As 2016 comes to a close, it’s easy to be negative. Heck, it’s probably even reasonable to be negative. But for eternal optimists like me, who enjoy finding the bright side of life, looking back at the year that was represents a chance to find some good in that dumpster truck pileup of crap that was 2016. I want to find a metaphorical diamond in the roughly 30 gallons of despair, if you will.
Where do I look for good in a year of seemingly relentless bad? Where I always go when reality gets the better of me: TV, of course! Even as the world struggled around it, 2016 was actually a pretty fantastic year for TV. So now, in an attempt to look at the bright side of 2016, I present my annual list of favorite TV episodes from the year.
GROUND RULES: The episode must have originally aired in the United States during 2016, 1 episode is allowed per show, two-parters (EX: Finale Part 1/Finale Part 2) are counted as one.
DISCLAIMER: I am human, there’s no way for me to watch every episode of TV that came out this year. This isn’t a list of the definitive best episodes of TV released this year, or even the best shows, this is just one man’s opinion on what he liked most from the year in TV. So if your favorite show isn’t on here, that’s why. Unless that show is named The Big Bang Theory, in which case, you’re the worst and stop reading this now.
Now that we got that all cleared up, without further ado, I present my 10 favorite episodes of television from 2016.
Episodes are listed in no particular order.
Who doesn’t love a good sports movie?
They’re predictable, trite and cheesy as can be, but when everything clicks it’s hard to find a genre that can compete with sports films. An underdog team coming from nowhere to win the championship, the scrawny nobody challenging the undefeated belt-holder, a last second hail-mary to win it all. It doesn’t get much better than that, right? From Rocky to Hoosiers to Miracle to The Sandlot, some of the best movies of all time are corny, cheesy, predictable sports films.
As easy as the sports movie formula is to predict, it’s incredibly tricky one to replicate. Every sports movie is a small misstep away from having audiences rolling their eyes at the corny, cheesy, predictability of it all. More so than any other genre, sports films are often a zero sum game: Either the movie is great, or it’s a cringe inducing mess, with little-to-no in between.
Anyone who knows me, or has access to my Netflix history, knows that I love sitcoms. The warmth and enduring appeal of the format has made it a TV staple, and regular resident of my Netflix queue, practically since both technologies were invented. While the format has evolved slightly over time, unlike a lot of pop culture, the sitcom is a genre heavily resistant to change, and that’s not an accident.
Ideally, when someone turns on a traditional sitcom, it should feel like they are going home. The characters on screen should feel like family to viewers, and that connection and relationship between the characters on the screen and the people at home will keep audiences coming back week after week. That formula, one of the most lucrative in TV history, isn’t very conducive to change.
Why not? Well, the heart any sitcom’s appeal is familiarity. Audiences, for the most part, want to know what to expect when they turn on a show. If they don’t, you lose the connection that brings people back week after week. At the same time, most people don’t like watching a show that’s a carbon copy of something they’ve already seen before. So, the underlying question is, how do you create a show unique enough to stand on its own but familiar enough to not scare away audiences?
For new shows, this balancing act is tricky to say the least. Tens of series fail every year at striking this balance. Two that haven’t though are a pair of NBC comedies: Superstore and The Carmichael Show. These young shows navigate the line between innovation and familiarity outstandingly well, and have become two of my favorite TV comedies in the process.
The end of the year is a time for traditions. Annual rituals like putting your presents under the tree, watching your favorite Christmas movies with your family, pretending you know the name of that one relative who comes over every couple of years (You know, the classics). For the past two years, I’ve started what I like to think of as my own little tradition here on the blog, with my annual end-of-year TV celebration post where I list the ten episodes I enjoyed the most from the year that was. Now, as 2015 winds down, it is time for this year’s edition, but before we get started, let’s go over some ground rules.
GROUND RULES: The episode must have originally aired in the United States during 2015, 1 episode is allowed per show, two-parters (EX: Finale Part 1/Finale Part 2) are counted as one.
DISCLAIMER: I am human, there’s no way for me to watch every episode of TV that came out this year. This isn’t a list of the definitive best episodes of TV released this year, or even the best shows, this is just one man’s opinion on what he liked most from the year in TV. So if your favorite show isn’t on here, that’s why.
Now that we got that all cleared up, without further ado, I present my 10 favorite episodes of television from 2015.
Episodes are listed in no particular order.
As I started to watch Sense8 this week, the question I was often asked was “What’s that show even about?” It should be a simple question to answer, right? 99.9% of shows are pretty easily summarized in one or two sentences (“The show is about a group of people who work in the Parks and Recreation Department in a small town in Indiana” or “It’s about a group of people trying to survive the Zombie Apocalypse” or “After a tragic plane crash, a rag tag team of survivors try to stay alive on a mysterious Island”) Sense8, however, not only cannot be summarized, it’s legitimate hard to describe in general, even without word limits. The story the Wachowski siblings are trying to tell is so ambitious that it’s most concise form is probably the one it exists in. Sense8 isn’t the only show with this quality. Try to describe Game Of Thrones two sentences or less. I’ll wait… It’s incredibly difficult, right? The reason it’s so hard is that Game Of Thrones isn’t telling one story, it’s telling a pretty insane amount of them, all at once, just like Sense8. The problem is that when you tell so many stories at the same time, it’s difficult to give any of them the screen time they need to be told the right way. Sense8 and Game Of Thrones are both trying to reinvent TV storytelling, and are doing so at the expense of the individual stories they want to tell.
It’s that time of year again people, a time meant for gathering with family and loved ones, wearing terrifyingly ugly sweaters, and a time to look back on the year that was. Most people tend to look at personal achievements or milestones, the big moments of their lives that will stick with them forever. I, however, am not most people. I like to reflect on the time I wasted watching TV, rather than the time I spent actually doing things. Then, I waste even more time by coming up with a list of the ten best episodes I watched. Then, I put that list up on the internet and hope I don’t get screamed at by commenters. So, let’s get started!
GROUND RULES: The episode must have originally aired in the US during 2014, 1 episode is allowed per show, two-part episodes (EX: Finale pt. 1/Finale pt. 2) are counted as one episode.
DISCLAIMER: I am human, there’s no way for me to watch every episode produced this year. This isn’t a list of the definitive best episodes of TV released this year, or even the best shows, this is just one man’s opinion on what he liked most from the year in TV. As this is a top 10 list, there obviously had to be some cuts, so some of episodes that I loved this year that missed out are listed at the end of this post.
Now that we got that all cleared up, without further ado, I present my 10 favorite episodes of TV from 2014.
Episodes are listed in no particular order.
As the winter TV season comes to a close, advance thinkers like me begin to look ahead toward what the rest of the year holds. And from the looks of things, its going to be a good year for TV. Keep reading to check out what 2014 has to offer.
10. Sense8 (Netflix)
Synopsis: “The sci-fi drama will focus on eight people scattered around the globe who are connected by a shared vision. Each episode (shot in the UK, Seoul, Mumbai, Nairobi, Berlin, Mexico City, San Francisco and Chicago) will follow the characters’ separate stories, even as one entity tries to bring the octet together and another tries to kill them.”
Who’s Involved: Matrix directors Andy and Lana Wachowski (Pictured Above) created the story for the show and are attached to write and possibly direct some episodes. J. Michael Straczynski (Babylon 5, World War Z) is on board as Showrunner. The series doesn’t begin filming until the summer, so casting hasn’t been announced yet.
Why You Should Keep an Eye on it: Like most of the Wachowski’s work, this could either be terrible or fantastic. The best case scenario is that this is Heroes season one, a groundbreaking tale of interweaving storylines and captivating writing, worst case it’s every other season of Heroes, as in complete and utter confusion. But with quality driven Netflix behind it, I’ll put my faith in the creative team and trust that Sense8 will be something we should look forward to.
Expected Premiere Date: Fall