Last season, when “iZombie” constructed its new reality wherein the U.S. government and the Fillmore Graves corporation team up to keep zombies and humans behind a wall in Seattle, I thought “This can’t last.” As “iZombie’s” fifth and final season (8 p.m. Eastern Thursdays on The CW) opens, we’re starting to see the specifics of why it can’t last. Meanwhile, creators Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero-Wright are maintaining their delicate balance wherein Liv Moore (Rose McIver) and newly zombified Ravi Chakrabarti (Rahul Kohli) behave in humorous ways depending on whose brain they most recently consumed.
On the “Buffy” fan Facebook page I frequent, “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” (Netflix) is often mentioned when someone asks “What’s a new show that’s sort of like ‘Buffy?’ ” It’s hard to resist the comparisons. After all, the nine episodes of Season 1, Part 2 end with (spoilers follow) …
CBS All Access’ new version of “The Twilight Zone” is certainly putting itself out there. Using the name of the revered Rod Serling series (1959-64) that hasn’t lost its cachet despite all the times it has been resurrected (this is the fourth series by that name), the new series is demanding attention but also setting the bar high. The network has made the pilot episode available for free on YouTube. But like the titular “Comedian” of the episode, its confidence is misplaced and unearned.
It’s never before been so hard to pick the 10 best shows of the year, as streaming services deliver strong short series on a regular basis, and cable and network TV have mostly kept pace with the quality. Some staple entries have dropped out of my top 10 not because they got worse but simply because they were supplanted. Here are 10 shows worthy of special mention even in this age of Peak TV.
Netflix’s “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” is easiest to describe to a newcomer if they are familiar with “Riverdale.” It’s like “Riverdale” but with witchcraft and likeable characters. Those two elements are what make “Sabrina” the more interesting show, but it shares “Riverdale’s” foundation of moody cinematography and an ephemeral sense of time and place. As a horror-tinged show (though not a scary one), those elements work perfectly on “Sabrina.”
Some people won’t watch horror movies or TV series because they don’t want to be scared. As I was drying my eyes after watching the beautiful ending of Netflix’s “The Haunting of Hill House,” I thought “Those people are missing out.” The horror genre has always been a way to work through real-life fears in the safety of a fictional journey, but showrunner Mike Flanagan’s 10-episode series does it better than almost anything before it.
There are more good shows on TV than ever, but the traditional fall season has become the dumping ground for the least exciting new series – perhaps because they need the extra buzz of Fall TV Previews more than something with the cachet of an “Atlanta” or a “Fargo.” Still, some quality series rise to the surface: Recent years have given us “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” and “This Is Us,” along with glitzy franchise entries like “The Gifted” and assorted MCU efforts (“Iron Fist” and “Daredevil” boast new seasons this fall).
Frustrated with “Scream” Season 3 being delayed indefinitely, I was excited to stumble across “Slasher” Season 2 (2017) on Netflix. Chiller’s Season 1 was strong, but Season 2 of Aaron Martin’s Canadian horror mystery series is better. It is gorier, with remarkably creative kill scenes, but it’s also a more compelling mystery that allows us to feel for – or be creeped out by — a lot of the characters.
In a case of perfect timing, the same night “The Alienist’s” 1890s serial-killer mystery wrapped, another atmospheric historical horror-thriller debuted. “The Terror” (9 p.m. Eastern Mondays on AMC), though, closely hews to a real event: In 1845, British naval Captain John Franklin (Ciaran Hinds) led an expedition to find the last leg of the Northwest Passage, a (believed to be) 200-mile stretch linking up what had been mapped so far from the east with what had been mapped from the west.
On Monday, the Diane Ruggiero/Rob Thomas show that started off as a sly way to get “Veronica Mars”-style witty mysteries back on the tube surpassed its more famous forebearer in number of seasons. While “iZombie” (9 p.m. Eastern Mondays, The CW) strikes me as being less popular and less acclaimed than “Veronica,” it always finds a spot on my year-end top 10 lists and it’s getting to the point where the duo’s shorthand descriptor should be “the creators of ‘Veronica Mars’ AND ‘iZombie.’ ”