Tuesday, December 12, 2017

UPDATED--My Best of Television 2017

 It's not a Counter-Programming sort of day because I don't know how many of you are spending your time watching the Army-Navy college football game. But if you are, please consider this my plea that you should find something else to do with your time.

No . . . this post is dedicated to that other past time of mine, television. And anything written about television in December must then be a best-of-the-year list.

I've asked Dean to work on preparing his own list for 2017. And based on his comments to me on Friday, I can say that he faced a similar problem that I did. It is increasingly harder to remember what you watched in the past year. Either because there is so much television to choose from or because the scheduling for shows is so all-over-the-place that it is just hard to remember if you last watched a show in January of this year or some time before that. Everything is six- to eight-episode seasons and then they go on hiatus for an additional eighteen months.

But, I'm reasonably certain now that the shows I mention below are ones that I did, in fact, watch in 2017. And, unlike most years, I'm going to try and rank them in order of value or enjoyment or with some sort of thought given towards importance.

Okay . . . enough handwringing and marking time. Let's get on with my list of the Best Television for 2017.

#1 Legion
Dean reminded me today that Legion was actually on TV in 2017. So I HAD to edit my list to reflect this screw up on my part. I know that only seven people actually pay attention to my blog anyway, but I could not live any longer with the knowledge that I had created a top ten list that did not include the most visually dynamic show that I saw in 2017.
Legion is confusing as hell, but such an amazing entertainment experience. You MUST give it a try. And good luck understanding it if you aren't ready to be confused.
As usual, Noah Hawley is creating great TV. And Aubrey Plaza is so, SO good in her role.

Please watch it.

#2 The Young Pope
I loved this show. It was so fun to watch and so visually appealing. And Jude Law's pontiff was mysterious, very off-putting, and also sympathetic. You felt bad for the situation that he was in, but then he became so dictatorial and mean in a scene that you wanted him to fail.
I especially loved this show for its commitment to being so fe\reaking hip. Its banging soundtrack was great and a big reason for my enjoyment.

#3 Twin Peaks: The Return--Everything about this show was a gift. Completely unexpected. Extremely maddening. Often nonsensical. Very occasionally understandable. Entirely Lynchian. Never in my life would I have expected another opportunity to visit that bizarre town in Washington. And when I did get the chance, it was exactly familiar but also full of new mystery. The last two hours of the show was amazing because I had the feeling that actual answers were about to occur and maybe a clear resolution was being given to us. And then, of course, David Lynch snatched all of that away with that bizarre ending (everything from Kyle McLaughlin and Laura Dern's wormhole (?) induced car drive, to hotel overnight, to Agent Cooper and Laura Palmer's visit to the Palmer home. What an experience!

#4 You're the Worst--This was the show's penultimate season. And while it did not have the subversive drive of season 1 (which I still believe is the show's best total season) the mix-and-match nature of the character pairings in this last grouping of shows was a fun change of pace. Jimmy, Gretchen, Edgar, and Lyndsay are characters that remain engaging and are still fun to watch--even if they try really hard not to care at all. And Lyndsay's evolution and (gasp?) maturation this season is my most surprising thing.

#5 Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency--This show was almost as bizarre as Twin Peaks. Which you might expect when you know that it comes from the mind of Douglas Adams. I've found that I am a fan of Elijah Wood's various television efforts. I appreciate that he goes for really funky shows and this one is definitely one of them. The plot--such as it was in season 1 and is now is season 2--is hard to explain and maybe not something you are prepared to accept. But if you want to watch television that is different, you could do much, much worse than a show like this one.

#6 Stranger Things 2--I really enjoyed the sophomore effort of this Netflix juggernaut. And I even enjoyed the polarizing seventh episode that focused on Eleven's journey into Jane's past and her dalliance with her mind-sister Eight. (As long as Eleven and Mike got to kiss at the end, I simply didn't care the journey that got them there. I'm a romantic.)
And I'll ride all day for the wonderful pairing of Steven Harrington and Dustin. It'll almost let me forget how narrowminded Dustin was when he ignored his friends' warnings about Dart.

#7 The Good Place, season 2--It's not going to get better than season one's big twist reveal. But the show is still very good and I like how they are trying to keep injecting creativity into the story.

#9 Search Party, season 2--I should rank this show higher because season two is light-years more interesting and fun to watch than season one. But I guess I'm demoting it because no one has ever heard of it. (I guess I'm not a Moneyball type of guy.)


#9 The Tick--Unfortunately this is only available on Amazon Prime. But it is everything you would expect from the show. Is it better than the original TV version (featuring Nestor Carbonell and Patrick Warburton)? Probably not. Is it better than the original animated version? Definitely not. Does that matter as long as there is a version of The Tick to be enjoyed? Definitely not.

#10 Riverdale season 2--Really I am -hate watching this show to stay connected to my older children. But it is so bizarre. And this is the only show this calendar year that made me laugh out loud (this week when I watched that trainwreck of a "Mad World" karaoke scene). 

Come at me with your opinions!

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