Monday, December 26, 2016

Best TV Shows of 2016 - Top 90

As 2016 comes to a close, it's a perfect time to look back at the year that was and celebrate all the great things that happened on television - and there were so many this year too. Over the next few days, I'll be counting down my favorite shows of 2016 - a list that will include 100 shows! The list continues today with the shows I've ranked 90-81.

Of course, it should be noted that all lists are completely subjective. These are simply the 100 shows that I enjoyed the most this year. The act of ranking is completely arbitrary. I may rank a show much lower or higher than you would. That's completely fine. We all have different tastes in this world. Moreover, it's more difficult than ever before to keep up with all of the shows currently airing on the broadcast networks, basic cable, pay cable and streaming services. This year saw the total of original scripted shows rise to 455. That's completely insane. More networks are producing original content than ever before. That's notable because so much of it is good. When I was making this list, I was surprised by how strong the overall quality was. In years past, I could get away with only talking about the 20 or 50 best shows on television. This year merits a list that includes 100 shows. It was just that good.

And yet, it's impossible for any one person to watch it all. There simply isn't enough time to watch everything. So this list will have some pretty notable omissions. I am only human. Stuff that I missed out on years ago are particularly challenging to get caught up on because of all the new shows coming out. You'll notice that HBO's Game of Thrones isn't on this list. That's entirely because I still have not found the time to watch any of it. It's something I'm interested in doing but I've also had to keep up with everything else happening in this industry. Of course, there's also a fair number of new shows I missed out on as well. Streaming only continues to grow. A few years ago, outlets like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu weren't even producing original scripted series. And now, they are seemingly debuting new shows every week. It's a lot to keep track of. I caught up on a number of shows over the last month in the hopes of being able to cover many of the great things that happened this year. But my time management skills could only do so much. I couldn't get to Netflix's period drama The Crown or the second season of Amazon's The Man in the High Castle. So while I do think it's a good idea to do this year-end list, it shouldn't cause concern or outrage. These are simple the shows I watched this year and really enjoyed.

Here are the previous posts from this week:

So with all that being said, here's the shows I've ranked 90-81 for 2016!

Aired January 31, 2016

FOX officially followed on the heels of NBC and did its own live musical this year. Expectations were high following NBC's The Wiz Live. But Grease: Live! proved to be such a wonderful thing to watch. It was a technical masterpiece with elaborate sets and choreography. Sure, that could only mask some of the problems in the story. But it was a fun and wild ride nevertheless.

Season 4: April 12 - July 5, 2016
Season 5: October 4 - November 15, 2016

This was the year the show lost Danny Castellano, one of the best comedic characters out there. As such, the show returned to episodic romantic angst to fuel it's storytelling. That is never the show at its best. But still, this is a show that knows how to just follow through with all the complete absurdity and craft hilarious one-liners.

Season 1: June 23 - September 15, 2016

The first season of the drama had a fairly traditional plot setup. It was conventional on a week-to-week narrative basis as well. And yet, it cracked the list this year for the wonderful lead performances from Alice Braga and Veronica Falcon.

Season 1: January 14 - March 17, 2016

Much like Queen of the South, Colony was fairly conventional with its main story. The creators weren't always confident with how far they could push the story. And yet, it remains a fantastic premise for a show that is supported by a very talented cast led by Josh Holloway and Sarah Wayne Callies.

Season 1: September 23 - December 16, 2016

Remakes and revivals are seemingly all the rage now. Networks are relying on familiar titles in order to get audiences to check out their shows. The series adaptation of The Exorcist wasn't seen by many on FOX. But it was a bold and original take on the material that proved that the broadcast networks are still capable of taking risks as well.

Season 1: June 14 - August 9, 2016

Like many shows on this portion of the list, Animal Kingdom followed some pretty traditional plotting and world building. And yet, the first season did a lot of interesting work to show how this can be an engaging and nuanced world for more than a two hour movie. 

Season 7: January 10 - May 8, 2016

The once great drama aired it's final episodes this year. It didn't go out on a particularly high note with a pretty controversial finale. The final story arc was just too forced to create symmetry with how the series began. Despite that, it can't be understated just how phenomenal this cast was throughout the series run. Julianna Margulies and Christine Baranski were doing compelling work until the very end. Plus, that slap!

Season 1: October 16 - December 18, 2016

Epix is one of the many new outlets getting into original programming this year. Its first two series weren't all that original or notable. But once again, a terrific cast and interesting pacing led to a solid and compelling first season for this drama. 

Season 1: January 5 - April 26, 2016

It's rare that CBS procedurals make it onto this list. Not because they are bad but because they aren't really inventive or challenging the industry. Limitless didn't always work. But it had such a strong conviction to be different and do things in an unconventional way. It's one of the many cancellations that hurt this year. 

Season 1: March 2 - May 24, 2016
Season 2: October 11 - December 13, 2016

ABC knows how to make good family-based comedies. That was once again evident with the debut of The Real O'Neals. It's not as notable or distinct as a number of other ABC comedies further down this list. But the show does know how to craft strong A stories which typically give strong material to Noah Galvin and Martha Plimpton.