Best of TV (2017) [RANKED]

Television fared arguably better than film last year. That’s probably because franchises lead to expectations – if a movie falls in line with franchise expectations, it’s almost unoriginal, if it doesn’t meet those expectations, then fans are unforgiving.

So where does a guy with an original story idea even go these days? To the silver screen – that’s for years been dominated by HBO & AMC – who now see Netflix & Amazon Prime rising as stiff competition. It’s an exciting time for television indeed.


10. House of Cards (Season 5)


Claire (Robin Wright) and Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) in Season 5 of House of Cards. (Courtesy: Netflix) Creator: Beau Willimon Stars: Kevin Spacey, Michel Gill, Robin Wright


When you watch a show with a fundamentally corrupt character as its protagonist, truly anything can happen. Maybe he’ll succeed – and you’re afraid that you want him to. Or maybe his inner demons get the better of him – which, again, he probably deserves. Vince Gilligan’s Breaking Bad (2009-13) exploited this element of surprise very well – and House of Cards continued to do so this year.

Kevin Spacey took method acting to new levels when his public character assassination followed soon after Frank Underwood’s. This worked out very well for Netflix, who can now proceed to Season 6 with fresh blood on the forefront.


9. Rick and Morty (Season 3)



Creators: Dan Harmon, Justin Roiland
Stars: Justin Roiland, Chris Parnell, Spencer Grammer

Highlight Episodes: The Ricklantis Mixup (#7), The Rickshank Redemption (#1)


Adult Swim went from being a night-time young adult segment of Cartoon Network to  one of the biggest names in the field of animation. Much of it is due to Rick and Morty’s renegade popularity that was born of an eccentric Justin Roiland and a disgruntled post-Community Dan Harmon. Every week, as Rick and Morty episodes released, there were articles and videos describing easter eggs and continuity gems. It was amazing that the creators thought of so much, and amazing that fans caught on right in time.

As an April Fool’s Prank, Adult Swim released the first episode of Season 3 – an episode so good that it killed fans to wait for the rest of the season until months later. Admittedly, most of Season 3 fell short of the April Fool’s tease, chock-full of filler episodes it didn’t need.


8. Stranger Things 2


Creators: Matt Duffer, Ross Duffer
Stars: Millie Bobby Brown, Finn Wolfhard, Winona Ryder

Highlight Episodes: Everything after Dig Dug (#5)


Stranger Things maintains its knack of creating lovable characters and putting them in tense situations. The first half of this season is woefully underwhelming – with filler episodes galore. This is in stark contrast to the first season – where Will Byers disappears 7 minutes into Episode 1.

Thankfully, they had enough plot development in the second half of Season 2 – things quickly start taking a dark turn in Hawkins. Strong bonds of friendship, unlikely pairings, and timely bravery eventually get the better of the evil beyond – at least until Season 3.


7. Game of Thrones (Season 7)


Creators: David Benioff, D.B. Weiss
Stars: Emilia Clarke, Peter Dinklage, Kit Harington

Highlight Episode: The Spoils of War (#4)


Television’s fantasy behemoth returned for its penultimate season with a lot in stake. Game of Thrones has slowly built a universe that now must come to a fitting conclusion – but this time round they wanted to show too much too fast. Time is almost meaningless now.

Can HBO pony up for 10 seasons of well-thought narrative? Or will we be left to see everything else in 6 episodes next year?


6. Mindhunter (Season 1)


Creators: Joe Penhall
Stars: Jonathan Groff, Holt McCallany, Anna Torv


Mindhunter, a period drama about the advent of serial killers in the 70s, is one of the first original series to take 2017 by surprise. It’s color palette had the David Fincher touch – with the legendary director helming the first and last few episodes of the season.

Cameron Britton (left) and Ed Kemper (right)

It’ll be criminal to discuss this show without mentioning how convincing Cameron Britton’s role as necrophiliac killer Ed Kemper was. His slow, hulking, meditative charm lingers off screen as well.

Mindhunter focuses on breaking criminals through their psychology, and delivers results that are often difficult to stomach. If I had one criticism, it would be that they tend to over-sexualize things that don’t really need it. It worked to their favor at times, and felt forced at others.


5. Black Mirror (Season 4)


Creators: Charlie Brooker

Highlight Episodes: Black Museum (#6), Metalhead (#5)


2017 ended with cries of shock when six episodes of Black Mirror released on December 29th. The cult anthology series about the dark future of technology had seen better days before Netflix took over, but Charlie Brooker still delivered solid horror in certain episodes. Arkangel (#2, directed by Jodie Foster) was ominous but a letdown. Hang the DJ (#4) was phenomenal but sometimes felt like run-of-the-mill Black Mirror.

Which brings me to my favorite episode of this season – Metalhead (#5). Shot in noir, it’s Black Mirror at its nastiest last year. There’s barely any dialogue in the episode; the story is conveyed in action and cinematography – inspired from German Expressionism in parts.

And, for what it’s worth, the technology shown hunting mankind in this episode is quite real and being developed right now by Boston Dynamics.


4. The Punisher (Season 1)


Creators: Steve Lightfoot
Stars:  Jon Bernthal, Amber Rose Revah, Ebon Moss-Bachrach

Highlight Episodes: Home (#12), Memento Mori (#13), Front Toward Enemy (#9)


If the last thing I hear before dying is Jon Bernthal’s guttural scream, it will be a worthwhile death. The Punisher (2017) cemented its place as one of the best superhero content on television, edging past 2015’s Daredevil (Season 1). As of this point, Bernthal owns Frank Castle – embodying everything we love about the vigilante with no limits.

I didn’t have the patience to sit through The Defenders and their individual storylines, and thankfully I didn’t need to. The Punisher works standalone and can be seen as a fresh start to a brazen character.

The Punisher’s violence is almost cathartic, but at its crux follows what Madani said, “Some of us get to live the family life; others get to protect it.” Friendships and morality are strained in every episode, but the sides are clear once push comes to shove.



3. BoJack Horseman (Season 4)


Creators: Raphael Bob-Waksberg
Stars: Will Arnett, Amy Sedaaris, Alison Brie

Highlight Episodes: Time’s Arrow (#11), Ruthie (#9) 


BoJack Horseman is one of the stalwart critiques of Hollywoo(d) life, and accurately emotes the pangs of stardom. It does so in a comic, almost inane, fashion but doesn’t shy away from the mix of depression and anxiety that is real life. Unlike Rick and Morty, there are no alternate realities to escape into.

Soprano, Draper, Underwood, Horseman – all fundamentally broken and corrupt characters that the show tries to make you root for. In Season 4, we see BoJack’s fraught family history and how he came to be this way – with some of the most heart-wrenching storytelling seen on screen.


2. Master of None (Season 2)


Creators: Aziz Ansari, Alan Yang
Stars: Aziz Ansari, Eric Wareheim, Lena Waithe

Highlight Episodes: Thief (#1), Thanksgiving (#8), Amarsi Un Po (#9)


Master of None started as a realistic satire on Indians in New York, but chose to make Season 2 about something even nobler – to celebrate life and the act of moving on.

The show’s protagonist and creator Aziz Ansari (as Dev Shah) travels to Italy to learn pasta-making. It’s an impulsive decision he took to figure out where he wanted to be in life. This forms the basis of the first episode (Thief) which is a heartfelt tribute to Vittorio De Sica’s 1948 cinema classic Bicycle Thieves. Season 2’s will-they-won’t-they romance gives stiff competition to Woody Allen, and New York, I Love You (#6) is like HoNY come to life.

Aziz Ansari masterfully handles the racial and romantic tensions prevalent in America – whilst creating a jack-of-all-trades protagonist (Dev) who is, like many of us, still charting his life ahead.


1. Ozark (Season 1)


Creators: Bill Dubuque, Mark Williams
Stars: Jason Bateman, Laura Linney, Sofia Hublitz

Highlight Episodes: Sugarwood (#1), The Toll (#10)


After multiple rewatches and a good deal of thought, there’s little doubt in my mind that Ozark is 2017’s Best TV Show. Incidentally, both the top two shows on this list have the lead actor directing as well. In this case, Jason Bateman lends his mind and body to a crime drama that rivals Breaking Bad.

The opening episode of Ozark shows Marty Byrde, gun to his head, seeing his life in pieces as he expects certain death. Suddenly, in a Don-Draper-down-the-dumps moment, Byrde suggests the idea of his family relocating to the Ozarks to set up shop there.

“You see, the hard reality is how much money we accumulate in life is not a function of who’s president or the economy or bubbles bursting or bad breaks or bosses.

It’s about the American work ethic. The one that made us the greatest country on Earth.”

– Marty Byrde (Jason Bateman)

What separates Ozark from the competition is the work ethic – how a group of people wiggle themselves out of tough situations just on the basis of timely wit. Also, the acting on the show is wonderfully nuanced – with subtle betrayals of emotion conveying major plot points. Both Laura Linney and Jason Bateman are in top form throughout. In fact, so much constantly happens in Ozark that there’s spoiler-worthy content right from the second episode. I dare you to not watch all episodes in one sitting.

Advertisements Get the word out:
Like this:Like Loading... Related