Best of 2016: Zach’s Favorite New TV Shows

Just like yesterday, I’m not going to put this list of new TV shows in any particular order but these are the 10 that were my favorites of the past year.

  • Westworld: With Game of Thrones wrapping up fairly soon, something needed to take it’s place and Westworld handily stepped up in it’s incredible first season.  The cast was incredible, especially anyone who had to play a robotic “host” like Evan Rachel Wood or Thandie Newton and any show that gets Sir Anthony Hopkins and Ed Harris is a must watch in my book.  It also delivered smart and sly commentary on how narrative media is created alongside it’s wild west adventures in the park and it’s going to be an insanely long wait until the 2nd season in 2018.
  • Stranger Things: The blockbuster of the summer, Stranger Things was a great trip down 80’s memory lane as a three different groups try to unravel the mystery of what the “Department of Energy” is doing in their hometown of Hawkins, IN and what happened to Will Byers, who vanishes in the first episode..  The middle school group and their adventures with the mysterious Eleven (Millie Bobbie Brown) was definitely the highlight, evoking old school Spielberg and the look and sound of the show was just pitch perfect for the vibe The Duffer Brothers were going for.
  • Lethal Weapon: In a year that gave us a god awful attempt at a Rush Hour show over at CBS, expectations were not high for Fox’s reboot of Lethal Weapon but, in a pleasant surprise, Lethal Weapon turned out to be a fun and funny action show that, while definitely not as dark as the Shane Black penned entries in the series, did have the same great banter and explosive action of the movies, just in a new episodic form.  Clayne Crawford and Damon Wayons have great chemistry and there’s a fun supporting cast around them like their requisite nerdy medical examiner nicknamed Scorsese and they even put their own spin on the first Lethal Weapon’s central case for their Christmas/mid-season finale episode.
  • 11.22.63: An adaptation of the Stephen King novel of the same name, 11.22.63 was the first time, at least to me, Hulu felt like a contender in the original streaming series arena as an actually excellent James Franco finds out his friend Chris Cooper has a strange time anomaly in the back of his diner that lets him travel back in time to the 60’s. His lifelong goal is to prevent the Kennedy assassination but he’s too sick to try again, so Franco takes up the cause but has to lie low for 3 years, as the time portal always takes you to the same day in 1960.  The great twisty plot had some fun time travel mechanics, like how time “pushes back” and causes random accidents and ailments because it does not want to be changed and it had a strong dramatic center as well with the relationship between Franco and the charming Sarah Gadon.
  • Angie Tribeca: In a bold strategy, TBS aired the first two seasons of Angie Tribeca and both of them were amazingly funny.  If you have been jonesing for a return to the pun filled antics of Naked Gun, this is your fix, as every line is some sort of gag or cue for a visual joke and all the cases are utterly insane in the best way possible.  All the characters are incredible as well from Angie’s (Rashida Jones) hardened detective schtick to the bluntness of medical examiner Dr. Shoals, Alfred Molina’s phony, scamming coroner, the always amazing Jere Burns as the angry police chief and so many more.
  • Channel Zero: Candle Cove: You can keep your ridiculous American Horror Story, my horror anthology of choice is now SyFy’s Channel Zero, which is adapting internet urban legends or creepypasta into 6 episode miniseries and the first adapted Candle Cove, an evil and not actually real pirate puppet show that puts the kids of a small town under its thrall.  Candle Cove was full of unsettling, creepy imagery, like when the characters of the puppet show appear in horrific form in real life or, the show’s standout creature, a boy made entirely of teeth *shudder* and it wasn’t afraid to go dark and kill off main characters or have bands of murderous kids.
  • Timeless: There was a ton of time travel on TV this year between the aforementioned 11.22.63 or The CW’s Legends of Tomorrow but Timeless went for solid, classic time travel action as our main trio pursues a criminal across various time periods in American history.  I actually get a lot of Sliders vibes from Timeless as you have a fun group of heroes being put into different scenarios every week thanks to a sci-fi gimmick and it has some of that alternate universe fun as well since every time the team returns to the present, something is usually different.  It also established a pretty good set of rules for it’s time travel early on, like being unable to return to places you’ve visited, and if you want historical figure cameos, Timeless has them in spades.
  • Vice Principals: Everyone waiting for more Eastbound and Down style comedy from HBO got everything they wanted and more from the hilarious Vice Principals, which features the incredible pairing of Danny McBride and Walton Goggins as feuding vice principals who put their rivalry on hold temporarily to take down the new principal they believe stole the job from one of them. Both Danny McBride and Walton Goggins are maestros of the f bomb and it just keeps getting funnier hearing them curse out students or each other and there’s some amazing set piece bits as well, like the duo accidentally getting high on acid at the homecoming football game.  It also ends on an insane cliffhanger for a comedy show, so I cannot wait to see how the next season plays out.
  • Luke Cage: Probably the second best of Netflix’s Marvel shows behind Daredevil, Luke Cage felt at it’s best like a modern day update of Shaft, just if Shaft had almost impenetrable skin and super strength.  Mike Colter was fantastic as Luke and Netflix MCU regular Rosario Dawson had her best and meatiest role yet as Claire Temple.  Like most of the Netflix shows, it burned out a bit toward the end but I’m still up for Luke’s appearance in The Defenders and hopefully, someday, a Heroes for Hire show.
  • The Good Place: After delivering two brilliantly funny workplace comedies with Parks and Rec and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Mike Schur got a little more existential with his newest show, The Good Place.  Kristen Bell plays the delightfully terrible Eleanor, who accidentally ends up in “The Good Place” after she’s killed and has to try and learn how to be a better person lest Good Place architech, the perpetually chipper Michael (Ted Danson) finds out.  Since it’s not the real world, the show has a ton of fun with it’s visuals and rules and the supporting cast is great as well, especially D’Arcy Carden as Janet, The Good Place’s equivalent of Siri with all the knowledge of the universe and the episodes so far did a great job of closing things in on Eleanor despite her best efforts to be better.

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