So 2016 had some down moments, but through all the bleakness, there was one bright spot of this year; 2016 was great for television.
We are in the new golden age of TV with so much quality programs out there that there is just not enough time in the day to watch it all. Thankfully before the years ends, we have a nice holiday break to catch up on all the small screen greatness. Here are some of the best of the year you can enjoy over the holidays.
Some of you may remember the 70s sci-fi film Westworld which starred Yul Brenner as a killer cowboy-styled robot in a Western theme park. You might be surprised to hear they made that cheesy story into a TV series, and you might be even more surprised to learn it’s actually quality TV. Taking less of the ‘robot gone mad’ plot and makes it more of an exploration into the ethics of artificial intelligence. The first season was full of insane twists and turns, as well as some amazing performances from its all-star cast which includes Anthony Hopkins and Ed Harris.
Better Call Saul
Usually when a popular TV show decides to do a spinoff series, the results are pretty disastrous. This series appears to be an exception. Following the crook-lawyer Saul Goodman from the hit Breaking Bad, this story flashes back to explore how a talented but misguided lawyer began breaking bad himself. The series continues the stylistic genius of its predecessor while infusing a bit more humour in with the occasional violence. It’s an interesting switch to see you now sympathizing with a character that was pure sleaze in another show.
American Crime Story: People Vs. OJ Simpson
Most boomers probably know exactly where they were the day OJ Simpson made that run from the law in the infamous white Bronco. Of course, they also know that the incident only marked the start of a court case that was stranger-than-fiction. While we all know how things eventually ended, this serialized version is nonetheless compelling from start to finish. You’ll remember all the wacky characters, all the big twists, but you may notice for the first time, how timely this case was on a number of issues, such as racism, sexism, and the media.
‘Black Mirror’ is a term referring to when your TV or computer screen goes black, leaving you starring at your own reflection. It’s an apt title for this series which deals with society and our complicated relationship with the screens in our lives. Each episode is a new story with a new cast, and they are increasingly more devastating and mind-bending in the themes they introduce and the questions they ask.
Nostalgic for the 80s? This series perfectly captures the spirit of those “Spielberg”-type movies like Goonies, ET and Close Encounters. Following a group of four young misfit friends who are sucked into an otherworldly mystery when one of them goes missing, just as a mysterious girl shows up with some incredible abilities. The acting from the child stars of the show is so charming and the suspense that’s built up within the story will have you hooked throughout the short 8-episode run.
The Night Manager
Jon le Carre is one of the greatest espionage writers of all time and this adaption of one of his lesser-known works is a treat for any fan of the genre. Following a hotel night manager with a military background who is recruited to infiltrate the ranks of a notorious arms dealer. It’s a taut, tense tale of undercover spies and dangerous men of power in the world. A short-series but well worth checking out.
Game of Thrones
Each year, Game of Thrones becomes less a television show and more a cultural event. For the ten-weeks each year that the fantasy series airs, people are talking about little else. The past sixth season continued the trend of the show getting bigger instead of fading away. The cast is getting smaller, the treats are getting bigger and the scope is getting wider as we near the end of the series. This last season displayed not only some of the most amazing sequences you’ll ever see on TV, but also on any screen this year.