Tuesday, December 6, 2022

TV Picks - Week of December 5

Looking back at 2022 (with one month to go), the programming choices were… eh. Breakthrough shows were few and far between. Some very good series came to an end. Others were spin-offs or new takes on classic titles. There was lots of good TV to watch, but very few shows made a lasting impression.

To keep my list short and sweet, only multi-episode series are featured. There were plenty of excellent comedy (Rothaniel) and music (The Howard Stern Interview: Bruce Springsteen) specials, but more than one episode is required to get on this year-end list.

Best of 2022: Honorable Mentions

Lord of The Rings: The Rings Of Power (Prime Video): This version of LOTR is a solid series. The mega-budgeted tale is new, but the characters felt familiar. It is beautiful to behold and a solid adventure. Worth the watch, but it falls just short of my personal Top 10.

Love On The Spectrum U.S. (Netflix): The most feel-good show of the year. Watching these singles with autism try to find love is heartbreaking, inspiring, and the only reality dating series worth viewing. 

Stranger Things (Netflix): I can still hear that Kate Bush song. Season 4 offered an entertaining battle between Eleven and her pals versus the forces of the Upside Down. No real surprises in this latest chapter of the best sci-fi/horror show on TV, but an upgrade over the previous season.

Cobra Kai (Netflix): The ongoing Daniel LaRusso/Johnny Lawrence SoCal karate battle continues to reinvent itself while maintaining its nostalgic appeal. It's impressive how they keep these cameos coming back from the original films while keeping the show fresh and fun. Good stuff.

For All Mankind (Apple TV+): Time is catching up to this great space series from the mind of Ronald D. Moore. When it's good, it's great. When it's not, it drags. But no character is safe in this third season of the alternate reality space exploration drama.

The Bear (FX): Jeremy Allen White gives a masterful performance as a top chef returning to his family's Chicago sandwich shop following a death in the family. The intensity of the inner workings of a struggling kitchen grabs you from the pilot and never lets go. Yes, Chef!

Best of 2022: Top 10

10. The Crown (Netflix)

The fifth season of this dramatization of the life of Queen Elizabeth is excellent television. It's at number 10 on my list because this is the weakest season to date. Charles and Diana dominated the headlines back in the day, but too much attention is paid to a very tall Lady Di and Prince Charles McNulty. The Crown is at its best when it gets into ALL of the family drama, and it needs to spend a little more time with the Queen. There are a few gems in this 10-episode season, but overall it's not up to its award-winning royal stuff.

9. Severance (Apple TV+)

It's a slow burn, but the ending makes it all worth it. Severance is trippy, a bit confusing, and magical to watch. Adam Scott and Patricia Arquette make you feel the pain of going to and from the office. Ben Stiller's directing keeps you on the edge of your seat, and the plot twists are sharp and surprising. A solid new series, and I look forward to Season 2.

8. Yellowstone (Paramount Network)

Oh, those Duttons. This Montana ranch drama is good enough to base two prequels and a Fox Nation documentary series on. Forget your politics and just enjoy Taylor Sheridan's drama at the Yellowstone Ranch. The scenery is beautiful, the acting is solid, and being in office doesn't stop John Dutton from doing his thing.

7. Andor (Disney+)

It wasn't too long ago that any Star Wars spin-off, especially if it aired on TV, was dismissed as a joke. Those days are long gone, and this Rogue One origin story ranks right up there with The Mandalorian. There's nothing cutesy is this Diego Luna-led drama, and with all those planets in that galaxy far, far away, there's plenty more material to be milked. 

6. Abbott Elementary (ABC)

Season 2 of this elementary school comedy is still fresh, funny, and just makes you feel good. Bonus points to Quinta Brunson and crew for proving that a network sitcom can still work these days — and that it doesn't have to be dumbed down to do so.

5. Hacks (HBO Max)

Jean Smart continues to shine in the second season of a comedy that should be featured on the main channel's playlist. Taking Deborah Vance's show on the road seems like a stunt, but it makes the whole gang coming together all the more sweet. The rest of the cast gets to shine, but make no mistake, this is Jean Smart's perennial Emmy ticket. She's that good.

4. Better Things (FX)

Pamela Adlon says goodbye as only she can in the final season of this eclectic comedy. Sandwiched by Monty Python tunes is a poignant look at Sam Fox, mother of three and daughter of a British mom, navigating life as a single working actress in Los Angeles. Better Things is funny, sweet, and very emotional as it ventures to vulnerable places other shows would never dare to go. Great series, satisfying finale, and it will be missed. 

3. Barry (HBO)

Yes, Barry is a comedy. A comedy that goes to some very dark places. The hitman turned wannabe actor finally faces the consequences of his actions in this third season. Barry has always felt more like a film than a TV series. Bill Hader continues to lead the way making a character you should truly hate feel likable and misunderstood.

2. Better Call Saul (AMC)

I can't believe it's over. The final season of Better Call Saul delivered just as well as its predecessor Breaking Bad. There's plenty of black and white to delve into as Jimmy McGill/Saul Goodman's path comes to an end. Bob Odenkirk and Rhea Seehorn continue to put on a clinic in their lead roles, and the rest of the ensemble is right there with them.

1. House of the Dragon (HBO)

This had all the odds stacked against it, but it also had dragons. It followed Game of Thrones, which left most with a bad taste in their mouths years ago. It premiered the same time as the ridiculously high budget Lord of The Rings series on Prime Video. The plight of the Targaryen family from 300 years earlier made me realize how much I missed this fantasy world. Great characters, fantastic sets, George R.R. Martin drama, and the return of the classic theme song were all part of the best show of the year. You can go home again… if it's Westeros.

(Really Good Shows You May Have Missed)

It feels redundant to add great shows to watch at the end of a Best of 2022 list, so let's consider the list below complete and a good place to start watching!

Previous Picks:
Life's Too Short (HBO Max)
Narcos (Netflix)
The Newsroom (HBO Max)
Homeland (Showtime)
Warrior (HBO Max)
Oz (HBO Max)
Fauda (Netflix)
Monty Python's Flying Circus (Netflix)
Taxi (Paramount+)
It's Garry Shandling's Show (Prime Video)
The Office (UK) (Hulu)
The Prisoner (Prime Video)
The Twilight Zone (Paramount+)
Black Mirror (Netflix)
The Leftovers (HBO Max)
Deadwood (HBO Max)
Rectify (AMC+)
House of Cards (Netflix)
Weeds (Showtime)
Hannibal (Hulu)
Mr. Show (HBO Max, Hulu)
Downton Abbey (Peacock)
Banshee (HBO Max)
Police Squad! (Prime Video)
Party Down (Starz)
Dexter (Showtime)
Alias (Hulu/Disney+)
The Great (Hulu)
Atypical (Netflix)
Sherlock (PBS)
Magic City (Peacock)
Imposters (Netflix)
Episodes (Showtime/Hulu)
For All Mankind (Apple TV+)
Abbott Elementary (ABC)
Damages (Hulu)
Luther (HBO Max)
Downton Abbey (Netflix)
Justified (Hulu)
The Good Wife (Paramount+)
Freaks & Geeks (Hulu)
Patriot (Prime Video)
Battlestar Galactica (Peacock)
The Split (Prime Video)
Bordertown (Netflix)
Halt and Catch Fire (AMC+)


If you love or hate my picks, I'd love to hear from you.

Get vaccinated and boosted. Stay healthy and safe!

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