Monday, December 19, 2016

My Top 15 TV Shows of 2016: #10 - #6

10.) Orange is the New Black  (Season 4 - NETFLIX)

I've alternated hot and cold with Orange is the New Black. I really enjoyed the first season, less so the second season as I never really cared about Vee. I was lukewarm on the third season, where I got a little bored of the current set of prisoners and tired of the flashbacks. Yet, in Season 4, I thought the show found a new sense of direction, diving headfirst into the idea of the privatisation of prisons in the US. The show really did well by the staff, who were often underserved in early seasons beyond Caputo and Healey. Bringing in an entire new batch of prisoners also brought a sense of newness to a show that was getting slightly stale. The entire season long storytelling arc, simmering with just the right amount of labor vs. management and racial tensions capped off perfectly with the accidental death of Poussey which should have amazing ramifications for future seasons. I'm very much back on board with the show after this season, especially if they continue with storylines outside of the prison, whether it be the staff, or released inmates that we grew to know and love on the inside.

9.) Better Call Saul  (Season 2 - AMC)

My consideration of both Vince Gilligan and his team's talents and the superb cast made me honestly slightly disappointed with Season 2. Of course, I still found it an amazingly alluring and appealing show that I never considered not watching. My largest issue with the show was Season 2 split far more into two separate shows that lived in the same universe. One was Mike's turn into crime to support his family (ironic, since that's what got his future nemesis and killer into crime), and the other with Jimmy slowly breaking bad realizing his life as a lawyer is not really all that fun if Jimmy can't add a bit of 'Slippin' into that life. Of course, my issue with teh show is while these two parallel stories are both incredibly well crafted, at this point the Mike version is much more compelling. I have high hopes for the future as the end of the season, particularly the very end when we realize Chuck was taping Jimmy's confession, may drive the show forward and ultimately veer towards his turn to Saul, but until then, I can continue to watch a show that masters every part of the medium, if being slightly disappointing because it is nearly an 'A-' instead of an 'A'.

8.) Veep  (Season 5 - HBO)

Veep was my number 1 show last year, and while I think this ranking rightfully recognizes a drop in quality, let it be known that this is due to more to the overall quality of a lot of shows this past year. Also, when seasons get this far along in their path, especially in comedy where plot is less of a driving force as in a serialized drama, it is hard for them to keep being as amazing. Only so much of any dropoff do I actually write up to Armando Ianucci leaving the show. First off, he left behind most of the writing staff and the new main production team was his own. Second, the main criticism I heard about Season 5 was that the characters were far more caustic than it past, which is simply not true. Overall, I just cared less about the plot which seemed a little more serialized (Selina's chances in various recounts) than in past when the show was a little more expansive in its critique on Washington. Still, Veep remained an incredibly funny show with as many memorable one-liners as ever. I am also excited about where the show will go now with Selina out of office, a welcome move given that real US politics is doing a good enough job satirizing itself. At this point, Veep is just adding icing on top of the cake of an all-time great sitcom of this era, but at a quality that is still incredible high.

7.) Silicon Valley  (Season 3 - HBO)

Silicon Valley remains a great show, but I'm very surprised at how well they were able to navigate a tricky situation. In the tech world, there is definitely a few paths you can take. You can either fail badly, or grow rapidly. The former would have had serious implications on the show, and the latter would have quickly made the characters, and the problems they would face, a lot less relatable. Instead, they showed brief periods of success, showed how badly some characters reacted to that success, and ultimately were able to hit the re-set button on the plot without it seeming like a deus ex machina to keep the show going. Add to all that how funny the show remains, and how well they are now doing with non essential characters. Gavin Belson's animal-fueled-apology tour and ultimate demise became my favorite little part of the show each week and I can't wait to see what they do with him now away from Hooli. I still am not sure how long it can last given the need to drive plot to a conclusion and the immense talent of its cast starting to hurt the show (actors will eventually get more lucrative opportunities) but for now Silicon Valley has, slightly, overtaken Veep as HBO's flagship comedy in my mind.

6.) Bojack Horseman  (Season 3 - NETFLIX)

Bojack Horseman was my highest rated comedy last season, and it remains so this year as well. The (far too) unknown gem in Netflix's original content stable, Bojack Horseman remained every bit as cutting and brilliant in satirizing Hollywood, modern culture, but this year took it to another level in delving really deep into psychology of how people perceive success. The show itself might not have been as consistently great as in Season 2, but it hit higher highs. Episodes like the all-underwater episode presented with nearly no dialogue was a masterpiece, showcasing the medium for all its glory and showed how emotionally brilliant animation can be. The ultimate quest for an Oscar may have failed for Bojack, but was a gold-mine for the show. All the other characters remained as good as ever, but even there we saw deeper looks at Todd, Mr. Peanutbutter (an incredible arc with his family backstory), and Princess Carolyn. It was less 'funny' than before, but more emotionally relevant and in the end just as good. I can't imagine it going more than 1-2 more years, but it still pulls down incredible names to do voices, and there seems to be a lot more to mine out of these characters.

About Me

I am a man who will go by the moniker dmstorm22, or StormyD, but not really StormyD. I'll talk about sports, mainly football, sometimes TV, sometimes other random things, sometimes even bring out some lists (a lot, lot, lot of lists). Enjoy.