Welcome to another installment of GHG’s Best “Geek” TV of the Year! All the following lists take a look at our favorite superhero, sci-fi, fantasy, horror, wrestling, nerd comedy and geek-related programming of 2017: cable TV and streaming services included. New to 2018 is the inclusion of western animation; no, not cowboys and indians, but animation produced in North America, etc. (our anime list is coming soon, too).
Merry TV-Mas eve, y’all!
1. The Haunting of Hill House (Netflix) – A show that kept everyone watching and waiting to see what would happen next that makes you go ‘WTF!” every episode and genuinely makes you jump is a good show, but it’s the story and the acting that bump this show up to the #1 position of the year. – 5/5
2. The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Netflix) – I know! Sabrina grabs the top spot because of the fact that while we knew it would be good, we didn’t think it would be this good. TCAOS was compelling and shocking and an absolute fantastic show from beginning to end and they gave us a Winter Solstice episode (this would have been a 5 but Harvey annoyed the crap out of me). – 4.75/5
3. Arrow/Flash/Supergirl Crossover (CW) – Elseworlds was an absolute amazing crossover. There was literally so much going on that I had to go back and check on YouTube and the interwebs to see just what all I missed. The writers on the show do such a fantastic job when it comes to the crossovers and getting the character dynamics just right. – 4.75/5
4. Daredevil (Netflix) – Netflix’s final season of Daredevil was a brilliant rendition of the Born Again series. Season 3 gave us another helping of Wilson Fisk/Kingpin and such a compelling Bullseye that I was getting antsy for Season 4 as the season was coming to an end. The fact that Netflix cancelled the show is what lands ol’ Hornhead at a… – 4.5/5 (Seriously Netflix, it’s like you want us to hate you but we can’t because you have Sabrina and Narcos and brought back Lucifer.)
5. Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan (Amazon) – Jack Ryan is a thrilling series that you are going to want to binge. You can tell that Amazon put a lot of money behind it, not only with the actors, but with the locations. This show goes around the world, and the second episode is a giant step in the right direction after the pilot. While my initial review for the pilot and second episode was a 4/5, Jack Ryan really found its footing shortly thereafter. – 4.25/5
Honorable Mentions: Gotham, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Riverdale, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Lucifer, Big Mouth, Runaways, Charmed, Disenchanted, The Good Place, Voltron: Legendary Defender, The Good Doctor, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Black Lightning, Titans.
1. Preacher (AMC) –
2. Legion (FX) –
3. Happy! (SYFY) –
4. Channel Zero (SYFY) –
5. Marvel’s Runaways (Hulu) –
1. The Haunting of Hill House (Netflix) – This demonstrates that a 10-hour horror TV show doesn’t have to be festival of gore porn with celebrity cameos and gratuitous sex like what American Horror Story has become. In a world that embraces skeptics, the series makes one question “When should I just have faith in somebody’s story?” The Crain family contains both skeptics and believers, and the audience gets a close look at their shared summer experience at Hill House and how their memories shaped their psyches and their perspectives on reality. A suspenseful psychological thriller that happened to contain ghosts. Note: Easter Egg Lovers must search for the ghosts hidden in each scene. – 5/5
2. Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan (Amazon) – Amazon scores big with Tom Clancy fans with a faithful update of the iconic character Jack Ryan as a young CIA agent. It is a great old school battle of beliefs, integrity, and wits based in reality full of high geopolitical stakes. A true character-driven series that reminds that things are mostly grey and everyone has an origin story. It will make you want to watch The Hunt for Red October and Clear and Present Danger again. – 5/5
3. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (Netflix) – A six episode anthology series that is not just for Western geeks and Coen Brothers cult followers. These perfectly written episodes makes any viewer reflect the absurdness everyone has encountered in life and death, and sometimes the meaningless of it all. Sometimes, shit really does happen. Sometimes good. Sometimes bad. How each audience member feels about his or her reaction sis after each episode is the entertainment. – 5/5
4. The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Netflix) – Nothing was more scary for The Wu than when the possible cancellation of TCAOS was circling social media after The Satanic Temple threatened to sue Netflix for using the temple’s statue of Baphomet in the show due to copyright issues. Not finding out what everyone’s squeaky clean teenage witch will do next after embracing her darkness is too scary. It is Gossip Girl with the teenage angst of The Craft. Talk about some dark XOXO. – 4/5 (only because Harvey Kinkel is more of a love disinterest and his presence just makes the audience wonder if Sabrina needs not just an intervention but an exorcism.)
5. Lost in Space (Netflix) – Remakes are trending. LIS is a modern remake of the 1965 series which reimagined the novel The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss. It contains family struggle, romance, robot, NASA Easter eggs, and PG-13 content? It is one of the few sci-fi series that a family can enjoy together and not have to go into deep conversations. – 4/5
Honorable Mentions: Maniac, Into the Dark, Cobra Kai.
1. The Dragon Prince (Netflix) – What do you get when Aaron Ehazs, the creator of Avatar: The Last Airbender, and Justin Richmond, the director of Uncharted 3, get together to make a cartoon about elves, and magic, and dragons? You get a great story with witty banter and fast paced action. You can tell Ehazs put all of his love into this project. It is definitely worth a watch and a few rewatches. – 5/5
2. The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Netflix) – Kiernan Shipka effortlessly steps into the role of everyone’s favorite blonde teenage witch, only this time it is not all fun and games. This time creator Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa takes us down a dark and bloody path towards the Dark One himself. While it lacks some of the fun and sparkly magic from the original, Sabrina will surely charm your heart into being excited for season 2. – 4.75/5
3. Titans (DC Universe) – If you were able to catch my review when the show first dropped, you’d know that this is not your typical Teen Titans, and that makes it great! Greg Belanti, Akiva Goldsman, and Geoff Johns created a very gritty, very adult show about sidekicks and wannabes finding their way in a world that is far from forgiving. Anna Diop stands out as an amazing Starfire. The wonderfully choreographed fight scenes and a great story line will have you begging for Season 2. – 4.5/5
4. Doctor Who (BBC) – Everyone’s favorite time traveler is back, only this time the Doctor is a woman. Jodi Whittaker is brilliant as the new Doctor, and with Chris Chibnall heading the production, it feels even more epic than before. I’m anxiously awaiting the New Year’s special. – 4.25/5
5. Voltron: Legendary Defender (Netflix) – Netflix and Dreamworks Animation released the final season of it’s Voltron remake this December, and what a way to end a show! The middle seasons of the show got a bit draggy, but this final season was fast and furious and wrapped the story in one of the most beautiful ways you’ll ever see. – 4/5
1. Daredevil (Netflix) – It seems only fitting that Daredevil, the show that started the Marvel Netflx shows, would bow out of Netflix by giving us the best season of the Marvel/Netflix collaboration. The other shows have definitely had some highs, but Daredevil just seems to raise the bar every time and this season did that for a final time. – 5/5
2. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC) – For much of Season 5, there was a real question of whether or not this would be the final season of S.H.I.E.L.D. and as season 5 went on, it seemed increasingly likely given that they were holding nothing back. They tied up loose ends from all of their previous seasons and gave us an exciting season that solidified AoS as arguably consistently the best superhero show the past two years and would have been a satisfying conclusion to the series had it ended here. Now I’m beyond excited to see what they do next. – 5/5
3. Luke Cage (Netflix) – Surprisingly, Luke Cage Season 2 actually took a similar approach to the one that was so widely criticized in season 1: Having two villains throughout the season, with one being the main focus of the first half and the other in the back half. Where S02 succeeds, however, is that both Bushmaster (Mustafa Shakir) and Mariah (Alfre Woodard) are absolutely amazing. Neither of them is a weak link and put Luke Cage (Mike Colter) in a position to question his own beliefs on how to deal with them constantly, which elevates him as a character. It’s sad that we won’t see that continuing evolution given how good it was here. – 4.75/5
4. Iron Fist (Netflix) – Season 2 was an interesting as it improved by not just boosting its main character but by leaning hard on the supporting characters who were more interesting than Danny Rand (Finn Jones). This season also had one of the best new character introductions post-Defenders in Mary Walker (Alice Eve), and I really hope that mentioning just how amazing she is here redeems my soul for leaving her out of my initial review of the show. – 4.5/5
5. The Flash (CW) – The past couple of years have been a little bizarre for the CW DC shows because everything besides Legends have diminished in quality, yet the crossovers somehow have gotten better and better. These events are must-watch at this point. Of all the shows, The Flash had the biggest dip last season, but has actually gotten me really excited again in the beginning of this season, by taking a similar approach that Daredevil did and bringing back the iconic villain that helped the show stand out in the first place. – 4/5
Honorable Mentions: DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Supergirl, Jessica Jones.
1. The Good Place (NBC) – Catching up on this is the one thing that could’ve torn me away from my beloved wrestling. A great premise and outrageously hilarious cast with so many quotable one-liners. Plus how can you not love a show with Randy “Macho Man” Savage Non-International Airport? – 5/5
2. Doctor Who (BBC) – I’ve been singing the praises of Jodie Whitaker’s 13th Doctor since the season premiere. She brings a fresh take to the role with her warmth and friendliness, but still keeps the manic-ness of previous Doctors, like 10 and 11. – 5/5
3. Iron Fist (Netflix) – Yeah, this was a shock to me, too, considering how much I blasted the first season and its ineffectual lead. But season two was like a whole new show and I – gasp – didn’t want to spend the entire time slapping Danny. – 4.75/5
4. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon) – I finally watched this on the strength of a friend’s recommendation and it didn’t disappoint. The jokes are absolutely cheesy, but it works and adds to the charm of the show. Having a cast that’s a who’s who of comedy doesn’t hurt either. – 4.5/5
5. GLOW (Netflix) – Another show that turned itself around after a disappointing first season. I’m not going to repeat myself (you can read my full review for that), but the strength of episode 8 was enough to catapult it onto my list. – 4.25/5
Honorable Mention: Insatiable, Atlanta, Craig of the Creek, She-Ra & the Princesses of Power, Voltron: Legendary Defender, American Vandal, The Chi, The Handmaid’s Tale.
1. Daredevil (Netflix) – While Daredevil got more publicity for being “canceled” than for being great, Season 3 improved over its fantastic-yet-flawed second season and was arguably stronger than its Kingpin fist-clenching first. Yes, the more Vincent D’Onofrio we see on-screen the better, and his return helped fuel Matt Murdock’s road to Born Again faithfulness. Your liking of this season will strongly depend on your approval of Wilson Bethel as Bullseye and the liberties taken for the villain’s backstory. I thought both were superb, and Charlie Cox has never been better. – 4.75/5
2. Preacher (AMC) – Our antihero (a take-no-shits-this-time Dominic Cooper) wants revenge on his fancy granny for killing his parents but she hires him to “soulsearch” so she can live forever. And yet that ridiculous premise is nothing when the season’s 600 lb. archvile qweefs out Jesse Cluster’s soul following a battle sequence in his.. detonated body parts. On the other hand, Tulip (Ruth Negga) meets dog.. err.. God donned as a fancy pup, while Cassidy (Joe Gilgun) co-leads an underground vampire Fight Cult, the “Children of Blood”, with fancy vampire Eccarius (Adam Croasdell) whose fate is tragically hilarious. But nobody was fancier in Season 3 than Herr Starr (a hypnotizing Pip Torrens), now the Allfather who has to contend with Hitler and the Saint of Killers for Preacher‘s biggest baddie yet. Yeah, Season 4 is going to be a shitshow. – 4.5/5
3. Black Lightning (CW) – I’ve been a big proponent of Black Lightning ever since its inception back just over one year ago. With 2 super dope seasons under its belt, the Pierce family is easily my favorite fam in all of the CWverse. Cress Williams is beyond great in the titular role as principal, community leader and superhero dad, Christine Adams breaks out in Season 2 as Jefferson’s rock-solid lady (with Green Lantern roots), and their screen daughters Nafessa Williams and China Anne McClain are just as superb, especially upon discovering their own powers. With a fresh villain in Tobias Whale (Krondon), a rivetingly ill mix of science and politics, Black Lightning is the realest, most unapologetically urban superhero shit on the streets. – 4.5/5
4. Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan (Amazon) – Being the editor of these lists has its priveleges. Much like our Best of 2018 Comics list (which you should check out here), thanks to both Robert and Lisa, I marathoned the fuck outta Jack Ryan last night and this morning. And it’s my #3 TV show of the year. It’s just that good. If you like any Clancy/CIA/Military Drama/Homeland type stuff, get yo geek self on Prime Video and see it. At 8 episodes of roughly 45-minutes a piece, it’s the holiday treat you never knew you asked for. – 4.25/5
5. Iron Fist (Netflix) – The first of the Netflix shows to go poof was also the Marvel Netflix show most improved. By far. Led by Sacha Dhawan as Davos — the Steel Serpent — and new stunt coordinator Clayton Barber (Black Panther, Blade),Iron Fist finally lived up to it surname. The martial arts was ramped up tenfold, and even Finn Jones stepped up his acting and ass-kicking games to match the quality of the supporting cast. Now that Disney has admitted there’s a good chance we’ll see these shows return on their + streaming thingy, can we see the Power Man & Iron Fist duel of the iron mic? It’s all I want for Christmas, Walt Santa. – 4.25/5
Honorable Mentions: Altered Carbon, Castlevania, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Atlanta, Westworld, Luke Cage, Star Wars Rebels, GLOW, Lost in Space, Elseworlds Crossover.
1. Westworld (HBO) – The brilliant and wonderfully imaginative team of creators Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan craft such an intelligent and mind-bending show every week it usually takes multiple viewings of an episode for me to even understand what has happened. This collection of veteran actors makes us feel like we are witnessing a concept of a world that could be in our very near future. We have to wait until 2020 for the next installment of the series but with the complexity of the story, we’ll probably still be scratching our heads until then. – 4.5/5
2. Vikings (History) – With this being the first full season without Ragnar Lothbrok I was very concerned about this show making it much further. But creator Michael Hirst has not disappointed and used a Vikings civil war to create an intense story that puts allies and brothers against each other for ultimate rule of the land. With several characters already off the show it’s only a question of who will fall in the second half of the season. – 4.5/5
3. The Walking Dead (AMC) – The ratings keep dropping and the fanbase is supposedly very unhappy. I could care less. While I wasn’t that happy with how Season 8 ended, the time jump that has been introduced for Season 9 was the refreshing new start the show very much needed. I’m very looking forward to see what’s coming up next. – 4/5
4. Into the Badlands (AMC) – Still one of the most underrated shows on television. There isn’t anything on TV with the combination of martial arts, extravagant artistic design, and a continuous intriguing story set in a alternate land. I can only hope somehow it finds enough people to keep it on AMC’s schedule. – 4/5
5. *TIE* The Good Place (NBC) / Riverdale (CW) – I’m sure to some this will be a tie that makes absolutely no sense at all. Two shows that couldn’t be farther apart, as one of them is so smart and original it’s unbelievable how long it’s finally taking to get a solid fanbase. The other is a soapy world full of debauchery and mischievous characters. But the quality they both have is that they’re so much glorious fun. – 4/5
Honorable Mentions: The Gifted, Supergirl, GLOW.
1. Daredevil (Netflix)
2. The Haunting of Hill House (Netflix)
3. The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Netflix)
4. *TIE* Preacher (AMC) / Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan (Amazon)
5. Iron Fist (Netflix)
Honorable Mentions: The Good Place, Doctor Who, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Luke Cage, Westworld, GLOW, Voltron: Legendary Defender, Black Lightning, Titans, Elseworlds Crossover.
Happy Holidays, geeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeks!!!