I’m a little late to the game but I thought it would be fun to write a post about what I’ve most enjoyed watching this year on TV. I’m not doing a Top 10 List (nor any other number) because I find it really hard to pick one absolute favorite or to rank my favorites. So I’ve made some categories . . . keep reading, you’ll see.
Best New Show
My favorite new show is Manifest (Monday nights on NBC). NBC is saying it’s the number 1 new show, so I’m cautiously hopeful it won’t be canceled and that it will have a second season or more.
This show is about a group of people who were on an airplane that experienced some turbulence and other scary phenomena, but then when it was time to land, they discovered that about 5 and a half years had elapsed since they’d taken off. The world had assumed the plane was lost and they’d all been presumed dead. The main characters are an extended family who were separated when their flight was overbooked, so 3 members were on Flight 828 and the rest made it home on the original flight and thought their other family members were dead. They moved on with their lives and
- The mom, Grace Stone, has a serious love interest she’s likely to have married soon if her husband, Ben, hadn’t reappeared.
- Twins Olive and Cal are now 5 and a half years apart in age. But medical advances in the intervening time period give Cal a much better chance of beating cancer.
- Michaela, Ben’s sister, comes home to find her fiancé, Jared, is now married to her best friend.
- Ben and Michaela’s parents both came home on the earlier flight, but their mother passed away from an illness during the intervening time.
Getting adjusted to life after missing over 5 years is not the only challenge the passengers of Flight 828 face, as various supernatural things start happening. Each episode the mystery deepens and it’s discovered that in addition to the supernatural phenomena, there’s some sort of conspiracy going on. The first half of the season ends with a climactic event that makes it seem that one threat has been discovered and dealt with, but then the tale end makes it clear there are more bad guys out there and more secrets to be learned.
Manifest returns from a brief hiatus on Monday, January 7 at 10 pm on NBC.
Best Returning Show
Well, it’s hard for me to pick one “best,” but the one I’m really enjoying right now is The Gifted, Tuesday nights on Fox. Right now they’re in the middle of season 2.
The Gifted is about Mutants, a.k.a. the X-men. The show takes place in the X-men universe, but during a time when the X-men have disappeared. Our entry into the story is provided by the Strucker family, a seemingly normal suburban human family. Reed Strucker is a district attorney whose main job is prosecuting criminal mutants. Their lives are turned upside-down when their younger son, Andy, suddenly exhibits mutant powers after being bullied at a school dance. His older sister, Lauren, rescues him and reveals she’s known for 3 years that she also has mutant powers. Soon enough, Sentinel Services agents appear at the family’s door, ready to take both kids into custody. The Struckers go on the run and meet up with some members of the Mutant Underground, and the adventure begins.
This show has so many great aspects.
- The characters are very well cast and layered with lots of emotional backstories and different motivations and ideologies.
- The setting is amazing. In the first season, the Underground set up headquarters in an abandoned building that used to be a bank, which served as a great visual backdrop for the story. Season 2 has most of the Underground living in an unusual-looking older apartment building, and there is an automobile salvage yard that serves as their new headquarters, while the Inner Circle, which has tremendous financial resources, has a huge modern building with a view of Washington, D.C., as its headquarters.
- The show does a great job helping you understand the motivations of the various characters and exploring real-life social issues by allegory.
The second half of season 2 started on January 1, and episodes air at 9 pm on Tuesdays on Fox. Previously aired episodes are on Hulu.
If you read my blog or follow me on social media, you know I’ve been obsessed with the show called Colony that had 3 seasons on the USA Network. The creators of this amazing show had at least 5 seasons planned out, but it was cancelled after a very poorly promoted 3rd season (after the network moved it to a different night and debuted season 3 later in the calendar year than the previous two seasons). I’ve written much more about this show elsewhere on my blog, so check it out if you want to know more. It’s too painful for me to talk about, still.
Runner-up: The Crossing. It aired on Mondays on ABC; there were only 11 episodes. This show didn’t even get a chance. It was one of those shows that you need a few episodes to really grasp the scope of what’s going on, and by the time they’d gotten to that point, the network had already announced it was cancelled. It’s not worth if for me to even tell you what it’s about, and it’ll just make me sad, so I won’t.
2018 was truly a heartbreaking year for TV show cancellations. So much so that I created a separate category for another beloved show that was also canceled this year (read below).
Collateral Damage award
Luke Cage, Iron Fist and, most recently and most tragically, Daredevil, are victims of the war between Netflix and the upcoming Disney streaming service, Disney+. Fans were excited when Marvel teamed up with Netflix to produce shows about 4 individual Marvel superhero characters (the 4th being Jessica Jones) and a group show, The Defenders. The individual shows were so well-received that 2nd and, in some cases, 3rd seasons were ordered, and a 2-season run of the Punisher was added. At this point, they’ve aired 2 seasons each of Luke Cage and Iron Fist, and after the 2nd season of each of these it was announced that they were cancelled. Fans were hoping that Daredevil and Jessica Jones, the more popular and more critically-acclaimed of the bunch, would continue, but after Daredevil‘s 3rd season dropped, they announced that it, too, was cancelled. The writing is on the wall: once season 3 of Jessica Jones and season 2 of the Punisher air, they will almost inevitably also be cancelled.
Why? Netflix pays Marvel (which is owned by Disney) money to have these shows on their service, and I’m sure they don’t want to be continuing to do that once Disney has a competing service. As licensing agreements of other Marvel properties that are currently on Netflix (movies, mostly) expire, these will also presumably move to Disney+, which is set to open in late 2019. It will be interesting to see if people keep Netflix and add Disney+ or cancel Netflix in favor of Disney+. I mean, how many streaming services can one family afford to pay for every month? But Netflix is busy creating new original shows not based on Disney or Marvel properties, so if these are popular, it could keep Netflix in the game once the Mouse enters the fray.
The ray of hope in this situation is that apparently the licensing agreement allows the characters to be used in other creations by other networks a certain period of time after the cancellation is announced. So the sooner they announce each show’s cancellation, the sooner Disney can start working on shows for its own network featuring these characters. I don’t know if that means they will use the actors or show creators from the Netflix shows. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
Season 2 of The Punisher drops on Netflix on January 18. Season 3 of Jessica Jones is expected in late Spring or Summer 2019.
Best Slow Burn
I’m afraid some fans have lost interest in Better Call Saul, because a whole season passed and not much, materially, happened to the characters. Jimmy and Kim are still together, though their relationship has had its ups and downs, and they are no longer sharing a business. Mike Ehrmantrout has inched toward a career as a criminal, and we’ve learned some more about how ruthless Gustavo Fring really is. We didn’t see too much of Nacho, a character whose fate is unknown since he wasn’t in Breaking Bad.
The real treasure of this show is the characters’ relationships and motivations. Jimmy and Mike are both moving inexorably toward the illegal side of things, but they have different motives. Jimmy is clearly resentful that he has never been accepted by the established Legal community, and ends up surrendering to the dark side, using his ability to con people and his penchant for skirting around the rules. Mike, on the other hand, wants to provide for his granddaughter and is clearly aware of how the steps he’s taking, while giving him the chance to make a good deal of money, are moving him into very risky territory.
This show is unique because, as a prequel, we know what happens to Jimmy, Mike and Gus in Breaking Bad. We don’t know what happens to Kim and Nacho, and we also hope to see Jimmy/Saul/Gene end up somewhere better than the Cinnabon in Ohaha.
Better Call Saul was renewed for a season 5, but it’s unclear if that will be the last season or not. A date has not been released, but it’s likely to return in late summer 2019 on AMC.
Looking Ahead to 2019
Quickly, in addition to those listed above, here are some shows I’m looking forward to in 2019.
Based on a trilogy of books by Justin Cronin, The Passage will air on Fox starting January 14. Thankfully, it will be at 9 pm, so it won’t conflict with Manifest at 10. I read all 3 of these novels and I really have never read anything like them. My closest comparison is that it’s like a cross between The Walking Dead and Stephen King’s novel, The Stand. The structure and timeline of the novels makes it a difficult thing to adapt to TV, so I’m wondering how they’ll do it. I’m cautiously optimistic, since the show creator is a big fan of the novels and the author seems to be involved on some level, too.
This show is an unexpected hit. The idea of a Seth MacFarlane show that imitates the original Star Trek series seems like it should be a train wreck, but instead it’s a a mission to boldly go to places which entertain us but also challenge us to think about our attitudes toward various social issues. The second season of this show just returned and it airs Thursdays at 9 pm on Fox. Season 1 is available for streaming on Hulu.
I already mentioned I’m looking forward to what will likely be this show’s final season, which should drop on Netflix sometime between Easter and 4th of July.
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
No, this show was not cancelled, despite the low ratings for season 5 (which, in my opinion, were due to lack of promotion by the network and monkey business (my term for when the network messes around with time slots and the traditional expected season release date)). In fact, quite the contrary, though season 6 has not yet aired, they’ve announced that there will also be a season 7. It’s unclear if Phil Coulson will be in either of these, as he’s presumably dead or in Tahiti, or he went to Tahiti with Agent May to die . . . but since he’s beaten death before, we won’t believe it until we see a body.
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will return in July 2019, so I guess there won’t be a direct tie-in to Avengers Endgame.
I’ve been hurrying to read the series of books by Michael Connelly about Harry Bosch, LAPD Homicide Detective, The series airs on Amazon Prime and will have its 5 season sometime in the Spring of 2019. Like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., it’s been renewed for a 6th season, too. Season 5 is based on the book Two Kinds of Truth, which is much further along in the series than the books the previous seasons were based on. This book also featured Mickey Haller, a character that was played by Matthew McConaughey in the movie adaptation of Connelley’s book, The Lincoln Lawyer. I’ve read the book but have not seen the movie and I can’t imagine McConaughey in that role. Apparently, however, through a strange case of IP licensing being stranger than fiction, though Amazon owns the rights to the Bosch books and though Mickey Haller is a character in several of these books, Amazon doesn’t own the rights to the character, so he won’t be appearing in the show. I’m sure it will still be good, but I’m a bit disappointed.
There are 4 seasons of Bosch on Amazon Prime and season 5 will drop in Spring 2019.
The BBC has adapted the series of books by Robert Galbraith (pen name of J.K. Rowling) featuring Cormoran Strike. These are in the form of mini-series, with each book having 2 or 3 episodes. In the US, these aired on Cinemax. The BBC has announced they will do the 4th book, Lethal White, which just came out in September 2018, and it will be aired sometime in 2019. Apparently the folks at Cinemax are slow readers and haven’t decided if they will pick up the 4th season; they’ll decide once they read the book.
This series is possibly better than the books. The two main characters are perfectly cast. I don’t have Cinemax so I had to pay to buy these and felt it was well worth the money. I’m looking forward to season 4, even if I have to wait until 2020 to see it.
If you don’t have Cinemax, you can purchase seasons of Strike on many services including Google Play and iTunes.
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