Top 2017: TV Shows

My Top 10 5 TV Shows of 2017

I’m not up to date on most of the latest season of shows, some I’ve stockpiled a few episodes ready to get me through the winter months, but here are my top picks of the shows that I have really enjoyed this year. I wanted to do a top ten list but then realised I’ve not watched as much TV this year and only a few shows really stand out in my mind as being deserving of praise. What would be much longer is the list of shows that have disappointed me and lost my interest, but that’s so negative and I’d rather make a positive list today, that other one might come later.

Unusually, these should be considered as in no particular order, in fact, reverse the order below and it’s much closer to where I might have assigned a ranking:

  1. Big Bang Theory – After a really unimpressive tenth season, the latest season has been a lot better and I’m really pleased to say that it’s gone back to being something I look forward to watching each week, rather than as it was last season, a show I would leave a few episodes of until I was bored or had nothing else to watch. I do think they’re running out of steam with it a bit but maybe that’s why things have improved in quality, the writers don’t want to let the biggest sitcom go out in shame.
  2. Brooklyn Nine-Nine – With a major romance progression, some shows lose their way and spark, this hasn’t, they have kept the characters true to themselves and don’t put all the narrative focus on one key couple. All I ask for with a sit-com is that it’s consistently funny and this is, I can sit down to watch each episode with confidence that it will make me laugh a good few times and the storylines are always entertaining.
  3. Rick and Morty – I was late to the party on this one, now I’m totally on board. Some episodes I don’t enjoy very much but a couple of the latest season were particularly good. There are certain ideas and plotlines starting to emerge as strong threads through what seems on the surface to be a very random and unconnected show. I hope a few of these do actually pay off in the next season and give it a compelling arc to make it even more rewarding.
  4. The Orville – Billed as a sci-fi comedy, this has turned out to be so much more than it was advertised as. It’s quality science fiction with a little extra comedy rather than the other way round. I’ll write a fuller review very soon.
  5. Legion – this shocked me with how different it is, it feels like a series of connected arthouse films. My full review of the first season is here and I’m now looking forward to the second season in 2018 to see if it can continue to surprise me.

Honourable Mentions: Gilmore Girls – Yes I know, it’s old and ended years ago but there’s this little online service called Netflix. I’ve not yet seen the revived short ‘Year in the Life’ series but I loved watching Gilmore Girls steadily over the past year and it holds up well even though some references are now a bit old. Writer Amy Sherman-Palladino is getting some attention now for her new show ‘The Marvelous Mrs Maisel’ which has been nominated for Golden Globes, so I don’t know if Netflix will get another short season out of her anytime soon.

I’m yet to binge watch some others, the second season of ‘Stranger Things’ being one I have set aside for this week, as well as catching up on the whole CW set of DC shows which I usually really enjoy, though I’ve seen the first half dozen episodes of the latest season of ‘Supergirl’ and it’s struggling to hold my attention and the first handful of episodes of ‘Legends of Tomorrow’ prove it’s stuck in a rut. ‘The Flash’ so far has been really very good but I’m only up to the crossover episode and will have to wait to see if the season can stick the landing on it’s second half.

There are a few shows that are recently returned to screens or that are relatively new that I need to see more of before they can be reviewed, such as ‘Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D’ and ‘The Good Doctor’, but I expect I’ll write more about them towards the middle of the year as the main TV season wraps.

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Mid-Week Musings: What famous characters are next to be feminised?

Just browsing what’s available on Netflix this week, something caught my eye, a new show called Van Helsing. While it doesn’t interest me to watch it, I was surprised I hadn’t heard about this adaptation of the famous literary character, so I looked at the description at which point I realised the big ‘new’ angle. The Syfy show is not about Dracula’s famous nemesis, instead, it’s about his descendant Vanessa!

This is not the only example of feminine reworking of (often the descendants of) a classic character. There’s also a show ‘Wynonna Earp’, again, not interesting me to watch it while interesting in its existence. One example that I do watch and actually quite like is Joan Watson in ‘Elementary’ being a reinvention of Sherlock Holmes’ friend John, a change that actually works well as somehow they’ve resisted giving them any romantic complications. The big screen hasn’t avoided this trend either with the most recent and clear example being that the mummy in the new ‘the Mummy’ is now a female mummy.

So who’s next to be reimagined in this way? What folk or literary hero is set to be the next adapted heroine? Surely Vanessa Helsing could team up with Victoria Frankenstein! Possibly breathe new life into some American icons such as Davina Crockett, Jenny Appleseed or Aunty Sam? How about presidential descendants Abi Lincoln or Georgina Washington? Maybe we could enjoy some swashbuckling lady pirates like Blu Beard and Long Jean Silver? Why not reinvent action with Jane Bond?

Is it sounding silly yet? Good!

Can you imagine the response if things were going the other way? What would people say if famous female characters such as Calamity Jane were now Calamity Jake, or if John of Arc saved France from invasion? How about even more modern characters, would anyone want to follow the adventures of a tomb raiding Larry Croft? There would be an outcry and rightly so! Is there a double standard? Should there be? Why?

I don’t know if it’s fully a ‘trend’ yet, though I expect there will be a fair few more instances of this happening in the near future, but as with anything in film and television adaptation, doing something just for the sake of ‘girl power’ is not a good enough reason. Handling these beloved figures should always be careful, with changes made to service conveying the story and a better understanding of the character. If that’s what’s motivating female-led reworkings, then great, if not, hopefully, the quality of these adaptations will speak for themselves and those that don’t do justice to the sources will end swiftly.

Mid-Week Musings: Lady Doctor or Black Bond?

With two of the most iconic perpetually re-cast roles looking like they are up for grabs, ‘Doctor Who’ for certain and ‘Bond’ for uncertain (as in it’s uncertain what’s going on with Daniel Craig), is it likely that they will change radically in their newest iterations?

Note: When I started drafting this both roles were believed to be in a process of recasting though doubt has been raised this week. I’ll come back to the latest rumours in a bit. 

Lady Doctor
This is canonically stated as possible so can’t be shot down as ‘impossible’ in a series that doesn’t know the meaning of the word. First choice is Olivia Colman who I must say would be wonderful and with ‘Broadchurch’ confirmed as over, she may be open to a new series. However, some of the best ‘Doctors’ have been unexpected castings, unlike Peter Capaldi who everyone knew it was going to be, for example Matt Smith turned out to be fantastic and nobody had heard of him. I think a female ‘Doctor’ is very likely, maybe even more than a non-white ‘Doctor’, yet being an acclaimed actress from the top of almost everybody’s list is not, she’ll be a relative unknown, like most of the companions have been, especially some of the best. I wouldn’t be surprised if the casting agents saw someone for a companion role and realised they were so enigmatic that the lead would suit them better.

The latest rumour is suggesting the Kris Marshall has nabbed the role, which has proven surprisingly well-received online from what I’ve seen so far. However this is unconfirmed and so I wouldn’t count it as a certainty just yet. With the series looking like it may be coming to another elongated hiatus, it’s the perfect time to go out on a shock, either jolting the viewership back to life, or sending a varied run off in noteworthy style, why not surprise us all?

Black Bond
I’ve loved Daniel Craig’s time as James Bond (except Quantum of Solace, nobody loved that) so I’ll be sad to see him go if he does leave the role. Latest rumours suggest he’s returning for at least one more film, but as he’s already the longest running actor in the role it’s inevitable that it’ll pass to someone else in the not too distant future. What’s going against the idea that the next Bond could be Black, most specifically the ever-wonderful Idris Elba, is that I’m saying it, fans are saying it, campaigns are saying it, bookies are saying it, Idris is being ubiquitously asked about it in every single interview. If the Broccoli’s are anything like me, they will want to pull a shock, some measure of surprise in an era of constant leaks and rumours, not something that EVERYONE and their bookie is calling an extreme likelihood. That’s not to say that whoever becomes Bond couldn’t be non-white, that seems brilliantly likely, especially as there are many other British actors whose stars are rising that might get consideration. Move aside perfectly perfect Tom Hiddleston who is the most obvious choice (apparently eschewed according to other rumours), make way for Daniel Kaluuya or Riz Ahmed to take on the famous codename of 007, both of whom are now clearly appearing on radars on the other side of the Atlantic and whose comparative youth would give scope for at least a trilogy of appearances.

I may be miles off base, only time will tell. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!