2016 has been a hell of a year for #TV. Despite the terrifying political climate, the overall unrest in different parts of the world, not to mention the surprising box office failures, TV has remained dominant. Not just in its coverage of global news but also in delivering some stellar new additions to the already phenomenal roster of on-going TV series. And with 2016 finally ended, and many of our current obsessions on a winter hiatus or awaiting their follow up season. And because us TV fans are surely feeling the absence, Here's a list of 2016 year's 10 new finished or ongoing shows that are a must watch, 5 which aren't. So without further ado, let's begin the binge watching.
For a show that took a hundred million to make, was in uncertain waters over its release date and faced controversy over its violence and profanity (classic HBO staples), #Westworld sure gunned down the haters. The show which portrayed a futuristic world in which humans had built a theme park of sorts to engage in their primal vices, was a movie-turned TV adaption - one of many last year - based on a cult Michael Crichton project. The show itself was helmed by Jonathan Nolan, Lisa Joy and produced by J.J Abrams (does this guy need an introduction?).
Right from the get-to the show the show became a fan favorite, and over the course of ten episodes it managed to play enough mind games to make us question whether we ourselves were human or not (the folks over at Reddit certainly aren't). The #HBO sci-fi hit stars Evan Rachel Wood, the amazing Thandie Newton, James Marsden, Ben Barnes & Anthony Hopkins, to name a few. And while the show isn't quite 'the best show in the world', as Jim Nolan wanted it to be, it's certainly a step in the right direction.
This Is Us
Falls breakout hit This Is Us is going to stay with us for a long time. The #NBC series blindsided us with the twists it put in a family drama. And while the show managed to slow down its pace in its latest episodes, it still managed to retain much of its audience. In fact, the Dan Fogelman created series continues to be the most watched show on TV. Starring Mandy Moore, Milo Ventimiglia, Sterling K.Brown, Chrissy Metz and Justin Hartley, this show is as surprising as it is touching. This critics' darling is a winning combination of hearty family drama and social issues. I'd go as far as to say This Is Us is the best show of 2016, simply because it managed to win over fans (like me) who'd never even consider watching shows like this. It was a wolf in sheep's clothing, and I mean that in the best possible way. It's the kind of show that can shock everyone and get an Emmy for best drama series in its freshmen year, and it- with it electric script, talented cast and splendid storytelling- would absolutely deserve it.
#ThisIsUs makes everything about it work. It's organic, relatable and smart. And while only time will tell if it can continue its success, one thing is for sure, This Is Us is in all ways, a must watch.
Marvel's Luke Cage
#Marvel's carefully fashioned Netflix empire grew in 2016 with our first black superhero TV series (it's hard to believe that it's true, but even in the "Golden Age of TV" we only have one black superhero as a lead in movies or TV) Marvels' Luke Cage. Starring Mike Colter, Rosario Dawson and Mahershala Ali to name a few, the show managed to showcase how well Marvel and Netflix have gotten a handle on making high-quality, fun and most of all relatable shows. #LukeCage isn't quite as brilliant as #JessicaJones, nor as gripping as #Daredevil. But it shows a different side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, one that deserves to be seen and its authentic, fresh and vibrant. For anyone who wants to watch a crime fighting superhero, or learn a bit more about the character before #Defenders hits Netflix later this year, now's the time to do it.
Netflix continued its dominance with the summer's obsession, #StrangerThings. The Winona Ryder series was almost as big a surprise hit as #Deadpool. But with its sci-fi filled 80's vibe, the show managed to resonate with older and younger audiences, becoming a go-to family drama for many. Everyone from older audiences to youngsters managed to fall head over heels for this 8 part series. And despite carrying a simplistic approach (that no-one but me despised), this fan favorite is now getting a second season. So for any sci-fi geek or anyone who's looking for some good (albeit slightly dark) family entertainment, #Netflix's Stranger Things is the way to go.
TNT- in an effort to finally achieve mainstream success - brought us a new Bonnie & Clyde'esque romantic/thriller series this TV season, called #GoodBehavior. The show stars Michele Dockery (Lady Mary for all you Downton Abbey fans) and Argentinean talent Juan Diego Botto. Created by Blake Crouch (Wayward Pines) & Chad Hodge, this series is currently on its 9th episode. Despite featuring brilliant acting by both the leads, it's script is a bit lackluster and that's the only thing standing in the way of an otherwise compelling series. The shows pilot (which I've covered in greater detail here) is the perfect testament of that. Good Behavior is good enough for a binge-watch despite feeling like 'The Adventures of Bonnie & Clyde' at times, as the characters do little more than trapeze around America on a Ford. But it has an undeniable charm (largely because of Dockery), and strong characterization that make it a perfect binge-watch.
Michele Dockery isn't the only British person playing an American this year. Richard Armitage plays CIA agent Daniel Miller in EPIX's first scripted series, #BerlinStation. The 10 part espionage drama is a must-watch for fans of Homeland, or anyone who wants to learn how the CIA actually works. Created by Olen Steinhauer, this spy thriller has one of the best casts of any new show, featuring the likes of Richard Jenkins, #Emmy nominee Michele Forbes and Rhys Ifans. The story of the show is loosely inspired by the Edward Snowden events and how a particular branch of the CIA deals with it. This 10 episode show requires a subscription to EPIX, which is not really ideal for many who are perfectly happy with their #HBO subscriptions . But hey, anyone who who really wants to see this show can easily find their inner spy and watch it online. I've covered the first season in a spoiler free review here.
Created by the brother of #Arrowverse's Marc Guggenheim, David Guggenheim, the ABC show starring Kiefer Sutherland is a political drama that was thought to be so good by the #ABC execs that they skipped the pilot stage for the show and gave it a straight to series order. Their gamble seems to have paid off with its unusual plot attracting around 10 million people in its pilot. The show is about what happens when an explosion claims the lives of the President and all members of his Cabinet except for U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Tom Kirkman. Kirkman who has been named the designated survivor, is immediately sworn in as President and must prove to be the unifying force the United States needs after such a ruthless attack. This series is a must watch for fans of Homeland, House of Cards and well, Kiefer Sutherland.
#Fox didn't quite hit the homerun they were hoping to with the year's only sports drama Pitch. Starring newcomer Kylie Bunbury, as well as Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Mark Consuelos, Ali Larter and Dan Lauria, this sports drama is worthy of binge watching only. The story revolves around lead Ginny Baker who becomes the first woman to play in Major League Baseball when she is called up from the minor leagues. Tackling issues like race, as well as gender equality, Pitch got off to a good start. However as all the other shows upped their swings, the series lost its footing a bit and failed to keep its head in the game. The show, despite pulling a Mr.Robot in the first episode (you'll get what I'm saying when you watch it), doesn't have quite the screwballs required for a compelling modern day watch and is left best for a weekend binge.
The most expensive show ever made, with a whooping budget of 120 million dollars for its 10 episode show. This Netflix series starring Claire Foy, Matt Smith, Eileen Atkins, John Lithgow and others, has made to many critics' best show list. Based on the 2013 play The Audience, it's done the difficult job of making the British royal life interesting, even to foreigners, and its blend of romance, drama and politics makes for a cozy watch. The series focusses on the life of Queen Elizabeth II from her wedding day to present. With 9/10 score on IMDB and 90% on Rotten Tomatoes, anyone looking for a critically acclaimed drama should certainly give The Crown a try.
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And Then There Were None
This show is sort of an anomaly in this list. Originally airing from 26th to 28th December 2015 on BBC One, this three-part miniseries, based on the best selling mystery book of all time, Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None, was widely praised by fans and critics alike. The show made this list because many people found out about it when it was broadcast on Lifetime Network this March, and also because this is one miniseries you just can't miss. Starring Aiden Turner, Sam Neill, Douglas Booth, Maeve Dermody and Charles Dance among others, the series based on a screenplay by Sarah Phelps. It chronicles the events that occur after 12 people are invited to a remote island by a stranger and it is quite possibly the best adaptation of a Christie book. It's been brilliantly executed, with its tense drama, horror movie vibe and great cinematography. The miniseries' success brought about an adaptation of another Christie project, The Witness For Prosecution that aired this Boxing Day. Anyone looking for something short but extremely satisfying show can certainly give this one time series a try.
If Stranger Things was our go-to Netflix summer binge then prepare yourself for a colder darker, winter, one with The OA. The show hasn't quite reached the momentum that Stranger Things received and for good reason, the show which prides itself on its "strangeness" has only two strange things about it:
A) How in the hell did it's skilled cast choose this project?
B) Why would Brad Pitt produce this?
After seven hours of relentless binge watching the only thing this show will make you want to do is smack your head against the wall, for wasting so much of your time. Because as smart and genre bending as it wants to be, #TheOA is nothing more than that weird kid in school who's always pulling some crazy shit just to attract attention. The OA isn't a show that is smart. Its worse, it's a show that considers itself smart. Even the flaws that we try to ignore in the first couple of episodes manifest themselves later on in, such a way that we are left staring at our screens in the sheer disbelief. You may want to watch The OA just to get a taste of Netflix's latest TV series, but sooner or later, the show will leave a bitter taste in your mouth.
Warning: Side effects may include wanting to drown the people who recommended this show to you or worse, becoming delusional enough to actually think you like this show. Watch at your own risk.
Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency
Another strange show, BBC America's Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency is one you just can't pigeon-hole into a specific genre or talk much about without giving stuff away. Starring Samuel Bennet and Elijah Wood, the show is based on a series of popular British novels. The show is as 'groovy' as it gets, but unlike The OA, it's not acting like it has a trick up its sleeve the entire time and actually unfolds the story in a very restrained manner, which does the show justice. This show isn't for everyone, and while I personally wouldn't recommend it, anyone who wants to see a show that makes it seem as though everyone on it is high, then Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency is the way to go.
Check out the show's relatively sane trailer below:
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Starring Julianne Nicholson, Gil Bellows, James Paxton and Warren Christie this sleepy small town thriller by #USA Network leaves a lot to be desired. USA, in hopes of capitalizing it's #MrRobot fame, has brought a sling of ambitious new shows, and while none of them have managed to interest the fans like the Sam Esmail show, #Eyewitness is at least good TV. It's not particularly interesting TV mind you, and many (including me) ended up dropping the show after the first few episodes, because of its slow of pace. But its solid acting and intrepid script is a change from most of the procedurals on TV. And unlike other series Eyewitness is brimming with potential, meaning one can binge-watch it but preferably when they've exhausted all other resources.
The show whose pilot I covered in great detail before, never quite lived up to its great first episode. CW has a bad history of being unkind to procedurals, save for the incredible #iZombie, but even they can't help this time-travel-involving-serial killer show. When it first arrived with the talented Peyton List as its lead, I was sure that we could have the makings of an Interstellar type show in our hands. Perhaps not quite on that level but somewhere there. But its snail slow pace made it another flop for CW. Ironically enough at this point the only way Frequency will get another season is if someone time travels and changes most of it. Go Figure.
#CW's known for two things: superhero shows and romantic comedies, which goes to show just how soulless the network's content is because they don't have a single 'deep' show. No Tomorrow (starring Tori Anderson and Joshua Sasse) could have been their way of remedying that, had the show not been so dreary in nature and actually had more meaningful content. The pilot gives one the impression that maybe this show will explore how we've left behind the things that we actually like, in a senseless pursuit of wealth (which sounds boring to be honest but still would have been more fun than this). Alas, the show's little more than a slightly crooked romantic comedy. The premise is based on an based on a Brazilian series Como Aproveitar o Fim do Mundo (How to Enjoy the End of the World) and revolves around the a run of the mill market manager who meets the seemingly perfect guy only to find out that he's off the rocker, and believes the world is about to end. The plot actually sounds interesting but once the novelty wears off you'll understand why there will be #NoTomorrow for this show at CW, next year.
So without further ado, let the binge watching begin.
Which TV Series Was The Winner in 2016? Be Sure To Comment Below