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 2020: cable TV and streaming services included.
So, enjoy our column and have yourself a wonderful holiday quarantine.
1. The Mandalorian (Season 2, Disney+) – If you’re on this website then I doubt I need to explain anything about this show to you. As Rise of Skywalker ended one phase of Star Wars lineage this show has started a whole new one. Everything here is fantastically wonderful. Can’t wait to see what the future holds for this universe. Biggest thanks to Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni for providing this light in the tunnel to save us all from the pitch black darkness of 2020. This is the way. – 5/5
2. Gangs of London (Season 1, AMC)- There’s a good chance that you haven’t heard of this British import from across the pond, but it’s time to put on your “must watch” list! The story focuses on a mob kingpin of the highest level being murdered and the huge fallout amongst the other criminal organizations. Can you say power struggle? From film director Gareth Evans — who gave us both of The Raid films — comes a show that brings his signature style of heightened action and extensively woven character-driven storytelling. While every episode isn’t an abundance of explosive chaos, you can bet on enough to keep it locked in. – 4.5/5
3. Westworld (Season 3, HBO) – The amount of negative reactions I saw about S3 over the course of the episode run were perplexing. Many people kept complaining about that the show was too confusing and it didn’t seem to be going anywhere. Regardless, Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy continue to craft one of the most original and creative shows on TV– giving us a not too distant future with fun tech upgrades for everyday life and some eyecandy for the devoted sci-fi fan base. Upon that were layers of complex storytelling and an ensemble that is at the highest level of talent working today. Although this (west)world often isn’t the most desirable place to actually be, it sure makes for great television. – 4.25/5
Honorable Mentions: Fargo (FX), Better Call Saul (AMC), What We Do in the Shadows (HBO), Motherland: Fort Salem (Freeform), Lovecraft Country (HBO).
1. The Boys (Season 2, Amazon) – Frackin’ diabolical, to say the least. Considering how bad 2020 kicked everyone’s ass collectively, it was fantastic to watch the proverbial heroes of the show get a can opened up on them. This season dives deeper into each character and what happened in the past that split The Boys up. Then, there is unlikely team-ups abound season 2, like A-Train and The Deep, as well how much of a father Homeland can be. And don’t tell me there isn’t a cathartic feeling when you’re watching the final fight scene between Starlight, Kimiko, Queen Maeve, and Stormfront. Girls get it done. – 5/5
2. Westworld (Season 3, HBO) – Def one of those shows where the audience is constantly thinking to themselves: “what the fuuh?” Season 3 picks up from the revelations of the S02 finale: Dolores is no longer stuck in Westworld and built herself a new life in Neo-Los Angeles; the story builds on a constant twist to the characters’ lives; and Bernard navigates his realized reality among the different worlds that Delos provides for the patrons and investors. Speaking of investors, that added layer to the story takes fans into a deeper dive of the creation of Delos and the many “theme parks”. If this is any kind of spoilers at this point, shame on you for falling behind. S03 also introduces Caleb (Aaron Paul), and his story is closely connected to Dolores and her plans for humanity. Androids dying everywhere, William is still a drunk and the most lovable villain-ish character? – 4.5/5
3. The Comedy Store (Season 1, Showtime) – While I did not want to pick a limited series, Mike Binder‘s chronological account of some of the greatest highlights at “The Comedy Store” in West Hollywood was too intriguing to dismay. TCS created careers for comics that got the “greenlight” from the club owner Mitzi Shore: Freddie Prinze, Richard Pryor, Jim Carrey, Sandra Bernhard, and recents like Marc Maron, Whitney Cummings and Joe Rogan. From the dark times of 70s til the pandemic-era of now, fans of comedy should do themselves the service and check this limited series out, and make sure you tip your waitress on the way out. – 4/5
Honorable Mentions: Lovecraft Country (HBO), Archer (FX), How To with John Wilson (HBO), Doom Patrol (HBO), Animaniacs (Hulu).
1. The Mandalorian (Season 2, Disney+) – This needs no explanation! The crown jewel of the Star Wars universe by which all Star Wars content will be judged, Fav ‘n Fil went on to write and develop a near perfect addition to the canon with excellent scripting, phenomenal special FX, amazing guest directors and some unforgettable surprise cameos. Every week I’m beyond excited to sit and watch the next episode and every week each episode tops the previous in almost every way. – 5/5
2. Lovecraft Country (Season 1, HBO) – Stoked from the first trailer, I had my apprehensions, but my worries were squashed about halfway in and thus I was hooked. I love the horror genre — for better or worse — and lately there was been a lot of worse. Thankfully, this show is expertly written, acutely acted, and provides a very powerful reminder of just how far we’ve come in race relations, just how far we’ve fallen, and also how far we need to go for there to be fair and equal treatment for all. LC is very powerful show with an important message that can teach us all something about humanity. – 5/5
3. The Boys (Season 2, Amazon) – Damn, this show just keeps getting better! Hell, it might even possibly be the best superhero show of all time. As real and as gritty as it gets, The Boys pulls back the curtain; we see just how fucked up and damaged a “hero” can be, and how the media and Big Corp can manipulate our perception of anything we read or watch. Seeing how this clearly echoes in our world today, The Boys charges all the more relevant and scary. – 5/5
Honorable Mention: Transformers: War For Cybertron (Netflix), Raised by Wolves (HBO Max).
1. Lovecraft Country (Season 1, HBO) – Was there any doubt that this one would be my number one pick? HBO has been knocking it out the park for the last couple of years. Eldritch horrors with a side of Black history, plus the always fantastic Journee Smollett? Yes, please! How much did I love this show? I started listening to a freaking podcast about it and picked up the book because I couldn’t get enough of it. Thank God it’s not going to pull a Watchmen and be a one-and-done. – 5/5
2. The Mandalorian (Season 2, Disney+) – The Baby Yoda Show (I refuse to call him Grogu) takes my number two spot. This season has been fun, action-packed and full of surprises (you can’t tell me that Boba Fett didn’t get the biggest of pops from your couch). And there was bonus Sasha Banks. Season 2 has helped wash away the bad taste that The Rise of Skywalker left in my mouth. This is the way, indeed. – 5/5
3. The Boys (Season 2, Amazon) – The dynamic between Homelander (Antony Starr) and Stormfront (Aya Cash) is really what made this season for me. Karl Urban’s Billy Butcher had some standout scenes, as well; a big one being his confrontation with his father. Also, we had an appearance by fucking Love Sausage! You can’t not love a show with Love Sausage! – 4.5/5
Honorable Mentions: The Great Debate (Syfy), Umbrella Academy (Netflix), Altered Carbon (Netflix), I May Destroy You (HBO), High Fidelity (Hulu).
1A. The Mandalorian (Season 2, Dsney+) – This season of The Mandalorian has upped the ante in terms of what Disney+ and the New “Lucas” Duo can do and they might have set the bar too high; but, with bringing back Boba Fett, Ashoka, having Bryce Dallas Howard and Robert Rodriguez direct, the guest stars, the action, the intrigue, it’s just so damn much. To top it off, Giancarlo Esposito is just too damn good! – 5/5
1B. Schitt’s Creek (Season 6, Pop TV) – Since this is my list, I can do what I want and yes, I included the final season of Schitt’s Creek into my list for this year. I really don’t care that it isn’t a “geek” show; it’s just so freaking good! The writing, the acting, the comedy, the character development over 6 seasons… it was just a masterclass on how to do a show and do it right. Many will miss this spunky show that could. – 5/5
2. The Boys (Season 2, Amazon): It felt right to have this show, with this season’s storyline, with this villain would come out in 2020. The fact that we saw people at the Trump rallies wearing Homelander costumes, as though he was the good guy, shows just why this show is needed at this time and place. This season was so good I watched it twice and both times it never felt old. Showrunner Eric Kripke said that he has plans for 3-4 more seasons, and as long as they as good as this one? He’s got a few home runs in him. – 4.75/5
3. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Season 7, ABC) – Oh AoS. The little Marvel show that could. How do I wax poetic on a show that couldn’t seem to find its footing through 2 seasons, almost got cancelled and then found itself getting better and better as it went along until we got to a time-jumping final season where each opener was a shout-out to the decade it was in and then ended on such a great note? I was a champion of SHIELD since season 1, and unlike Gotham, it stuck the finale because it was given the chance to stick the landing and it wasn’t rushed. Godspeed Zephyr-1! – 4.5/5
Honorable Mentions: Big Mouth (Netflix), His Dark Materials (HBO), Lovecraft Country (HBO), Animaniacs (Hulu), Stargirl (CW).
1. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Season 7, ABC) – If anyone did a quick dive into the GHG archives in search of my work, it would be immediately apparent just how much I’ve loved this show. This final season was full of nostalgia for the earlier seasons, but in a way that added to the season’s overall plot rather than as a detriment to it. AoS had familiar foes with a fresh twist, comedy, heartache, and was just an absolute joy to watch from start to finish. It was a truly satisfying end to a truly wonderful show. – 5/5
2. Rick and Morty (Season 4, Hulu) – While the famed animated series had some ups and down in this past season, many of them were in the first half, which was released in 2019. However, the second half of Season 4, which aired in 2020, had two of the best episodes in the show’s history. The second half of the season opened with the wonderfully meta “Never Ricking Morty,” a 20-minute Rick and Morty adventure through Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon‘s insecurities about the show that also served as commentary on entertainment media as a whole, its fans, and their symbiotic and potentially mutually destructive relationship with continuity. – 4.5/5
3. Marvel’s 616 (Disney+) – It may seem bizarre to include a documentary series in a best of tv shows list, but Marvel’s 616 was an absolute joy and must watch for anyone who’s a fan of Marvel in some way. Every episode may not be for you, but there’s almost certainly an episode or two for you. For me, the first four episodes were all 4/5 or better. I went into further detail in my review, but long story short, 616 was a fantastic viewing experience. – 4.5/5
Honorable Mentions: Parks and Recreation Reunion Special: Isolate Yo’ Self (YouTube), Solar Opposites (Hulu), Harley Quinn (HBO Max), The Flash (CW), Altered Carbon (Netflix), Legends of Tomorrow (CW).
1. The Mandalorian (Season 2, Disney+) – Surprising no one, expect myself. Honestly. I didn’t think there needed to be a never-ending stream of Star Wars shows, especially after the hit-or-miss quality of the premiere season. But here I am, fully surprised. This is what the prequel trilogy should have been: cleverly introducing new tropes and expanded the Star Wars universe, while being set so near the end of the Original Trilogy the visual aesthetic makes sense. Also: whoever conceived and designed Baby Yoda (Grogu? I think not) deserves all the money in the world. – 5/5
2. The Boys (Season 2, Amazon) – Yet another show that branched off delightfully from the source material, this time bringing pathos to otherwise undeveloped characters like the Deep, and Lamplighter (seriously, his character actually was a bit heartbreaking). Action-packed, ultra-violent, and absolutely hilarious, it is a gift that this show got made at all, to say nothing of the fact that it got renewed. Cash’s turn as the racist Nazi superhero, Stormfront, hopefully opens up many more meaty roles in the future, because she absolutely steals the show here. – 4.75/5
3. Tales From The Loop (Season 1, Amazon) – I reviewed this earlier in the year, and the more I think of it, the more sublime this series remains. Focusing on aesthetic and pathos than actual world-building, there is something melancholy weaving through every shot and scene. Jonathan Pryce and Rebecca Hall give understated performances, while the stories themselves (not quite anthologized as I remember) invoke the feeling of missing a time or a place that you’ve never been. Nothing else looks quite as sublime and washed-out-futuristic, and it’s one of the best releases of the Spring of 2020. – 4/5
Honorable Mentions: What We Do In The Shadows (HBO), Star Trek: Discovery (CBS All Access), Star Trek: Lower Decks (CBS All Access), Devs (FX), Better Call Saul (AMC), Fargo (FX), The Third Day (HBO).
1. The Mandalorian (Disney+)
2. The Boys (Amazon)
3. Lovecraft Country (HBO)
4. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC)
5. Westworld (HBO)
Honorable Mentions: Better Call Saul, What We Do In The Shadows, Animaniacs, Fargo, Altered Carbon.
Happy Holidays, geeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeks!!!