Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Top TV Dramas of 2016

First off, let me address the two Amazon Pilots that I watched this year since they each only had one episode.  There seemed to be a lot more Pilots to watch last season and they all got picked up even though most of them weren't that good. 

The Interestings.  Man, what an easy title for a show to be mocked and turned into a million puns.  I'm not even kidding when I say that this show sucked, like a lot.  I hated it.

The Last Tycoon.  To be honest, I can't even remember watching it, but I wrote down that it was a lot better than The Interestings, for whatever that's worth.

There were two more shows that I started but then stopped because there's just too much TV (and good TV at that) to stick all the way through a show that isn't doing anything for you.  Of course, if you hear through word of mouth that a show drastically improve as the season went on, you can still go back and watch it.

Spotless (Netflix - Season 1).  A French crime show starring LaFlamme from Goon as a forensic specialist and the guy from the opening scene in Inglorious Bastards who is hiding Jews as his fuck-up of a brother.  Both of them were better in their previous roles.

Eyewitness (USA - Season 1).  I thought the main young kid was pretty good and everyone else was not.

Onto to Dramatic TV shows that I watched this year, which totaled in at 45.  Even some of the ones that came outside the Top 20-25 were shows I really enjoyed, which just seems crazy.

45. The X-Files (FOX - Season 10) - The "re-boot" of The X-Files turned out to be just a 6 episode Miniseries.  The best episode was the one where Mulder & Scully meet the Were-Monster played by Flight of the Conchords' Rhys Darby.  I always thought X-Files was at its best when it incorporated humor like that.

44. Ballers (HBO - Season 2) - I can't be the only one who thinks this show stinks can I?  If I gave out Razzies for TV shows, the guy who plays Vernon Littlefield would win every single award every year.  I don't think he's ever acted before.  

43. Fear The Walking Dead (AMC - Season 2, Part 2) - So much worse than The Walking Dead.

42. River (BBC America - Season 1)

41. Vikings (History Channel - Season 4) - Bjorn is now the best part of this show and its really not all that close.  Ragnor was taking drugs this whole season and thus every scene with him was all tripped out and hallucinations.  Meanwhile Rollo was stuck in France with flowing Farrah Faucet hair.

40. Fear The Walking Dead (AMC - Season 2, part 1) - Just because it was better than the 2nd half of the season where people in the show are morons, doesn't mean it was any good. The most hateable character of the year goes to....Chris Manawa.  I hate you.

39. The Walking Dead (AMC - Season 6 Part 2) - The show is basically only good at season premieres and season finales now.

38. Orphan Black (BBC America - Season 3)

37. Animal Kingdom (TNT - Season 1) - I wish this show were on Cinemax or something.  It was always just OK and it has a really underutilized cast if you ask me.

36. Togetherness (HBO - Season 2) - A step down from the last season.  I did really like the relationship between Brett and the Uber passenger.  The play stuff was a little weird for me but I continue to think that Steve Zissis is one of the most underrated actors working in TV.

35. Marvel's Like Cage (Netflix - Season 1) - Cheesy as hell.  The darkness that Jessica Jones and Daredevil bring to their shows was missing in Luke Cage.  It had a real PG-13 vibe to it.  Cottonmouth, played by (Oscar Winner) Mahershala Ali was fantastic, but once Diamondback took over that Big Bad role, the show fell apart.  Diamondback was the most over-the-top non threatening villain I've seen in a while.  Side note, Jidenna's "Long Live The Chief" fucking bumps.

34. Vinyl (HBO - Season 1) - Both the show and Bobby Cannavale's Richie Finestra were utterly ridiculous.  I keep going back to watch this scene though, even though I was thoroughly annoyed with what the show was and what the show could have been.  Instead of focusing on music and the band, the show really centered in on Finestra and his drug use/murder which was 1/10 as interesting as the other characters and storylines.

33. Glitch (Netflix - Season 1)

32. Longmire (Netflix - Season 5)

31. Narcos (Netflix - Season 2) - I feel like I'm way lower on this show than the majority of people, but everyone is entitled to their own opinion.  In other news, I'm all in on Pedro Pascal.  Narcos got renewed for two more seasons that will follow the drug trade to US.

30. Peaky Blinders (Netflix - Season 3) - I always feel like Peaky Blinders should be better than it is.

29. The Path (Hulu - Season 1) - The three leads are personal favorites of mine for different reasons.  There's just so much great television these days that I enjoyed a bit more than The Path.

28. House of Cards (Netflix - Season 4) - The latest season of House of Cards got it back to where it was before whatever Season 3 was happened.  I think the road to becoming the President was much more interesting than it is when Spacey is actually President.

27. The Last Kingdom (BBC America - Season 1) - Basically a better version of Vikings.

26. Outsiders (WGN - Season 1) - This one caught me by surprise as it's on WGN, whatever the shit station that is.  My guy Joe Anderson is the lead and flanked by David Morse and Ryan Hurst (Opie from SOA).  My favorite character is Hasil played by Kyle Gallner, who I'm not familiar with besides this.  He does have a pretty cool look going though.

25. Preacher (AMC - Season 1) - This show is a lot of fun and the fight scenes...whenever they come along...are really well choreographed.  Also, my guy Joseph Gilgun (Cassidy) from Misfits (another awesome show) is brilliant in this.

24. Black Mirror (Netflix - Season 3) - Black Mirror episodes are standalone but with the same theme surrounding our dependence on technology.  The new season had 6 episodes.  Just going through them quickly, ranking them best to worst: 

Texting Instructions
Video Game Chip
Time-Hopping between decades
Electronic Bees
Army Roaches
Bryce Dallas-Howard Rating System

23. Bloodline (Netflix - Season 2) - Not as good as the first season.

22. Mr. Robot (USA - Season 2) - Same.

21. NSU German History X (Mitten in Deutschland) (Miniseries) - Really good although I was it was shorter episodes but more total episodes.  It was almost like three mini-movies.

20. Bosch (Amazon - Season 2) - I'm a big Bosch guy.  I've always really liked 

19. 11.22.63 (Hulu - Miniseries) - I know this will be cliche as hell, but the book is a lot better than the show.  The book, by Stephen King, is really long and focuses a lot more on the interpersonal relationships of the story and less on the thriller aspect of the JFK assassination.  Obviously if you were going to pitch this as a mini-series, it makes sense to make the JFK assassination the center of everything but my favorite part of the book was actually when Jake Epping was a teacher in his life in the past as he waited out the time until the Dallas assassination attempt.   There is just a lot of nuance that is better suited for a book format than a television one.  I still really enjoyed the adaptation.

18. Westworld (HBO - Season 1) - Previously listed as an un-filmable adaptation due to the scale and advanced CGI that would be needed, Westworld finally got its chance on HBO.  A really interesting and thought-provoking premise on the deepest, darkest desires of our human nature and also a sci-fi look at AI.  The show dragged in the middle of the season but the last 2 or 3 episodes really brought the show up to another level.  If it can keep that kind of momentum going through the majority of the next season, this show will shoot up the rankings.

17. Pitch (FOX - Season 1) - I did not even come close to realizing how much I was going to like this show.  It completely took me by surprise and the acting was way above what I was expecting coming into the show.  Also, Zack Morris with a beard works.  Kylie Bunbury as the first female to ever to play in the MLB, Ginny Baker, is both drop dead gorgeous and a really good actress.  I hope I see her in some stuff going forward.

16. Billions (Showtime - Season 1) - At first I thought the portrayal of Axe was way over the top but after the first 2 episodes it really started to work as he became more or a character rather than just a caricature.

15. Happy Valley (BBC America - Season 2) - First of all, everyone in this show is great...everyone.  The addition of Shirley Henderson to this season as a creepy little stalker of a convicted murderer was perfect casting.  If you don't know her, she played Moaning Myrtle in the Harry Potter movies.  Her voice and mannerisms define that character to a T.

14. The Fall (Netflix - Season 3)  I'm still trying to figure out how Jamie Dornan is the same guy who plays the lead in 50 Shades movies.  He's so damn good in The Fall but everything about 50 Shades is horrible.  How can he have such amazing chemistry with Gillian Anderson, a detective investigating his murders as a serial killer and nothing with the piece-of-wood Dakota Johnson.  Side note, Gillian Anderson has gotten hotter with age.

13. Marcella (Netflix - Season 1) - Incredibly good crime drama.  Good to see my man Apollo from BSG in there two but always weird to hear him talking in his native British accent.  Also, I can't be the only one who thinks that Nicholas Pinnock looks exactly like Chiwetel Ejiofor in this right?

12. The Night Of (HBO - Miniseries) - Incredibly well done miniseries, so well done in fact, that it wish it was a series and not just a miniseries.  Riz Ahmed was superb and its always good to have Michael Kenneth Williams in anything.  I could have definitely done without so much foot story for John Tuturro but maybe that's just me.  At times the show was a bit slow and I think that's because of so much of John Tuturro's side stories rather than the much more interesting crime story.

11. Quarry (Cinemax - Season 1) - A show that may have went under the radar to some if you don't get Cinemax.  A returned Vietnam soldier comes home and finds that its almost impossible to get a job as most people are against the war and the soldiers that participated in it, so he reverts to what he's good at...killing people, but this time getting paid for it.  Lead actor Logan Marshall-Green is a dead ringer for Tom Hardy too...along with both of them being awesome.

10. Banshee (Cinemax - Season 4) - Another Cinemax show popping up on the list.  I am such a massive Banshee fan, I'm kind of sad that this was the last season of the show.  Between the Amish, Native Americans, White Supremacists, and regular criminal elements, this show really touched on a ton of different race and religious sects within one show.  The fight scenes in the show can't be touched by any show and I still go back and watch the MMA fight between Lucas Hood and the fighter who abuses women.  I also see big things (hopefully) to come for Tom Pelphrey (Kurt Bunker) who played an ex-white supremacist who is trying to remake himself as a cop.  That guy is really damn good.

9. The Americans (FX - Season 4) - I don't think The Americans will ever not make the Top Ten for a year in TV for me.  It's so good with so many good performances.

8. Daredevil (Netflix - Season 2) - The Punisher was a great addition to the second season of Daredevil, and although I didn't particularly love what Elektra brought to the show, she is definitely someone who can handle fight scenes.  Whoever choreographs the fight scenes for Daredevil needs some kind of award.  I'm not sure if I enjoyed the stairwell fight scene or the jail fight scene better when all was said and done, but both were top notch, action-packed awesomeness.  There were too many fight sequences this season where the lighting was too dark to pick up on everything going on, so that would be my one gripe with this season.

7. 3% (Netflix - Season 1) - If you don't mind subtitles (and I certainly don't), then I would highly recommend that you check out 3%.  The story takes place at a time when 3% of all 20 year olds are chosen to go to live out their lives in an exclusive world with the cream of the crop of civilization after competing in a series of tests to determine who is worthy of being chosen.  Otherwise, they continue to live out their lives in a poverty stricken wasteland with the rest of the 97%.  This Brazilian series reminds me a lot of the movie Cube in that you must use teamwork and the combined strengths of individuals 

6. Halt & Catch Fire (AMC - Season 3) - After a major comeback season last year in the second year of Halt that smartly and impressively pivoted in-between seasons to focusing on Cameron and Donna rather than Joe and Gordon, the show stayed on top of it's game in season 3 and had its best season yet.  I would have never thought after the first season that Halt would reach these heights but the dynamics of relationships and perfect feel of the 80's set this show apart in 2016.  This show might have the highest score of the Bechdel Test on TV.  For those of you who don't know what the Bechdel Test is, it's a system that determines whether a work of fiction has at least two women (or girls) who talk to each other about something other than a man (or boy).  Only about half of films made actually pass this test.  Halt & Catch Fire thrives on it.

5. Stranger Things (Netflix - Season 1) - The show that took the country by storm and brought Winona Ryder back into the mainstream.  Now, it's all well and nice that Miss Winona is back in something worthwhile but in my opinion, she's my least favorite part of the show.  The 4 main kids are the reason that this show kicks ass.  It's basically like a combination of E.T., Stand By Me, and Goonies.  Also, Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) is going to be a star.

4. Better Call Saul (AMC - Season 2) - Last year's number three on my list, every single person on this show is perfectly cast and the acting is as good as it gets on television.  The same feel, tone, and quality of Breaking Bad has carried over in a way that I never would have expected in a show surrounding Saul Goodman.  I can't wait for Gustavo to get involved in this show and kick it up a notch.  Also, Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn) is sneaky sexy as hell.

3. Game of Thrones (HBO - Season 6) - One of the better seasons of GoT that there has been so far.  With the next seasons being shorter than the best ones that were only 10 episodes each to begin with, I think it might be hard to live up to the seasons passed.  There were so many good scenes to choose from, including the Battle of the Bastards which can hold its own when compared to the large battle scenes of major motion pictures like Braveheart, Troy, and Gladiator.  Maybe the most underrated scene of the season was the speech by Lady it bad that she scares me just a little?

And of course this is pretty bad ass.

2. Rectify (SundanceTV - Season 4) - The Final Season of Rectify wrapped up a perfect 4 seasons of television for the show created by Ray McKinnon.  Rectify was like a show made specifically with me in mind with a beautiful soul at the center of everything.  The four seasons were a heartbreaking and emotional journey that delved into the introspectives of human nature and relationships.  I'm going to miss this show.

1. The People vs. O.J. Simpson: An American Crime (FX - Miniseries) - I can't seem to figure out who I liked the most in the show.  Was it Johnnie Cochran?  Marcia Clark?  Christopher Darden?  There really isn't a wrong answer.  I hope that FX continues with putting out miniseries' of this caliber in the future.  I don't even care that Cuba didn't even try to do an O.J. impersonation because everyone else was so freaking amazing.