Favorite 35 TV Shows of 2016

The Golden Age of Television lives on, even after Walter White and Don Draper. Storytellers and innovators are finding new and exciting ways to keep us at the edge of our seats, wanting more after the closing credits of every episode. Sometimes we have to wait a week. Sometimes we just hit “next episode” until we’re met with the disappointment of the season being over.

I listed out every TV show I watched in the last year and it came out to being upwards of 50 (yes I watch a lot of television). It wasn’t easy cutting the list to only 35. I also say “Favorite” instead of “Top” because I’m just not that full of myself…I

t also may come as a surprise, but I haven’t watched EVERY TV show that aired this past year. So recommendations are more than welcome on the Facebooks or Twitters.

35. The OA

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Netflix – Brit Marling, Emory Cohen and Jason Isaacs

The OA is a very weird show. It’s complicated, hard to follow, strange, and sometimes fights you when you want to keep spending time on it. Somehow, someway though, every episode gives you a reason to continue binge-watching. The last 5 minutes of the first season make it all worth it, on an emotional level. Emory Cohen also gives a performance that makes you wonder why he wasn’t chosen to be “Young Han Solo”, with an excellent follow up to his part in Brooklyn.

34. Banshee

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Cinemax – Antony Starr, Ivana Milicevic and Ulrich Thomsen

I have to admit, I was pretty late to Banshee but I did binge watch the entire series in nearly a month’s time. I wouldn’t call it a “good show” but it’s so absurd that you can’t look away. Banshee is like a lovechild of True Blood and Into The Badlands, and it’s supremely more fun than both.

33. Orange is the New Black

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Netflix – Uzo Aduba, Kate Mulgrew and Taylor Schilling

So far I’ve felt that OITNB’s best season was their 2nd, but their latest certainly knew how to throw the haymakers to your emotions. Some of your favorite characters became easy to turn on. Others became more important than the original stars, including Piper. And then there was the one that completely tore your heart out…

32. Ash vs. Evil Dead

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STARZ – Bruce Campbell, Lucy Lawless and Ray Santiago

This show is gross, cheesy, and kinda REALLY dumb…but that’s also why it’s so much fun. It’s hard to deny that when Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi team up on either big or small screen. Warning: There is blood…LOTS OF BLOOD (That’s for the kids who didn’t like how gory The Walking Dead premiere was).

31. Supergirl

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The CW – Melissa Benoist, David Harewood and Mehcad Brooks

If there was a Most Improved Player category for TV shows, Supergirl could be at the top of the list. The move from CBS to CW was more than necessary for its tone and overall quality.  The show hasn’t held back on it’s commentary of topical social issues and it did something that the DC films have failed to as of late…make Superman likable.

30. Vice Principals

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HBO – Danny McBride, Walton Goggins and Kimberly Hebert Gregory

It should be noted that our two stars play absolutely terrible people on this show. Danny McBride is an expert at making bad guys almost worth rooting for (i.e. Kenny Powers) and Walton Goggins is simply one of the best actors in television today (watch Justified, if you don’t believe me). The under-the-radar sweetness of Shea Whigham, which is a complete opposite of McBride’s character, is reason enough alone to watch this show.

29. House of Cards

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Netflix – Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright and Michael Kelly

House of Cards lost a bit of mojo once Frank Underwood made it to the oval office. Once he became president, he was no longer hunter but rather playing survivor instead. Robin Wright carries the 4th season much more than her male counterpart and Joel Kinnaman makes for an awesome heel as the adversary candidate in their race for reelection. What makes me hopeful for the 5th season is how scary both Francis and Claire are by the end of 4th.

28. Preacher

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AMC – Dominic Cooper, Ruth Negga and Jackie Earle Haley

Preacher had of the best pilots of the year, written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. It matched the crazy and action that’s packed in the comic series, and set the tone for what should be a wild ride of a series. The season itself had its ups and downs, sometimes standing in place and other times with the pedal to metal. It never lacked suspense or humor though, due to the unpredictable nature and writing of the characters.

27. The Crown

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Netflix – Claire Foy, Matt Smith and John Lithgow

The Crown is absolutely stunning. The cinematography, the costumes, the pageantry, and the acting are all top notch. The real life story of Queen Elizabeth and her royal family are fascinating too but there was a disconnect for me…It’s hard to be emotionally invested and sympathetic in the problems of British Hierarchy. But Lithgow as Winston Churchill is inspiring.

26. Black Mirror

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Netflix – Bryce Dallas Howard and Michael Kelly

This British anthology series is the modern Twilight Zone, with technology, and it’s terrifying. Excellent and recognizable actors in each story/episode and themes that make you question your own behavior when it comes to, well, everything…

25. The Flash

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The CW – Grant Gustin, Candice Patton and Tom Cavanaugh

Everyday I wonder why Warner Bros. doesn’t just let the TV DC universe carry over to their film universe…Grant Gustin belongs there and they are making a big mistake by not capitalizing on the charm, fun and popularity he has brought with Barry Allen.

24. Insecure

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HBO – Issa Rae, Yvonne Orji and Jay Ellis

Issa Rae is awesome. The show is comfortable and honest. It doesn’t try hard to speak on behalf of its audience yet is still relatable. It was also refreshing after every half hour following Westworld episode trying to blow your mind.

23. Grace and Frankie

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Netflix – Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Sam Waterson and Martin Sheen

I love Grace and Frankie. Ever since Sam Waterson and Martin Sheen chose to come out to their wives (Fonda and Tomlin) in the show’s first episode, it’s been an absolute delight. Can’t wait for the third season.

22. Veep

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HBO – Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tony Hale and Anna Chlumsky

It shouldn’t be news to anyone at this point that Veep is really good, and will probably be especially relevant in the next couple years. When you have Gary Cole, Kevin Dunn, Diedrich Bader and HUGH LAURIE as recurring supporting characters, what’s not to love?

21. BoJack Horseman

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Netflix – Will Arnett, Alison Brie and Aaron Paul

BoJack is Netflix’s best comedy and that’s really saying a lot. All I have to do is point to the episode that was set in 2007 (WOW, TEN YEARS AGO NOW) and how effective every episode specific to that year was.

20. Last Chance U

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Netflix

It’s the one docu-series that I have listed here but it’s a great one. Following a junior college school of student athletes trying to overcome their personal and academic issues and catch the eye of D1 programs (while also dealing with their egotistical head coach) is some of the most compelling television you’ll find in the last year.

19. Bosch

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Amazon – Titus Welliver, Jamie Hector and Lance Reddick

Related to the Lincoln Lawyer universe of novels, Bosch is an adapted Michael Connelly detective series that plays like a modern noir. Titus Welliver has always been “that guy” on TV shows, usually a supporting or guest villain, but shines when given the spotlight as the title character. If you were a fan of The Wire, then you are going to LOVE all the alums who star and appear on the show.

18. Mozart in the Jungle

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Amazon – Gael Garcia Bernal, Malcolm McDowell and Lola Kirke

How this series hasn’t received love from the Emmys is beyond me (at least on thing the Golden Globes gets right). One of the easiest binge watches you could ask for, with great writing and soul-searching music. Bernal is also one of the best actors you’ll find on television today and makes you feel as romantic the maestro he portrays.

17. Ray Donovan

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Showtime – Liev Schreiber, John Voight and Steven Bauer

Now that we’re moved on from Bryan Cranston’s Walter White and Jon Hamm’s Don Draper, it’s time to start recognizing Liev Schreiber’s Ray Donovan as one of the most complex and well-acted characters on current running series. It took a few years, but the show is now hitting its stride in writing, acting, and casting…while the soundtrack to Season 4 could be pound-for-pound as good as any.

16. Billions

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Showtime – Damian Lewis, Paul Giamati and Maggie Siff

Maggie Siff is the x-factor to a show that already features two heavyweight lead actors. Don’t get me wrong, Lewis and Giamati definitely fit the bill. But Siff goes well beyond what we remember from her character, Tara, on Sons of Anarchy, and deserves as many nominations as she can get. The show itself is like if The Big Short didn’t treat its audience like a bunch of idiots and faster paced. Great Metallica appearance too.

15. The Americans

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FX – Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys and Noah Emmerich

I’ll be honest, I’m still catching up on The Americans. It’s well-regarded as being one of the best shows today, if not THEE BEST, but it took me a while to get interested enough to check it out. I’m sure by next year it will be significantly higher on the list.

14. Silicon Valley

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HBO – Thomas Middleditch, T.J. Miller and Kumail Nanjiani

I don’t know if there is a show that has a better sense of humor than Silicon Valley. Every episode oozes with Mike Judge’s cynicism, nature and experience in the industry and it’s fantastic. Is it a little exhausting that guys of Pied Piper continue to get crapped on after they find success? Yes…but that’s the heart of its story: overcoming the continuous struggle.

13. The People vs. OJ Simpson

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FX – Cuba Gooding Jr., John Travolta and Courtney B. Vance 

The very first episode of American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson reminded us how great Ryan Murphy can be as a director and storyteller. You knew what was going to happen, but the suspense was absolutely killer and he let the evidence tell the story. The acting was superb by a great cast, but then Murphy couldn’t get out of his own way. Yes, Robert Kardashian’s friendship was significant to Simpson, but did they have to be so gratuitous with the attention to his ex wife and daughters? And why was every extra or background actor more annoying and awful than the next? Courtney B. Vance, Sterling K. Brown and John Travolta made the miniseries every bit as compelling as it was though.

12. Daredevil

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Netflix – Charlie Cox, Jon Bernthal and Deborah Ann Woll

Season 1 of Daredevil was an absolute adrenaline rush that was capable of doing what the Marvel Cinematic Universe hadn’t accomplished yet: like give us a memorable and even sympathetic villain (Vincent D’onofrio). This time, it was an antihero that took The Defenders series to the next level…Jon Bernthal’s variation of The Punisher is dark, brooding, heartbreaking, badass, and even more interesting than the title character.

11. This Is Us

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NBC – Sterling K. Brown, Mandy Moore and Milo Ventimiglia

One of the best new shows on television, This Is Us has this uncanny ability to make you laugh, cry and repeat over and over every episode. It’s honest, it’s smart, and it’s one hell of an emotional rollercoaster. The show also never ceases to keep you on your toes.

10. The Night Manager

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AMC – Tom Hiddleston, Hugh Laurie and Elizabeth Debicki

Sexy, suspenseful and super unpredictable, The Night Manager was unbelievably good, even by AMC’s standards. If it was an audition for Tom Hiddleston to play James Bond, he passed. If Hugh Laurie was trying out to be a Bond villain, he’d be way better than most…Rather than go with the obvious Bond girl comp, I’ll just say Elizabeth Debicki is my new TV crush and I feared for her life the entire miniseries.

9. Narcos

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Netflix – Wagner Moura, Boyd Holbrook and Pedro Pascal

The best way I can describe how good Narcos S2 was, I literally couldn’t close my laptop while streaming it…I actually let it play on top of my washer while I did my laundry because I couldn’t hit pause on the action that was cranked to 11, compared to season 1. Wagner Moura as Pablo Escobar is more than award worthy as well.

8. Atlanta

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FX – Donald Glover, Brian Tyree Henry and Keith Stanfield

Donald Glover is making a really strong case for coolest dude on the planet. Even cooler might be Keith Stanfield (Short Term 12, Straight Outta Compton) and everything his character does on Atlanta. Every episode is different in its own way but they are all consistently real and also surreal at the same time.

7. Better Call Saul

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AMC – Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks and Michael McKean

Better Call Saul is proof of 2 things: Vince Gilligan is a genius and comedic actors are brilliant in dramatic settings. It’s incredible to see how enthralling the stories can be of Breaking Bad’s supporting characters. The shows are very different in tone, but the suspense, cinematography and classic Gilligan wit are all there…sometimes better. Oh, and it look’s like Gus is coming next season.

6. Luke Cage

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Netflix – Mike Colter, Rosario Dawson and Theo Rossi

While watching Luke Cage, I couldn’t help but think it was my favorite of The Defenders  series. Mike Colter’s Luke Cage isn’t afraid to be the hero, nor does he hide behind an alias and that avoids the unnecessary drama that you find in Daredevil. The show doesn’t hold back on facing social issues and the women on the show are all complete badasses in their own way. Also love the music and how Harlem is treated like a character itself.

5. Westworld

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HBO – Evan Rachel Wood, Ed Harris and Anthony Hopkins

The mystery of Westworld’s end game throughout the first season was so enthralling that you couldn’t help but keep watching until it came to fruition. Every twist kept you on your toes, the setting was gorgeous, and the music was haunting. Almost every character was dynamic, man or machine, and whom you were rooting for was entirely up to you.

4. Stranger Things

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Netflix – David Harbour, Winona Ryder and Millie Bobby Brown

Stranger Things was the new show that many of us geeks needed over the summer. Sci-fi, horror, 80’s references, adventure, action and all the wonderment through the eyes of kids of that era made this show worth binge watching over an entire weekend.

3. Game of Thrones

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HBO – Kit Harrington, Emilia Clarke and Lena Headey

Television’s most talked about show gave us its biggest payoff of a season. Every episode gave fans a win, whether it was characters being reunited, the advancement of a few others, or the death of a few hated ones…Don’t forget, I had Power Rankings for the entire season too.

2. The Night Of

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HBO – Riz Ahmed, John Turturro and Bill Camp

After every episode, week to week, I couldn’t help but say that The Night Of was the best show of the summer. It was. From the premiere, which made you scream “NO NO NO NO NO!” with everything Riz Ahmed did, to John Turturro’s amazing performance, to the back-and-forth “Serial Podcast” style guessing of who-done-it…every episode was worth the wait. Would have loved to see what the first one would have been like with James Gandolfini in Turturro’s role.

1. Goliath

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Amazon – Billy Bob Thornton, William Hurt and Maria Bello

I haven’t seen it on many year-end lists, but here I have it as my #1. Why? If you’re a Billy Bob Thornton fan, everything you like about him is on display in Goliath. He’s funny, commanding, and unbelievably easy to root for. The battle between a giant corporation and the “little guy” victims was too good to pause during a weekend to myself. It was also the most fulfilling of any series I have listed above. It’s the first thing I suggest to anyone who asks for a recommendation too.

 

If you have any thoughts or recommendations for next year’s list, let me know on Twitter or Facebook. Stay tuned for the Favorites of 2016 Movie List. 

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Supergirl Stuntwoman Jessie Graff Makes ‘American Ninja Warrior’ History

Appearing on American Ninja Warrior’s Season 8 premiere, Jessie Graff became the first woman to complete the course. Graff is a stunt performer on DC’s Supergirl, but kicked the qualifier’s ass in full Wonder Woman swag.

As hosts Matt Iseman and Akbar Gbajabiamila pointed out, Graff had competed on the series before but looked much stronger on her second try. Well, duh.

Graff is black belt in Tae Kwon Do, a black sash in Kung Fu, and also a former pole vaulter. Her stunt resume is very impressive, including blockbusters like X-Men: First Class, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Live Free or Die Hard. 

You can also see her on Supergirl as Season 2 premieres this Fall on the CW, joining the established DC weekly lineup of The Flash, Arrow, and Legends of Tomorrow. When they do the 4-show week-long crossover event, just keep in mind that there was a badass American Ninja Warrior on set…who also starred in a live-action Family Guy “Chicken Fight” video? Oh yeah.

Follow for more on Facebook or Twitter. You can subscribe to The Piffcast on iTunes too.

Piffcast: The Fifth One – March Madness

This month, college hoops takes center stage. What better way to get you prepared for March Madness than talk to a pro that knows everything going into the tourney? Scott Phillips from NBC Sports and I talk about the elite teams, stars who should shine, the bubble teams, potential Cinderellas and more. (Interview starts at the 30:35 mark if you want to jump ahead)

TJ and I also get into some TV talk, the Ballpark Foodie series, and tease next week’s “Selection Monday” show for our TV Character Madness Tournament. We also introduce the Piffcast Cork Board for those of you who have a project, event or cause you’d like to promote. Listen to find out more about it.

Join the conversation by interacting with us on Facebook or Twitter!

 

My Favorite 25 TV Shows of 2015

In case you weren’t already aware, I watch A LOT of TV. If you asked me what shows I like, I could list off my weekly schedule with multiple programs every night (and I have). Let’s jut say my DVR gets a lot of usage.

In the post-Breaking Bad era, the quality television has hardly dropped. If anything, TV has stepped its game up across the board and we’re all better off for it. With it now being “Best of” list season, it’s time to sort through all the great shows and some how rank them.

Rather than say “Best” or “Top” though, I have to say “Favorite”. Even if I could name at least 35-40 TV shows that I watched in 2015, I haven’t watched them all. If you get worked up because Transparent, The Americans, or The Leftovers aren’t included, it’s because I didn’t watch them but fully intend to. Unfortunately, I wasn’t thrilled with either The Walking Dead or Homeland’s recent work. And no, I don’t watch American Horror Story anymore. Call me when Ryan Murphy decides to tell better stories and not just be F’d up for F’d Up’s sake.

Now for the TV shows from 2015 that kept me wanting more week to week, or forced me to binge within 24 hours!

25. Bloodline (Netflix)

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Netflix had a KILLER year with their programming in 2015 and Bloodline was very nice surprise from the streaming service. Kyle Chandler cemented himself as this generation’s new TV All-American (on top of Friday Night Lights) and Ben Mendelsohn cemented himself as a pure on-screen asshole (see also Mississippi Grind). Bloodline starts out with a bang, tests your patience in the middle, and then pulls you by your “you know whats” for the home stretch. You get a feeling, Season 2 could be even better. 

24. Gotham: Rise of the Villains (FOX)

Gotham Rise of the Villains

If we were handing out a “Most Improved” award for TV in 2015, Gotham would be strong contender. Season 1 was campy, fun, but not something I would necessarily prioritize my Monday nights for. Rise of the Villains changed all of that. From Cameron Monaghan’s take on the Joker felt perfect (including his shocking plot twist), to young Bruce Wayne’s maturation/Jim Gordon’s descent from innocence, to actually rooting for The Penguin and the cold midseason cliffhanger…Gotham’s finally finding it’s footing in the superhero TV genre. 

23. BoJack Horseman (Netflix)

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This show is dumb for all the right reasons. I like to think Will Arnett’s BoJack is what happened to Bob Saget after Full House went off the air, in half horse-half man form. The ensemble cast of voices, including Aaron Paul, Alison Brie, Patton Oswalt, Paul F. Tompkins and JK Simmons, is about as good as there is in animated comedy. And when you think you’re just going to watch for an episode or two, you find yourself losing about 3 hours without even realizing it because it hooked you. 

22. Agent Carter (ABC)

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Agent Carter in a short “special event” season was able to do what Agents of SHIELD couldn’t in its first 2 seasons…separate itself from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and still advance the story. Of all the Avengers heroes, I always found Captain America’s plot to be the most interesting and Peggy Carter is somehow able to continue that from the 1940s-50s by making it her own. It’s also not so dependent on the supernatural but more so on spy and noir storytelling and human action.

21. Mr. Robot (USA)

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Mr. Robot had probably the best pilot for a new TV series in 2015. Unfortunately it never matched that intrigue for the rest of the season, with maybe another episode or two coming close after the halfway point. Rami Malek carries the show as an the incredible introvert a lot of us sometimes feel like. The brutal commentary on modern society feels brilliant at times but then you feel like you saw a lot of this plot in Fight Club…because you did. 

20. Jane The Virgin (CW)

Jane The Virgin

I have to admit, I was pretty late to Jane The Virgin. I loved seeing Gina Rodriguez in her late night appearances and her acceptance speeches at award shows. Then as soon as it was recommended to me, it may have been the quickest 20+ episode binge watch on Netflix I had ever done. It’s fast paced, goofy, and full of cliffhangers. Most soap-style shows would probably be better off with the Jane the Virgin narrator as well. 

19. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

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Ellie Kemper should be getting way more love with awards show nominations than she has. If you wanted to know what a TV show anchored by Erin from The Office being freed from a cult “doomsday” bunker was like, now you do and it’s hilarious. The cameos get better and better as the season progresses and I was really rooting for Jon Hamm to win a second Emmy for guest appearance. 

18. Archer (FX)

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If there is an animated show that has taken the torch from South Park for better running jokes and one-liners, it’s Archer. H. Jon Benjamin also has this insane ability to make you laugh with just his voice and no context at all.

17. Daredevil (Netflix)

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I personally love the MCU but I understand the criticism that its villains lack the kind of presence that DC movie villains (i.e. Joker and Bane) have. *Enter the Netflix Hell’s Kitchen Series* Daredevil takes place after the events of the first Marvel’s Avengers aftermath and it isn’t as pretty as you’d think. Daredevil himself gives and takes some gruesome beatings with amazing stunts while Vincent D’Onofrio makes “The Kingpin” Wilson Fisk into one of TV’s best modern villains. It’s a great start to series of one-off seasons for Jessica Jones (scroll further down), Luke Cage, The Punisher and eventually The Defenders.

16. Silicon Valley (HBO)

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When Silicon Valley hit in 2014, I thought it was the best new comedy of the year. It’s a hilarious take on the tech world with Mike Judge’s (Office Space, Beavis and Butthead) own personal experience as a Silicon Valley tech engineer in the 80’s telling the story. The show didn’t slow down at all in S2, even though the “Pied Piper” guys got shit on in every way possible.

15. Narcos (Netflix)

Narcos 2015

If you were curious how dangerous and powerful Pablo Escobar was, or how a show that’s mostly in subtitles is so compelling, Narcos is for you. It’s a very cool mix of suspense and dramatized documentary-style storytelling. A little Scorsese-like, in that regard. 

14. Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp (Netflix)

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The prequel series to the cult classic was BETTER than the movie. Yeah, I said it. Mostly because I couldn’t get enough of 40 year-olds acting like high schoolers and the eventual eruption of crazy Christopher Meloni. 

13. House of Cards (Netflix)

HOC S3

House of Cards is still an excellent show and Frank Underwood is one of the best characters on TV today. But now that he’s at the top, it feels like “now what?”. Claire Underwood’s arc and power plays in S3 was the most interesting to me, and it felt like a big set up for an epic showdown in S4. 

12. Show Me A Hero (HBO)

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The HBO miniseries went a little under-the-radar over the summer, but it was both powerful and relevant to political issues today. If you’re a fan of The Wire, you’ll notice all the parallels David Simon uses in style, cinematography and storytelling. There are also plenty of Wire-alums to get you excited throughout the series. And I have to say Oscar Isaac is reaching modern Al Pacino status with his recent performances, including this.

11. Hannibal (NBC)

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One of TV’s most visually impressive and goriest shows didn’t get much respect from its own network. Hannibal occupied at least 4 of the 7 nights of the week without announcements of scheduling changes and that made it tough to really build an audience. Regardless, every episode made you ask out loud, “HOW DID THEY GET AWAY WITH THAT ON NETWORK TV?” Mads Mikkelsen was haunting as Hannibal and Hugh Dancy complimented him perfectly when hunting  him as Will Graham all the way to the bittersweet end.

10. The Muppets (ABC)

The Muppets ABC

This is probably the grown-ass child that I am talking, but I think The Muppets is perfect. It’s an awesome blend of the characters you grew up with, today’s pop culture, and witty/not-so-subtle adult humor that makes it worth watching every week. The Muppets have surpassed Modern Family as ABC’s best sitcom.

09. South Park (Comedy Central)

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In it’s 19th season, South Park did something it really had never done before…It kept a continuous ongoing story, with a plot, arc and character development…and it did so making fun of gentrification, Whole Foods, Yelp, Donald Trump, Caitlyn Jenner, sponsored content, Ex Machina, guns and so much more. It was genius.

08. Parks and Recreation

Parks and Recreation 2015

Like Hannibal, NBC didn’t give Parks and Recreation the respect it deserved. There aren’t many shows that you can say got better as they went on, but that’s exactly what Parks and Rec did. It went from feeling like a spinoff to The Office to it’s own show with arguably better writing and characters that can all be invested in.

07. Justified (FX)

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We all have our shows that feel like OUR shows, the ones that only a few of your friends watches and you persistently recommend to everyone else. Justified will always be that show to me. It was never full of itself. The hero/antihero relationship between Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) and Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) was unlike any other. And the finale will go down as one of the best in television history.

06. Master of None (Netflix)

Master of None 2015

Aziz Ansari’s Master of None was my favorite comedy of year. It was honest, unique, and way too easy to binge in one evening. I might have laughed at everything that came out of Arnold’s mouth (Eric Wareheim) and I’m also am keeping the “getaway flight to somewhere awesome” date in my back pocket…for someone special and willing to take me up on it.

05. Jessica Jones (Netflix)

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While Daredevil was excellent for it’s action, Jessica Jones stood out even more as a detective noir/horror/superhero series. Kilgrave raised the the ante for Marvel villains in the scariest way possible, mind control, and that made the season that much more gripping and suspenseful. Just a few words and anything could happen to anyone…Can’t wait to see where they go with the series next.

04. Better Call Saul (AMC)

Better Call Saul

The concern before Better Call Saul premiered was that it was too soon after Breaking Bad to do a prequel. The body wasn’t even cold yet, as they say. That’s fine because the story of Jimmy McGill, before taking on the Saul Goodman moniker, and Mike has proven to be almost as compelling as Walter White’s in its own way. Like Walter, Saul’s transformation is slow but it clearly takes a lot to get from McGill to Goodman. Mike’s subplot may be even more badass than it was in Breaking Bad.

03. Mad Men (AMC)

Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 4.07.35 PM

The Mad Men final episodes were perfect sendoff for all-time character Don Draper. Hero, anti-hero, villain…I even recall Draper referred to as “The Devil”…an argument can be made for it all, and he made it look cool. Season 7 also wrapped everything up nicely for an ensemble you grew to love for the better part of a decade, that helped the current generation of TV viewers feel historic events and milestones in advertising as they happened in the 1960s. 

02. Game of Thrones

Jon Snow 2015

Was there a fictional TV Show more controversial this year? Fans got angry. Really angry. Publications swore it off. Horrible characters did really bad things to innocent characters (deep, I know)…but you were still invested. We’ve also been debating and speculating on the ending to the season finale ever since it aired, and we’ll do so till S6 premieres. And dragons…F’n dragons. 

Game of Thrones Dragons

 

01. Fargo (FX)

Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 4.59.31 PM

The finale for S2 airs tonight and I can’t help but be confident it will be as good as the entire season has been. Every episode has been better than the one before it. The character development has been unreal, especially for Kirsten Dunst and Jesse Plemons’s accidentally murderous couple. Nick Offerman shows off some amazing range beyond Ron Swanson. Cristin Milioti pulls your heart strings again (HIMYM, Never forget). And Bokeem Woodbine might be the breakout star of the year. If you haven’t watched…do it, do it now!

 

What does your 2015 Favorite Shows list look like? Let me know on Facebook or Twitter!

 

I Think I Have To Break Up With Saturday Night Live

My relationship with Saturday Night Live is at the point where I need to delete their number, block them on all forms of social media, and cringe whenever their name comes up in conversation.

I loved SNL. Not L-U-V. Not loosely. I had genuine affection for a sketch show that I could bond over with my dad, laugh about with my friends, and break the ice with strangers by referencing classic characters and lines. When have you been able to do that with this current cast? Kate McKinnon’s “Hillary Clinton” maybe, and then what? Another sour-faced Taran Killam creation?

Rather than develop memorable characters or be funny anymore, this current brand of SNL is all about what’s trendy and what might be viral the next day. Social media practically wrote last Saturday’s “Larry David as Bernie Sanders” cold open on the night of the Democratic Debate.

Then host Tracy Morgan was reunited with his 30 Rock cast mates for his monologue. That was terrific! Understanding how far Morgan has come since his near fatal bus accident over a year ago, it was a special moment for him and his fans. What was note-worthy after the monologue though? I changed the channel two sketches later when the writers were resorting to poop jokes and more cutaways to awkward Keenan Thompson reactions.

It’s not the Saturday Night Live I grew up with. Being a kid in the 90’s, I had Wayne’s World, Operaman, Matt Foley, and yes, Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer. Characters like that made me so interested in the past and all the superstars that were produced from the show like John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy and Gilda Radner. That all made me romanticize about Second City in Chicago and how I could eventually see performers there show up on NBC every Saturday nights.

Outside of McKinnon and maybe Pete Davidson, there’s nobody in the current cast that makes me excited for what they can do after Saturday Night Live. There isn’t a Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Bill Hader or Kristen Wiig. You couldn’t pay me to suffer through another Kyle Mooney “I’m a nervous kid giving a high school presentation” bit. I’m sure Cecily Strong, Aidy Bryant, and Vanessa Bayer will do fine in complimentary roles in the future, but I’m not tuning in or buying a movie ticket because of them. And Jay Pharoah’s impressions have gone from “wow, that’s dead on,” to “oh look, it’s Jay Pharoah as Jay Pharoah trying to be someone else.”

You also know it’s not your kind of show anymore when saying something critical about SNL on Twitter turns into having to block every One-Directioner, Belieber, and Demi Lovato fan that lives-and-dies by things like that, and wants you to know it. That’s right. SNL is the Justin Bieber of television. They make headlines over quality for ratings. Choosing Miley Cyrus to host your season premiere and to give Donald Trump an entire episode is more than enough proof of that. I certainly don’t plan on watching the Trump episode, but I would find some comfort in reading the next morning that musical guest Sia went Sinead O’Connor on a photo of him.

The 40th Anniversary Special last winter was everything. I hadn’t laughed that hard in years, thanks to the Celebrity Jeopardy reprisal, Bill Murray singing, and Wayne Campbell telling Kanye to sit down. They played the hits, just like you’d want to hear at classic rock band’s concert. There were clips of sketches that have lasted over four decades, and hardly anything from the current cast. It was great. It also reminded me that any of the better moments on the show recently had to do with a former cast member making a surprise appearance or hosting…and that Colin Jost still sucks.

Rather than waste more time on a Saturday evening or DVR space, I have to let SNL go. The fact I felt compelled to write over 700 words on the topic is probably a pretty good reason to (and probably get some help as well). Maybe SNL will change for the better. Maybe it will be funny again. The healthier thing for me, and perhaps you, to do is to not wait and see.

Can you relate? Want to talk me off the ledge? Let me know on Twitter and Facebook.

September 2015 TV Premieres and What To Watch

Ready your DVRs! 

Fall TV is coming. While you still have to wait another month for big premieres like Homeland, The Walking Dead, American Horror Story, and Fargo…

(“…very friendly people”)

…but September is no slouch for new Television. After this week, CBS will be leading off big for Late Night TV lovers and it only gets better from there. 

September 8th

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (CBS)

Stephen Colbert Late Show Premiere

10:35 PM CDT

The table is set for Stephen Colbert, who takes over for Davide Letterman at The Late Show. The Tuesday premiere schedule is pretty thin as is, and all eyes will be on Colbert to see how he transitions from his Comedy Central character and takes on the likes of Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel in that time slot.

For me, it’s a breath of fresh air after the disappointing showing so far from Colbert’s new CBS teammate, James Corden. I wasn’t expecting the spastic preteen pandering that Corden’s Late Late Show was going to bring. It’s a long “ughhhh” when you go from Craig Ferguson and his “Don’t give a shit” brand of comedy to…sing-a-longs with Justin Bieber. 

Here’s the slate of guests to look forward to with Colbert when the new Late Show kicks off. 

Tuesday: George Clooney, Jeb Bush and band leader Jon Baptiste with special musical guests

Wednesday: Scarlet Johansson, Elon Musk and Kendrick Lamar

Thursday: Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and Toby Keith

Friday: Amy Schumer, Stephen King and Troubled Waters

September 9th

The League (FXX)

League FXX

9:00 PM CDT

The 7th season of The League will be it’s last. It’s a show about a Fantasy Football league that only sorta talks about Fantasy Football, which is fine. Every few episodes have their NFL cameos that include Matt Forte, Darren Sproles, JJ Watt, Marshawn Lynch, Jay Cutler, and the “Cameron Jordan & Jordan Cameron” combo that never gets old.

I’ll be honest, I have only watched the show as a Netflix binge watch ever since their move to FXX. It’s a ridiculously quick watch that way. For the final season though, it’ll be worth the effort week-to-week. A lot of familiar faces will be reprising their roles like Rob Riggle, Will Forte, Zach Woods, Ike Barinholtz, Leslie Bibb…and Marshawn Lynch. And don’t forget all the near decade long running jokes between Mark Duplass, Nick Kroll, Jon Lajoie, Stephen Rannazzisi, Paul Sheer and Katie Aselton and their quest for THE SHIVA!

September 10th

Longmire (Netflix)

Longmire Netflix

Full Season Available at 12:01 AM

Originally on A&E, Longmire is an excellent fix for fans of both Justified and Hell On Wheels. It’s a modern serial western about a Wyoming county sheriff solving gruesome crimes in both his jurisdiction and the neighboring Cheyenne reservation. Robert Taylor didn’t have much notoriety before playing Walt Longmire, but it seems like the role he was meant to play. Along with Battlestar Galactica and 24 alum Katee Sackhoff, Lou Diamond Phillips takes viewers back to his Young Guns days as Walt’s badass Native American sidekick.

September 13th

Doll & Em

9:30 PM CDT

If you’re having Emily Mortimer withdrawal since The Newsroom went off the air, this may be your fix. This 6 episode sitcom follows the actress and her best friend/assistant Dolly Wells around during their adventures in Hollywood and Broadway. It’s cheeky…Did I use that correctly? 

September 15th

The Mindy Project (Hulu weekly)

Mindy Project Hulu

Best Time Ever w/ Neil Patrick Harris (NBC)

Best Time Ever NBC

9:00 PM CDT

The Bastard Executioner (FX)

9:00 PM CDT

Kurt Sutter’s followup to FX’s highest rated show, Sons of Anarchy, is medieval in every way possible. It’s Game of Thrones with more historical relevance, as it takes place during King Edward III’s reign. Lee Jones has some Chris Hemsworth/Thor to him playing the protagonist Wilkin Brattle. True Blood fans will enjoy Vampire Bill aka Stephen Moyer back in a period piece in a co-starring role. Longtime Sutter enthusiasts will recognize plenty of familiar faces from his SOA and  The Shield  runs, including Katey Sagal and Timothy V. Murphy. 

September 16th

South Park (Comedy Central)

9:00 PM CDT

THIS IS SEASON 19!!! Trey Parker and Matt Stone truly have it made, as they have been renewed through 25 seasons with Comedy Central. It’s fun to speculate which pop culture and political news, issues and events will be parodied in the upcoming season…I’ll throw down some bets for Donald Trump, Star Wars, and Deflategate (they love their football and their Denver Broncos). 

September 19th

Doctor Who (BBC America)

Picture shows:  Peter Capaldi as The Doctor and Jenna Coleman as Clara

8:00 PM CDT

I have to confess…I’ve never seen an episode of Doctor Who (*ducks*). I guess it’s never too late to start, right? 

September 21st

The Big Bang Theory (CBS)

Big Bang Theory CBS

7:00 PM CDT

Minority Report (FOX)

Minority Report

8:00 PM CDT

Gotham: Rise of the Villains (FOX)

7:00 PM CDT

I’m not sure if anyone really loved Gotham’s Season 1. Whether it was the campiness of the show or the inconsistent schedule that made you forget it was still on-air…Regardless, all the Batman bad guys you saw in S1 are back for S2…and they are angry. 

September 22nd

NCIS (CBS)

NCIS

7:00 PM CDT

Scream Queens (FOX)

Scream Queens

7:00 PM CDT

The Muppets (ABC)

7:00 PM CDT

It’s the F***’n Muppets…what more do you need? 

September 23rd

The Goldbergs (ABC)

JEFF GARLIN, WENDI MCLENDON-COVEY, GEORGE SEGAL, TROY GENTILE, SEAN GIAMBRONE, HAYLEY ORRANTIA

7:30 PM CDT

Empire (FOX)

Empire

8:00 PM CDT

Modern Family (ABC)

Modern Family S6

8:00 PM CDT

Going into it’s sixth season, Modern Family still guarantees at least one solid belly laugh every episode. 

September 24th

Heroes Reborn (NBC)

7 PM CDT

I understand that Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How To Get Away With Murder  all return that evening, but Heroes is all that matters to me…and many. 

September 28th

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah (Comedy Central)

10:00 PM CDT

By the end of the month, we’ll be comfortable with the new Late Show hosted by Daily Show alum Stephen Colbert…and we’ll finally get to know Trevor Noah better as he heads the post-Jon Stewart era. 

What TV shows are you looking forward to most this Fall? Let me know on Facebook and Twitter

#NationalPuppyDay in Sports

No case of the Mondays here…

It’s #NationalPuppyDay!

I can’t be alone in greatly enjoying the cuteness overload on social media today. I have an epic thread of puppy photos being posted by friends on my own Facebook page. But I digress…

Let’s take a look at what sports clubs and outlets are posting from all over.

Starting with HANK…The Milwaukee Brewers Mascot Puppy…

Detroit Tigers

Chicago White Sox

NBA on TNT

San Francisco 49ers

SportsNet LA

Cincinnati Bengals

Golden State Warriors

Green Bay Packers

Georgetown Hoyas

Kansas City Chiefs

WWE

MLB GIFs (I heart this handle)

Calgary Flames

Arizona Diamondbacks

America’s Pregame on FOX Sports 1

Portland Winterhawks

UFC

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Portland Trailblazers

Baltimore Ravens

Anaheim Ducks

New England Patriots

Seattle Mariners

Detroit Pistons

San Jose Sharks

NBC Sports Network

Butler University

Cleveland Browns

Minnesota Vikings

Washington Huskies

NFL Network

Breeders Cup

San Diego Chargers

San Antonio Spurs

Duquesne University

Buffalo Bills

Atlanta Braves

Orlando Magic

Cal University

University of Georgia

Penn State

Colorado Rockies

St. Louis Rams

Oakland Raiders

Arizona Cardinals

 Feel free to Tweet your own #NationalPuppyDay picks to me at @Mike_PiFF03 and maybe we’ll feature them in a followup post.