Tuesday, December 20, 2016

"Sweet/Vicious" - MTV's Drama is the Best New Show of 2016

The last time I stood here, proselytizing about the unsung greatness of a show outside the typical prestige TV framework, I was singing the praises of The 100 as it neared the end of its (still pretty sensational, to be clear) second season.

OK. Not my finest hour in retrospect.

I'm not gonna promise something similar won't happen with MTV's Sweet/Vicious, which I'm about to go to bat for in much the same way. It's only five episodes old, for starters. But those five episodes—while certainly not perfect—represent one of the most exciting, confident starts I've seen from a new hour-long since the first season of Jane the Virgin. (Perhaps second only to WGN America's late, great period drama Manhattan, if we're keeping track.) If there's a major concern for me about it going forward, it's that the various sustainability hurdles inherent in any story built around characters with secret identities—in this case, two women who decide to don masks and take on rapists, vigilante-style, on and around their college campus—may prove to be too much over the long haul. But if there are undoubtedly failures out there, there are also plenty of examples of shows that have spun similarly confining premises into long-term dramatic gold—most recently, of course, twice-reigning drama of the year The Americans. Now, I'm not saying the writers of Sweet/Vicious have the chops of The Americans' writers, but the strength of these early episodes has me hoping they might just be able to pull it off.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Best TV Episodes of 2016

I didn't feel like writing a big intro of any kind to this year's list, both because I've been busy with work and just because, well . . . 2016. You get it.

Anyhow, different year, same old rules. Two episodes are allowed per show (because otherwise I'd probably just list five each from Steven Universe, BoJack, The Americans and Rectify), and in general I try to keep it to one for the majority of them, simply because that allows for more variety.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Best Shows of 2015-16 - Part Two

In comparison to last week's selections, part two of this list will probably look a bit more familiar to those of you who were around for last year's installment. But there's still a potential surprise or two in store.

Again, mild to moderate spoilers ahead:

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Best Shows of 2015-16 - Part One

Farewell, Transparent. I don't know if it was conversations with folks on social media that brought me around to the belief that this widely-praised show (which, in a decision that makes me cringe now, I placed at No. 5 on this list a year ago) rings fundamentally empty in most respects, or simply if season two was just so much worse at covering up that hollow, often offensive core. Either way, don't expect to see it anywhere on this year's version of my season-ending chronicle of the best in TV. As for fellow former top-five heavyweight The 100 . . . well, let's sum up what happened to this once-great series in two words: utter ruin. It joins The Good Wife in the illustrious hall of shame of shows that reached greatness, only to fall apart and (probably) never recover from a series of deeply horrible creative choices the following season. (Or maybe it will recover. I dunno. I haven't finished it, because final-semester-of-college obligations forced me to reduce my weekly viewing load a bit this spring. Suffice to say this show didn't merit inclusion in that group.)

The other major disappointment from this year's group of shows is the conspicuous absence of Jane the Virgin. Midway through the year, it seemed to have a spot all but sewn up, but the back half of the season has simply not been very good. Unlike The 100, it doesn't seem to be beyond salvaging (they haven't completely ruined two-thirds of the characters, for one thing), but it was kind of a rough year for The CW in general. (Two shows in the top 20 is still not too shabby, but early in the year it looked like several more were in play. And none ended up making the top 10.)

I could talk about the season's more pleasant surprises as well (of which there were many), but since a number of those shows are listed below, it's probably not worth hearing me sing their praises extensively here. Suffice to say they helped made it another great year in TV in spite of these various high-profile flops.

Part one after the jump (part two will post next week). Mild to moderate spoilers for some shows ahead: