I’ve really enjoyed 2016 for providing captivating, next level television be it on American networks like HBO or AMC, to Netflix and now the new super player, Amazon Prime. There’s so much on offer out there now so I’ve compiled a list of my favourites from this year.
Honourable Mentions: Blindspot (NBC), Love (Netflix), Vinyl (HBO), The Crown (Netflix), Atlanta (FX)
On My List To See: The Night Of (HBO), Mr.Robot (S2, USA), The Man In The High Castle (S2, Amazon)
15. Stag (BBC 2)
It’s no secret that I struggle to be entertained by British drama, I’m not completely sure why. However, the dark twisted comedy of Scottish highland massacre show Stag really kept me enthralled. Excellent performances and relationships all round and enough slapstick gore to shake the whole of the highlands at.
14. The Walking Dead (Season 7, AMC)
It’s an interesting question as to where TWD is at in its run. It’s hit a rock bottom of sorts with numbers drastically falling and there’s a reason why. It’s become procedural. Rick Grimes and his band of merry men are stagnant in Alexandria. Along comes a bad dude and after a few tussles and a few losses, we go full circle. The Walking Dead has lost its way and no amount of shock killings or stellar work from Jefferey Dean Morgan is going to solve the problems. The show needs a bit change or it’s going to continue to rot.
13. Orange Is The New Black (Season 4, Netflix)
After a truly dull third season, OITNB returned to some form with a better fourth effort. There’s still too much time spent with nothing really happening and maybe that’s accurate, but the show has become a bit of an indulgent watch. The end of season shock was terrific television but I still felt like I need more from the show.
12. The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Season 2, Netflix)
Kimmy had a really difficult task this season. Its set-up around her prison, the bunker, was such a big part of Season 1 and the downfall of Jon Hamm’s ‘Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne’ was a pivotal moment in the show. So how does Kimmy move on with life? It turns out by touching on darker themes like therapy and trying to find her mother. It wasn’t as enjoyable a watch but there were still lots of incredible gags and overall a success.
11. Marco Polo (Season 2, Netflix)
Season 2 of the epic Mongolian empire story was released this year and to lesser fanfare than it deserved. The excellent cast returned but with new deceptions, wars to rage and bridges to burn. Both central characters were in exceptional form but I would have preferred more time spent between them rather than their separate stories.
10. The Man In The High Castle (Amazon)
What if the war was won by Axis? This is the question brought to life in Amazon’s The Man In The High Castle, and it’s a great watch. The acting can sometimes be lackluster but set-up, scenery and plot succeed greatly and pave the way for an excellent second season, which is released really soon. Season 2 has just been released so will absolutely be on my watch-list!
9. Outcast (Cinemax)
If you’re a fan of The Walking Dead’s darker elements then Outcast may be for you. I’ve been hearing lots of good things about The Exorcist TV show recently but Outcast is by far the possession show of the year. From TWD writer Robert Kirkman, Outcast follows dark goings on in a rural American town which possession scarred Kyle Barnes is on a mission to stop. It’s a chilling watch.
8. Game Of Thrones (Season 6, HBO)
Season 6 of Game of Thrones took us to the peak of the show, setting out the table for the remainder of the show’s run which will happen over two years in shorter seasons. I have reservations about the show, which is famed on so many different complex characters, being slaughtered for shock value and to tie up loose ends. I think we’ll lose the political side of Game of Thrones really soon and whilst the battle is with Winter, and its right to knock off the people who don’t have a place in that final battle, I think it takes away from a lot of the enjoyment of the show. That being said there were some really huge moments this season which I think we’ll remember alongside the top moments of the whole show.
7. Luke Cage (Netflix)
Mike Colter is a fantastic lead it turns out. Marvel’s Luke Cage carefully trods along the fence of Blaxploitation carefully and just stays on the right side of it. Harlem looks, sounds and feels great and the characters we have are really fun. Well worth a watch and a welcome addition to the Marvel family.
6. Daredevil (Season 2, Netflix)
Netflix’s first efforts at keeping a superhero franchise strong and running in its second season came through Daredevil, and they did the job right. The cast additions split up the series really well. The action was there, the pace was there and it was great for comic book fans to indulge in. The one thing/person that was missing they even brought back for a few scenes too. All good.
5. Narcos (Season 2, Netflix)
When the first season of Netflix’s efforts at Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar’s life story finished, we knew that it was set in stone that he would perish soon after. History shows that the show wasn’t able to keep him around. So Season 2 gets the fact he will die out of the way quickly. What we’re left with is a slow, tense build up done correctly which usefully draws your sympathy on both sides. Also enjoyable is seeing Pedro Pascal have an increased role in the play.
4. Stranger Things (Netflix)
It was the show that stormed the world in 2016. Hitting cult status within 24 hours of release, Stranger Things’ upside down, eggos & awesome 80s horror vibe made for one of the most easily accessible shows in years. Excellent young cast that have bags of potential too.
3. i-Zombie (Season 2, The CW)
The CW was already onto a hit with i-Zombie in season 1. It’s a show which wears its super geeky, pop culture loaded writing on its sleeves and doesn’t take itself too seriously, in the same way Veronica Mars didn’t before it. Season 2 upped the ante with progressive story lines for all characters and a great villain or two at the core. The big budget season finale was zombie filled mayhem on a level the show has never attempted before. I-Zombie has become a must-watch.
2. Preacher (Amazon/AMC)
Exceptionally impressive first season which effortlessly drops a shock value moment of weirdness at random intervals in each episode. The cast is great with Ruth Negga and Joe Gilgun being great finds for Tulip & Cassidy. The end of Season 1 was so drastically enormous that I’m not sure where Season 2 picks up but it’s the craziest ride on TV.
1. Westworld (HBO)
Words fail me when trying to describe the gap between Westworld and every other show I’ve seen this year. It’s first season is perhaps the best first season I’ve seen of any show ever. An incredibly fun and open premise with lots of different complex characters and a bucket load of mystery, questions and secrets which slowly but surely crack open as the series continues. Insanely good character work from the likes of Jeffrey Wright, Anthony Hopkins and Evan Rachel Wood. I’m in love with everything about Westworld and its devastating we won’t have it back for a while. If you’ve not seen it, make the time.