Friday, December 29, 2017

TQ's Year of TV (2017)

[Previous Years: 2016 / 2015 / 2014 LT / 2014 NLT / 2013 / 2012 / 2011]
Peak TV is done. It's dead. The era (also referred to as The Golden Age of Television or Prestige TV) that began when The Sopranos debuted on a premium cable network will officially die with its last dragon - literally.
I saw U2 the night of The Leftovers series finale

HBO is going to make us wait until next decade (we all fear) for the final season of its last great show with no real hope in sight of a new top show to take its place. AMC has never recovered from losing Mad Men and Breaking Bad and only the people too delusional to still watch The Walking Dead remain interested in the network. Cinemax couldn't even figure out how to replace Banshee!
People are going crazy deciding what to watch next

We are now in the time of TOO MUCH TV. It is impossible to keep up. Not only is there a new series that you must watch coming out every week - but it's a series that whoever told you about it has seen every episode of its existence (an existence not known before whatever conversation bombards you with its arrival) and most likely won't give you any details until you are current with its plot lines.

My 2018 goal is to quit more shows. Not only quitting a show that has a new season out following a season that I only watched for compulsive / completest reasons, but also walking away from shows mid-season. There's too much out there that I know is better and should spend my time watching.

Lots to catch on television this year
In years past I would rank every show in which I had watched a full season. This year, to prove my "TOO MUCH TV" point to myself, I'm going to list out every show that is on my show watching radar. The below TV Tsunami includes both shows that I have watched in totality, but also shows that I very likely will watch in the future - when I start quitting other shows on this list in greater numbers. Rankings are impossible this year as one of my known favorites, Black Mirror, released new episodes today (December 29) that would make any number assignment eventually inaccurate.

New for this year: TV Superlatives! At the bottom of the post will be specific awards that I want to give my favorites. It's a better strategy for the future of this quixotic adventure. The other shows are listed alphabetically.
I'm not ranking stuff this year
The Affair (Showtime)
This show sucks now. It was good, but now its not. Not watching another episode of it... unless someone tells me the new season is centered on Brendan Fraser's character. It's excellent first season will make you watch its second, but it's third will make you stop at its fourth.

American Gods (Starz)
According to the people who read the book, it will get better. I don't know what I wanted - I was hoping for another beautifully weird looking show like Hannibal (also a Bryan Fuller fever dream). It was that... I guess. I want to quit it, but know I won't. I'll bank all the second season and watch it in a single weekend in 2018.

Ballers (HBO)
I'm only mentioning this show to brag about not having watched it! It was a promise I made last year that I didn't think I would be able to keep. I had the entire series recorded, ready to watch on any random weekend - but I stayed away. You'd think I wouldn't be able to after learning the show was set in Las Vegas this year - but you'd be wrong.

Baskets (FX)
A show that reminds of my golf game. There's no too much to it, often is frustrating, but there's always a moment that brings you back for more. One thing that I will always love about Baskets is its nonstop admiration of Costco and Arby's. More shows, not less, of it need to exist. 

Better Things (FX)
Let's all say it in unison: F - U - Louie - C - K... It's awful that his name is attached to such a great show. The best aspect of Better Things is that it tells the parts of the story it chooses, and purposely omits pieces of it because it trusts you will catch up and make your own conclusions. Also great at stand alone episodes in addition to serialized arcs.

Big Little Lies (HBO)
A powerhouse. Great in all aspects. HBO can't seem to get a new series off the ground but with True Detective, The Night Of, and now Big Little Lies... It has a great grasp on the limited series. Is it okay that I do not want a second season? It's perfect as is - but I'm sure they can find another victim, and I'll be ready when they do.

Big Mouth (Netflix)
I haven't watched this show. Not a single minute. But I've suggested it to multiple people who have told me it's good. There's no reason, with its cast, that it won't be excellent.

Billions (Showtime)
The most fun show about the most ridiculous people. Billions has risen to the rare rank that I'll watch it when it airs live - because I can't wait for what fun it has next. It doesn't matter what side you are rooting for in Billions, you know you'll both lose and win. Could use some freaking diversity on the show - so that's one thing they can fix.

Black Mirror (Netflix)
New episodes came out on December 29. This is my current plan for New Year's Eve. A perfect dark pair to one of my worst nights of the year.

Bloodline (Netflix)
It's third and final season came out. I haven't watched it. Probably won't. If you did tell me if it was closer to the quality of season one, or was just more of the same bad s2 garbage.

BoJack Horseman (Netflix)
The show was more of a drama this year. Any story with Mr. Peanutbutter is great, and his run for Governor was as good as when he was the host of HSACWDTKDTKTLFO. But that was less than half of the season - I never got invested in the lost-daughter-mystery-flashback-heavy main arc of the season.

Broad City (Comedy Central)
Move over Veep, the best use of profanity on television is now Broad City's claim. It's also a Seinfeld for a new generation and is more realistic than Friends ever attempted. One has to think the time for this show is short - too many huge things are ahead for its stars. Watch it now and earn party cred later.

Brockmire (IFC)
If you haven't seen this, go back-back-back to whatever you use to watch television and ring it up. Another wonderfully vulgar show, you don't need to like baseball to enjoy (but you may need to enjoy drunken behavior worse than what Eastbound and Down showed us). This show is a home run. GET IT?

Crashing (HBO)
A sweet show about an awful life. Thankfully, if you know about Pete Holmes you know the story ends on a good note - but never before has a show expertly shown the uncomfortably awkward open mic comedy scene this well. The show has a set of guest stars that are famous now, and the rest of actors will be famous in five years.

Detroiters (Comedy Central)
I don't know if the Tim Robinson and Sam Richardson comedy got a second season - but I really hope it does. A great show about friendship that has a hidden gem of being one of the better office-based comedies. The show has hilarious set pieces such as a family birthday party, but it's true brilliance is its commentary on the modern business world.

The Deuce (HBO)
Another show that I haven't watched yet. I know I will. Promise. Like the prologue to this post summaries, there's just TOO MUCH TV.

Easy (Netflix)
Another show that I haven't watched yet. I know I will. Promise. Like the prologue to this post summaries, there's just TOO MUCH TV.

F is for Family (Netflix)
I quit this show midseason. It's not bad, but I've got too much other stuff on deck. Watching this show was time probably better spent watching Big Mouth.

Fargo (FX)
The first two seasons were some of the best of the medium. It's difficult to objectively say if it was a poor season, or only looked poor in relation to the first two stellar efforts. The one saving grace of season three was the best Coen film reference yet. And if you know me, you don't have a tough time guessing which film was chosen to honor.

Full Frontal with Samantha Bee (TBS)
Instead of watching four episodes a week of The Daily Show, I watch three shows that air once a week that give me three different perspectives with a much better quality. This is one of those three shows.

The Girlfriend Experience (Starz)
If I had watched season one in 2016, it would have been in the top 15. Season two (with its two separate stories at double the length) is a clear example of quantity over quality. I first quit one of the two stories, and then eventually quit the second one too. The show was amazing because Riley Keough was amazing. The new stories fall way short.

Girls (HBO)
I'm glad this show quit before I had to quit it. It was never a show for me and the quicker we can all move on the better. Time to watch better shows like Insecure instead.

GLOW (Netflix)
Everyone loved this show more than me. Consider this show on the mat in my mind. If it doesn't get up quick, I'm calling it and moving on to the next match.

The Good Place (NBC)
The most original comedy on television. If you don't watch this, you must start from episode one. A rare show that is able to pun on the level of BoJack Horseman. The show has accomplished the previously inconceivable: turned me into a Jacksonville Jaguars fan. Is it a coincidence that the Jags are having their best season in decades?

The Gorburger Show (Comedy Central)
T.J. Miller shoudn't be allowed to attempt this bullshit anymore. The less we hear from him the better.

House of Cards (Netflix)
The show went from great, to just entertaining, to just foolish. It's no longer good enough to balance out its ridiculousness. But it looks like the only thing that can save the show (the elimination of Kevin Spacey / focus on Robin Wright) may be in the... cards? If you hated that line, now have the emotion that matches my opinion of the Underwoods.

I'm Sorry (TruTV)
Andrea Savage is great in a show that I've recommended to all my friends with kids. It's a show that proves that people don't have to stop being inappropriate and messy once they become parents. If you are the kind of person that drinks booze at a toddler's birthday party - this show is for you!

It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia (FX)
I will go to bat for this show forever. If you think this show has lost a step, let me know and get ready to fight. You'll lose because I'll mention a single use of an exercise bike and walk away victorious. Get ready for a major change for its next year - the first post Dennis year. Wouldn't it be awesome if they replaced him with Athena!?

Lady Dynamite (Netflix)
Bless Maria Bamford and bless that she's able to unleash her unique perspective. The show is her mind, and it's wonderfully aware in its incoherent logic. There are times when Maria just screams a totally over the top line delivery that is a line you've heard in so many other sitcoms. The key difference: Lady Dynamite knows it's nonsense.

Last Man on Earth (Fox)
I tend to discount this show by watching other shows ahead of it, but every episode has great laughs. Maybe its the realization that my sense of humor is to close to Tandy's (the most hated character on the show). The show is nothing what I thought it was going to be when it started and I hope it continues to surprise me.

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)
Instead of watching four episodes a week of The Daily Show, I watch three shows that air once a week that give me three different perspectives with a much better quality. This is one of those three shows.

The Leftovers (HBO)
A great show that had a great series finale. A task that appears impossible with how infrequent it occurs. The entire show is less than 30 hours, which hopefully means I can have more discussions about it with more people in the future. The rest of my time I will yield to a much better writer: please read Tom Batten's recaps on the final season.

Love (Netflix)
This show's upcoming third season will be its last. I'm going to miss it when its gone. Everyone in it is great and I can't wait to see what everyone involved in it does next.

Master of None (Netflix) 
Remember this show? I'm guessing we'll never get a third season so enjoy perhaps the best two season comedy of all-time. Its Thanksgiving episode earned its spot in history. And just when you think the soundtrack couldn't get better - we have a backseat cab dance party to "Scatman" - what a gift.

Mindhunter (Netflix)
I'm not as high on its first season as everyone who recommended it to me was, but I think the second season is set up for greatness. There was a specific moment that I'd love to talk to anybody that has seen it (when I was about to say, "this show isn't that scary" and almost fell off my couch in a startled fear panic).

Mr. Robot (USA)
Another show that I haven't watched yet. I know I will. Promise. Like the prologue to this post summaries, there's just TOO MUCH TV.

Narcos (Netflix)
Another show that I haven't watched yet. I know I will. Promise. Like the prologue to this post summaries, there's just TOO MUCH TV.

Ozark (Netflix)
When it comes to Netflix shows that people want you to watch, if they didn't run at you with Mindhunter, they ran at you with Ozark. Jason Bateman is great - even if people wrongly think he plays the same character in everything he does. I didn't like it as much as others because it's another story about a too smart for his own good guy in the illicit drug world.

Playing House (USA)
Gone to soon. Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham gave America two chances to see their great friendship (the first was the NBC show Best Friends Forever) and we need a third chance. USA wasn't able to get their comedy voice off the ground - in a better world TruTV would've picked it up to pair with I'm Sorry.

Review (Comedy Central)
Five Stars

Rick & Morty (Adult Swim)
It took forever to get a second season and it feels like its only a matter of time before Dan Harmon finds something else to do while he waits. If there was justice in the world, any poor soul that had to work at a McDonald's the morning it was overrun by comedy nerds would get a bonus check from Adult Swim.

The Rundown with Robin Thede (BET)
Instead of watching four episodes a week of The Daily Show, I watch three shows that air once a week that give me three different perspectives with a much better quality. This is one of those three shows.

Search Party (TBS)
Another show that I haven't watched yet. I know I will. Promise. Like the prologue to this post summaries, there's just TOO MUCH TV.
Sense8 (Netflix)
This is the hour-long Netflix show I prefer over Bloodline, Narcos, Ozark, and even Mindhunter. It's sci-fi action, self-aware comedy, and far and away all the most diverse cast on this list. Netflix tried to cancel it, and its fans justifiably freaked. Thankfully a compromise was reached and we'll get a series ending movie-length finale in 2018.

Shameless (Showtime)
Another show that I haven't watched yet. I know I will. Promise. Like the prologue to this post summaries, there's just TOO MUCH TV.

Silicon Valley (HBO)
The show is starting to feel like The Walking Dead of comedy - in that it is constantly working itself into a corner only to find a miracle recovery just in time... before the next dumbass mistake for the next episode or season. I have hope for this show - the next season will be T.J. Millerless (to use an algebra term: addition by subtraction).

SMILF (Showtime)
I didn't expect to like this show as much as I did. Gave the first episode a watch with the dark intention of writing it off and knowing that I didn't have to invest any effort in it. But the first episode hooked me and couldn't be better positioned next to Shameless. Further proof that we need different voices in storytelling.

Stranger Things (Netflix)
The best part of the season was the expansion of the Hawkins universe to include normal characters like Lucas' sister, step-brother Billy, and Radio Shack Rudy.  But my idea for season two is a buddy-cop season with Steve and Dustin. Knowing that won't happen, they better bring back Eight to make that episode in Chicago make more sense.

The Tick (Amazon)
Another show that I haven't watched yet. I know I will. Promise. Like the prologue to this post summaries, there's just TOO MUCH TV.
Top of the Lake: China Girl (AMC)
Another show that I haven't watched yet. I know I will. Promise. Like the prologue to this post summaries, there's just TOO MUCH TV.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)
Kimmy going to college was a wasted opportunity. A lot of material left on the table that I hope the show goes back to burn. The show is still at a level that will make me watch every new episode the weekend they are released. Tina Fey's team will always step on the gas and provide one of the highest jokes per minute ratios in the game.

Veep (HBO)
In years past I have claimed Veep as the best comedy on TV. This year I don't have the same opinion, but knowing that its last season will be its last - I can't wait!

Vice Principals (HBO)
Is Walton Goggins the next John C. Reilly? An great dramatic actor that was given a chance to be silly and we will get more of it? Loved the entire concept of Vice Principals and loved how they shot it all at once, always knowing and wanting it to last two seasons. For those that watched, we all got a wonderful Eastbound and Down gift in its finale. 

White Famous (Showtime) 
Another show that I haven't watched yet. I know I will. Promise. Like the prologue to this post summaries, there's just TOO MUCH TV.

You're The Worst (FX)
Another show that I haven't watched yet. I know I will. Promise. Like the prologue to this post summaries, there's just TOO MUCH TV.

* * *

Superstore (NBC)

Chicago Fire (NBC)

Look at my friend Nicholas Bernardi on the television! What an ass! Give this character his own "troubled white man anitihero" premium cable series.

Chicago Fire (NBC)

HOW DARE YOU D. WOLF?! You made me watch a procedural on NBC and this is the thanks I get - watching the best non Ice-T portrayed character in the last twenty years die already. SPOILER ALERT - YOU SUCK. 

The Americans (FX)
Not a good season in 2017 for a show that is a former #1. I'm blaming it on the fact that for the first in the history of the show, its writers knew it wasn't potentially writing its last season. Next year is, sadly, the last year for The Americans. It's earned my trust, and continues to possess it after a down year, but it's gotta stick that landing.

The Handmaid's Tale (Hulu) & Transparent (Amazon)
I'll probably never buy a Hulu subscription because I'm never in a search for more television to watch. Even though I recently got access to Amazon Prime, I fear that Transparent has gone too far without me watching to catch up (and bonus reason I don't want to watch: Jeff Tambor). Maybe next year, let's stay optimistic.

Take My Wife (SeeSo)
If NBC reboots another Please See Me TV memory over picking up this gem, they deserve their fate. I feel the stories in this show are timeless, but with the very important change of having them told by different voices. The world sucked in 2017 - perhaps the world has to get better in order to deserve Take My Wife.

Nathan For You (Comedy)

Hard Knocks: Training Camp (HBO)

Game of Thrones (HBO)

She almost rode this show to the Best Drama award herself. An amazing show that had one of its best seasons to date. I'm guessing it'll be spring by the time we return to Westeros.

Bajillion Dollar Propertie$ (SeeSo)

If you think I created this category to only share pictures of PFT, you're 100% correct. Here's another:

Shrink (SeeSo) & The UCB Show (SeeSo)
I'm one of those comedy diehards that bought a subscription to SeeSo. We all knew it couldn't last, which inspired me to watch as much of it as I could while it lasted. The best show is the above mentioned Take My Wife - which I'm still confident will find a home elsewhere. Bajillion is availalbe on amazon and iTunes... But I don't think Shink and The UCB Show are anywhere - and that's sad.

Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO)
I don't think the show will ever return to its past glory. Why is the show bad now? It's because every episode has the same plot of "An Asshole being rude for no reason to service industry workers." Larry's always been an asshole, but it's funny when he's with friends. He seems to have no friends left.

Halt and Catch Fire (AMC)
Everybody was surprised that it didn't get cancelled after it's first season. After it's third season we all were praying for a fourth season. It's fourth and final season is a wonderful payoff to all who watched it throughout it's growth. This show will go down in history as one of the forgotten gems of its time (similar to how Party Down is now perceived).

The Chris Gethard Show (TruTV)
"Comin' at you live in 10-9-8-7-6-5 and nobody knows. Yeah nobody knows! Just what's gonna happen in 4-3-2-1 ACTION it could explode. Oh it could all explode! C'mon let's get going its way more fun not knowing where it could go. Who knows where we're going? Let's start the show! Who knows where we're going? Let's start the show!"

Legion (FX)
Take all those boring Marvel shows on Netflix that have bloated (middle dragging) seasons and add a visionary like Fargo's Noah Hawley to it and you'll get Legion. Aubrey Plaza is remarkable in a show that is as fun as it is weird. The show needs one more thing to truly be great: dump Bryan Singer from its credits.

American Vandal (Netflix)
It's fun. It makes fun of other shows people have recommended in the past. You know it is insincere but you will grow real feelings for it. Half hour, easy to consume, episodes make it great for airplane views (especially with the 2017 gift of Netflix allowing content to exist offline). #WhoDrewTheDicks

Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Fox)

The show just gets stronger. In every sense: character pairings, guest stars, story lines. Peralta and Santiago's romance was more natural than The Office's Pam & Jim - and exponentially funnier. All of this on top of a setting (police) that isn't exactly fertile comedy soil in modern times.

Better Call Saul (AMC) 
A post shared by TQ (@tomqu) on
At the end of Breaking Bad, every episode had a black cloud above it knowing that any character in may be at death's door. Better Call Saul is achieving equal levels of suspense with all viewers knowing that all characters will survive through it. Since its start it's been two great, separate but equal, stories. They are starting to wonderfully merge.