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 2019: cable TV and streaming services included. New to this year is the inclusion of non-geek TV into some of our lists. There was just so much diverse and impactful television, through all mediums, services and channels, that we felt we’d be doing you a disservice to not tell you how we REALLY feel! That said, most of our staff stuck to their pocket-protectors and D&D cards and kept things “geek”, while being sure to mention the not-so-geeky choices we cherished in the year that was.
Nonetheless, enjoy our column and have yourself a wonderful holiday season.
1. The Boys (Amazon) – The Boys was a damn near flawless adaptation of the famous comic series. Karl Urban and Co. were spot on and I finished this season in 2 days (my parents finished it in 3). Amazon did a great job letting Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg do their “thing” with the Boys (much like AMC did with Preacher). – 5/5
2. Umbrella Academy (Netflix) – This unheralded superhero series was a binge-worthy adaptation and one that made me want to go back and pick up the original series. Outstanding fight scenes with a fantastic soundtrack bumped this up to the #2 spot. – 5/5
3. *TIE* DC’s Harley Quinn (DC Universe) / Crisis on Infinite Earths (CW) – Yes, it has only been on for 3 episodes, but I have not laughed this hard at a cartoon’s premiere. Kaley Cuoco and Lake Bell steal the show, but the irreverent style this show takes on is a complete and utter home run. And.. yes.. I can have a tie on my list and the first 3 parts of the Crisis have been great. While we can all nitpick here and there, to cover something as epic as Crisis and doing so in 5 hours is both daunting and something that should be admired. – 4.5/5
4. Doom Patrol (DC Universe) – “Danny Patrol”. With this episode, Doom Patrol showed that they were the real deal. The casting is absolutely fantastic. I want to say that Diane Guerrero and Brendan Fraser steal the show, but in any given episode Alan Tudyk or Timothy Dalton or Matt Bomer or April Bowlby can steal it right back. Also, yes, Tudyk is in 2 of my Top 5… as all things should be. – 4.5/5
5. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC) – While I could have put a slew of shows in this spot, I’m giving lots of love to AoS because I feel that this show has only gotten progressively better with each season and I am going to reward that. – 4/5
Honorable Geek Mentions: The Mandalorian (Disney+), Gotham (Fox), Young Justice: Outsiders (DC Universe), BoJack Horseman (Netflix), Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, Black Lightening, Legends of Tomorrow (all CW), Titans (DC Universe), Stranger Things (Netflix), Lucifer (Netflix).
Honorable Non-Geek Mentions: Righteous Gemstones (HBO), Black-ish (ABC), Prodigal Son (Fox).
***SPECIAL GUEST CONTRIBUTOR***
1. Watchmen (HBO) – Damon Lindelof‘s new incarnation of the Alan Moore comic takes us well into the future with a stunning new vision that mixes current political themes with the past. Using amazing visuals and the dramatic talents of an amazing cast, this was the television event of the year, if not the last decade. If you’re not watching the Watchmen, you’re simply missing out on the best thing happening right now. – 5/5
2. The Mandalorian (Disney+) – They hit it right out the gate with their combination of Western, Sci-Fi, and Samurai. Hitting on classic Star Wars tropes with an amazing score and awesome special effects work, this is what fans have been waiting decades for: a proper television show based in our favorite galaxy. – 4.5/5
3. The Deuce (HBO) – This series came to a close this year. Moving across several different decades during its short 3 season story arc, James Franco and crew offered up an inside look at prostitution, mob rule, and the porn industry. Wrapping up during the AIDS breakout, the final season was a sad and uncomfortable watch that captured the era perfectly. – 5/5
4. Chernobyl (HBO) The Home Box Office seems to be ruling this list. The Chernobyl event series was a gripping tale about the dangers of the nuclear era. Told with absolute brutality, this short run was a time capsule look at how bad the disaster was, how science is not always right, and how easily man can be destroyed by our own creation. This was a hard watch that needs to be seen. If anything can be taught from this, it’s that we should be learning from our own mistakes. – 4/5
5. When They See Us (Netflix) – This series captures the tale of the Central Park Five with dramatic clarity. As a look at racism during that era, the show was absolutely breathtaking in its portrayal of what happened to these young men. Reflecting much of what is happening in society today with racial tensions and prejudices, When They See Us is something that must be seen to be believed. Everything about this project was damn perfect. – 4/5
1. Peaky Blinders (Netflix) – One the best a TV shows on right now. Not only is the acting extremely in point, but the story is impeccable. From rags to riches to greed. “Rise of a mob king in 1917”. Mob stuff is geeky, don’t @ me. – 5/5
2. Snowfall (FX) – Also a rags to riches. This tells the story of the rise of crack cocaine in 1980s. Sooo good and.. addictive. How on the geek list? Because you know Moody is going to have that other rags to riches street shit from Hulu on his (Wu-Tang! Wu-Tang!), so I’m taking a liberty with this one. Also, you can’t tell me Breaking Bad wasn’t a killer at Comic-Con and this is the 80s, Urban version. Regardless, take the time to watch this one. – 5/5
3. Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon) – OK, so I know it isn’t exactly the Marvous Ms. Marvel.. but this cocky wonderful show is as fast, fun, and zany as the much beloved New Avenger. The acting is superb and the world of the show is wonderfully done. And not like any Marvel series coming to Disney+, I’m sure they spend a fortune of costumes alone. – 5/5
4. The Good Place (NBC) – If you haven’t see this gem of a show…. you haven’t lived. Moral philosophy, good and bad, what does it take to be a good enough human being? It’s an afterlife comedy, so hijinks ensue. Maybe a slight reach for a nerd-list, but I also adore Kristen Bell. She da bomb. – 5/5
5. Killing Eve (AMC) – Written by Phoebe Waller-Bridge (also see Amazon’s Fleabag, in my HM’s!!!), this is about an assassin psychopath who is in love with her British intelligence agent Eve. This weird, deadly, and hilarious show is like nothing else; it’s also on Hulu right now, so you have no excuses. – 5/5
Honorable Mentions: The Boys (Amazon), Stranger Things (Netflix), Mindhunter (Netflix).
Non-Geek Honorable Mentions: Fleabag (Amazon), Unbelievable (Netflix), Barry (HBO), Schitt’s Creek (Pop), Russian Doll (Netflix), On Becoming A God in Central Florida (Showtime), Euphoria (HBO), Succession (HBO).
1. Young Justice: Outsiders (DC Universe) e on DCU app, sight unseen. Everything we loved about the original is still there. The only thing keeping it from a perfect 5/5 is the increased focus on the new team, as I’d have preferred more of the team we left behind in Season 2. – 4.5/5
2. Arrow (CW) – What a swansong for the show that kicked off the Arrowverse. It was a short season that led into the crossover, but it tied up all the loose ends, and let us revisit characters and places that were so pivotal to Oliver Queens growth and development. Fitting that it culminated in Crisis on Infinite Earths, after the Crisis, nothing will be the same, which is true of Stephen Amell making his exit. He started it all and the Arrowverse will never be the same again. – 4/5
3. Batwoman (CW) – I was on the fence when this was announced. I thought there were so many characters that should have gotten a show before Batwoman, going in with high hopes but low expectations. But, the show delivers and Ruby Rose is great in the role. It captures the early feel of Arrow Season 1, and learns from the first season mistakes of some of its sister shows. My biggest hope is that they don’t rush to put everyone in a costume. Let Batwoman be Batwoman; she doesn’t need a whole team. If Luke becomes Batwing before the back half of season 3, I’m out. – 3.75/5
4. Cobra Kai (YouTube Red) – THIS. IS. HOW. YOU. BRING. BACK. A. CLASSIC. AND. BELOVED. PROPERTY. It’s not a reboot, it’s a continuation. It calls back to the originals in all the right way without being too much fan service. Kai introduces new characters through the ones we already know and love. The focus only shifts to the kids as a part of the returning characters’ stories. The focus then shifts gradually to the newcomers, but we always come back to the OG’s because that’s who we wanted to revisit when we heard about the show. – 3.5/5
5. Power Rangers: Beast Morphers (Netflix) – Another year, another team of Power Rangers. The series has been hit or miss in recent years, but this one gives us just enough nostalgia for the longtime followers, but not too much to where you need to watch 25 years of backstory to get. It’s still campy for the kids but not overly so like some seasons recently. Since each iteration gets 2 seasons, we’re only halfway through, but with a huge team up happening in the 2nd half, it should be a fun ride. – 3/5
1. Barry (HBO) – The story of a contract killer trying to go straight. Season 2 followed a diabolical finale that had its audience wondering how Barry (Bill Hader) was going to keep such a big secret from undoing all his efforts. This season took more of a dramatic turn with Barry having to deal with NoHo Hank and his desire to get rid of a rival crime leader, his ex-partner Fuches also a huge thorn in his side. The complex dynamic of Barry trying to juggle his new normal life, his past, and his own inner demons provides so much depth for a show that finds a way to pack it all into 30-minute installments. Episode 5 featured a certain little martial arts trained girl and wound up one of the stand-out episodes of any show this year. – 4.75/5
2. Euphoria (HBO) – Amid a cloud of marijuana smoke and the smell of alcohol, Euphoria is the show that will make you worry about your teenagers at night. Following a group of high school students who deal with dating, being socially acceptable, substance abuse, and dealing with their parents, all of which is encapsulated in a social media world that doesn’t make it any easier to figure out their own personal growth issues. The series centers around a girl named Rue (Zendaya) who is a struggling addict but the ensemble cast is strong all around; are all given unique storylines that find ways to intertwine over the course of the season. It isn’t often pretty, but Euphoria takes you into a world that once you’re in is impossible to want to leave. – 4.5/5
3. Chernobyl (HBO)- In 1986 the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Russia exploded and became one of the biggest disasters in our planet’s history. This show brings us the well-documented story of the events that happened the night of the explosion, the people that tried their best to contain it, and those that made sure the ones that were responsible were put to justice. In a lot of ways it feels like a well acted-out documentary because it is largely by-the-numbers story wise; yet, there is an assortment of gripping, emotional scenes that show the terrible effects of radiation poisoning. It’s not an easy watch but this is one of those stories that needs to be told to remind us of how technology and science should be handled with the highest level of caution and responsibility. – 4.5/5
4. *TIE* Into the Badlands (AMC) / Deadly Class (SyFy) – I wrestled with trying to put one of these before the other and just gave up because it seemed unfair to both one of them. Into the Badlands came to an end after three seasons and Deadly Class never even got a chance to grow past S01. Both shows were very action-oriented with multi-diverse casts that represented groups of people that didn’t necessarily get along but came together because they had to. Badlands had an excellent run with kick-ass fight sequences and outstanding production value. While it never really found its fanbase I’ll cherish the three seasons they gave us. DC was just one hell of a fun show that was cancelled by the SyFy Network without much of an explanation. Considering it was a story about a school that trained teenagers to be assassins I feel they barely scratched the surface of its possibilities. I can only hope one day it finds life again on a real channel. – 4.5/5
5. The Mandalorian (Disney+) – There has already been more said about this show in just a few episodes than Deadly Class got in its entire first season. Mandalorian is a great entertaining chapter in the ever expanding Star Wars universe, just minding its own business. Jon Favreau, Dave Filoni and company tell the tale of a bounty hunter who has a surprising change of heart about his profession after dealing with a “job” that challenges his morality. It doesn’t spend time trying to weave in other aspects of the Star Wars continuum or focus on any characters from previous installments. Mando’s simple and enjoyable while still using the imagination of different races, environments, and villains that are loyal to the Star Wars brand. It’s not on the grand scale of any of the theatrical films but nor does it need to be. – 4.25/5
Honorable Mentions: The Orville (Fox), What We Do In The Shadows (Hulu).
Non-Geek Honorable Mentions: True Detective (HBO), AP Bio (NBC).
1. The Mandalorian (Disney+) – A visually faithful callback to the original (and best) of the Star Wars series. Solid side characters and a space western storyline that makes me want to tune in each week. – 5/5
2. The Man in the High Castle (Amazon) – After a slower third season the story picks up and leads to an excellent and epic ending. – 5/5
3. Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (Netflix) – For fans of the original, this series was well worth the wait. Jim Henson‘s reimagined series also offers a great story and gorgeous visuals. – 4.5/5
4. The Expanse (Amazon) – An expanded narrative and a divergence from the book material — and a save by Amazon Prime — contributed to a really good season with very few misses. – 4/5
5. Room 104 (HBO) – As an anthology series, every episode is different, and not every particular one is amazing. But this season stands out with a strong season opener and a solid lineup. – 4/5
1. Crisis on Infinite Earths (CW) – The annual Arrowverse crossovers have progressively become less TV show events and more TV movies begining with “Crisis on Earth X” two years ago. That culminated with this year’s “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” which, by the final episode of the year, felt almost as big on-screen as the comic was within its medium. Of course, I’ve already said most of what I feel like I needed to in my review of that final episode. – 4.5/5
2. Agents of Shield (ABC) – What can I really say here that I haven’t already said of AoS over the past few years. Ever since Season 4, it has remained my absolute favorite show based on a comic book property. Season 6 started off a little slower, but by the end wound up being an excellent season. This season, just like the previous two, had an episode that was a contender for best of the series and was just a fun overall ride. I would rank this season slightly below the previous two, but it was still fantastic. – 4.5/5
3. Supergirl (CW) – While Supergirl has done a relatively good job with interpersonal drama and sociopolitical commentary, I’ve never really been overly fond of the villains of any season. That all changed in Season 4 with Agent Liberty, played by Sam Witwer and Lex Luthor, played by Jon Cryer. Agent Liberty perfectly embodied the type of villain that seems perfect for this show, a villain who may not be able to physically defeat her, but is a manifestation of an ideology diametrically opposed to hers and thus he’s a villain she can’t truly defeat through physical combat. – 4/5
4. The Flash (CW) – 2019 was a rather bizarre year for the ol’ Scarlet Speedster. It encompasses the latter half of Season 5, which brought in Eobard Thawne, aka the Reverse-Flash, as a secondary antagonist for the season, and the first half of Season 6, which I feel is good as The Flash has been since Season 2. On the other hand, as good as Thawne was as the secondary villain in Season 5, the primary villains, the two Cicadas, were the absolute worst season-long villains The Flash has ever had. Given how good Season 6 has been so far, though, and the fact that the back half will have to deal with the aftereffects of “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” I’m hoping that The Flash is back on the right track. – 3.75/5
5. Arrow (CW) – I’ve never really watched Arrow, but, given the important role Oliver Queen was ready to play in “Crisis,” I thought it might be important to watch this final season. While the events of Season 8 really didn’t affect Crisis the way I thought they might, the season as a whole has actually been really good. While it may have been more impactful for people who’ve watched the previous 7 seasons in their entirety, it worked perfectly fine for me, someone who has a pretty decent knowledge of the characters and events through osmosis from other shows and friends. This has been an excellent swansong for the show that started it all for the Arrowverse. – 3.75/5
Geek Honorable Mentions: Batwoman, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow (both CW), Rick and Morty (Adult Swim).
Non-Geek Honorable Mentions: Fleabag (Amazon), Barry (HBO).
1. Watchmen (HBO) – I mean, this was the only show that got me to listen to a podcast for it too. Following an iffy start in a pilot that required multiple viewings just to understand.. anything, HBO’s Watchmen‘s brilliance was off and running in Ep02 and never looked back. There are so many juicy layers of narrative and character development and countless easter eggs that listening to HBO’s companion podcast is necessary (co-hosted by the creator, Lindelof, which I highly recommend by the way..). Repeated viewings are, too; and there’s no doubt I will enjoy its inaugural season — which hopefully is not the final and only season — even more so on my second run. If I had a bone to pick, it’s the fact that two characters who practically had their own episodes, Jean Smart‘s Laurie Blake and Tim Blake Nelson‘s Looking Glass — didn’t do a whole lot in the finale. That said, everything else about the 9-episode saga made for a perfect sequel/companion piece to Watchmen, delving 1000 traumatic steps further into subjects most are quick to avoid, and by TheEndIsNotSoNigh felt like it absolutely belonged in the same breath as the greatest comic book ever made. – 4.75/5
2. Preacher (AMC) – One of the most underrated shows on television got its proper send-off. No show felt more like our own at GODHATESGEEKS than this one, and I only wish that Rogen and Goldberg could witness the brilliance of my nerd-congregation the past 6+ years just the same. There’s no doubt that adapting Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon‘s classic comic to the small-screen was – at the very least — a passion project, and I’m beyond grateful and thrilled for the creators, writers, actors, crew and everyone involved in making a gem that many who (sadly) missed are destined to discover for years to come. A-Men. – 4.5/5
3. The Mandalorian (Disney+) – After a pretty much perfect start in its first three episodes (like HFS, can we get more Star Wars in this serial format?!??), it’s remained an addictive, compelling section of the SW Universe that has made even the angriest Last Jedi haters smile. And what other Jedi dweeb hasn’t pre-ordered $500 worth of Baby Yoda stuff yet? – 4.5/5
4. The Boys (Amazon) – Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg kill it again. The killer Ennis (him again!) and Darick Robertson comic gets the killer adaptation it deserves with a killer attitude, killer set pieces, and killer performances (Erin Moriarty‘s Starlight is amazing, and when is Karl Urban never great?). Did I mention that this show is killer? Props to Prime Video for letting The Boys be as killer as it needed to be. – 4.25/5
5. Game of Thrones (HBO) – Because somebody had to. Say what you want about the “safeness” of the finale, how David Benioff and D.B. Weiss ripped the medieval fantasy perfection of the past 8 years of your life away from you, wah-wah-wah, but even the “not so quite nailed the landing” of Game of Thrones Season 8 was still greater than most of the shows you watch. “The Bells” was absolutely the most stunning, polarizing TV episode in 2019 and I wouldn’t argue with you if you hated it; I hated it, too, akin to giving heat to a great babyface wrestler who just crushed my heart and turned heel. Daenerys brought the absolute worse out of me and I applaud her for that. And while I fully agree that “The Iron Throne” was sincerely rushed (Season 8 needed 8 episodes, not 6), the road to that fluff final hour was still quite satisfying. This is a legacy award, if nothing else and I’m quite OK with handing the series that; Game of Thrones remains one of, if not my single favorite show of all time. – 4/5
Honorable Mentions: Star Trek Discovery (CBS All Access), CW’s Crisis On Infinite Earths, Supergirl (CW), The Toys That Made Us (Netflix), Harley Quinn (DC Universe), The Witcher (Netflix), The Walking Dead (AMC), Doom Patrol (DC Universe), GLOW (Netflix), Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC), Umbrella Academy (Netflix).
Non-Geek Honorable Mentions: True Detective (HBO), Barry (HBO), Wu-Tang: An American Saga (Hulu), Mayans MC (FX).
1. Watchmen (HBO) – It may not only be the best show I’ve watched this year, but it might be my favorite of the decade. The acting is superb (shout-out to Regina King’s Sister Night, who is probably going to be my Halloween costume next year) and the visuals feel straight out of the comics. But the best part is the story and how— despite this being an alternate 2019 — relatable it is to our world. I was gripped from Episode 1. – 5/5
2. The Mandalorian (Disney+) – Baby (not) Yoda. Nuff said. – 5/5
3. Stranger Things (Netflix) – Ya girl may have arrived to the Stranger Things party late, but at least she got there eventually. I avoided watching for the longest time, just because it didn’t seem like my kinda thing. And, to be honest, it isn’t. But it drew me in with its charming creepiness wrapped in 80s nostalgia, anyway. – 4.5/5
4. The Boys (Amazon) – I don’t think I anticipated any show more than this adaptation of Garth Ennis’ work. A world where superheroes are the biggest douches on the planet?! Right up my alley. It’s worth watching just for Antony Starr’s Homelander. If there was ever a character I’ve wanted to just punch in the face, it’s him. The best kind of heel heat. – 4.25/5
5. Fleabag (Amazon) – Okay, I’m cheating a bit here as it isn’t a geek show, per se, but it is an award-winning one. Phoebe Waller-Bridge shines as the titular Fleabag who, as her name would suggest, is an awful fucking person (though the people in her life are even worse), but likeable AF. Everyone should watch this show. EVERYONE. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll yell at people for being morons. And then you’ll find out if the movie is playing near you. – 4.25/5
Honorable Mentions: GLOW (Netflix), Star Trek: Discovery (CBS All Access), Doom Patrol (DC Universe), Lazor Wulf (Adult Swim).
1. The Expanse (Amazon) – This was revived from the ashes by the mega-corp giant Amazon after being left for dead by the notorious SyFy channel. From the company known for canceling greatness, The Expanse returned now on the binge-worthy format of internet streaming via Prime Video. The deep pockets of Bezos is what this space drama needed. It’s a must watch for any sci-fi nerd! – 5/5
2. Prodigal Son (Fox) – My infinity for physiological dramas like the long lost Hannibal, is why I chose this spot. It blends the mind-bending plots of the aforementioned with the father/son relationship of shows like Dexter.Prodigal Son has the “case of the week” scenario, with the underlying thread of an ex-FBI profiler whose father happened to be one of the world’s most horrifying serial killers; it’s a mix that should lead you to wanting more after each weekly episode. The only negative? The cliffhangers come hard and steady. – 4/5
3. Evil (CBS) – The most recent work from Netflix’s Luke Cage actor Mike Colter, Evil is a sci-fi horror blend that challenges blind faith of Catholicism and modern day medical science. The Catholic Church employs an investigator who investigates claims of miracles, possessions and any religious mystical events. Backed by the church, he assembles a team of skeptics to debunk or in turn justify the case. Over the course of the series, things happen that can’t be easily explained, slowly blurring the lines between reality and paranormal. A few slow episodes and needless filler is why I didn’t score this show higher. – 4/5
4. Supergirl (CW) – While this network has certainly struck gold with all of the Arrowverse shows, this year’s Supergirl has earned top of class– especially with its internal conflict of Kara Zor-El struggling to lie to Lana Luthor. Addressing many real world issues this season, Melissa Benoist’s perfect performance elevated Supergirl to new heights. – 4/5
5. The Flash (CW) – The second show to launch of the now known Arrow-verse shows, The Flash‘s Season 6 was by the best of the series. With an underlining tone of sorrow, the impending death of the Flash has led to the darkest season yet. Throughout the season we have witnessed the many stages of grief from Barry Allen and his ensemble. But in the end, the inevitable fate looms over and eventually leads to the launch of the Crisis event. A small nit pick I have is that, at times, scenes between Barry and Iris were underwhelming. – 4/5
Honorable mentions: Watchmen (HBO), Crisis on Infinite Earths, Black Lightning, Batwoman (all CW), Mr. Robot (USA).
1. Watchmen (HBO)
2. The Mandalorian (Disney+)
3. The Boys (Amazon)
4. Crisis On Infinite Earths (CW)
5. Barry (HBO)
Honorable Mentions: The Expanse, Supergirl, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Arrow, The Flash, Chernobyl, Stranger Things, Doom Patrol, Fleabag, Young Justice: Outsiders.
Happy Holidays, geeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeks!!!