Sunday, 29 December 2019

My Top 5 TV Shows of 2019

Crikey, would you look at the date? 2019 is almost over and that can only mean one thing - it's time to recap the best that TV and streaming had to offer throughout the year.

My year has been filled with some truly amazing TV, so I've decided to highlight five of my favourites from the year. Nowadays, putting as much original content in front of audiences as physically possible is key to surviving in the hungry streaming landscape, so naturally I haven't had time to sample a little bit of everything – frankly, I wouldn't be able to leave the house if I tried. 

So this list is more a reflection of what I've seen and enjoyed, rather than a definitive guide on what's hot and what's not. What TV shows and streaming series have you been watching this year? Let me know in the comments down below.

Honourable mentions: Succession Season 2 (HBO), The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Part 2 (Netflix), Formula 1: Drive to Survive Season 1 (Netflix), Big Little Lies Season 2 (HBO), Game of Thrones Season 8 (HBO), The Boys Season 1 (Prime Video), The Witcher Season 1 (Netflix), You Season 1 (Netflix)

5) Unbelievable (Netflix)

Not an easy watch by any means, particularly the first episode, but Netflix's eight-episode limited series Unbelievable was a compelling examination of how and why sexual assault victims are often dissuaded from coming forward or pressured into staying silent.

Kaitlyn Dever gives a terrific lead performance as victim Marie Adler, with the story of how her life fell apart post-assault, told in tandem with that of two Midwest detectives – Toni Collette and Merritt Wever – investigating a series of assaults with similar outcomes and patterns.

By remaining grounded in reality but with a sensitive touch when necessary, Unbelievable navigated procedural pratfalls and offered an engaging story that was worth investigating.

4) Stranger Things Season 3 (Netflix)

Three seasons in and Netflix's behemoth Stranger Things just continues to get better and better. With its youthful cast now into their awkward gangly teen phase, the most recent season of Stranger Things dials up the heartbreak and horror by forcing its core cast into different storylines and introducing a gooey creature that evokes memories of John Carpenter's The Thing and Philip Kaufman's Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown and Noah Schnapp – as Mike, Eleven and Will respectively – continue to grow into promising young actors, while Steve (played by the brilliant Joe Keery) continues to steal the limelight through a new friendship with Maya Hawke's Robin. 

Set over a sticky summer weekend in July, Stranger Things' third season ups the stakes – Sad deaths! New powers! Secret Russian army bases! – while nurturing a terribly talented ensemble cast of loveable whippersnappers. Let's be having more as soon as possible, please. 

3) The Mandalorian Season 1 (Disney Plus)

Star Wars has been everywhere this year; in theatres, audiences were treated to the Skywalker saga finale The Rise of Skywalker, on consoles Jedi: Fallen Order explored the fallout of Order 66, and various novels and tie-in comics continue to flesh out the galaxy far, far away. And while this deluge of stuff has ranged from good (Fallen Order) to bad (Rise of Skywalker), it's Disney Plus' first live-action Star Wars series The Mandalorian that has captured our imagination and kept us tuning in week after week.

Helmed by Jon Favreau and with the likes of Taika Waititi, Bryce Dallas Howard, Deborah Chow, Dave Filoni and Rick Famuyiwa behind the camera, The Mandalorian wears its influences on its beskar sleeve, channelling classic Westerns and samurai movies in telling an engaging eight-part narrative that explores the outer reaches of the Star Wars universe. Populated with mercenaries, stormtroopers and scoundrels, this is George Lucas' vision of a lawless galaxy writ large, with Pedro Pascal's towering, silhouetted bounty hunter striding through it all as our tight-lipped and sharpshooting hero.

Best of all, The Mandalorian brought us Baby Yoda – and all of the wonderful memes he spawned – into our lives, and for that alone it earns its spot on this list.

2) Fleabag Season 2 (Prime Video)

I was a late convert to Phoebe Waller-Bridge's witty comedy Fleabag; it was one of those shows that you hear so much undying praise for that you almost actively reject seeing it out of sheer spite.

However, as always, I was happy to be proved wrong when I ploughed through both seasons – just 12 short, sharp episodes – in a weekend earlier this year.

Terrifically funny and terribly sad all at the same time, Waller-Bridge's writing really shines in the second season, which opens with one of the best uses of in media res I've seen in a long while. With Olivia Colman, Andrew Scott and Sian Clifford fleshing out an incredible supporting cast as Godmother, Hot Priest and Claire respectively, this intelligent drama/comedy is rightly being heralded as one of the best of the year by audiences and critics alike. That final scene at the bus stop is the perfect, tragic ending to this unruly, pervasive, passive-aggressive exploration of womanhood, modern feminism and learning to accept yourself. And, like many British shows, Waller-Bridge knows when to call it a day – Fleabag is concise and all the better for it.

1) Watchmen (HBO)

Here's a hot take for you; Watchmen is Zack Snyder's only good film. So good, in fact, that I was a little bemused by the news that Damon Lindelof (of Lost fame) would be working with HBO on a new iteration of the seminal graphic novel. How could Lindelof – who, granted, had just knocked all our socks off with The Leftovers – possibly bring something new to the table?

The answer was by not even trying. Lindelof has smartly navigated comparisons to Snyder's adaptation by taking an entirely different route in creating a sequel of sort that remixes and reworks certain elements of the original into something fresh and new.

With Oscar winner Regina King, Jeremy Irons, Don Johnson, Tim Blake Nelson and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II among the cast, HBO's Watchmen told a tight and powerful story across nine punchy episodes, culminating in a rousing finale just a few weeks back. The show was a treat a week for fans of Moore's novel, but also accessible for newcomers – something Lindelof was able to do by introducing new characters and conflicts that complemented the exisiting framework of Moore's story. Plus, and this is something I've already touched on here, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross' score seriously slaps.

1 comment:

  1. I watched all of these as well so I have to agree with you. Excellent series!



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