The Best of 2017–The Best in Television

Our Best of 2017 list continues today with the best in television.  If you missed it, check out our review of the Best Movies of 2017 here and the Kick-Ass Heroines of 2017 yesterday here.

Without further ado, this year’s Best in Television:

Best Borg TV Series, Best TV BorgHumans (AMC). From the awakenings in the first episode of season 2, AMC’s Humans kicked in full throttle as the borg show to watch this year.  Continuing to explore what it means to be real and addressing the desire and need to overcome oppression, the show took ideas from Frankenstein and THX-1138 and everything in between to show us realities of life as a borg as it took the world from robotic cyborgs to sentience.  And this year’s best borg goes to all the Synths on the series, as each showed a different side to what a world full of cyborgs might be like.

Best Sci-fi TV Series, Best Soundtrack for TVThe Orville (Fox).   The Orville expanded on elements from across all sci-fi, like space battle sequences and planet flyovers using Star Wars-inspired camera angles (including real model ships, not just CGI), completely new and unique aliens (the only thing close to these can be found in Doctor Who), and a fantastic, triumphant musical score from Bruce Broughton.  A visually gorgeous show that took itself seriously more than trying to mock anything that came before it.  The science fiction series we’ve been waiting for since Star Trek Voyager ended.

Best Fantasy TV SeriesWynonna Earp (Syfy).  Wynonna Earp’s second season proved the first wasn’t a fluke.  The sharp-tongued, swaggering, tough-as-nails gunfighter, her sister, the sheriff, and the ghost of Doc Holliday added some new team members and some great supernatural villains, providing a series we couldn’t wait to get back to each week.  Wynonna’s handling of the Revenants and a transport back in time was even more fun while she managed her pregnancy.

Best Retro TV SeriesStranger Things (Netflix).  The only question after binge-watching the second season of Stranger Things was struggling to decide whether it was better than the first.   It had the same look and feel of its first season, but somehow the characterization was really amped up, the action more exciting, and the tension pretty much perfect.  Stranger Things really had it all–stars of our favorite 1980s movies, throwback references to video games, music, fashions, and the obscure like no other show–and with a second season that eclipsed the first, it proved it is the real deal.

After the cut, come back for more of our Best in Television 2017, including our pick for Best TV Series:

Best Series, Best New TV Series, Best Re-Imagining on TV, Best Writing for TVRiverdale (CW). With Riverdale we met characters we already thought we knew, saw them plunged into strange circumstances–like Archie dating his teacher–and watched them become believable and real. It’s impossible not to delve in and try to solve the mystery along with the show’s heroes. Tight, clever writing, actors who fit into their roles from their first scenes just as if we’ve known them for years, a town that looks just right complete with the local burger joint and fashions that tell fans that know the characters who’s who before each person’s name is even mentioned, and a twisted, dark Twin Peaks-inspired tale to throw a wrench into the works for anyone expecting the goody two-shoes caricatures from the original. Riverdale is what a comic book adaptation for the screen is supposed to be.

Best TV Superhero Series – Punisher (Netflix). Believed to be dead, Jon Bernthal’s Punisher was living a miserable life of PTSD flashbacks and recurring dreams of his lost family. His methods of revenge broke all the rules, yet Berthal’s phenomenal portrayal of grit and resolve made his character easy to cheer on. Brutal, angry, tormented, tortured, and unrelenting, Punisher upped the stakes for what we might see going forward in the Marvel Universe on film.

Best Horror TV Series – Grimm (NBC).  With Season 3 onward NBC’s supernatural horror series Grimm only got better, and even as the series wound down, the show’s writers didn’t hold back.  The sixth and final season was exciting and new and with the series finale the hours fans devoted to the show were rewarded with the best of payoffs, first with a battle pulling in two Grimm ghosts, but then killing everyone off and following up with a fairy tale ending–so appropriate for a show about the Grimm.

Best Comedy TV SeriesJean-Claude Van Johnson (Amazon).  Fans of both big and small 1980s action films are always looking for something nostalgic–a newly found film they missed, or even a new entry in the Expendables series.  Jean-Claude Van Damme poking fun at his career and his own quirks was fun for everyone, fan or not.  Amazon gave us a short series, but it was smartly written, quirky, and full of laughs.

Best Animated TV Series Star Wars Rebels (DisneyXD). Half of Season 3 and most of Season 4 was plenty of Star Wars stories from the animated series Star Wars Rebels.  In addition to the crew of the Ghost Disney delivered more Saw Gerrera, Darth Maul, Mon Mothma, Grand Admiral Thrawn and more.  Film series voice actors, great visuals, and familiar music, made this another good year for Star Wars Rebels.

Best Blast from the Past Psych The Movie (USA).  With a mild onslaught of retro shows returning to the small screen this year (The X-Files, Twin Peaks) the one that came back perfectly like an old friend was only a two-hour show, but it was enough to whet the appetite of fans of the series who will never get enough of Shawn and Gus & Co.  Taking us only a bit into the future of these characters, it was just like an episode that came right after the series finale.  And funny!

Best TV Episode – Grimm Season 6, Episode 7, “Blind Love” (NBC).  Grimm was at its best when it veered off the ongoing, season long story and gave us Monster of the Week gems.  The best of these arrived with Rosalee having the best of intentions, setting up a birthday party for Monroe with the whole gang onboard at a not too far away hotel.  Unfortunately the son of a Wesen killed by Nick notices him at the party and releases a curse that makes them all fall in love randomly with each other, in the hopes they will fight each other to death.  It almost happens, and fortunately Rosalee was immune and able to save the day, but not before some brilliant scenes we never thought we’d see.

Best TV ActressMelanie Scrofano (Wynonna Earp).   Melanie Scrofano not only played Wynonna Earp as pregnant in this year’s second season, she actually was.  And that didn’t slow her down, defeating all the evil Revenants in the town of Purgatory, and incorporating the discomfort of pregnancy made for great comic release all season long.  Who had the tougher task, Earp or Scrofano?  Honorable mention: Rose McIver as Liv Moore, iZombie (CW), Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black (BBC America), Lili Reinhart and Camila Mendes, Riverdale (CW).

Best TV Supporting ActressHalston Sage (The Orville).  In an incredible cast of new characters, for one to rise to the top it takes great writing and great acting.  Sage’s Lt. Alara Kitan was a new alien for viewers who was empowered by definition, a tough shell, but as we got to know her we learned how insecure and vulnerable this officer really was.  So as she gained her footing and grew remarkably over the series’ first season, the audience was right there with her cheering her along.  Honorable mention: Katherine Kelly (Class), Carrie-Anne Moss (Humans), Madelaine Petsch (Riverdale).

Best TV Actor Malcolm Goodwin (iZombie).  On the one hand Goodwin’s Detective Clive Babineaux was the straight man partner on a police procedural in the first seasons of iZombie.  But this season once he learned about the zombies and Liv Moore’s crucial place in the story, it opened up the possibilities for his character and viewers got to enjoy all of the reactions of the straight man to an endless volley of comedy bits, thanks to Rose McIver’s over-the-top character.  Goodwin gave us someone entirely new in the process, and a character we can’t wait to see again next season. Honorable mention: Jon Bernthal, Punisher (Netflix).

Best TV Supporting Actor Sean Astin (Stranger Things).  From Episode One and the first scene with Sean Astin as AV-expert Bob “the Brain” Newby having a romantic relationship with Winona Ryder’s Joyce Byers, viewers knew the Duffers nailed it.  Astin’s good guy was authentic and everything the show needed to be a winner, and coupled with Ryder we got the retro fix we all needed.  Honorable mention: Scott Glenn, Defenders (Netflix), Peter Macon, The Orville (Fox).

Best TV VillainBilly Russo, The Punisher (Netflix).  Ben Barnes’ Billy Russo could have been Punisher Frank Castle’s lifelong best friend.  But instead he was corrupted by wealth and power, and he used his information as head of a private security company outsourced by the government to infiltrate Homeland Security and remove the witnesses to his bad deeds one by one.  The worst kind of villain, he cozied up to both Agent Dinah Madani and his old pal and AA leader Rawlins, and used them all to try to take down Castle in the ultimate showdown.

Best YouTube Video – “Hostiles on the Hill,” A Bad Lip Reading of The Empire Strikes Back.  Last year’s entry from Star Wars from Bad Lip Reading was great.  For fun, we think you’ll like this year’s version, too.

Come back tomorrow as we reveal more of the Best of 2017!

C.J. Bunce

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