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The 25YL TV Awards 2019: Our Favorites, Disappointments, and More!

There was a lot of great TV in 2019! Here’s what we loved, who we loved, what we were disappointed about and what we’re looking forward to next year!


Andrew Grevas, Editor-in-Chief

Favorite New Show of 2019: I’m sure this will be a popular pick but it has to be Watchmen for me. Culturally, this series has come at an absolutely perfect time. Lindelof and company have taken one of the most iconic works of fiction in the past 30 years and in this age of reboots, created a “remix”, where the source material is treated with the respect it deserves and new, worthy stories are being told.

There are so many layers to what’s going on with Watchmen that it’s really a TV critic’s dream to analyze. The commentary on today’s culture and our current superhero craze we’re living through would be enough to stand on their own, yet we’re given so much more to work with. If Watchmen is one season and done, as it has been claimed to be, we will certainly be left wondering “what if” but we’ll have been left with one of the finest, most relevant television seasons perhaps of all
time.

Hooded Justice dives through the front window of a grocery store in Watchmen

Most Disappointing New or Returning Series: While Game of Thrones will probably get a lot of (deserved) votes here, for me it’s Big Little Lies. The first season was a television tour de force, featuring several of Hollywood’s most talented actresses telling a story that spoke to the #MeToo era we were living through.

The second season was not only unneeded, it completely undermined the spirit of the first season once we got news of how director Andrea Arnold’s vision was treated. How was a show about empowering women going to have two men off camera destroy the creative vision of the woman hired to guide the second season, all behind her back? The off-camera woes are just part of the problem though. The characters were handled poorly, the cast wasn’t used to the best of their ability (save Nicole Kidman and Meryl Streep) and the story fell flat. The cast managed to create a few memorable moments, but Big Little Lies Season 2 was ultimately a failure.

Favorite Overall Show of 2019: This is like asking me to call one of my children my favorite. This year, perhaps more than any other in recent memory, has a lot of really worthy contenders. While I could make really compelling arguments for Succession, Watchmen or True Detective, I have to give Barry the nod. Bill Hader and Alec Berg are changing television for the better with this series originally thought to be a dark comedy that completely transcended genre in its sophomore season. In a 30-minute time frame, an episode of Barry can make you laugh, cry and ponder the greater questions pertaining to the human condition. An episode like “ronny/lilly” is a perfect example of the range the show can hit, from brilliantly absurd to Sopranos-esque dreamlike moments that leave the viewer pondering what this show can’t do.

Favorite Performance in a TV Show: Bill Hader, hands down. Jeremy Strong from Succession warrants a mention here but Hader is cementing his place as an all-time great in Barry with a character that has such a unique journey, making the fantastical feel somehow relatable. The wide range of emotions we watch Barry experience has to be an incredibly tall task for any performer, yet Hader masterfully makes the shift from hopeful to enraged and everything in between. It’s almost easy to take for granted how good he really is, but I can’t imagine anyone else in this career-defining role.

Most Painful Show to Part With in 2019: I don’t have anything that qualifies for this question.

Most Hotly Anticipated Show of 2020: The Outsider. Watching the teaser for this new HBO drama starring Jason Batemen gives me all the True Detective feels, with a hint of supernatural seemingly mixed in. The Outsider looks dark, creepy and like a murder mystery we hopefully get to unravel. This looks like a series that could check a lot of boxes for me as a viewer.

Laura Stewart, Assistant Editor-in-Chief

Favorite New Show of 2019: Without a doubt, it has to be Watchmen. We had been eagerly awaiting it here at 25YL, not knowing what to expect, and in all honesty, the trailers did not do the show justice at all. Our faith in Damon Lindelof was strong, however, and we knew the cast was excellent. There was a lot riding on it being good with the deep-rooted fan base watching every move. Well, Damon and his team of writers totally blew any doubts we may have had to Europa. Not only did they manage to continue the story of Watchmen in a satisfying and faithful way—with enough nostalgia and legacy running through it to keep the most loyal fans of the graphic novel happy (you know, except those guys that don’t like change—a bit like the Seventh Kavalry members), but it also brought us some really fantastic new characters, with great storylines, interesting histories and perfect one-liners.

Watchmen really does have it all. It is visually stunning, the cinematography is perfect. The pace is just right, you never get bored as there is so much going on in every episode. The writing is just superb—funny, clever, touching, and well researched. The score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross couldn’t be more fitting—each character theme brings them to life.

The show has taught a lot of people about moments in Black history that had been largely swept under the carpet, and pulled off the masks of the most corrupt organisations in America. This was the TV show that 2019 needed. Hopeful, honest and humorous. Also, EGGS!

Most Disappointing New or Returning TV Series: There was always a good chance of Big Little Lies not living up to the heights of the first season, but the addition of Meryl Streep was exciting, and there is no doubt that she was brilliantly horrible in it. Yet it still fell very flat for me. The writing was nowhere near as good as Season 1, and the storyline just didn’t intrigue me. I guess losing Alexander Skarsgard, who brought all the tension the first time, made quite the difference. I really felt that the writers sold Bonnie (Zoe Kravitz) down the river with her storyline too. Somehow in this season, all the characters that I loved in Season 1 became inexcusably annoying. Unfortunately, I think that’s just bad writing.

Favorite Overall Show of 2019: It’s a tough one. There have been some truly brilliant series this year, True Detective, Barry, Succession, Legion, Lodge 49, Dead to Me, Mr Robot. I could go on and on. For me though, it’s a very close call between The OA and WatchmenThe OA touches me in a way I can’t really explain. I am a huge fan of Brit Marling’s and Zal’s brains. The stories they tell are so well-considered, clever and captivating. I want to know more, I want to be part of the show—sometimes I feel like I am some big meta part of it. I didn’t think anything could rival it this year. Until Watchmen came shooting up like Lube Man sliding down a storm-drain, right at the finish lineIt has entertained me so thoroughly that I look forward to Sundays again and I am really sad that it is over.

Favorite Performance in a TV Show: Lube Man. No, well yes, but no. Everyone in Watchmen has been brilliant, but I am going to go with a bit of a dark horse here and say Linda Cardellini as Judy in Dead to Me. She and Christina Applegate were fantastic in this series, but there was something extra special about Cardellini—I loved her character: sweet, naive, romantic, honourable (in a strange way). Maybe I identified with her a little bit—the brave face she put on her grief and loneliness. Though, I think mostly it was her amazing hair and wardrobe that made me love her so much.

Jen and Judy look on to Ted's shrine on the side of the road, in Dead To Me.

Most Painful Show to Part With in 2019: The OA. 100%. Netflix cancelling this series when it was at its height, and on a cliffhanger, is just unforgivable to me. I have cancelled my Netflix subscription I am that annoyed. Shows like The OA don’t come around very often. When a show touches your heart in such a way, as Twin Peaks did for me many moons ago, they stay with you in your soul. Times are hard at the moment. Out there in the real world, things are pretty dire, and people need fantasy and escape from that grind. That’s what The OA gave me: enchanting beauty, intricate puzzles, a reason to dream and dive down the rabbit hole. Magical stories and characters that I genuinely care about. This is not the TV that should be cancelled. I am as upset about this as I was Twin Peaks 30 years ago, and Carnivale 15 years ago when they were cancelled after just two seasons. There seems to be a pattern forming and it’s not a pretty one.

Most Hotly Anticipated Show of 2020: Ratched, The Outsider, The Nevers, Lovecraft Country, High Fidelity and the new series of The Haunting of Hill House, are all firmly on my radar. HBO has had an absolutely incredible 2019, and I am sure they will deliver the goods in 2020 also. The Nevers, a show directed and written by Joss Whedon of Buffy fame, “An epic tale following a gang of Victorian women who find themselves with unusual abilities, relentless enemies, and a mission that might change the world” sounds like a lot of fun to me. Sometimes, you just need to get transported to another world, and this show sounds like it might just fit the bill.

Caemeron Crain, Executive Editor: TV

Favorite New Show of 2019: The right answer is probably Watchmen, because that has been downright blowing my mind every week. But I’m going to go with Russian Doll, because I loved that show so much that I watched the whole season twice within the space of a week when it came out back in February.

Playing on a Groundhog Day-style time-loop, the show is dark, funny, and just, well…existentially meaningful. Leslye Headland, Natasha Lyonne,  and Amy Poehler gave us something beautiful here, as Lyonne’s Nadia tries to navigate what is happening to her along with Alan (Charlie Barnett).

And then there is the New York of it all, or, more particular, the Lower East Side of it. Maybe my own connections to the area made me love it even more.

Most Disappointing New or Returning TV Series: Game of Thrones. If it had ended the way I predicted I would have been much happier. (Zombie Jaime, bwargh!!!) I mean, the ending wasn’t as bad as Dexter’s, but it was bad. Get outta here!

Favorite Overall Show of 2019: Again, the right answer very well might be Watchmen, because it has been wowing the pants off of me, but I’m going to go with Legion here. The show was consistently great, and while I had my worries about what it would do in its last season, it not only quelled them, but gave us something that surpassed what I could have hoped for.

Almost every shot in Legion feels like something you could frame and put on your wall, to an extent that I think is only surpassed by Twin Peaks when it comes to TV. It’s a beautiful show. But beyond this, it continued to play with narrative form and music in innovative ways.

And it continued to delve into deep and interesting questions as it finished its run. Some might quibble about how it turned out, but I loved it.

Favorite Performance in a TV Show: I’m going to have to with Bill Hader in Barry. I didn’t watch the show until this year, and while I figured it would be funny and entertaining, it is so much more than that. Barry really explores something about the human condition, while also being hilarious. And a lot of that is down to Hader’s performance, because I can’t see anyone else pulling off the way in which he makes us like the titular character simply through his mannerisms and so on. We like Barry from the get-go, and that’s important, because otherwise we might just think he’s a terrible person.

Most Painful Show to Part With in 2019: The OA. I was unsure about Season 1 but watched it again because my colleagues here at 25YL were excited about Season 2. I decided I loved it. And I loved Season 2 even more. I felt compelled to write on it. I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next. And then Netflix punched us all in the gut.

Most Hotly Anticipated Show of 2020: Better Call Saul. It’s probably the best show that is still ongoing, and I also can’t wait to see what Ali Sciarabba has to say about it.

Rhea Seahorn (Kim) walks with Bob Odenkirk (Saul) on Better Call Saul

Honorable Mention: BoJack Horseman. Damn that show is good.

J.C. Hotchkiss, Multimedia Manager

This is going to be rather easy for me because my Favorite New Show of 2019, Favorite Overall Show of 2019, Most Painful Show to Part With in 2019, and Favorite Performance in a TV Show for 2019 all come from the same show, Fleabag.

Fleabag (thank you to fellow editor, Ali, for turning me onto it) is a force of a show that will never be duplicated. Phoebe Waller-Bridge is a comic genius, and the way in which she has pieced this show from a stage show is nothing more than magically and surprising brilliance.

Fleabag was Waller-Bridge’s one-woman show in London’s West End that became a phenomenon. Her take on a woman living her life transferred seamlessly from stage to screen. Of course, she added some other characters (thank you sweet baby Jesus, for The Priest, i.e., The Hot Priest) and different situations in the second season.

The first was released in 2016 and was more inclusive of parts of her stage show, whereas the second season had some artistic license to go into different material. While it was my favorite new and overall show, the reason it’s so painful to part with is because it had only six episodes and Waller-Bridge is done telling the story (at this point) in Fleabag’s life. Waller-Bridge did speculate in an interview that she may—and that’s a big may—tell more of Fleabag’s story when she’s 50. So I guess a lot of time will tell.

My favorite performance is actually a three-way tie between Waller-Bridge, Andrew Scott (The Priest) and Sian Clifford, who plays Fleabag’s sister, Claire. The comic timing and talent of this trio is outstanding. I can’t sing their praises enough. Although the relationship between Claire and Fleabag is one of my favorites I’ve ever seen. The March Sisters these two are not. They have a strained but yet fiercely loyal sister bond and it is beautiful to watch. As in this pitch-perfect scene from Fleabag on Amazon Prime Video’s YouTube channel.

I don’t really have a disappointing new or returning show to talk about because besides Fleabag and re-watching some old Twin Peaks, I didn’t really watch that much television. That happens when you have a six-year-old. As for most hotly anticipated show of 2020, I’m super excited to resume my coverage of The Alienist: The Angel of Darkness. The first season was brilliantly written, acted and followed Caleb Carr’s vision.  I’m very much looking forward to seeing where they go with the second novel and continuation of the series.

But if I leave you with one piece of advice from 2019, run to your Amazon Prime account and binge watch Fleabag. And then binge watch it again. And then again, because it will leave you laughing way into 2020; and I think we all need to laugh a little more in 2020, don’t you think?

Bryan O’Donnell, TV Editor

Favorite New Show of 2019: Both Russian Doll and Watchmen amazed me in 2019, and I could easily pick either as my favorite new show of the year. However, the new show that really captured my heart was FX’s What We Do in the Shadows. Based on the film of the same name, the mockumentary follows a group of ancient vampires who live together and interact with the present-day world. Created by Jemaine Clement and starring Kayvan Novak, Matt Berry, Natasia Demetriou, Harvey Guillén, and Mark Proksch, the show had me constantly cracking up all while providing interesting storylines. The show has been picked up for a second season, which will air in 2020. I can’t wait to see where the show goes next.

Most Disappointing New or Returning TV Series: I was so excited when I learned NOS4A2 would be coming to the TV screen. Written by Joe Hill, NOS4A2 was one of my favorite books I’d read in a long time. I felt a TV adaption on AMC had a lot of potential to be great, but the show failed to meet my high expectations. NOS4A2 focuses on Vic McQueen (Ashleigh Cummings), who finds herself at odds with a monster and child kidnapper, Charlie Manx (Zachary Quinto). The show had some cool moments—it wasn’t horrible. But it fell flat at times, in my opinion. NOS4A2 will return for a second season. The season finale showed some promise, but I’m just not sure there’s enough to consistently provide an engaging story. It will all depend on how well the show can diverge from the book once it moves past the source material. We’ve seen this work out before (The Leftovers) and fail miserably (Game of Thrones). After NOS4A2‘s first season, I am curbing my expectations.

Favorite Overall Show of 2019: HBO’s Barry followed up its funny, quirky first season with a masterful second season. Bill Hader’s performance as a hitman trying to leave that life behind and become an actor is complex and fascinating. Barry, the show, found its identity in 2019. Episodes like “ronny/lily” and the season finale “berkman > block” showed me that Barry is for real. With its 30-minute action-packed episodes, combination of humor and creative storytelling, and Hader’s masterful performance, Barry was the head of the pack of outstanding TV in 2019.

Bill Hader in HBO's Barry Season 2 finale

Favorite Performance in a TV Show: Mahershala Ali helped resurrect True Detective after a dreadful second season. The third season returned to its roots in creepiness and mystery, but Ali made it a treat to watch. Taking place over many years, True Detective Season 3 featured Ali playing the character of Wayne Hays in 1980, 1990, and 2015. Stephen Dorff was also incredible as Roland West, but it was Ali’s Wayne Hays that made True Detective Season 3 so good.

Most Painful Show to Part With in 2019: While not perfect, Fox’s The Passage put together a nice mixture of action, horror, and strong relationships. Based on the Justin Cronin novel, The Passage followed Brad Wolgast (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) and Amy Bellafonte (Saniyya Sidney) in a post-apocalyptic thriller. Throw in a group of government-created vampire weapons headed by the creepy Tim Fanning (Jamie McShane), and the show had some promise. The show debuted in early 2019 and unfortunately was canceled after the first season ended. It’s a shame because the excellent finale episode introduced a number of exciting twists that would have made for a very interesting second season. Unfortunately we’ll never get that second season.

Most Hotly Anticipated Show of 2020: Have to go with Better Call Saul and its fifth season as the show I’m looking forward to the most. BCS is one of the best TV shows airing right now, and based on where the storyline is in relation to the events of Breaking Bad, I’m thinking we’re in for some treats this upcoming season. The fifth season will kick off with a two-part premier on Feb. 23 and 24.

Natasha B.C. Smith, TV Editor

Favorite New Show of 2019: Good Omens. I was fairly excited for Good Omens, purely because Michael Sheen and David Tennant are two of my favorite actors. I didn’t really know anything about the plot going in, I find Neil Gaiman to be quite hit and miss, and I’ve never read or seen any Terry Pratchett stuff. Well, Michael Sheen and David Tennant certainly did not disappoint. As usual, they both delivered performances that were at once charming and fascinating, and every scene either of them was in (so, a lot of them) was made compelling by their presence. Though not life-changing, the miniseries had something worthwhile to say, and it played out in a way that was fun, addictive, and oddly comforting.

Most Disappointing New or Returning TV Series: Game of Thrones. I’m loath to choose Game of Thrones, as I’m usually the first to defend Season 8. However, I can’t deny that some aspects did disappoint even me, despite the fact that I still think it was a mostly good season that did not ruin the entire show, and that many of the things people complained about were non-issues. The main gripes I have are with the White Walkers being defeated so easily, and Bran serving no real purpose. This could have been solved by something as simple as an explanation from Bran that he manipulated a bunch of events behind the scenes to stop the very real threat of the White Walkers. I’ll probably reconcile my issues by accepting the headcanon that this is what happened—or that Bran was the bad guy all along, and was secretly maneuvering to become king. I also never believed Daenerys and Jon were in love. There was zero chemistry between them, especially compared to the great loves they’d each had in the past. Therefore, Jon’s decision to kill Daenerys didn’t have any real impact. Having said all of this, Game of Thrones is one of my favorite shows of all time, and I still believe Season 8 contained some absolutely incredible episodes, plot developments, and character moments, almost all of which made complete sense based on everything that had gone before.

Favorite Overall Show of 2019: Stranger Things. Stranger Things has to be my favorite current show, and this year’s installment did not disappoint. Perhaps no season will quite capture the magic of Season 1, but Seasons 2 and 3 were each fantastic in their own right, and full of memorable moments. This year we got the incredible Scoops Troop trying to escape a secret Russian base under an ‘80s shopping mall, to great comedic and dramatic effect, as well as adorable defected Russian scientist Alexei reveling in his love of Looney Tunes and Slurpees, before eventually meeting a heartbreaking end. The regulars were all on great form, the ‘80s nostalgia was out in full force, and the season’s ending had me crying like a baby. Some may think that Stranger Things is just nostalgia and gimmicks, but if you look closer there is a much deeper meaning to this show, and it continues to help me deal with the darkness and dissatisfaction in my own life. Just outstanding all around.

Robin and Steve wearing their Scoops Ahoy uniforms in Stranger Things

Favorite Performance in a TV Show: Maisie Williams as Arya Stark in Game of Thrones. Despite her youth, Maisie Williams’ portrayal of Arya Stark was always a highlight of Game of Thrones. There’s never been a shortage of challenging material for her to get to grips with. Arya is an incredibly complex character, full of contradictions and conflicted morals, who interacts in unique ways with characters old and young, deals with a myriad of unusual situations, kills without remorse while remaining fiercely compassionate and loving, and often has to play a role herself in order to stay safe. In Season 8, Williams carried much of the episode “The Bells”, one of the biggest dramatic turning points in the series. While Daenerys was torching the city on the back of a dragon, it was Arya on the ground who anchored the episode in the shocking reality and consequences of Daenerys’ actions. Wordless for much of it, Williams still portrayed the heavy emotions of what was happening—the desperation to help survivors, the devastation when she couldn’t, the weight of the danger chasing her around the city, the stunned silence at so much death and destruction, and the sheer exhaustion of trying to survive. Williams’ performance in “The Bells” was memorable, dramatic, and effective, and it’s one of the reasons I would never write off the whole of Season 8.

Most Painful Show to Part With: Orange is the New Black. Orange is the New Black bowed out this year with an incredible final season. Though at times the show has seemed a little unfocused, it’s always been a fantastic source of comedy and drama. It’s packed with completely original, diverse, complex, and lovable characters. It has brought attention to and made incisive points about the state of the U.S. prison-industrial complex, race, poverty, privilege, and, in its final season, the terrifying threat of ICE, not only to illegal immigrants simply searching for a better life, but to any U.S. citizen who gets caught in its net. Season 7 portrayed the horrifying lack of rights and recourse granted to anyone who ends up detained by the organization. It was a real wake-up call and a dramatic punch to the gut to see regulars like Maritza deported, and it was absolutely heart-wrenching to see new character Karla say her goodbyes to her children. The injustice of Taystee’s story was another one that hit hard, as she struggled to find a reason to live after being framed for murder and facing an unearned life sentence. The series’ end was incredibly emotional, as was the knowledge that there are no more seasons to look forward to. Orange is the New Black has been a highlight of my TV calendar for years, and it has always delivered—it will be sorely missed.

Cast of Orange is the New Black

Most Hotly Anticipated Show of 2020: Star Trek: Picard. Though I haven’t really gotten into the more recent Star Trek installments (the J.J. Abrams movies, Star Trek: Discovery, even Star Trek: Enterprise, if that can be counted as recent), I am a big fan of The Next Generation, Voyager, and Deep Space Nine. I honestly found it rather frustrating that newer iterations kept going back to the past in the franchise’s overall timeline (still our future, but you know…), rather than continuing further into the fascinating future explored by those three classic shows. With Star Trek: Picard, I’m very excited to finally have a Star Trek series coming out that will continue on from that point and give us a glimpse at what happens next in this expertly crafted universe. Picard is a wonderful character, Patrick Stewart is an amazing actor, and I can’t wait to see some of my all-time favorite Star Trek characters popping up, including Data and Seven of Nine—both characters who delved into the notion of what it means to be human, and what it means to be an outsider.

Abbie Sears, Project Manager

Favourite New Show of 2019: I got through the first season of Russian Doll faster than I’ve binged-watched any new show, because I just couldn’t wait to see what would happen next. Russian Doll takes home the prize of my favourite new show because there is just so much to explore. It’s a show open to multiple theories which we love, and it’s also hilarious. Natasha Lyonne is a treasure and I have never experienced her work and not thought “wow, she is incredible.”

Favourite Overall Show of 2019: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is my favourite show of all time, period. This year it came to an end, and it gave the viewers everything they could have wanted. It bought back Greg, in any way that it could, and explored all areas of Rebecca’s love life, which gave us some sense of closure no matter what “team” we were on. And it brought Rebecca’s journey to a close through happiness, music and self-discovery that I think she deserved more than anything. Rachel Bloom is the most talented writer and actor I have ever come across and I can’t imagine anything coming along that could top Crazy Ex-Girlfriend for me.

Rachel Bloom is Rebecca Bunchi in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Favourite Performance in a TV Show: Brit Marling in The OA. Brit Marling, just like Prairie Johnson, is an angel. Her talent is a blessing to the earth and with The OA, she created something far beyond our imaginations. In Season 2 of The OA, we got to witness Brit as Prairie, as The OA, as Nina Azarova, and even briefly as herself. No character was left under-developed, I left feeling completely connected to her as each one. Brit has the talent to make her audience feel every emotion she is portraying and she is almost magical in her ways, so she deserves the best performance award for 2019.

Most Painful Show to Part With in 2019: I don’t know how your answer to this one couldn’t be The OA. The show was cancelled by Netflix after Season 2, and if you want proof of the pain and the passion that we are feeling, you can explore the #SaveTheOA campaign. Fans, including myself, have come together to form a real community dedicated to saving the rest of this fascinating story. The OA didn’t feel like just a television show, it connected with each of us, and with the earth. Never have I experienced such determination and love like I have since The OA was cancelled, and hopefully this isn’t the end for the show, but for now it is definitely the most painful.

Most Hotly Anticipated Show of 2020: This is, in a way, two separate shows. I am waiting for the final five episodes of Power to return in January. The last episode left us on the biggest cliffhanger of the entire show and I genuinely have no idea as to what the outcome will be. 50 Cent keeps telling us that Power is never over, and it’s also not clear what story this new spin-off show will follow. It is titled Power Book II: Ghost which could mean a number of things. Perhaps either Ghost in his school days with Angie, Tommy and Kanan or even Ghost after Season 6? Either way, Power is one of the best things on television right now, and everybody should be checking it out.

Brien Allen, Staff Writer

Favorite New Show of 2019: Watchmen. As the premiere of Watchmen was approaching, I was feeling a little hesitant. Sure, I read the comic some eons ago, and I’m pretty sure I saw the movie as well, but I wasn’t really all that much of a fan. Hot off the heels of The Umbrella Academy and The Boys, neither of which I was all that enthralled by, did I really need another overly gritty, realistic portrayal of superheroes? In many ways, Watchmen (the original comic) is the grandfather of this movement, so was I even going to like this show?

Umbrella Academy

I couldn’t have been more wrong. When I’m trying to sell the show to my friends and family, I describe it as Lost with superheroes, which I think is pretty apt. Like Lost, but having benefited from all the lessons learned from Lost. And also, I think, benefiting from today’s environment of shorter seasons with tighter stories to tell. So we have all of the puzzle box elements to this show, but the pieces fit together seamlessly. We have flashback-laden character backstory episodes, but you barely notice the transitions. You also barely notice the exposition as it’s buried in completely normal interactions. Most importantly, the show brings up questions, actually answers them, and leads you to further questions. There is mystery, but there is also payoff, all over the place.

This show engages with the viewer at whatever level of difficulty you want to participate at. Just want to watch a superhero show, with good guys, and bad guys, and end-of-the-world stakes? Got you covered. You want to dive deep and be presented all kinds of supplemental background material that really enriches the viewing experience like no other show before this has managed to capture? Got you covered there too. The cleverness with which they have paid homage to the original comic, used colors and music to hint at plot elements, hidden Easter eggs throughout the show, and just generally tied everything together is impressive as well.

Damon Lindelof has talked a lot about the process that he and his team went through to write the show. You can see the care and thoughtfulness that went into the writing. They took their time, and it shows. You can just imagine this crazy conspiracy theorist’s wall, with timelines and pictures and thumb-tacked yarn strewn between them all. The world building here reminds me of Counterpart, which had the same kind of world building writers-only time waiting for stars’ schedules to align. They get to say, here is this world, now what are all the little ramification of this world, and flush out all of this amazing detail. The result is magnificent.

Most Disappointing New or Returning Series: Project Blue Book. I have a pretty shoddy memory of my childhood. I usually refer to it as my “Swiss cheese” memory, and that’s probably being generous. One bit that I do remember though is a TV show in the ‘70s about “Project Blue Book,” because I was deeply into aliens, Big Foot, the Loch Ness monster, and all that jazz at the time. That show was Project U.F.O. and it aired from 1978 to 1979 on NBC, no doubt cashing in on the phenomenal success of Close Encounters of the Third Kind in 1977. I ate it up. It was “must-see TV” for me well before that became a marketing slogan, and I have no doubt it paved the way for future wonders such as Twin Peaks and The X-Files.

So when I heard about History’s new show, straight forwardly called Project Blue Book, I was definitely interested. How much better would it be with today’s special effects? Would it be updated with new information, either leaked or now publicly available? This had the potential to be really good.

But it wasn’t.

It’s like the show is trying to be The X-Files set in the 1950s, but they’ve only seen the last couple of reboot seasons, when things got terrible. The lead characters, Dr. J. Allen Hynek (Aidan Gillen) and Captain Michael Quinn (Michael Malarkey), are just written so inconsistently. One moment they’re at each other’s throats, the next they’re best friends. Their superiors are sometimes helpful, sometimes hindering. And everyone is keeping secrets from each other, which is a terribly overused trope for building suspense and driving your audience crazy.

Yes, the special effects are good. But in a weird way, they’re too good. When we see lights flying over Washington D.C. or dog fighting with an Air Force jet, there’s no doubt that what we’re seeing are actual UFOs. So that when they try to come up with an explanation of weather balloons or birds flying in a “V” formation, it’s so preposterously unbelievable but it takes you right out of the show. They do nail the aesthetics of the era pretty well, with the clothes, the cars, the bomb shelters and department stores.

The best parts of the series don’t even revolve around Captain Quinn and Professor Hynek. While the professor is away, his wife Mimi is being courted buy a Russian spy, Susie Miller. The two of them get into some hijinks, and in the process we get a little peek at what it was like for a woman in that era. Not always easy.

Project Blue Book was renewed for a second season, and that premieres on January 21st. I’m honestly not sure I’m going to watch it. There’s just too many other good shows to justify spending time on this at best mediocre show.

Favorite Overall Show of 2019: The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance

It’s not always easy to stick the landing with a prequel. How do you build suspense in a story where the ending is known ahead of time? How do you get your audience to invest in these characters, knowing that each and every one of the Gelflings on screen will be dead in a matter of years? It’s a bit like watching The Empire Strikes Back first, and then going back to watch Star Wars.

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance does just that though. The series takes us back to a time just before the Gelfling were betrayed by the Skeksis. We get to see the full extent of the Gelfling society, divided into seven tribes and willingly subjugated under Skeksis rule. The Gelfling serve the Skeksis, because they believe them to be the guardians of the Crystal of Truth. In fact, the Skeksis have been draining the Crystal of its essence for centuries, and they have reached the end. In their terror at potentially facing death at long last, they stumble upon a terrible way to use the Crystal to drain life essence from other beings, and no beings have a more powerful connection to the planet Thra than the Gelfling.

Scene from Dark Crystal

The amazing thing about the show is that they’ve managed to embed a relevant political message for our own “age of resistance.” The Skeksis take from the Gelflings, except it’s not really taking, because the Gelfling willingly hand it over in elaborate tithing ceremonies. When the truth of their betrayal starts to leak out, the Skeksis managed to pit Gelfling against Gelfling through lies and propaganda. And of course, it’s impossible to ignore the environmental message of the show, as the Skeksis are literally draining the essence from the very planet, corrupting it and all of its creatures in the process.

Beyond the epic story, the show is also a cinematic masterpiece. It’s like watching ten Dark Crystal movies, back-to-back. I would love to see the show in its entirety in a real theater, with an IMAX-sized screen and a THX-sized sound system. The score—oh the score—was just simply majestic. The visuals are likewise sweeping and amazing. Yes, the characters are all puppets, and sometimes the facial expressions can be lacking or the body movements are stiff. But that’s not the point. The point is to look at any given scene and see that every nook and cranny of it is filled with life and movement, and know that that entire set is all physical FX. There’s very little CGI involved, and what’s there is so seamless, you hardly notice it. The whole effect is an amazing accomplishment.

Certainly I hope for more, but I’ll understand if this is it. Watching The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance is very bittersweet, because you already know how it will end: badly. We’re not quite there yet in this story though, and it manages to walk the tightrope between hope and despair perfectly.

Favorite Performance in a TV Show: David Tennant (Crowley) in Good Omens

In last year’s TV awards, I listed Good Omens as my “Most Hotly Anticipated Show of 2019.” I loved the novel, one of the rare books I’ve read more than once in my lifetime, and the trailer looked really promising. The final product was, from my point of view, absolute perfection. A large chunk of that has to be credited to David Tennant’s performance as the demon Crowley.

The entire story of Good Omens hinges on the unlikely friendship between two should-be enemies, the angel Aziraphale and the demon Crowley. They meet after the “Fall of Man” and over the millennia, they do each other small favors to make the other look good for the upper / lower management. As the prophesied end of the world approaches and both of their respective teams are gearing up for the big battle, Crowley and Aziraphale are less than enthusiastic. They like their lives on Earth and don’t want to see it all end, so they team up to try to derail the Apocalypse.

Crowley's lost his best friend in Good Omens: The Doomsday Option

Now, I may be biased. David Tennant is “my Doctor” from the Doctor Who reboot in the 2000s, having come in on the series late and only just recently starting in on Matt Smith’s tenure. And there is a lot of his Doctor in this performance, no doubt. After all, Crowley too is immortal, and like the Doctor, he’s come to love this little mud ball and the people and things on it.

Tennant knows how to play that reluctant kind of niceness. A perfect balance of sarcasm and mirth. He’s bad, but he isn’t all bad. He has a bottled-up rage that you can feel just beneath the surface. Every now and then it sneaks out between the cracks, like when he terrorizes the plants in his flat into growing lush and green, as his form of talking to them.

Underneath it all, there’s a palpable sense of how much fun they must have had filming this. These two have been on Earth for 6,000 years, and unlike many of their contemporaries, they never tire of it. It’s always new and interesting to both of them, and that’s the thing that they share and that bonds them in friendship. They have fun, and they share that fun with us, the viewer. Making the show just an absolute joy to watch.

Most Hotly Anticipated Show of 2020: Raised by Wolves

First of all, let’s just get this out of the way, you’ve never heard of this show, am I right? Me neither until I was doing a little bit of research for this category. There are a lot of new shows coming up that I’ve been loosely keeping tabs on (Time BanditsIsaac Asimov’s FoundationThe Dark TowerThe Sandman), but currently those all look to be missing the 2020 window (egads, what am I going to do next year?). So digging through IMDb’s list of “The Most Anticipated TV Shows of 2020,” there was this one, listed as being in post-production and with a very terse description: “Androids are tasked with raising human children on a mysterious planet.” Hmm, sounds intriguing, I thought. So I dug a little further.

Turns out, this show is being developed by none other than Ridley Scott. Yes, that Ridley Scott, could there be any other? Den of Geek even reports that he directed the first two episodes. A more flushed out show description clarifies that it’s a new colony planet, there are ex-soldiers among the colonists, and the androids are named Mother and Father. Some very familiar sounding elements here. While I have lost a little bit of faith in Scott as of late with his Alien prequels, he’s still a legend and there’s been a lot of success lately with auteur directors bringing content to prestige television (and fledgling platforms throwing bushels of money at them doesn’t hurt either).

As mentioned, Raised by Wolves has wrapped up filming and is in post-production. No release date yet, but the show just recently moved from TNT to HBO Max, which is set to launch in spring of 2020. I’d bet this is a likely candidate to be on its opening roster of content. Hopefully the success of Disney+ doesn’t derail those plans or cause them to push out the launch.

Most Painful Show to Part With in 2019: This year had a lot of painful partings for me, both with shows that were cancelled (Counterpart, The OA, The Tick) and shows that concluded their run (Legion, Preacher, Mr. Robot). The cancellations hurt the most, of course, and all three of those shows went out at the top of their game. But the one that had come along the farthest to reach that peak performance would have to be The Tick.

I came into my fandom of The Tick through the Fox Kids Saturday morning cartoon. Three wonderful seasons of madcap hilarity that my friends and I quoted at each other endlessly. The ill-fated live action The Tick that aired on primetime Fox a few years later captured that magic so perfectly that it is like a fourth season of the cartoon series. That cancellation hit me hard, and the reasons for it mostly amounted to, what else, money. I think also though, airing just two months after 9/11 happened, that maybe the general public wasn’t ready for a show that made fun of heroes. They wanted Jack Bauer, not Arthur Everest.

The Tick and Arthur, in the Flag 5 headquarters, looking stunned.

Cut to 2016, as the fledgling Amazon Prime throws a handful of pilots against the wall to see what sticks, one of which is a new version of The Tick. It apparently made the cut, and in 2017 we got another five episodes to round out a half season. Then in 2018, another six episodes to make a full first season. That’s right, the first season of The Tick played out over three years. You can already hear the death knell tolling, right? So it was like a miracle when a full 10-episode Season 2 dropped in April of this year, just like a regular show.

This version of The Tick is darker and grittier than the previous incarnations, particularly in the first season. The humor is there, but it’s playing against a constant malevolent undertone, as Arthur has to face down his childhood trauma to defeat the season’s big bad, The Terror. In Season 2 though, fans and critics unanimously agreed, the show really hit its stride and showed us everything it could be. The humor, the camaraderie, the warmth, and a message of hope delivered in a muddled mix of metaphors that could only come from the big, blue guy.

In the recent years, the superhero zeitgeist has moved from the hero, to the anti-hero, to heroes engaged in outright villainy. Nowhere is that transition more painfully on display than in Amazon’s dumping The Tick and embracing The Boys three months later. But we need our heroes now more than ever. We need to retake the high ground and celebrate the good in the world. We need to, as the Tick tells us, “Choose love.”

Chris Flackett, Staff Writer

Favourite New Show of 2019: Watchmen. When it was announced that Damon Lindelof would be helming a TV adaption of Watchmen, I remember feeling uncertain. I’d liked Lost, and loved The Leftovers, but was aware of a certain tendency in Lindelof’s work towards the sentimental, one which I worried would not fit Watchmen in the slightest. Never have I been so glad to be proved wrong! Dynamic, inventive storytelling and deep character explorations have opened up the Watchmen universe in exciting ways and made it relevant once again to the contemporary world.

Most Disappointing New or Returning TV Series: Game of Thrones. A sad case of the source material being stronger than the adaption in the end. Once George R.R. Martin’s existing tomes had been exhausted, the show faltered, a mess of rushed storylines and questionable character decisions. The final season was no exception, rushing Daenerys’ descent into power madness over a few episodes when the show had painstakingly hinted and slowly built to this previously. Add to the mix a battle where the majority of the action was not visible due to poor lighting choices, and the far-too-easy slaying of the Night King, and you have yourself the year’s major disappointment.

Favourite Overall Show of 2019: Dark. Thank God for the town of Winden! Season 2 took the mind-tangling time travel and physics and the deceitful, complex relationships of the first season and took them in exciting, unexpected directions. Thus we were presented with a world that was richer and even more mysterious and strange than in its predecessor. I have not had this much fun theorising and trying to untangle a show since The Return ended!

A teenage boy in a yellow coat standing next to chairs and looking into a cave
Image credit: asoundeffect.com

Favourite Performance in a TV Show: Natasha Lyonne, Russian Doll. One of the surprise hits of the year was the alternately hilarious and heart-stopping Russian Doll. Played by creator Natasha Lyonne, the character of Nadia gave us a tightrope walk of street smart, wise-ass cool and exasperated frustration at her “Groundhog Day” situation, something that opened up into a carefully demonstrated vulnerability. Natasha Lyonne nailed it, making the transition feel natural and earned, all the while bringing this firecracker of a character to livid life before our eyes. An astonishing performance.

Most Painful Show to Part with in 2019: Watchmen. All the more painful because all current indications suggest this is a one-off series. I can only hope Mr. Lindelof reconsiders. It feels like there’s so much more to explore in this iteration of the Watchmen universe that they’ve barely scratched the surface. A three season show like The Leftovers is most certainly something I can get behind!

Most Hotly Anticipated Show of 2020: Westworld/Dark. Two long years after the last head-scrambling edition, Westworld is set to return with a certain Mr. Aaron Paul set to join the cast. I loved the first season, was a little nonplussed by the second (a rewatch is definitely due!) but I’m still engaged enough to see where the series will take us next.

More excitingly, Dark is scheduled to return for its third and final season in 2020. Season 2 left us with the end of the world and a character brought back to life by virtue of coming from another reality. How will the show top that??? I very much look forward to finding out!

Stephanie Edwards, Staff Writer

Favourite New Show of 2019: With a name like Damon Lindelof attached to it, Watchmen was easily my most anticipated series of 2019—but not without hesitations. I am not a fan of Zack Snyder’s 2009 film version and am mostly unfamiliar and, honestly, a little intimidated by the breadth and depth of Alan Moore’s original source material that the television show adapts.

The premise for this new take sounded appealing to both lifelong fans of Moore’s work and newbies like myself: set 34 years after the events of the comic and in the same alternate reality, Watchmen follows Angela Abar, Tulsa Police detective masked vigilante Sister Night, as she faces against the Seventh Kavalry and a multitude of other friends and foes. Although it took a couple of episodes to really get into its groove, I knew the moment I saw Laurie Blake open a briefcase containing a Dr. Manhattan-inspired dildo that I was in for life.

Lindelof, with the help of a diverse cast and creative team, infuses the series with his trademark existential questions about life, love and the past, while at the same time elevating these questions beyond the personal scope we see in Lost and The Leftovers and using them to interrogate bigger questions about whiteness and privilege. I’m infinitely grateful that HBO continued to pester Lindelof through the years to take on this project, as no one is better suited to navigate the series’ non-linear romps through time and space while simultaneously focusing on the small moments that makes these extraordinary beings human.

Most Disappointing New or Returning TV Series: It is hard for me to imagine anyone picking something other than Game of Thrones for this category. Although we had an idea that the show was going downhill, based on the latter half of S6 and entirety of S7, I don’t think fans really knew just how disappointing the final season of Game of Thrones was going to be.

Showrunners David Benioff and D. B. Weiss decided to rush the show to its conclusion even though HBO offered limitless time and money for them to complete the project, and the result of this decision was the once-pinnacle of prestige television turning into a cheap soap opera with cheesy dialogue and disappointing storytelling. I didn’t hate everything about the final season; “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” had some memorable scenes and the technical aspects of the show—from the production design to the cinematography—continued to impress. But, as a diehard fan of the show, these few shining moments couldn’t make up for the disaster that I was presented with every Sunday night. Seeing characters that I have loved and loved to loathe for years be turned into unrecognizable versions of themselves was the hardest pill to swallow (RIP Jaime Lannister’s story arc) and left me with a bad taste in my mouth. When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die, and, unfortunately for the show, winning was not in the cards.

Honourable Mention goes out to American Horror Story: 1984. Not nearly as offensive to the eyes and ears as the final season of Game of Thrones, but AHS has been on a similar downward trajectory as of late. Apocalypse is still the worst of the worst for me, but AHS: 1984 was really disappointing. The season started out seemingly straightforward and, although I kept hoping for surprising twists and turns, it stayed straightforward, petering out with an uneventful finale.

Favourite Overall Show of 2019: I really tried to pick different shows for each category, I swear! But Watchmen is not only my favourite show of 2019 but squeaked in at the last minute as one of my favourite shows of the decade. The show is bringing some dignity back to HBO’s Sunday-night 9 pm slot and just keeps getting better every week.

Honourable Mention to Season 2 of Mindhunter. In a similar fashion to Watchmen, Mindhunter elevated its material by pivoting (not entirely) away from famous serial killers and instead focusing the majority of the season on a real-life Atlanta-based case that explores the politics behind what makes the right kind of murder victim. Supported by the ongoing evolution of BTK and some interesting family drama involving the Tench family, Mindhunter’s second season deftly avoided the sophomore slump and proved to be one of the best that Netflix has to offer.

Favourite Performance in a TV Show: This was the easiest category to pick for me. Jared Harris is a superstar in literally everything he appears in, but he really hit it out of the park this year as Valery Legasov in Chernobyl. It’s hard for me to put into words just how wonderful Harris’ performance is in this miniseries. He plays the role as only a seasoned professional can, with layers of complexity and a gravitas that oozes out of every movement and line of dialogue. His chemistry with scene partner Stellan Skarsgard is simultaneously electric and natural, and he makes you feel like you’d truly trust him around a nuclear reactor. If I had to pick one scene in which he really stands out, it would be the courtroom sequences from the finale where his character carefully explains what exactly went wrong that fateful day in Chernobyl. The scenes, which could easily turn boring in a less-skilled actor’s hands, become heart-pounding and harrowing thanks to Harris and his ability to make audiences really, truly care about what his character has to say. The fact that he has made it through award season empty handed is an absolute travesty. 

Most Painful Show to Part with in 2019: The OA. It’s The OA; and I would bet significant amounts of money that I am not the only one to choose this for this category. The wait for Season 2 of The OA felt like a lifetime and just as Netflix gave it to us, they just as quickly took it away. Brit Marling’s exploration of connection, family, trauma and time is easily one of the best shows of the decade and, following in the footsteps of another searingly original Netflix series, Sense8, was unceremoniously cancelled by the streaming service earlier this year with little to no information as to why. The wound still feels fresh for me and I will continue to hold out hope that it will find a loving home somewhere else in the near future.

Nina and The Old Knight

Most Hotly Anticipated Show of 2020: I would’ve never expected to have a broadcast network show in my most anticipated spot, but I’ve been excited for Star Trek: Picard since rumors started swirling about its existence back in 2018. Led by Alex Kurtzman and featuring a great mix of beloved Star Trek cast members, like Patrick Stewart (of course) and Jeri Ryan, and newcomers to the franchise, Picard is bound to be a hit for Star Trek fans like myself when it premieres in January.

As an Honourable Mention, I’m hesitantly looking forward to The Outsider, which also premieres in January. Stephen King adaptations haven’t exactly had overwhelming success in my book as of late, but this one looks poised to break that curse.

Katie Bienvenue, Staff Writer

Favorite New Show of 2019: An answer has never been so quick to leave my lips (or in this occasion, type) than HBO and BBC’s Gentleman Jack. Since it aired in April, this series has done nothing but bring an enlightened influence to the LGBT community. There has been an onslaught of people who have become inspired by Anne Lister and the story Sally Wainwright, the show’s creator, set out to tell. For me, I fell in love with the show the second Suranne Jones’ Anne Lister came driving down the cobbled streets of Halifax in a carriage full of people. This show taught that you “shouldn’t have a poor opinion of yourself” and how even in the 1830s there were real women being trailblazers!

Favorite Overall Show of 2019: Once again, this goes to Gentleman Jack. I’ve been enthralled by shows before, but it’s been a long time since one has inspired me. After watching I had the urge to begin writing again. It’s what got me to start writing for 25YL. It gave me the lesbian period drama I’ve always wanted.

Favorite Performance in a TV Show: This is hard because I have a few this year. It was a great year for performances. I could go the drastically obvious answer (especially given how much love I’ve already shown for the show) and say Suranne Jones as Anne Lister in Gentleman Jack. She felt completely real from the very first moment we meet her to the last breaking of the fourth wall in the season finale. She had so many tour-de-force moments throughout the season.

Sophie Rundle and Suranne Jones in a promotional photo for Gentleman Jack.

Sometimes though, it’s the supporting characters that make the story much more interesting. It makes you care more. So, I feel like it’s my duty to give some love to Phoenix, played by the super talented Gaite Jansen, from the Cinemax series JETT. Every episode was named after a character it was going to focus on and this one was all about her. Gaite made you fall completely in love with the young, somewhat crazy but incredibly smart ex-con from the moment she came on the screen. She brought a heart to the series and to the Daisy Jett household that appeared to be lacking. Every other character in this series had to take some warming to, but she instantly lit up the screen.

Most Hotly Anticipated Show of 2020: I have to say it as a massive fan of the first series and of Mike Flanagan, but I am very much looking forward to seeing what he does with The Haunting of Bly Manor. It’s bringing back a bunch of The Haunting of Hill House’s cast and adding new ones. It’s once again taking a classic horror story and turning it into something new. Knowing how Flanagan handled Hill House this addition will probably also deal with many other subgenres. The scares and the psychology of it all is really going to be something to look forward to!

Simon McDermott, Staff Writer

Favorite Overall Show of 2019: This really wasn’t a difficult decision. When I first heard that Damon Lindelof was to helm a new Watchmen TV show, I was more than a little apprehensive. It’s one of my favourite properties and I gave up on Lost halfway through as it became more and more ludicrous, constantly presenting mystery on top of mystery with little resolution.

The Leftovers was a massive improvement. Its first series was excellent but couldn’t quite manage to capture that same magic with the second or third season and the ending was disappointing.

It seems the third time’s the charm though because he totally nailed it with Watchmen. It’s clear that Lindelof has a lot of love for the original graphic novel and I recently wrote a whole article about how this is key to adapting any comic book, even the most difficult, it would seem. He has come up with fresh characters and narratives that stay true to the source material but also breathe new life into the property.

Looking Glass is my favourite of the new class, played by Tim Blake Nelson. Of the old school, Jeremy Irons is perfectly cast as a frustrated Ozymandias. I’m not as taken with Regina King as others seem to be but I instantly fell in love with Jean Smart as an older, jaded Laurie Blake. The whole overriding themes of race are poignant and compelling. The handling of the squid monster, Hooded Justice’s retconned origin and Dr. Manhattan are all brilliant. The show is rife with imagery, references and parallels. There’s even additional material available on the HBO website that’s released after each episode as well. These elements are key to capturing the spirit of the graphic novel. The score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross is über cool and the soundtrack is just as amazing. I don’t know what more you could want from a series, it’s the Twin Peaks of superhero shows.

Honourable Mention: Chernobyl

Favorite New Show of 2019: The Boys. I’ve already written quite a bit about The Boys and if you care to read about my thoughts in more detail, you can find the article here. What I’ll say here is that comic book shows dominated TV this year and the best part is that it wasn’t by any major, popular Marvel or DC properties. It was Watchmen, Dark Horse’s Umbrella Academy and Dynamite Entertainment’s The Boys that won out over everything.

Watchmen may be the TV show of the year but personally, I’ve been familiar with the property since my teens. After getting a film and multiple new comic books from this universe, it didn’t feel as new and fresh as The Boys but more of an excellent continuation. Although Umbrella Academy was also a very well-rounded show with a great story and performances, The Boys was a non-stop thrill ride from start to finish. It’s reversal of heroes and villains and the way it deconstructs both of them is exactly what the superhero genre needed after being overloaded with too many run-of-the-mill Marvel movies in recent years. The fact that the show has become an instant success is a sign that I’m not the only one who feels this. It’s slick and stylish but the performances are what sells it. Special shout-out to Anthony Strarr for the amazing way he brings Homelander to life; he’s one of the best villains we’ve had for a long time, something that Marvel always struggles with. Equal parts hilarious as it is harrowing, this show doesn’t shy away from showing just how dangerous an out of control Justice League can be.

Homelander at the Believe Expo.
Homelander at the Believe Expo.

Honourable Mention: The Umbrella Academy

Favorite Performance in a TV Show: Jared Harris (Chernobyl). Chernobyl was a landmark event in TV, it was as informative as it was entertaining. Everything that is based on a true story can never be completely accurate but it succeeded at the very least in raising awareness of this horrific incident and the catastrophic impact it had. The sheer scale of the damage caused by it and the shocking amount of apathy that lead to it is disturbing to say the least.

Chernobyl didn’t just rely on the event itself though; it’s beautifully shot and the performances are powerful. Jared Harris stands out as the scientist who has to educate everyone around him at the same time as he does the audience. He’s not only burdened as the one who knows the full extent of the tragedy but also seems to be one of the only people who feels the full force of the moral impact as well. So much so, in fact, that we see him taking his own life in the opening scene of the first episode.

Tragically, this is because his life was not worth living anymore due to the powers that be such as the KGB, after he tried to be a whistleblower for the incident. However, some solace can be found in the knowledge that his suicide did shed light on what so many had done their best to keep in the dark. The highlight of Harris’ performance is when he fearlessly explains in the trial of the accused that the responsibility for what happened does not rest on these few individuals but also the Soviet Union who cut corners when building their nuclear power plants, as it was cheaper, despite being fully aware of the potential risks.

Honourable Mention: Robert Sheehan (The Umbrella Academy)

Most Disappointing New or Returning TV Series: Game of Thrones. The first thing I’ll say is that I didn’t hate this last series half as much as many do but it was definitely disappointing. How showrunners David Benioff and D. B. Weiss decided to end the greatest thing they’ll ever achieve is baffling.

Apparently, they were told that they could have as many episodes as they desired to finish the show but they instead opted to squeeze what should have been at least two full series at their usual length of 10 episodes each into just 13 episodes. To add insult to injury, they still split these 13 and made fans wait for more than 18 months in between. Infuriating to say the least.

This is a well-known, annoying trait of American TV shows, but making everyone wait so long for something that was ultimately so disappointing is a sure fire way to really piss your fans off. This is perfectly reflected in the ratings of each episode on IMDB. The last episode before the break was soaring with one of the highest rated episodes ever at 9.5. Then after it returned, the ratings start in the mid 7s and then decrease with each episode down to an embarrassing 4.1 for the show finale.

To drop that significantly in just six episodes is quite an achievement, one that I don’t think has been managed before and won’t be again. It was obvious they were racing to the finish and it shows more and more towards the end. Characters are broken and journeys across Westeros that used to take weeks are traversed in an instant, all to save time. Benioff and Weiss had a Star Wars trilogy greenlit and this was obviously the reason for such a rush job. However, poetic justice meant that they were sacked from the project after the finale did so terribly. Why they didn’t want to finish off the most successful TV show in history that they created properly will always baffle me.

Most Painful Show to Part With in 2019: Legion. I believe that when we look back years from now, Legion will be seen as a turning point in comic book adaptations. It was one of the first of a new wave and the only one that got really creative with its subject matter. Everything complemented the source material; all the visuals aspects such as the cinematography, special effects and even the colour palette, as well as the narrative structure itself. It’s so trippy and surreal but in a psychedelic, poppy way, which is perfect for a comic book adaptation.

Multiple versions of David say "I am Legion"

The show went beyond understanding the source material and actually translated and developed it into a different medium. Much like David Fincher did with Fight Club, it’s hard to imagine this character’s story being presented half as well any other way, in any medium. The character of David was always destined for this treatment and it would be foolish to try another attempt. Due to Disney’s purchase of Fox, this is no longer a possibility, thankfully. Fox had thrown everything at the wall to see what sticks with our favourite mutants and even just got to the point of repeating themselves with Dark Phoenix, just before the property was finally taken away from them. This means that  Legion will forever remain one of their best X-Men projects, the only film that is even on the same level would be Logan. In a way, it’s a shame the keys were taken away from Fox just as they finally found their groove with this universe but it took them so long to get there that it’s probably for the best. Let’s see what Disney can come up with, they have mighty big shoes to fill.

Most Hotly Anticipated Show of 2020: Brave New World. Based on the dystopian novel by Aldous Huxley, this project has gathered some great British talent to adapt it for TV. Director Owen Harris, who helmed key episodes of Black Mirror and Misfits, as well as Andrij Parekh, fresh off working on Watchmen. Writers include the legendary Grant Morrison and Brian Taylor, who adapted his graphic novel Happy! for Netflix to great effect. The cast includes the lovely Jessica Brown Findlay (Downton Abbey), Hannah John-Kamen (Ant-Man and the Wasp), Alden Ehrenreich (Solo) and Demi Moore. It’s going to modernise the themes of the book and there are going to plenty of edgy and debaucherous scenes. It will be intriguing to say the least.


So those are our Awards this year. What would be yours? Let us know in the comments!

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This article was written either by a Guest Author or by an assortment of 25YL staff

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