Our borg.com Best of 2016 list continues today with the best in television. If you missed it, check out our review of the Top Picks and Best Movies of 2016 here and the Kick-Ass Heroines of 2016 yesterday here.
Without further ado, this year’s Best in Television:
Best Borg TV Series, Best TV Borg — Ash vs Evil Dead (Starz), Bruce Campbell. We searched high and low for the year’s best TV series featuring one or more borg characters, but didn’t really need to go that far. The brilliantly funny pop culture ace actor Bruce Campbell’s reboot of the borg.com Hall of Famer Ash could have gotten overlooked had it been just another horror series. Yet underneath this over-the-top, blood and gore-filled demon hunt is a whole lot of silly fun. And the actors could have been better, with the likes of Lee Majors (pictured above), Lucy Lawless, and Ted Raimi all making appearances. We couldn’t ask for a better actor than Campbell to take our borg.com TV title this year.
Best TV Series, Best TV Horror Series – Grimm (NBC). The fifth season of Grimm was simply fantastic, full of gripping writing and a change-up of character roles in a way we’ve never seen before. This season we saw the best action, twists and turns, and flat-out excitement, above every other series on television. Pulling bits and pieces of folklore from Western and Eastern mythologies and everything in between, the writers delivered all season long. The writing team’s best work was what they have done all along, taking the story in a direction no one could have predicted.
Best TV Retro Series – Stranger Things (Netflix). It’s nearly impossible to list all the influences that came together to form our pick for this year’s Best Retro Fix. Stand By Me, Firestarter, Silver Bullet—Stranger Things could be another coming of age Stephen King tale, but with nicely creepy John Carpenter undertones and the wonder and sci-fi of a Steven Spielberg movie. Think Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial, and Super 8. Whatever it is, great performances by a lead group of kid actors, teen actors, and a few adults from filmdom’s past made for a fun season one.
Best New TV Series, Best Re-Imagining on TV – Wynonna Earp (Syfy). We knew Syfy had a winner in the first episode of this year’s best new TV series, Wynonna Earp. A great mash-up of Western, paranormal, and horror, Wynonna Earp took an American legend and made it interesting for today’s viewers. Melanie Scrofano’s Wynonna is a classic heroine in a supernatural setting. And her interactions with Tim Rozon’s Doc Holliday include some of the best humor on TV. Did we mention the villains are basically zombies? Wynonna’s got a gun–a Peacemaker–and she knows how to use it, giving us a fun, over-the-top shoot ’em up each week to look forward to.
Best Sci-Fi Series – The Man in the High Castle (Amazon). With the slow start of the first season of the series we had doubts where the show would take us for the second season this year. But the last half of the season cinched it. A rare look at science fiction on television that showed what could all be attained with an alternate history story, and a great adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s novel to boot.
Best Animated TV Series – Star Wars Rebels (DisneyXD). For the second year in a row, Star Wars Rebels proves that animated shows are just as compelling as big budget theatrical blockbusters. This season we met the great villain Grand Admiral Thrawn, finally introduced to Star Wars canon. Every episode gave fans something to be excited about, as in the episode “The Antilles Extraction,” where Sabine goes undercover as a cadet in the Empire’s elite flight academy to bring Imperial pilots over to fight for the Rebellion. Darth Maul and Captain Rex are also standout characters. Original trilogy voice actors, compelling visuals, and rousing music, make this one of the best series on TV.
Best TV Superhero Series – Luke Cage (Netflix). Although Marvel Studios adaptations have done well at the movies, its television shows haven’t measured up so well. Until now. The Netflix series Marvel’s Luke Cage is full of so many elements that make it a quality series you can expect it to be a contender at next year’s Emmy Awards. Luke Cage is completely loyal to its 1970s origin. Carl Lucas, played by Mike Colter (reprising the role he began in Marvel’s Jessica Jones), is a man from Harlem, imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit. The writers successfully updated the story to today, for today’s viewers, and to make the story timely. Set in a New York City neighborhood with a gritty tale like Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing (with Harlem swapped for Bedford Stuyvesant), the rough-and-tumble Harlem of the series encounters the same class warfare, the same friction between police and minorities, and the same political corruption that is, as once professed by the original Law and Order series, “ripped from the headlines.” It is at once a mix of the M. Night Shyamalan hooded superhero played by Bruce Willis in Unbreakable, and an updated mobster town story.
Best TV Fantasy Series – The Librarians (TNT). The Librarians continued its great mix of fantasy and comedy this year with its excellent ensemble cast. The chemistry of the show’s characters continue to gel, resulting in a fully realized series in the vein of past hits Warehouse 13 and Leverage. We were excited to see great guest appearances with Sean Astin, Noah Wyle and Jane Curtin. And we can’t get enough of Rebecca Romijn, John Larroquette, and the rest of the crew.
Best TV Comedy – Angie Tribeca(TBS). Angie Tribeca has the perfect setting and ensemble cast for a gritty police procedural. But it was actually the comedy we all need. Nothing was written for the screen in any genre this year that made us laugh like this new series. Every now and then we need someone to try to remake Police Squad! and the sight gags here rivaled that classic. We just hope the writers can keep the great comedic scripts coming.
Best TV Writing – Baskets (FX). At first you might not know what to make of Zach Galifianakis, Louis C.K., and Jonathan Krisel’s surreal, black comedy drama Baskets. How down in the dumps can a rodeo clown possibly get? And was that really comedian Louie Anderson playing his mother? Galifianakis was able to play two competing roles as the twin brothers, and Martha Kelly added yet another odd wanderer into the mix to somehow result in a crazy, funny, and strangely poignant series we couldn’t help getting addicted to.
Best TV Episode – Grimm Season 5 finale “Beginning of the End” (NBC). Season 5’s finale of Grimm barreled ahead as if the producers believed the show wasn’t going to get renewed, prompting many story threads to be tied-up and a satisfying wrap-up that leaves viewers excited for Season 6. It’s Black Claw, who caused Sean Renard to rise to become mayor of the city, against Nick and his friends as they work with Eve, Trubel, and Hadrian’s Wall to try to prevent the coming evil that risks the destruction of the barrier between the supernatural and the rest of the world. Incredibly after all the back and forth over five seasons the original villains are villains again and the good guys back together again. The season finale left us wondering how this will all play out as the series ends next season.
Best TV Soundtrack – Stranger Things, Michael Stein and Kyle Dixon. Using 1980s analog synthesizers, the musicians created the perfect sound for a B-movie horror flick that would have fit right in back in the 1980s. Half the credit for the series success with retro aficionados probably should go to the duo, who helped to fully immerse viewers in this familiar, but strange, look into our own childhoods.
Best TV Actress – Tatiana Maslany in multiple roles, Orphan Black (BBC America). In any other year Rose McIver’s weekly new character update on iZombie would have given her the win, but Orphan Black’s Tatiana Maslany came back this year after last season’s so-so stories to prove she has the best dramatic role on television and is well up to the task, further separating and redefining the differences between the ever-increasing number of clone sisters she portrays. Runner-up Rose McIver as Liv Moore, iZombie (CW).
Best TV Supporting Actress – Simone Missick as Misty Knight in Luke Cage (Netflix). With big name actresses like Alfre Woodard and Rosario Dawson co-starring in this year’s new superhero series Luke Cage, it was Simone Missick who broke through to create one of the more interesting characters this year with police officer Misty Knight. She believes in the justice system and is assigned to go after Luke Cage–too bad she has a past with him. Missick plays Misty as a modern version of a Pam Grier character–she’s flawed but she’s tough and smart and we know she’ll cut through all the mess and come up on top. Runner-up: Leanna Lapp as Gilda (iZombie).
Best TV Actor (TIE) – Mike Colter as Carl Lucas/Luke Cage in Luke Cage (Netflix). Luke Cage is as mild-mannered as they come. We first met him in season one of Marvel’s Jessica Jones, but in his own series Mike Colter showed how great this comic book character from the 1970s could be, and how relevant he is today. The problem with networks dropping an entire series on us at once is that with a day long binge session we don’t get the sense of the work that goes into building a character like Cage over a full season like we’re accustomed to. Hopefully the studio will realize how great the series is and how its lead actor can provide us with a real, gritty hero that the world needs. We just can’t wait to see more of what Colter has in store for us next season.
Best TV Actor (TIE) – Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa as Ambassador Tagomi in The Man in the High Castle (Amazon). Tagawa has played in countless TV series and films but his role as a trade ambassador of an alternate world where Japan controls the western United States may be the most stunning work of his career. His expressions are understated and yet the audience can read so much in his simple looks. His character’s surprise as he maneuvered a parallel world to his own–our real world–was some of the best acting of the genre and among the best performances of the year.
Best TV Supporting Actor (TIE) – Louie Anderson as Mrs. Baskets in Baskets(FX). Louie Anderson has been priming us for this role for decades now. His impersonations of relatives helped make him one of the greatest stand-up comedians of all time. Bringing him in to play to mom to Zack Galifianakis’s Chip Baskets was one of those inspired moves that doesn’t happen very often. And the result was TV gold.
Best TV Supporting Actor (TIE) – Tim Rozon as Doc Holliday in Wynonna Earp (Syfy). Rozon brilliantly played the ghost of Doc Holliday this year in the new series Wynonna Earp, sporting a lazy drawl and unclear motives that make him absolutely captivating. He was mysterious as Wynonna’s questionable love interest, an intermediary between Wynonna and the vile Revenants. He’s a man out of his time, an anti-hero we hope to see more of next season.
Best TV Villain – Vaughn Du Clark (Steven Weber, iZombie (CW)). What kind of sick bastard throws his daughter to the wolves to become a zombie, and then laughs about it? That’s Vaughn Du Clark, whose barbs with daughter Gilda (Leanne Lapp) provided some of the best quick-witted writing we’ve seen since Veronica Mars and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Du Clark was the ultimate corporate villain, and we watched his rise with great interest all season long. Runners-up: Mariah Dillard (Alfre Woodard, Luke Cage), The Demogorgon (Stranger Things), Grand Admiral Thrawn (Lars Mikkelsen, Star Wars Rebels).
Best YouTube Video – “Seagulls (Stop it Now),” A Bad Lip Reading of The Empire Strikes Back. You know you haven’t seen this Fall’s funniest Star Wars fan video enough, with that catchy, goofy tune. Go ahead, watch it one more time.
Come back tomorrow as we reveal more of the borg.com Best of 2016!