Blog Post #213
The WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes made 2023 a particularly weird year in television. The strikes were important and needed to happen (and it was so amazing that the writers and actors actually won!), but they were hard on anyone even remotely connected to the TV and movie industry, as well as viewers. It made for a very strange Fall season, from which we’re still recovering. I’ve never seen a worse Fall season, and I’ve been watching them since the 1960’s. Back then, we used to get the TV Guide Fall Preview issue every year. I really enjoyed reading their descriptions of the new shows and looking at the new schedule. Now I make my own schedule, but sadly, this year most of the new series were reality shows, game shows or foreign imports, and quite a bit of the schedule was filled with reruns.
Many series were suspended or canceled due to the strike (some of which had previously been announced as renewed). It was a difficult time to be a TV fan or journalist because we didn’t have as many shows to watch, or as many people to interview. We had to create content from very little news.
Still, there were many enjoyable series that aired before and after the strike. I can’t watch all TV shows that come out (I used to, but there are just too many now). I prefer superhero, scifi and fantasy series. I also love some British shows, some regular dramas, some comedies, etc. I admit that sometimes I’ll watch a show just because I really like the actors in it. That doesn’t mean it’s my favorite, though, or even close (sorry, “Night Court” and “Gotham Knights”). Sometimes I’ll just watch a show for nostalgia’s sake (like “CSI“) or because it’s scifi, even though it’s ridiculous (like “La Brea.”). Some of my absolute favorite current shows didn’t air this year at all, like “Resident Alien” on Syfy, “Acapulco” on AppleTV+ or “Curb Your Enthusiasm” on HBO/Max. Some good shows that I want to watch premiered, but I just haven’t gotten around to watching them yet (“The Gilded Age” season 2). There are quite a few shows that haven’t been renewed yet (come on, Hulu/Disney, renew “The Orville” already!).
I’ve chosen shows here that I really enjoyed watching. I don’t watch many non-fiction shows, so they’re not included. I also don’t like shows with unlikable or irredeemable characters, actors with no chemistry, depressing stories, overly complicated plots, storylines that go too slow, unfunny comedies, too much violence, or highly predictable plots. Also, all of the shows on this list have very uplifting or hopeful stories. I just can’t watch shows like “Succession” (full of jerks) or “The Walking Dead” (too depressing and gross), even though they are very well-written and popular shows. Of course, these are all MY opinions, so yours may vary. What I consider “too violent” or “not funny” varies from show to show.
My Favorite 20 shows, roughly in order:
1. “Ghosts” on CBS – Married New Yorkers Samantha (Rose McIver) and Jay Arondekar (Utkarsh Ambudkar) believe that their dreams have come true when they inherit a beautiful country house from Sophie Woodstone, Sam’s great aunt, only to find that it is falling apart and inhabited by ghosts who died on the property and are now bound to the area, appearing as they did at the times of their deaths, until they can reach the afterlife. Jay cannot see or hear the ghosts, but Sam can after a near-death experience.
I don’t like most of today’s sitcoms, but this is one of the exceptions because it has a wonderful cast, smart scripts and lovable characters. It doesn’t make me laugh out loud very often, but it does make me giggle consistently. It definitely got better as the show progressed and made me more interested in the story and characters. They’re all fun, but my favorite is Sasappis (Román Zaragoza) because he;s usually smarter than the others, but then he can sometimes be dumb, too, which shows that he’s not quite as smart as he thinks he is. He has the funniest lines, in my opinion. The fact that it’s a fantasy show as well as a sitcom is undeniably another reason that I love it. The original UK version (which they’ve been showing on The CW) is good, too, but it’s very different. The USA version returns Feb. 15, and I can hardly wait!
2. “Only Murders in the Building” on HULU – Three strangers – washed-up actor Charles-Haden Savage (Steve Martin), hasbeen Broadway director Oliver Putnam (Martin Short) and directionless young woman Mabel Mora (Selena Gomez) – share an obsession with true crime and suddenly find themselves wrapped up in one. When a grisly death occurs inside their exclusive Upper West Side apartment building, the trio suspects murder and employs their precise knowledge of true crime to investigate the truth. Perhaps even more explosive are the lies they tell one another. Soon, the endangered trio comes to realize a killer might be living among them as they race to decipher the mounting clues before it’s too late.
This is one of my favorite shows of all time, and I’m so glad that it’s popular as well (at least I assume it is, since they’re going into season 4). Everyone involved with this show deserves all the accolades they have received. Who would have thought that two aging stars that I loved so much in high school (Martin and Short) would have a big hit comedy series nearly 50 years later? Its subject matter is timely, it’s funny, it has quirky characters, and it’s a good mystery. I can’t imagine anyone not liking this show.
However, I do feel bad for the Slate journalist that posted an article back in November about how Short was annoying (and then was blasted by the internet). First, it was his opinion, which he was entitled to. Comedy is subjective. Second, I agree that he definitely can be annoying, and many of his characters lean heavily into that. Traditionally, he’s one of those love-him-or-hate-him kind of comedians. On this show, though, he skirts along the edge of annoying, never quite going too far. He makes for perfect contrast to Martin, who is the perennial straight man. They’re a legendary comedy team.
Gomez, who is also a fantastic singer, fits in well with the other two with her deadpan lines and expressions. The casting director for this show must be phenomenal, or perhaps the two stars just get their friends to join the show. You can’t argue with their roster of guest stars: Nathan Lane, Tina Fey, Paul Rudd, Meryl Streep, Jane Lynch, Andrea Martin, Jesse Martin, and Matthew Broderick fill out an already impressive lineup. I’m really looking forward to season 4, even though it may or may not air this year. Check it out on HULU. Also, ABC is running the first season starting this week.
3. “Loki” on Disney+ – Loki (Tom Hiddleston), the God of Mischief, steps out of his brother Thor’s shadow to embark on an adventure that takes place after the events of “Avengers: Endgame” when he’ s seemingly plucked out of existence by the Time Variance Authority. Loki Season 2 picks up in the aftermath of the shocking season finale when Loki finds himself in a battle for the soul of the TVA. Along with Mobius (Owen Wilson), Hunter B-15, and a team of new and returning characters, Loki navigates an ever-expanding and increasingly dangerous Multiverse in search of Sylvie, Judge Renslayer, Miss Minutes, and the truth of what it means to possess free will and glorious purpose.
Season 1 was mind-blowing, and I just didn’t see how they could create more head-spinning story in season 2. However, they did make a season 2 in the case of Loki…and the show became even better. I was surprised because Marvel doesn’t seem to care whether their TV shows survive or not. I was very disappointed that WandaVision, Hawkeye and all of their other shows didn’t get a second season. Sure, it helps if you’ve seen the “Thor” and “Avengers” movies, but it’s not necessary. This is another show with an amazing cast, led by the talented bromance duo of Loki and Mobius. Season 2 seemed to have a definite ending, but comic book characters seldom end for good. We may see more of the series, or we may see Loki (or one of his variants) turn up in a future Marvel movie.
4. “The Flash” on The CW – Based on the Barry Allen incarnation of DC Comics character the Flash – a costumed superhero crime-fighter with the power to move at superhuman speeds. It is a spin-off of “Arrow”, existing in the same fictional universe known as the Arrowverse.
I was very sad when they announced that they were canceling “The Flash” after season 9, but they really pulled out all of the stops for the last season, writing-wise. I just wish they had written the show this well during its entire run; perhaps it would have gotten at least another season. I loved the cast and the characters, but the writing was uneven throughout the series. The constant cast changes didn’t help, either (although it wasn’t as bad as sister show “Legends of Tomorrow.”). Cisco and Joe in particular were missed by fans after their departures. One thing I really loved about season 9, besides how they neatly wrapped up most of the storylines and propelled everything forward, was how they had frequent guest-stars from other Arrowverse shows, especially Oliver. I was elated to see Batgirl, Diggle, and Dreamer, as well as many past “Flash” villains and heroes. I really miss all of the CW superhero shows, but Flash was always my favorite.
5. “Quantum Leap” on NBC – This science fiction series is a revival of the original 1989–1993 show created by Donald P. Bellisario. It takes place in 2022: 27 years after Dr. Sam Beckett stepped into the Quantum Leap accelerator and 22 years after the Season 5 finale where the show left off.
I was a huge fan of the original series, so I was dubious about a reboot, but this series has won me over. They’ve done a fresh take on the older series without sacrificing what made it so awesome. The lead actor, Raymond Lee, plays Dr. Ben Song, who leaps into various people in time to “put right what went wrong.” He is a fine actor who has unbelievable chemistry with everyone on the show. Yet, he is also laid back in a similar way to Scott Bakula. who played Sam Beckett in the original show. All of the characters fit together very well. I think what makes the show so special is that it features some of the same team that worked on the 1989 series, especially EP Deborah Pratt. They no doubt guide the talented younger writers and producers who bring new blood to this franchise. The shows this season have been particularly exciting as they keep introducing new elements to keep us off-balance. I can’t wait to see what happens next! Season 2 returns sometimes this year (hopefully in the late winter).
6. “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” on Paramount+ – Based on the years Captain Christopher Pike manned the helm of the U.S.S. Enterprise, the series features fan favorites Anson Mount as Captain Christopher Pike, Rebecca Romijn as Number One and Ethan Peck as Science Officer Spock. The series follows them in the years before Captain Kirk boarded the U.S.S. Enterprise, as they explore new worlds around the galaxy.
I’m a huge Trekkie from way back, so I’m going to love ANY Star Trek series or movies, to a certain extent (although I’m not a huge fan of the Chris Pine movies, especially the second one). I watch all of Paramount’s Trek series religiously. Unfortunately, they’ve started canceling them now, so I’m just trying to enjoy them while I can. This one appears to be a hit (we can only guess, since streaming services don’t share their ratings). It resonates with older fans because it’s episodic (like the older Trek shows), but it’s not afraid to change facts and divert from “canon,” so it doesn’t entirely pander to us. Also, it’s exciting and explores ideas in a way not done by the older series. Mostly, though, it’s just very fun, with a superb cast and stellar writing. In this past season, we got to know all of the characters more, and they built a delightful romance between Spock and Nurse Chapel. This is a story about romantic yearning that we never knew we needed.
Since it takes place before the original “Star Trek,” with characters we saw in that show, any fans who are sticklers for canon probably don’t watch it anymore, but that’s their loss. I hope that it is successful and will run for many years to come. The show is expected to return for season 3 sometime later this year.
7. “Shining Vale” on Starz – A dysfunctional family moves from the city to a small town after Patricia “Pat” Phelps (Courtney Cox), a former “wild child” who became famous through writing a raunchy female empowerment novel, is caught cheating on her husband, Terry (Greg Kinnear). In an attempt to rebuild their family, they move into a house where terrible atrocities have taken place. Nobody seems to suspect anything odd except for Pat, who is convinced she is either depressed or possessed. But soon, the demons haunting the family’s new home (featuring the ever-luminescent Mira Sorvino) begin to appear much more real.
The only problem with this show is that it airs on Starz, which doesn’t have nearly as many subscribers as other pay networks (and thus won’t get as many viewers for their shows). That’s a shame because they have some good shows. This one is a first-rate horror/comedy. It would be outstanding as a horror show alone, but with this cast and the excellent script, it’s a hilarious parody as well. The show has many fun allusions to horror movies and television shows. Season 1 was based largely on “The Shining,” while Season 2 is based more on “Rosemary’s Baby.” Unfortunately, Starz canceled the show, so I hope they can find a home for season 3!
8. “Secret Invasion” on Disney+ – Nick Fury learns of a secret invasion of Earth by a faction of shapeshifting Skrulls; Fury joins his allies, and together they race against time to thwart an imminent Skrull invasion and save humanity.
I enjoyed this show, but the beginning had really slow pacing, so I think that may have turned some fans off. Still, it was worth watching Samuel L. Jackson reprise his role of Nick Fury. I didn’t think it was possible, but he actually improved the role. This show was not just a comic book story about the Skrulls taking over the Earth. Much like the variant’s journey and redemption in “Loki,” it was about a beaten, weary hero who had to prove who he is to himself and the rest of the world. It was also largely a spy story with a tiny bit of action and almost no superheroes, so that may be why it wasn’t as beloved as “Loki” or “WandaVision.”
Jackson would have been good enough to carry any show, but they had many other great actors in the cast, especially Ben Mendelsohn, Olivia Colman, Don Cheadle, Emilia Clarke and Martin Freeman. I grew up reading comics, so I remember the Skrulls very well. It was exciting to see a show about them. I would love it if they made a Skulls TV series (even an animated one). Unfortunately, there’s no news so far about any future seasons of the show, which had some pretty bad reviews. We can only hope that they decide to bring it back. I’m sure that, either way, we’ll see Jackson’s Nick Fury in some future Marvel film.
9. “Found” on NBC – In a riveting new drama, brilliant recovery specialist Gabi Mosely (Shanola Hampton) and her team are dedicated to finding America’s missing and forgotten people. They’ll stop at nothing to solve these cases because for them, it’s personal – every member of the team has firsthand experience with a mysterious disappearance. But Gabi has a chilling secret of her own that could unravel everything… she’s got her childhood kidnapper locked up in the basement, helping her crack every case.
When I first watched this show, I wrote it off as a standard broadcast network drama. It is reminiscent of “Without a Trace” (2002) or the less successful series, “Ransom (2017),” both of which I enjoyed. However, broadcast networks are now having to compete with the hundreds of shows on streaming networks, so their shows are becoming more more complex. Sometimes it works, and sometimes the shows are overly complicated or boring because “complex” isn’t always handled so well. This one works. In fact, it was the surprise hit of the Fall season.
In each episode, Gabi and her crew of four have to find a missing person. It helps that one of them comes from a rich family that underwrites the business. They also work with a police officer, Mark Trent (Brett Dalton). He and Gabi have an on-again, off-again romance. The big secret that we learn at the end of the first episode is that Gabi has her former abductor (who goes by the name “Sir”) locked in the basement. This is the weird twist we didn’t see coming, and it’s the sort of thing makes you want to keep watching. Over the course of the season, we learn about the characters’ backstories, especially those of Gabi and Sir (Mark-Paul Gosselaar). They have amazing chemistry, and their interactions are fascinating to watch. Gabi wrestles with her conscience about whether Sir has turned her into the same kind of monster that he is. It’s worth watching on Peacock or On Demand and returns January 9 for the rest of its first season. It’s already been renewed for season 2, which will probably debut in the Fall.
10. “Upload” on Prime Video – Science fiction comedy-drama television series created by Greg Daniels, set in 2033, where humans can “upload” themselves into a virtual afterlife of their choosing. When computer programmer Nathan Brown (Robbie Amell) dies prematurely, he is uploaded to the very expensive Lakeview, but then finds himself under the thumb of his possessive, still-living girlfriend Ingrid (Allegra Edwards). As Nathan adjusts to the pros and cons of digital heaven, he bonds with Nora (Andy Allo), his living customer service rep. Nora struggles with the pressures of her job, her dying father who does not want to be uploaded, and her growing feelings for Nathan while slowly coming to believe that Nathan was murdered.
Season 3 just finished in November, and it looks like there will be a season 4. I sure hope so because they left on a weird cliffhanger. In case you don’t know, this is a scifi show, but it’s also social satire and has a lot of comedy. Somehow it all works. Throughout the series, we see a warped version of the future that is somehow both shocking and completely believable because the writers take what is going on now with people, technology, politicians, corporations, etc., and project them into a corrupt future. This is not a depressing series, though. The show is very witty and engrossing. You want to root for Nathan and his family against the evil corporations. William B. Davis, who was so memorable as the Cigarette Smoking Man in “The X Files,” is brilliant here as David Choak, the embodiment of everything bad in the world. You don’t want to miss this series because it’s not only highly entertaining, but also thought-provoking.
11. “Ahsoka” on Disney+ – Former Jedi knight Ahsoka Tano investigates an emerging threat to a vulnerable galaxy.
I love the Star Wars franchise almost as much as I do Star Trek, so I enjoy most of the newer movies and series. “Andor” (2022) was arguably the best of all of the Star Wars TV series, but this one is also of high quality. “Ahsoka” is a character we saw briefly in “The Mandalorian” in 2020 and in “The Book of Boba Fett” last year, but she had an even larger role in many Star Wars animated series broadcast since 2008. She’s played in this series by fan favorite Rosario Dawson. Dawson has appeared in many scifi roles for animated series and movies (including voicing Wonder Woman), and as Claire Temple in all of the Marvel Netflix series, as well as many other dramas and comedies. She lends a gravitas and character to the role of seasoned Jedi warrior Ahsoka Tano.
This series is a spinoff from “The Mandalorian,” but many of the characters come from earlier animated Star Wars series. Although there are only eight episodes, it feels like more because there are so many characters and so much action. The story starts slowly but soon speeds up. Ahsoka suspects that evil Empire General Thrawn is returning to fight against the New Republic. Her former apprentice, Sabine Wren, aids her in tracking down leads to find Thrawn, and to fight against the remnants of the Empire. If you’re a Star Wars fan, you will definitely enjoy it. If you’re not, you should give it a try. If you’ve never seen any Star Wars cartoons before, you shouldn’t be lost (I wasn’t). It’s a worthwhile addition to the Jediverse.
12. “Star Trek: Lower Decks” on Paramount+ – This series focuses on the support crew serving on one of Starfleet’s least important ships, the USS Cerritos, in 2380. Ensigns Mariner, (Tawny Newsome) Boimler (Jack Quaid), Rutherford (Eugene Cordero) and Tendi (Noël Wells) must keep up with their duties and their social lives, often while the ship is being rocked by a multitude of sci-fi anomalies. The ship’s bridge crew includes Captain Carol Freeman (Dawnn Lewis), Commander Jack Ransom (Jerry O’Connell), Lieutenant Shaxs (Fred Tatasciore) and Doctor T’Ana (Gillian Vigman). This is the second animated spin-off in the franchise after 1973-74’s “Star Trek: The Animated Series,” but has a decidedly more adult tone and humor.
I didn’t like this show at first (it took me a while to get used to their style of humor), but it’s really improved over the years. It’s very funny, and they’ve found their niche in the Star Trek universe. This past season was even better than the past three, as they had a season-long story arc about a mysterious ship that was eliminating ships from various races. The villain behind that was a fun surprise for long-time fans. As a bonus, they did an episode of “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” which featured the “Lower Decks” characters – the actors who voice the characters in the animated series crossed over to the live action series. It was a real hoot! The episode was directed by Star Trek veteran Jonathan Frakes (Riker on TNG), and he did a super job with it.
13. “Star Trek: Picard” on Paramount+ – Set at the end of the 24th century, 18 years after the events of `Star Trek: Nemesis’, with Sir Patrick Stewart reprising his iconic role, `Star Trek: Picard’ revolves around retired admiral Jean-Luc Picard. He is still deeply affected by the loss of Lieutenant Commander Data, portrayed by Brent Spiner, and the destruction of Romulus, and steps into the next chapter of his life.
I read online that many fans complained about the first two seasons of this show, but I loved all three seasons. The third season pandered heavily to the fans, and that’s why, I think, a lot of them loved that season the best. I mean, how could you not love seeing most of the original TNG cast reunited on the bridge of their old Enterprise D? I enjoyed all of the action of season 1, the Romulans, the new crew (especially Agnes and Captain Rios), and the return of Trek characters Riker, Troi and Seven of Nine! Season 2 had time travel, Guinan, the Borg Queen and Q, as well as Picard exploring his childhood. Then, in season 3 we saw Crusher, Riker, Troi, Worf, Data and Geordi, among many others, as well as Picard and Crusher’s son, Jack, and a tremendous new villain Vadic (Amanda Plummer). It was the perfect ending for the entire series. I did miss Agnes and Captain Rios, though, in the third season. Anyway, the joy of all of the new Star Trek series is that no matter what kind of Trek fan you are, you should love at least one of them. Each one is a little different. “Picard” has probably ended at three seasons, but it hasn’t been officially canceled yet, so I’m holding out hope for more.
14. “Vienna Blood” on PBS – 1900s Vienna is a hotbed of philosophy, science and art. Dr. Max Liebermann’s extraordinary skills of perception and Detective Inspector Oskar Rheinhardt’s determination lead them to some of the city’s most mysterious and deadly cases.
I love this fun little detective show from the UK. Matthew Beard is perfect as a young Freudian psychiatrist in 1908 Vienna, Max Liebermann. His teachings and methods are doubted by other doctors, but he’s convinced Police Detective Oskar Rheinhardt that he knows what he’s talking about, so Max assists him in solving murders. Max is handsome and endearing, but he’s also single-minded when it comes to work, and clueless about almost everything else. He has trouble with relationships with women and his family, for instance. In that regard, Rheinhardt serves as a fine contrast. It’s a good buddy cop procedural, set in an unusual place and time. It also addresses issues such as antisemitism, police corruption, feminism, and more. There’s a lot more action than you might expect, too. This compelling series returns for season four, probably late this year.
15. “Superman and Lois” on The CW – After years of facing supervillains, monsters and alien invaders, the world’s most famous superhero, The Man of Steel aka Clark Kent, and famed journalist Lois Lane come face to face with one of their greatest challenges ever — dealing with being working parents in today’s society. Complicating the already daunting job of raising two boys, Clark and Lois worry about whether their sons, Jonathan and Jordan, could inherit their father’s Kryptonian superpowers as they grow older. Returning to Smallville to handle some Kent family business, Clark and Lois are reacquainted with Lana Lang and her Fire Chief husband, Kyle Cushing. The adults aren’t the only ones rediscovering old friendships in Smallville as the Kent sons are reacquainted with Lana and Kyle’s rebellious daughter, Sarah. Of course, there’s never a dull moment in the life of a superhero, especially with Lois’ father, Gen. Samuel Lane looking for Superman to vanquish a villain or save the day at a moment’s notice.
Superman has always been my favorite superhero. I grew up reading his comics, and I’ve loved most Superman series, such as ‘Smallville” and “Lois and Clark“. Some of the characters from this series got their start on “Supergirl,” which I also enjoyed. They’ve done a very good job with this show by making it completely separate and different from the rest of the Arrowverse.
I enjoyed season 1, but I thought season 2 was too dark, slow, and depressing. They got back on track in season 3. The show returns for a fourth season sometime later this year, but that will be the last. It got top ratings on The CW, but that network has been taken over, and they’re rebranding, which means they’ve canceled a lot of shows. Still, that’s a good run for most shows on network television today, but it’s sad because not only is it a good show, but most of the other superhero series on The CW were all renewed for far more seasons–Smallville: 10; Flash: 9; Arrow: 8; Legends of Tomorrow: 7; and Supergirl: 6. I think that if “Superman and Lois” had premiered five years earlier, it would have enjoyed a much longer run. It has a fabulous cast, good writing, and a lot of action. It’s not only a superhero show, but a family drama. This last season, they had an honest and moving story about Lois having breast cancer. The show has carved out its own distinct place in Superman TV history. I hope the last season will be as strong as the last season of “Flash.”
16. “Dark Winds” on AMC/AMC+ – Based on the Leaphorn & Chee book series by Tony Hillerman, the year is 1971 on a remote outpost of the Navajo Nation near Monument Valley. Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn of the Tribal Police is besieged by a series of seemingly unrelated crimes. The closer he digs to the truth, the more he exposes the wounds of his past. He is joined on this journey by his new deputy, Jim Chee. Chee, too, has old scores to settle from his youth on the reservation. Together, the two men battle the forces of evil, each other and their own personal demons on the path to salvation. Starring: Zahn McClarnon, Kiowa Gordon, Jessica Matten, Deanna Allison, Rainn Wilson, Elva Guerra, Jeremiah Bitsui, Eugene Brave Rock, Noah Emmerich. Directed by: Chris Eyre, Sanford Bookstaver
This is a relatively new drama series, but it’s been sensational in both of its seasons. It reminds me a little bit of “Fargo,” but it’s not quite as offbeat or dark as that show can be. It’s simply one of the best shows on TV right now. Each season is only six episodes long, but they pack a lot into each episode: drama, action, and even a little comedy and romance. Season 3 returns sometime in 2025, so that’s a long time to wait, but this show is worth it. If you don’t have AMC or AMC+, you can watch it on Prime Video. The free Roku Channel has the first two episodes available for free.
17. “Fire Country” on CBS – Bode Donovan, a young convict seeking redemption, joins an unconventional prison release firefighting program in Northern California, where he and other inmates are partnered with elite firefighters to extinguish massive, unpredictable wildfires. It’s a high-risk, high-reward assignment, and the heat is turned up when Bode is assigned to the program in his rural hometown, where he was once a golden all-American son until his troubles began. Five years ago, Bode burned down everything in his life, leaving town with a big secret. Now he’s back, with the rap sheet of a criminal and the audacity to believe in a chance for redemption.
Who would have thought that CBS, which has a long history of being the old people’s network, with its many uninteresting procedurals and sitcoms, could have such an original and authentic show? I guess that sometimes it takes one actor to shake things up. Star Max Thieriot (Bode) created this show, based on the area where he was raised (Northern California) and the firefighters he knew growing up. This show has exciting characters, some of my favorite actors, and thrilling stories. It’s one part action show and one part soapy drama (but in a good way). It’s reinvigorated Friday nights and returns 2/16 for season 2.
18. “Doctor Who” on Disney+ – A British science fiction series broadcast by the BBC since 1963. The series depicts the adventures of an extraterrestrial being called the Doctor, part of a humanoid species called Time Lords. The Doctor travels in the universe and in time using a time travelling spaceship called the TARDIS, which externally appears as a British police box. While traveling, the Doctor works to save lives and liberate oppressed peoples by combating foes. The Doctor often travels with companions. Beginning with William Hartnell, fourteen actors have headlined the series as the Doctor; as of 2023, Ncuti Gatwa leads the series as the Fifteenth Doctor. The transition from one actor to another is written into the plot of the series with the concept of regeneration into a new incarnation, a plot device in which, when a Time Lord is fatally injured, their cells regenerate and they are reincarnated. Each actor’s portrayal is distinct, but all represent stages in the life of the same character and, together, they form a single lifetime with a single narrative.
I didn’t watch the original “Doctor Who” series growing up (it didn’t air in San Diego), but I’ve really enjoyed the newer version that started in 2005. At its base, it’s a fantasy show for kids, but its themes and drama are often very adult-oriented. This can make the scripts uneven at times. I just like to sit back and enjoy it, whether it makes sense or not.
The show moved this year from BBC America to Disney+, and new episodes premiered this past November as a part of the show’s 60th anniversary. These episodes served to bridge the long gap between the end of season 13 (with Jodie Whittaker as the thirteenth Doctor) in December, 2021, and the new season 14 with the fifteenth doctor this spring. David Tennant came back to play the 14th Doctor in between the two, in these special episodes. It reintroduced the terrific writing of Russell T. Davies and set up the story for the new Doctor’s introduction, as well as giving long-time fans of the 10th Doctor (also Tennant) and his companion, Donna, a better ending. More importantly, those of us who are huge Tennant fans didn’t have to watch him die once again! Along with all that, there was also Neal Patrick Harris as an amusing, yet scary villain, the return of Donna’s whole family, including a new trans daughter, and a heartfelt, entertaining Christmas special with the new Doctor that introduced his new companion. I’m really looking forward to the next season, which will start in May.
19. “Sweet Tooth” on Netflix – A fantasy drama television series developed by Jim Mickle, based on the comic book series created by Jeff Lemire and published by DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint. Nonso Anozie, Christian Convery, Adeel Akhtar, Stefania LaVie Owen, and Dania Ramirez star while James Brolin provides the narration. Sweet Tooth is set in a world in which a virus has killed a majority of the world’s human population, coinciding with the emergence of hybrid babies that are born with animal characteristics. Convery plays Gus, a naïve 10-year-old part-deer boy, who sets out to find his mother after the death of his father.
Here’s another post-apocalyptic show that is not depressing; it has a lot of hope. The story, characters and pacing are lovely. I was so happy when they renewed it for a second season because it didn’t seem like the kind of show that everyone would love as much as I do. I’m ecstatic that it’s got one more season left. That seems just about right (also, the boy who plays Gus will probably age too much for them to continue on with his story. This show just hits all the right notes. Season 3 premieres later this year.
20. “Gen V” on Prime Video – From the world of The Boys comes Gen V, a thrilling new series set at America’s only college for superheroes. These gifted students put their moral boundaries to the test, competing for the university’s top ranking, and a chance to join The Seven, Vought International’s elite superhero team. When the school’s dark secrets come to light, they must decide what kind of heroes they want to become.
This is one of the exceptions I mentioned above. Both “The Boys” and “Gen V” are very, very violent, and gross, and not terribly uplifting. I don’t mind it because they’re such fun. The show’s creator (who also did “Supernatural,” which is very tame in comparison) revels gleefully in turning all the superhero tropes and horror movie clichés on their heads. Each season or show is more over-the-top than the previous one, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. These shows just crack me up, and I love the actors in them.
Honorable Mention (it was very hard for me to put the shows above in order and whittle my list down to 20, and I’m sure I’ve forgotten some others that I’ll think of later):
“Titans” on MAX
“Justified: City Primeval” on FX
“Primo” on Freevee
“Bosch: Legacy” on Freevee
“Fantasy Island” on FOX
“Secrets of Sulphur Springs” on Disney
“The Ark” on Syfy
“The Watchful Eye” on Freeform
“The Irrational” on NBC
“SurrealEstate” on Syfy
“Miss Scarlet and the Duke” on PBS
“Grantchester” on PBS
“Sanditon” on PBS
“Harlan Coben’s Shelter” on Prime
“Doom Patrol” on MAX
Which shows did you like best in 2023? What are you watching now? Let us know in the comments!
Proofread and Edited by Brenda
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