Today we’re continuing our annual year-end round-up with the Best TV Series of 2022. If you missed it, check out our list of the best Kick-Ass Heroines of 2022 here. We watch a lot of television, and probably love a good series even more than a great movie. We preview hundreds of series, but outside big franchise content you want to know about, we only review what we like, what we recommend–the best genre content we’re watching. The theory? If we like it, we think you may like it. The best shows have a compelling story, great characters, tremendous action, a sharp use of humor, and all kinds of well-executed genre elements that satisfy and leave viewers feeling inspired. It’s even better if we see richly detailed sets and costumes. And the very best series usually get canceled at the end of their first season because network execs will never figure out what we genre fans love. We watched thousands of hours of TV this year, and no other series match the compelling writing, performances–and fun–of the series that follow. We think you’ll be surprised, except for the top spot, which we more than hinted at a month ago (and Seth MacFarlane reTweeted it to his 13.6 million followers–awesome!).
Without further ado, this year’s Best in Television:
Best Sci-Fi TV Series, Best TV Writing, Best Musical Score, Best Visual Effects, Best Set Design, Best TV Makeup, Best Stunt Casting (Bruce Boxleitner, Dolly Parton, and others) – The Orville: New Horizons (Hulu/Disney+). In the biggest year of sci-fi TV in years, this was the series that re-set the bar with classic and new sci-fi elements, compelling drama, original storytelling, and fantastic execution. Its writing, direction, cast, and production made The Orville this year’s series to talk about, and each episode felt like a new theater-quality movie. Runners-up for Best Sci-Fi TV Series: Strange New Worlds (Paramount), the best Star Trek freshman season since the 1960s with a great cast of characters and interesting storylines, and Pacific Rim: The Black (Netflix), futuristic animated sci-fi on par with the best live-action series. Honorable mention for Best Sci-fi TV Series: Resident Alien (Syfy). Three seasons in and it didn’t let up with even more enjoyable, satisfying, alien invasion fun.
Best TV Drama, Best Retro Fix, Best Ensemble Cast, Runner-up for Best Costumes – The Offer (Paramount). A compelling story adapting real events of legend into a tightly told tale of the greatest movie ever made. An impressive cast, and every actor gots to showcase their talent in practically every scene. Viewers were transported back into the 1970s as movie scenes were re-shot from the perspective behind the camera, revealing nostalgia at its finest, and dialogue that made the movie biz seem exciting. Runners-up for Best TV Drama: Van Der Valk (PBS), The Orville: New Horizons (Hulu/Disney+), Guilt (BBC Scotland/PBS).
Best New TV Series, Best Supernatural Series, Best Coming-of-Age TV Series, Runner-up for Best Writing, Runner-up for Best Musical Score, and Runner-up for Best Stunt Casting (for Fred Armisen, Catherine Zeta Jones, Luis Guzmán) – Wednesday (Netflix). It’s the next worthy mile marker after Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Stranger Things, Veronica Mars, Haven, and Grimm, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. A world more exciting than Hogwarts featuring down-to-earth outcasts with supernatural ties all just trying to get along with the “normal” kids. How does a kid who loves all things strange find her way when everything around her is strange, too? By being herself, and that’s what Wednesday, with Thing–one of the best sidekicks ever–and her friends showed us. Runner-up for Best Coming-of-Age TV Series: Boo, Bitch (Netflix). A classic style coming-of-age story updated for today’s teens, trends, and technology that crossed over into the supernatural genre would have stood out even more in a year that didn’t have Wednesday, but even if it got overshadowed it also had two memorable friends that became frenemies and a full “spirit”-filled season of great TV. Honorable mention for Best Supernatural Series: The Winchesters (CW).
Best British TV Series, Runner-up for Best Mystery/Crime TV Series, Runner-up for Best Drama – Van der Valk (PBS). The perfect police story doesn’t come around every year. Six feature-length episodes so far and it’s easily a Top 5 British-created series for all time. Overlapping British style production and scripts with a fascinating major city that is outside the UK, along with a one-of-a-kind detective and one-of-a-kind actor became the perfect recipe for a surprising reboot series that should be around for a long time. Runner-up for Best Mystery Crime Series: Wednesday (Netflix), Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? (BritBox), Guilt (BBC Scotland/PBS).
Best Limited TV Series, Runner-up Best British TV Series, Runner-up Best TV Costumes, Runner-up for Best Mystery/Crime Series – Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? (BritBox). Hugh Laurie is a master comedian, an actor, a musician, and this year he showed us he could write and direct a brilliantly funny update to a lesser known Agatha Christie story. With a fantastic pair of old friends driving the solving of another quirky Christie mystery, it was the sharp and laugh-out-loud dialogue and acting by the two leads that made the series one of the year’s most satisfying shows. The series overflows with style and class, with sets, cars, costumes, and hairdos that will immerse viewers in the 1930s.
Best Fantasy TV Series – The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power (Prime Video). The classic Tolkien fantasy world and Academy Award winning universe of lead characters received a prequel examining backstories of characters we only thought we knew: Galadriel, Elrond, Sauron, and maybe even Gandalf, with Galadriel far more interesting than in the movies. The brilliant worlds of Dwarves, Elves, and humans brought fans of Tolkien back home. Runner-up: Vikings: Valhalla (Netflix), a sprawling, epic journey leaning more on its story’s historical fiction roots over the predecessor series’ fantasy elements, and better storytelling than House of Dragons.
Best Space Fantasy TV Series, Best Western TV Series, Best Costumes – The Book of Boba Fett (Lucasfilm/Disney+). Jon Favreau didn’t miss a beat delivering the most eagerly awaited character return in the history of genre TV. Old Man Boba was a great approach, with revisits from twin Hutts, Kurosawa-inspired Western action, a rancor finale, fantastic Star Wars nostalgia, even a visit from “Baby Yoda” and that other Mandalorian. What more could you ask for? Runner-up Best TV Costumes – Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? (BritBox).
Best Superhero TV Series – Moon Knight (Disney+). The best Marvel series since Luke Cage was a cinematic adventure mixed with a dark, second-tier, Jekyll and Hyde superhero. Moon Knight shows a new potential for the genre, offering the rollercoaster ride spectacle of Raiders of the Lost Ark and still featuring layered lead roles and performances, with new pantheons of characters from all factions of superhero fiction to grow on in future seasons. Runner-up: The Imperfects (Netflix). Nudged out slightly by Moon Knight’s high production values, The Imperfects is one of the best genre series examining powered characters. Three leads taking on three mad scientist antagonists in a coming-of-age story that ups the ante for Buffyverse-inspired TV.
Best Horror/Thriller TV Series – Archive 81 (Netflix). Creepy, scary, truly thrilling, a man is asked to take on a strange job that connects his own past to an apartment fire years ago and a woman he knows only from a box of video tapes. Breathless at times, it was the perfect first season of chilling, freakish fun. As usual it is also one of several that made our best of list that got unthinkably canceled, while less compelling series get renewed. Runner-up: Resident Evil (Netflix). Cool sci-fi, clones, kaiju, and zombie horror, in a video game universe that doubles as a cautionary tale. A great story of two sisters and the latest incarnation of H.G. Wells-style mad scientists, and that in-your-face horror usually found only at the movies (also sadly canceled).
Best Comedy TV Series, Runner-up for Best Stunt Casting (Liam Neeson) – Derry Girls (Netflix). It’s one of those perfect storms of comedy: A writer who knows humor documenting a time in her own past, mixed with a variety of actors both young and old who were perfectly cast. Irreverent but almost wholesome in its honesty. These girls and their parents also translate across the ocean, showing cultures and political shifts can have an impact in similar ways no matter where you are. Like M*A*S*H you’ve got to ask how you get this much drama and humor into 30 minutes? By getting it exactly right. Runner-up: Ghosts (CBS), Boo, Bitch (Netflix). Honorable mention: Murderville (Netflix).
Best Animated Series, Runner-up for Best Soundtrack – Pacific Rim: The Black (Netflix). A good story is good whether you are familiar with the franchise or are new to it. This series was packed with emotion, energy, high adventure, and drama. Incredible, eye-popping visual effects make this animated series seem real. Futuristic sci-fi tech imagery from Tron and Tron: Uprising and a detailed science fiction expansion world similar to Netflix’s live-action Altered Carbon series. It’s also a better kaiju story than two decades of Godzilla and Transformers movies. Runner-up for Best Animated Series: Zootopia+ (Disney+). Honorable mention: Tales of the Jedi.
Best Borg Series, Best TV Borg – The Book of Boba Fett (Lucasfilm/Disney+). Viewers met a new gang of cybernetically enhanced characters in the Star Wars world and the first lead in a while who was near death and needed to be rebuilt: Fett’s right hand, Fennec Shand, the best, and coolest, TV borg this year. Seeing her rescued by Boba and the scientist/doctor rebuilding her was definitely the big borg event on TV this year. Honorable mention: Darth Vader in Kenobi (Lucasfilm/Disney+). We’re not quite sure why Kenobi and Vader had to fight this scene all over again, but who doesn’t love more images of lightsaber battles? The only thing that could have made the fight scenes better would be if Ray Park had been in the suit.
Best TV Villain – One aka Vecna (Stranger Things). Even if you guessed early on what was going on, neither the big or small screen delivered any scarier figure this year than Eleven’s cellmate of sorts once he had become the gooey, Freddie Kruger-inspired scourge in the Upside Down. Runner-up: Evelyn Marcus (Resident Evil). Paola Núñez paired fierce and loathsome in creating the ultimate, awful corporate CEO, putting the “Evil” in Evelyn, ruining the lives of her workers and their families, but she was the hero in her own mind, trying to create a twisted idea of progress.
Best TV Actress – Jenna Ortega (Wednesday). The spellbinding Jenna Ortega was unflinching in her ability to step into the shoes of what was a classic supporting character. Her Wednesday Addams takes center stage and doesn’t let go, and it’s something wondrous to watch. How does any actor maintain that stoic stillness–and not blink–for so long, while working emotion into each scene? Runners-up: Lucy Boynton (Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?), Morgan Taylor Campbell (The Imperfects), Zoe Margaret Colletti (Boo, Bitch).
Best TV Supporting Actress – Juno Temple (The Offer). Temple showed a unique brand of badassery making her real-life character into the kind of driven, inspiring person everyone wants to be like. Her performance was so good, you can’t help but wish she was fictional so we could see her in future seasons of the show. Runners-up: Siena Agudong (Resident Evil), Emma Myers (Wednesday). Honorable mention: Paola Núñez (Resident Evil), Sara Vickers (Guilt).
Best TV Actor – Marc Warren (Van der Valk). Of all of Warren’s fantastic roles, from Doctor Who to State of Play to Life on Mars, it all seemed to be preparing him for the perfect, streetwise, calm, cool, and calculating detective Piet van der Valk. His attitude is singular and his ability to seem both caring and uncaring at the same time seems like some kind of wizardry. Runners-up: Mark Bonnar (Guilt), Oscar Isaac (Moon Knight). Honorable mention: Iñaki Godoy (The Imperfects), Ethan Hawke (Moon Knight).
Best TV Supporting Actor – Victor Dorobantu (Wednesday). Wearing a visual effects body suit with minor prosthetics added to his wrist, he became the perfect sidekick as Thing, in every spellbinding scene it was all his mastery, working with director Tim Burton to combine American Sign Language, military hand signals, and Morse code into something that looks like a real language. Runners-up: Matthew Goode (The Offer), Burn Gorman (The Offer), Dan Fogler (The Offer).
Best TV Episodes – The Book of Boba Fett, episode “Return of the Mandalorian,” a fantastic surprise episode; Van der Valk, episode “Blood in Amsterdam,” the best written, twisty mystery episode of the year; Guilt, “Episode 4,” Max and Erin finally get the revenge the series had been pushing toward; The Orville: New Horizons, episode “Midnight Blue,” one of the best pieces of political and social writing for TV in years; The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, episode “The Great Wave,” all the magic of Peter Jackson’s movies snaps back into the TV series.
Best Documentary TV Series – Light & Magic (Lucasfilm/Disney+). The ultimate fix for Star Wars fans and fans of special effects and visual effects, recounting the early days of a dot-com type start-up company years before dot-coms. Nostalgic and surprising in its found source material and its new interviews.
Best Genre Find from Previous Years Now Streaming: The Bridge (Prime Video). A murder mystery filled with twists and intrigue, and an irresistible combination of acting talent. One we missed in its initial run, but worthy to revisit now and we’re glad it made the review queue this year.
Only Series from 2022 That We’ll All Still Be Watching in Reruns 10 Years from Now — Leverage: Redemption. It’s the series that keeps on giving, as good today as in its first season, and it is by all definition a TV genre classic you can watch over and over.
Best Podcast That Should Be a TV Show – Fly on the Wall (Cadence 13). Dana Carvey and David Spade’s weekly interview show digs into what it means to make comedy, and it’s better than any late-night show. With guests like Paul McCartney, how hard would it be to put a camera on these guys?
Come back tomorrow for more of borg‘s Best of 2022 as we reveal the Best Movies of 2022. If you missed our list of Best Kick-Ass Genre Heroines of 2022, be sure to check it out here.
C.J. Bunce / Editor / borg