff to slide more than it does with any other show. The brief 20-something minute run time of each episode combined with the 10 episode overall season make the show come and go before it outstays its welcome and left me eagerly wanting another season. Trailer link.
It is like an amalgamation of Twin Peaks, Silent Hill, and the Goonies. A show in which pretty much every scene is drawing inspiration from something else but it is all executed so perfectly that I can't complain. Whether you understand the references or not is irrelevant to the actual enjoyment of the story which unfolds at a nice pace with its tight 8 episodes. A great professor of mine once said "if you were really smart you would figure out how to say what you want to with smaller words that anyone can understand." This show feels like the embodiment of that. It is an appropriate for all ages horror mystery thriller that doesn't feel dumbed down for kids or like it is filled with dialogue and themes that are only there to be understood by adults. I have seen some complaints about the high school stuff but I loved all that too. Then again, I am also the person that enjoyed all the high school drama in Twin Peaks too, so your enjoyment may vary. Trailer link.
"Comedies" about shitty people being miserable have always been hard for me to get into. It is the reason stuff like Louie and Bojack Horseman never really clicked with me. Haters does a good job of being a comedy first and foremost, with the main character being completely oblivious to how shitty she is. The best comparison I can come up with is Napoleon Dynamite without any of the awkwardness. The show goes for comedy 95% of the time so that when it turns serious it really has an impact and hits you in the feels, making you reflect on the season as a whole. Trailer link.
A lot of people have gone sour on The Walking Dead but I still love it. When I heard that another Kirkman property was getting a show I knew I had to check it out. Instead of post-apocalypse zombies here we have demons and exorcisms. The pilot is hands down the greatest single episode of television I saw this year. A perfectly paced self contained episode that immediately sells you on the concept of the show. The season never again matches the highs of that first episode but it is still really damn good. It is like a more serious version of Crazyhead. Trailer link.
American Horror Story had a really good first season and an absolutely incredible second season, and then the show sort of stumbled and hasn't really found its footing until now. This finally feels like the successor to seasons 1 and 2. The show has so many twists and turns that it is impossible to go into any details without spoiling it but sufficient to say that it goes some pretty interesting places. Shoutout to Cuba Gooding Jr., he was a fantastic addition to the cast this year and I hope he comes back for future seasons. I strongly encourage anyone who was turned off from the show after Freakshow or Coven to give this season a shot. They throw so much shit at the wall and surprisingly, all of it really felt like it stuck (except for the hillbilly plot, that shit was a drag). Trailer link.
This show has gone from side dish to the main course. Agents of SHIELD is currently the best thing coming out of the MCU. I care more about what happens to Fitz or Daisy than I do about Captain America and his terrorist friends. This show never drags its feet and quickly moves through story lines that other shows would stretch to an entire season. The addition of Robbie Reyes (Ghost Rider) to this season has been fantastic and he surprisingly fit right in with the rest of the cast. Would it be too much to ask for six seasons and a movie? Trailer link.
The Walking Dead has had its ups and downs for a while now but this stretch of episodes since the crew got to Alexandria has just been nonstop fantastic. This year's batch of episodes has been no different. Outside of a very very very bullshit cliffhanger the show has consistently delivered fantastic episodes. It was great seeing Rick's group be the king shits for a while but putting them back in the underdog position with Negan's introduction has breathed some new life into the show. Trailer link.
Season 2 really did feel like two separate and distinct shows. This isn't a bad thing in and of itself but the difference in quality between the Punisher and Elektra plots is just so big it really makes the show feel incredibly uneven. The Daredevil/Punisher stuff was top tier TV, while the Elektra/ninja stuff was just incredibly poorly explained. The scenes between Bernthal and D'Onofrio really highlight how those two are just in a completely different league from the rest of the actors on the show. Anyway, the Punisher stuff is great enough to put it on this list, but ninja bullshit holds it down at the number nine spot. Trailer link.
This show is a comedy version Outcast. It is a goofy lighthearted comedy about two demon hunting ladies. I really don't know what else to say about it. It is really brief at only six episodes so there isn't really any reason for those of you with a Netflix account not to at least check it out. Trailer link.
This was the year it finally got to be too much. Early in the year as I was scrambling each week to stay caught up with all the shows it became clear how nothing was happening in any of these shows. It was seriously like they were running in place. I couldn't take it anymore and so I just dropped all of them and my life has been much better ever since.
Yes, I just placed this show as one of my favorites of the year. That said, it does not excuse that bullshit they pulled with the cliffhanger at the end of season 6. It was some real bullshit that took away from the reveal and for what? It seems like all they did was managed to piss a bunch of people off. This is a problem that really only exists for the people watching live as anyone in the future who binges the show will be able to immediately jump to the next episode. Making people wait months to find out who bites it was bullshit.
They all got played liked damn fiddles.