TV shows were considered the younger brother to movies for the longest time. That was up until a decade ago, when show-runners began treating their seasons like several mini-movies packaged into one. And therefore a sizeable production design which made the shows glorious to look at. And over the years all the Hollywood bigwigs from David Fincher to Martin Scorsese have made the transition to the medium which gives more than 2 hours to plot their narrative, and slowly build character arcs.
2016 was another fascinating year, where the show producers kept pushing the envelope. Where A-listers like Jonathan Nolan entered the race of TRPs with the fascinating Westworld and also where we saw two British heavyweights – Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie go toe-to-toe in John Le Carre’s The Night Manager. Here’s our list of the most interesting TV shows to have come out in 2016:
1. Stranger Things
Netflix’s Stranger Things created by the Duffer brothers evoked a strong sense of nostalgia from Spielberg’s earlier films including Close Encounters With A Third Kind, E.T and even JJ Abrams’ Super 8. The show follows a string of mishaps which happen in a small town after an incident in a local lab, and the disappearance of a local boy. Stranger Things made its kid-cast overnight superstars.
2. The Crown
Another winner from Netflix, the show created by Peter Morgan follows the early years of Queen Elizabeth’s reign. Budgeted at a lavish 100 million pounds, The Crown has received an overwhelming positive support from the audiences and the critics alike. Everyone has raved about the show’s impeccable production design, its amazing actors including the leads Claire Foy and Matt Smith. It was even commissioned for a second season in 2017.
3. The People vs O.J.Simpson: American Crime Story
Based on the infamous O.J.Simpson murder cases, the show was a rich composite of terrific performances and fact-based storytelling. It won unanimous acclaim from the audience as well as the critics, as it swept 22 Emmy nominations in 13 categories, where it won in nine categories including Outstanding Limited Series.
4. Luke Cage
Another Netflix original, this one features a black protagonist who is given unbreakable skin and superhuman strength through an experiment. And he uses those powers to fight in for the soul of his home suburb, Harlem. The show won unanimous acclaim and has been commissioned for a second season.
Based on the material of best-selling author Stephen King, this show produced by JJ Abrams and Bryan Burk is a smart sci-fi TV series. James Franco, playing the title character is tasked with going back in time, a few months before American President John F Kennedy would be assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald. Every bit intriguing, it’s pretty evident why 11.22.63 is one of the best shows of the year.
6. Horace and Pete
One of the biggest surprises of the year, showed stand up comedian Louis C.K write this show without any prior announcements. The show starring C.K himself and Steve Buscemi follows the narrative of two brothers who are owners of a run-down bar in Brooklyn. Many hailed C.K’s dark humour of the show as probing, engaging and moving at the same time.
Starring the vast variety of characters of the wild DiMeo family, Speechless manages to tackle sensitive topics with deftness thanks to its remarkable performances from its lead cast.
8. The Get Down
When Baz Lurhmann announced a show on the rise of R&B in the mid 70s set in South Bronx, everyone was quite skeptical. But looking at The Get Down, you really have to concede the director of Moulin Rouge knew exactly what he was pitching. The show has been complimented for its excellent music.
9. The Night Manager
Britain’s two greatest acting exponents of their respective generations – Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie went toe to toe in this battle of wits. Based on the bestselling material by John Le Carre, the show had the globe-trotting production values of a Bond film and the thrills and action set-pieces of any A-list Hollywood film. This was the reason why Hiddleston’s name came into the running for the next Bond.
Jonathan Nolan’s magnum opus for the small screen was based on Michael Crichton’s film of the same name. The show follows the story lines of a world where human beings go for a life-like experience, and where they can do anything they want without being held accountable for it. Comprising of a stellar cast including names like Anthony Hopkins, Evan Rachel Wood, Michael Marsden, Thandie Newton and Ed Harris, Westworld is an ambitious series and a highlight of 2016.
11. The Night Of
The Night Of stars Riz Ahmed, a Pakistani-American college student standing trial for allegedly murdering a girl on the Upper West Side of New York City. The series also stars John Turturro, who plays the lawyer to Ahmed’s character. The show was lauded for pervading tension from start to finish which has become rare with shows these days.
12. London Spy
This show follows the character of Danny (played by the terrific Ben Whishaw) who falls in love with a man named Alex, who disappears shortly afterwards. After Alex’s body is found, Danny finds out that he was a spy. And as he digs deeper into the story of the man he loved, the more ill-equipped he finds himself to deal with the truth.
Hands down, the best reviewed and unanimously liked show of the year, Atlanta follows the story of two cousins navigating their way across the rap scene of Georgia State in a bid to improve the lives of themselves and the lives of their families. Atlanta has been called a carefully observed story apart from being hip-roaring hilarious.
P.O.W: Bandi Yuddh Ke
After really long, there has been something remotely interesting on Indian TV. And it happens to be an Indian remake of Israeli TV show Hatufim, following the stories of two soldiers held captive for more than a decade and a half. Even though this show probably doesn’t stand in the same breath with the rest of the shows in the list, it is a step forward for Indian television.
Gotta watch ’em all before the year ends.