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.
Here are 10 TV shows and movies I have high hopes for in the new year:
“The X-Files” (TV show, 8 p.m. Eastern Wednesdays, starting Wednesday, Fox) – OK, so I’m not as big on the mythology episodes lately (Haven’t we seen it all before?), but I do love me some Monster of the Weeks. And I won’t say no to an occasional Darin Morgan comedy hour either. With 10 episodes this time around (compared to six in 2016), there’s bound to be a good variety.
Today, it’s impossible to talk about “Kolchak: The Night Stalker” (1974-75, following TV movies in 1972 and 1973) without talking about “The X-Files” (1993-present). While this annoys some “Kolchak” fans, they have to admit that “The X-Files” has helped keep the “Kolchak” cult afloat – indeed, “The X-Files” is mentioned in the first sentence on the back of the “Kolchak” DVD collection.
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.
I’ll take my fix of new “X-Files” material where I can get it, but it’s irritating that in IDW’s third volume of “X-Files” short stories, “Secret Agendas,” Jonathan Maberry and his team (if there is one) still make too many errors. The line-editing gaffes, such as “peak” instead of “peek,” aren’t as numerous as in the first volume, but the number of continuity errors is inexcusable.
It was great to have “The X-Files” back with the six-episode miniseries earlier this year on Fox, and now it’s available on DVD, and you get a lot of nice bonus features (including commentaries on three episodes) for your $14. I prefer the small-screen method of reviving the show, rather than the big screen, as it allows different types of “X-Files” stories to be told for about the same time and cost commitment as a movie.
“The Truth is Out There,” the February follow-up to last year’s “Trust No One,” serves up another mixed bag of “X-Files” short stories that’s on par with the first collection. It’s not “The X-Files” at its finest, but it’s a fun assortment that will tide fans over between comic installments.
IDW’s Seasons 10 and 11, despite initially being canonical, ended up being an interesting “what if” story when Chris Carter changed his mind and wrote a new story for TV. The one-shot comic “X-Files: Deviations” (March) is an alternate-universe story right from the get-go. In the spirit of Marvel’s “What If?” and Dark Horse’s “Star Wars Infinities” titles, the “Deviations” series tells “what if” stories in the worlds of “X-Files,” “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” “Ghostbusters,” “Transformers” and “G.I. Joe.”
IDW’s “X-Files: Season 11 comic series (August 2015-March 2016) is the latest epic story to get truncated due to outside commercial forces. Usually, those outside forces are bad (see the cancellation of TV’s “Angel” and “Dollhouse” due to low ratings, or the cancellation of the “Star Wars” Expanded Universe – two years ago to this day – to make room for Disney’s vision). In this case, those outside forces are good – the return of “The X-Files” to TV, with six episodes earlier this year and hopefully more in the future. But it still led to the shortening of Joe Harris’ meticulously crafted Gibson Praise saga – which started back in Season 10, Issue 1, in 2013 – and that’s a shame.
While the 2014 Annual and X-Mas Special featured multiple standalone yarns in each issue, IDW takes a different tactic with the 2015 installments, part of the new Season 11 banner. Both issues feature one double-length story, and while the Annual’s story is a standalone set during the heyday of the TV series, the X-Mas Special heavily ties into the events of Season 11.