Top TV Shows of 2016

Top TV Shows of 2016

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.

Advertisements

2016’s Best TV So Far

2016’s Best TV So Far

We’re half way into the year and we’ve already had a sixth season of Game Of Thrones which is firmly looking towards its end, as well as a half season of The Walking Dead which introduced its new long term villain by smashing one of our heroes to small pieces in one of the most frustrating cliffhanger endings of anything ever.

If you are a bit despondent at Game of Thrones being over for another year, or just feeling a bit lost on what to watch, I got you covered. Here’s my favourite fifteen shows that I’ve watched this year that should definitely get your couch potato-ing on for.

15. Love
Netflix’s Valentine’s Day release this year came in the form of light comedy Love which stars Community’s Gillian Jacobs (she’s way less annoying than Britta) and Paul Rust (who is so cringe you’ll want to end yourself). Both getting nowhere in their love lives, the pair come together to form an unlikely relationship in the gorgeous Los Angeles sunshine. The show has it’s fair share of mutual self-destruction and there are plenty of times where it’s easy to hate both characters but in the end you always want to root for love, and the pair do have it. Mickey and Gus forever <3.

14. Stag
The words “I’m not against the BBC but…” will come up a lot in this blog post. With that being said, I’m not against the BBC, but I do prefer to mostly watch American television shows. It takes a lot to get me interested in a show from the UK but when the BBC do late night Slasher Comedy in the Scottish Highlands I’m pretty much sold. Jim Howick of Horrible Histories fame is the bumbling awkward lead who accidentally winds up involved in his brother in law’s Stag do which goes super wrong. As friends are picked off one by one in the foggy, silent forests of the Highlands by booby traps and khaki snipers, the laughs pour in almost at equal measure to the violence and scares.

13. Blindspot
A naked, fully tattooed lady turns up in a bag in central square with no memory of who she is or what she’s doing there. She does however have the name of an FBI agent tattooed onto her back, which places her in an elite squadron tasked with solving Jane Doe’s cryptic tats and solving huge crimes using the clues. It’s a case by case weekly episodic much like your CIS and Criminal Minds but there’s a bit more at stake which keeps things interesting.

12. Vinyl
A few years in the making, Martin Scorcese and Mick Jagger’s project about the record industry in the 70s was to be truthful, a huge failure. It’s been cancelled after one season, and whilst far from perfect, there was a lot to enjoy about Vinyl. When the show was being busy at American Century Records, with people stressing and incredible lead Bobby Cannanvale’s Richie Finestra being a maestro at juggling all the problems in his life, it was great. When there was focus on the issues with his wife, when there was focus on issues with his drug habits, when there was a murder afoot, the show lost its charm. For the scenes that are pure passion about the music, this show is worth your time.

11. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Season two of Tina Fey’s show about the loveable Kimmy Schmidt, a girl getting her life back on track after being kept hostage in a bunker by a lunatic, was majestic in its humour and life lessons. Pop culture references are around every other sentence, the guest places are funny and Kimmy grows a lot in the season through attempting therapy. I had a grin on my face for the whole season, as I’m sure you will too.

10. Outcast
The new show from Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead) centres around Kyle Barnes, a fantastically hollow and shattered performance from Patrick Fugit, who is a hermit in a small town after horrific occurences put his mother in prison. Whilst the town think he is a lunatic, in truth possession is spreading in his town, and Kyle is the only one who can stop the demons. His ally is town priest Robert Glennister who is a softer man that he was in Life on Mars. The show is stupendously dark and evil feels like it watches Kyle from every angle. It’s creepy, its bloody and its genuinely terrifying, but I think we have a classic in the making here.

9. The Man In The High Castle
There aren’t many shows on this list with cooler premises than Amazon Prime’s newest hit. Based on a best-selling novel, The Man In The High Castle pictures the world as we know it if Axis had won the Second World War. We follow some heroes in San Francisco, ruled by the Japanese Empire, and also the East, ruled by the Nazis. Whilst our heroes are a young American couple whose lives are torn apart through the finding of forbidden films showing the Allies winning WW2, the really interesting parts of the show come from the top of the governments. Rufus Sewell’s American Nazi leader and Cary Hiroyuki-Tagawa’s Japanese Trade Minister are the highlights as the shows politics and imagined “what if’s” make for really great espionage, war drama.

8. Mr Robot
Elliot Anderson is a shy cybersecurity engineer by day, but a ruthless Matrix style super hacker Vigilante by night who hacks and ruins the lives of bad people, assisting the police in the arrests of criminals and the such. Through the appearance of anarchist Mr Robot played by Christian Slater, Elliot gets caught up in an international cyberhack planning to bring down the world’s top 1%. Stylish and always sounding good, Mr Robot is a dark technological thriller which is utterly captivating.

7. Narcos
Netflix seems to have an obsession over Pablo Escobar at the moment, but the pick of the bunch, and the best show to go for this year if you’re after historical drama is for sure, Narcos. Whilst the show does follow the taskforce tasked with taking down Escobar (led by the excellent Boyd Holbrook and Pedro Pascal), the show is empathetic to the crime lord himself, following his life story. Colombia may be portrayed as having its problems but at the same time the scenery and colour in the show is stunning, and some of the stories that happened through this man were incredible. Don’t miss this one.

6. Orange Is The New Black
Season three of the prison drama passed by pretty whimsically, but the first five minutes of Season four fixes all of those issues by giving us some really great storylines. What follows is a full season of life changing turns for many of our favourites as we also gain new favourites through previous fringe characters being fleshed out with backstories. What is apparent is that OITNB is going to be around for years to come, it continues to reinvent itself despite being stuck in cells, bunks and fences. And all power to it when it is this good.

5. The Walking Dead
If by chance you have never seen The Walking Dead, who even are you?! Seriously though, AMC’s golden boy post-apocalyptic drama is un-cancelable at this point. The show racks in so much money and seems to continue to throw new obstacles at its cast. Performances this season have been strong with lead Rick taking a back seat to let Maggie, Glenn and Morgan steal much of the thunder. And, Welcome Negan, is all I’ll say on that matter. If it’s not for you then that’s all fine and well, but The Walking Dead is making the best shows of its run so far. Bring on October for the new season.

4. Game of Thrones
If by chance you have never seen Game of Thrones, who even are you?! Sorry to repeat, but the granddaddy of them all with regards to current television has just wrapped up its sixth season and it was absolutely perfect. With the show now being ahead of the books it revels in its twists, turns and reveals of which there have been plenty of recently. As the show looks to reduce the following two final seasons to lesser episodes, HBO really have let the full length seasons go out with a massive firey bang!

3. Preacher
We’re almost half way into the first season of AMC’s new graphic novel adaptation and I’m not quite sure how to describe what the show is about, such is its manic weirdness. Basically Dominic Cooper’s preacher finds a supernatural occurrence at his church giving him the ability to preach control over people, controlling what they feel and do with his words. He is joined in the action and, quite honestly, fun by his adrenaline junkie ex Tulip and his new friend, Cassidy, an Irish alcoholic Vampire. It’s all a bloody hoot.

2. Daredevil
Marvel finally get it right with TV thanks to Season 2 of Netflix’s Daredevil. Last year’s debut season was impressive and they’ve expanded their ambitions bringing in characters from the source material such as Elektra and most excitingly Frank Castle, otherwise known as The Punisher. The show is split into arcs of sorts with Punisher and Elektra both getting time for our hero to play ball with, with everything coming full circle towards the end. It’s really great, the fighting sequences are top notch once again and for all who worried that they couldn’t replace Kingpin, don’t worry at all!

1. iZombie
My favourite show of the year thus far is one that is still fairly cult, iZombie. The weekly episodic crime show is the most fun on TV, but also continues a central plot line throughout the season. Liv is a zombie, who maintains her control and humanisms by getting her fix of brains. Luckily she works in a morgue with the Police, so her supply to brains is easy. Here’s the cool catch, once she eats brains she inherits traits and memories of the deceased, making it easy for her to find out who killed them. The larger plot-line at play is the energy drink company, Max Rager, who caused her turn, who are plotting to make everybody zombies. It’s full of pop culture, it’s confidently funny when it needs to be and the cast are easy to care for. If you like the action of Buffy with the humour of Community, this will be a show you will adore, do check it out.