It was an extremely good year for Science Fiction and Fantasy television, particularly for good science fiction shows. It was hard to limit myself this year – I liked the Magicians and 12 Monkeys quite a bit and though I haven’t seen Man in a High Castle on Amazon yet, I have heard good things about it. Not to mention Star Wars: Rebels is continuing the saga from the Clone Wars and telling great stories. Here are my personal favorite picks of the year.
The Expanse: I’ll share this upfront – I’m a big fan of James Corey, the author of the Expanse series of books (now six books running). They aren’t the most complicated SFF books out there. But it doesn’t matter because they are good clean popcorn entertainment full of one-liners and science fiction goodness and you should go read them. They are also very cinematic books – like when I first read them I thought ‘This would make a great movie!’. SyFy channel took a chance on the property. They put some money and acting talent behind it and I think I was proven right. The fourth episode ‘CQB’ had the best space battle since Battlestar Galactica ended. The Expanse filled the BSG-sized void in my heart and I look forward to watching many seasons of James Holden and the crew of the Rocinante on their adventures.
Mr. Robot: This show is fascinating and like my departed and loved, Hannibal, it isn’t afraid to take chances on mental illness and the nature of reality. The narrator is completely unreliable as a storyteller and several times I have gone into an episode thinking one thing and then being amazed on how the show takes a left turn – one that is genuinely surprising yet earned. This show is also the most realistic depiction of actual computer hacking and social engineering on TV – topical given the current times not to mention a bit unsettling just how close the dystopian view presented is to us today. Highly recommended. Click the link to see my earlier review.
West World: It has been a month since the end of the season and I have come down off the high a bit. It wasn’t the best show I saw all year. But I think I’m okay with that because HBO tried to make a smart and complex show to complement Game of Thrones and I think they succeeded. Not everything in this show worked – it fell in love with some its stories and let them linger a bit longer than they ought too. Interestingly, Thrones has the same problem. But there was a lot of fascinating stuff here as well (Bernard’s story, Maeve’s journey, Hector/Armistice going nuclear) and those last two episodes were riveting and better than anything else out there. HBO hooked me again. Click the link to see my earlier review.
Preacher: I have a thing for Southern Gothic stories, particularly ones who contain fire and brimstone men of faith doing their thing. This show scratches the itch and then some. This show has atmosphere – positively swimming in it as it presents the story of a faithless Preacher, an irrepressible and lethal female warrior, and an Irish vampire. The first season’s story was essentially a preamble to the comic book journey to find the missing Creator. Honestly, it got dull and hard to follow in parts. So why is this show on the list? The characters were so damn interesting and the atmosphere of the show so good that I didn’t care. I just wanted to spend time watching these people on screen. I expect more out of the story in season two but in the meantime, season one gets a giant pass for bringing these characters on screen. Click the link to see my earlier review.
This is the final entry of the best of 2016. Other ‘Best of…’ lists from 2016: