My TV-watching buddy Shaune says of “This Is Us”: “Even when it’s happy, it’s sad.” That contradictory statement perfectly sums up TV’s most emotionally draining show, which is up to its usual tricks in this week’s Season 3 premiere, “Nine Bucks.” Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) and Rebecca (Mandy Moore) sit in his car after a horrible first date in 1972, but Rebecca is won over because of the way he looks at her. It’s the definition of a happy romantic scene.
It’s that time of year again for my list of favorite TV characters on shows that are currently airing or recently wrapped their season.
We’re living in a historical transitional period for TV, as streaming services compete with traditional networks and cable/satellite channels for our entertainment dollar. As such, television has never been better, regardless of how it gets to us. Appropriately, my list of the year’s best shows consists of half network shows and half others, and kicks off with a streaming series.
There are more good TV shows than ever before – so much so that TV overload has become an issue for even the biggest TV geeks – but they premiere throughout the calendar year now. As such, Fall TV ain’t what it used to be. Still, there’s something traditional and nostalgic about getting that Entertainment Weekly Fall TV Preview in the mail. Not willing to wait any longer for mine to arrive so I can research the offerings, here are my picks for one new show and five returning shows to watch (all times Eastern):
Here are my 10 favorite TV characters at the moment, as the traditional season winds down and the summer season begins:
Having already been renewed through its third season, “This Is Us” is a show we’ll be talking about for a while. After last Tuesday’s Season 1 finale, I Facebooked that it successfully made me cry in 18 out of 18 episodes, and that it’s the #bestshowontv. That hashtag was mostly used by other “This Is Us” fans that night, which is to be expected. But it’s worth noting that “This Is Us” (which tallies an 8.9 on IMDB) still garners the most #bestshowontv labels a week later – and this ain’t exactly the vast wasteland era of TV.
These were my 10 favorite shows of 2016:
1. “Atlanta” (Season 1, FX) – Donald Glover’s brainchild is a crazy mix of “Curb Your Enthusiasm”-esque wry observations (Earn’s inability to order a kids’ meal), envelope-pushing storytelling choices (the pundit roundtable parody) and outright horrific violence (Earn witnesses a murder, then moves on like it’s just another day in the ATL). It comes together as an on-point – albeit still crazy — portrait of being a dead-broke young adult on the backstreets of a collapsing American city.
When I saw the lineup of new Fall TV shows, I thought it looked like the worst selection in recent memory: Lots of unnecessary remakes along with tired new shows that didn’t have hooks. I owe the Fall TV season an apology, because it has turned out to be the best in the past 10 years. Here’s a look at six standout freshman shows, in alphabetical order:
It was already a strong show for its first 41 minutes – and had firmly earned a Week 2 return from me – but in the final three minutes, the premiere of “This Is Us” (10 p.m. Tuesdays, NBC) clinched its spot as the best pilot episode since “Lost.”
The Fall 2016 season is Exhibit A in the case that TV is running low on original ideas: “MacGyver”(8 p.m. Fridays, CBS, Sept. 23) is a straight-up relaunch with a new cast, hoping to capture some of the popularity of the ’80s hit. Even though the movie franchise petered to a close 18 years ago with the fourth entry, “Lethal Weapon” (8 p.m. Wednesdays, Fox, Sept. 21) is coming to TV, complete with the movie’s logo flashed across the trailer every few seconds, apparently to bring up warm thoughts of the films.