Sunday, December 11, 2016

My Top 15 TV Shows of 2016: #15 - #11

15.) Master of None  (Season 1 - NETFLIX)

Aziz Ansari's show garnered a lot of attention for taking on more understated and implicit racism, but didn't really get enough attention for just how funny it is. Ansari will always be far better as a comedian than he is as an actor (this was an issue on Parks & Rec as well), but his persona was laced all across that show. If I have any quibble, it is with the supporting cast that were a little thinly drawn out, especially his 'best friend' Arnold who got very grating after a while. That said, the love interest of Rachel is played really well by Noel Wells, who fits this type of role much better than she did SNL during her cup of coffee there a few years back. She and Ansari had great chemistry, and while I don't want the show to become a romantic comedy, their pairing did allow some great moments like their impromptu trip to Nashville. I doubt the show will ever get much higher than this for me, but it is still a well worth it time pass.

14.) All or Nothing: A Season with the Arizona Cardinals  (Amazon Prime)

The biggest takeaway for me from watching Amazon's look inside the 2015 Arizona Cardinals was how bad it made Hard Knocks look in comparison. Now, this was much longer (ten 45-min episodes vs. five 60-min), but also so much deeper and better. I'm guessing very few watched this, but if Amazon made this a yearly (or at least semi-regular) occasion, I would be ecstatic. They picked the perfect team, with perfect personalities, and got lucky enough to have a team that went 13-3 and overall had a great season. The best part was an actual look at what team meetings, and practices, and gameday sideline banter is like. This wasn't cut to show stories and pull heart strings like Hard Knocks does now, instead it went straight to the heart of the team. The star was probably Bruce Arians (admittedly, they included a strange sideplot about Arians dog?), but the real star was the entire team. Patrick Peterson shows up great, as does Calais Campbell, a whole host of rookies, and even GM Steve Kiem. This is the type of show that had multiple long cuts of boardroom meetings between Kiem, Arians and Team President Michael Bidwill. That may seem boring. It wasn't. The show wasn't either. It may never happen again, and we were lucky the team was really good, but for one season it worked really well.

13.) It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia  (Season 11 - FXX)

At this point, Always Sunny is in that Simpsons mode that they hit around the same time when the seasons started blending together, but if anything, that shows just how good this show has become in its age. They are essentially making a live-action animated show, where characters can not grow. And while the characters themselves haven't grown, the show writers who also play them certainly have. Always Sunny has gone more inventive, more playful and more technically brilliant. This past season saw a show shot as it were taking place from the perspective of Frank - including interludes of his own personal thought - and also saw a complete spoof episode where they played off of the surprisingly large ski-movei sub-genre of the 80s and 90s. The show did less zany episodes, but still haven't lost their underrated biting wit and social commentary. The show is going to go for at least three more seasons, and can probaly go five more. Returns may be diminishing in a sense, but if they even approach a Simpsons-length run we really will have to reevaluate Always Sunny's place in the history of (cable) television.

12.) iZombie (end of Season 2 - The CW)

My pet favorite show of 2015 put out far less content in 2016. Last year it showed both a 13-episode Season 1, and the first 9 episodes of Season 2, but the last 10 episodes of Season 2 raised the bar even higher. The lasting theme of the show to me is just how much damn fun it is. As always, the conceit itself is ridiculous, but we are so far beyond just 'Girl becomes Zombie and solves crime!' phase, into where the show is examining legalization of drugs, corporate corruption, and pharmaceutical ethics all within this ridiculous conceit. The plot can get overly complicated at times, but the awesome cast papers over that easily. Rose McKiver is magnetic is Liv, but even the extended cast, whether it is Ravi (Rahul Kohli), Major (Robert Buckley), Blaine (David Anders - doing a great Spike from Buffy impression), they all work so well off of each other, and again, are openly having so much fun. I do wonder how far the show can go, and the ratings are definitely not inspiring, but for now I can't wait for a (sadly reduced) Season 3 where the Zombie issue gets exposed in the government, in 2017.

11.) The Night Of  (HBO)

I had initially pegged The Night Of to be much higher up the list, but as the season wore on, I kept dropping it further and further. I still find it to have been a very good show and worthwhile investment of my time, but I think there were serious issues with the latter half of the season. They almost always came in plot and characterization issues - most notably Chandra's lovelorn turn in the season's latter half. No lawyer would ever fall for a guy who may have easily committed a brutal murder and was starting to get into the drug world. Beyond the plot elements (John Stone running down alleys to chase potential suspects?) the show had a lot of great elements. The acting was almost always great, particularly Turturro's weird portroyal of Box, and Bill Camp as Detective Box and Jeannie Berlin as DA Weiss. The parts of the show I wish they went into more was the racial strife and how Naz's trail was impacting his family (who were wonderfully played as well), or more about his life in jail. For a show tangentially connected to The Wire, the show seemed to tip to more plot-driven elements than story for my liking.

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.