10) The Orville
image courtesy: 20th Television
Production: Fuzzy Door Productions, 20th Century Fox Television
Creator: Seth MacFarlane
Release Date: September 10th, 2017
Review: Mr. Toffee
We were worried whether director and actor Seth McFarlane could pull off his tribute to Star Trek: The Next Generation without coming off as a Galaxy Quest rip-off. After a whole season of The Orville, we’re glad that he succeeded with balancing both comedy & drama in this sci-fi nod. Mostly.
We’re not going to deny that this show has tonal issues, but when it works, it totally works. Highlights include the episode “Into The Fold” where Dr. Finn and robot Isaac took centerstage, “If The Stars Should Appear” which focuses on an isolated civilization in a giant-ass ship, and “Majority Rules” where a whole society is governed by Reddit-like upvotes and downvotes. Even the crew members are likeable, from the aforementioned Dr. Finn and Isaac to the matter-of-fact delivery of Bortus.
This show’s getting a second season, so good on McFarlane and co. to bring this show to infinity and beyond. Let’s hope they can get the balancing act just perfect so that less people can slag on it.
9) Black Mirror
image courtesy: Netflix
Production: House of Tomorrow
Creator: Charlie Brooker
Release Date: December 29th 2017
Review: Eccentric Tom
Honestly, to not include Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror on a list of best tv shows of 2017 would be a crime against nerd culture. This show, which was criminally under-appreciated outside of the UK until Netflix put its weight behind it, is one of the most unique shows we currently have, making us laugh and sigh in equal measure. It’s not often we can have a good time watching someone’s life fall apart around them.
Having said that, this is probably the weakest season yet. Yes, USS Callister was amazing, and Hang the DJ is almost as touching and wonderful as San Junipero, but we also have the absolute clunker that is Archangel and the bizarre Crocodile. If you want to know why it’s so weird, listen to Dr. Shafique’s rant here. Even the stronger episodes like Metalhead divided us, and the finale Black Museum was hit and miss.
Maybe it’s time constraints from Netflix, maybe it’s harder to come up with new ideas, but there definitely a feeling that Brooker is running out of things to say. We’ve had interpretations of the ‘Cookie’ so often now it’s become an expectation. Maybe more time is needed before the next season comes out. Either way, we’re still gonna watch it, because as mentioned earlier, it would be sacrilege to not do so.
8) Twin Peaks: The Return
image courtesy: Showtime Networks
Production: Rancho Rosa Partnership Production, Lynch/Frost Productions
Creator: Mark Frost, David Lynch
Network: Showtime Networks
Release Date: May 21st 2017
Review: Dr. Shafique
David Lynch returns to the show he created, after a seemingly self imposed exile. Last we heard he’d found refuge in of all places the internet, producing animated shorts and surreal sitcoms. His last feature film Inland Empire was released back in 2006, and it’s been ages since he made waves with the original Twin Peaks back in the 90s. So after over two decades ending on one of the greatest cliffhangers ever, we were all curious to see how he would endeavor with Twin Peaks: The Return.
And much like how groundbreaking the original series was, pushing boundaries on television back in the day. The new series does little to resolve or even expand on the original murder story line. To be honest it proceeds to just mess with you in it’s limited 18 episode run. With tangents and misdirection designed to frustrate or even repel viewers, yet somehow manages to still engage and entertain. Like all great abstract art, the joy is discovering the method amidst the madness.
David Lynch has in the past demonstrated a certain amount of contempt towards the industry, and even his audience. And his notorious nonconformist storytelling and sensibility for the vulgar and perverse is on full display. But there’s definitely a clear vision and intent in his direction, this is a master of the surreal at work. Both equal parts challenging and breathtaking, Twin Peaks: The Return will satisfy your craving for things beyond the norm.