Entertainment To-Do List: Week of 1/8/21

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Dickinson (CREDIT: Apple TV/YouTube Screenshot)

Every week, I list all the upcoming (or recently released) movies, TV shows, albums, podcasts, etc. that I believe are worth checking out.

TV
Dickinson Season 2 Premiere (January 8 on Apple TV+) – I just started watching Season 1, and I hope to be caught up soon!
Whose Line is it Anyway? Season 17 Premiere (January 8 on The CW)
A Discovery of Witches Season 2 Premiere (January 9 on Shudder and Sundance Now) – You know I GOT TO watch a show with Teresa Palmer.
Critics Choice Super Awards (January 10 on The CW)
Search Party Season 4 Premiere (January 14 on HBO Max) – The third season arrived less than a year ago!

The Best TV Episodes of 2020

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(CREDIT: FX/YouTube Screenshot)

When making Best Episode lists, some TV critics limit themselves to one entry per show, but I never operate by that self-imposition, as certain shows are just masterful when crafting a single hour or half-hour (or whatever runtime they feel like using), and that ought to be reflected in the ledger. So you’ll find that several shows have wound up more than once in this list, and those tended to be the ones that also fared the best on my Best Shows of 2020 list. You’ll also find at least one program that didn’t make my Best Shows list, as it’s possible to have one excellent outing within an otherwise disappointing season. So forthwith, if someone who missed all TV in 2020 asked me for a refresher, here is where I would direct them:

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The 67 Best TV Shows of 2020

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Clockwise from Top Left: What We Do in the Shadows, Never Have I Ever, Better Call Saul, How To with John Wilson (CREDIT: YouTube Screenshots)

Last year, I decided to rank as many TV shows as I felt like recognizing in my year-end list, and that worked out so well that I decided to do it again for 2020. So welcome to my ranking of the 67 Best TV Shows of 2020! Not every show is accompanied by a blurb, just the ones that I felt like I really needed to say something about.

I worked with a self-imposed rule that I had to have watched at least 50% of a show’s 2020 output for it to be eligible, but there were some shows that I’ve only just begun to watch that I wanted to recognize as well, so they’ve got their own Honorable Mention section. And there were also some shows that aired relatively few episodes in 2020 to the point that I didn’t think they should be eligible either, so they’ve also got an Honorable Mention section. And then there’s one more show that’s managed to establish its very own Honorable Mention section, and that’s where we start.

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Entertainment To-Do List: Week of 6/19/20

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Eric Andre: Legalize Everything (CREDIT: Brian Roede/Netflix)

Every week, I list all the upcoming (or recently released) movies, TV shows, albums, podcasts, etc. that I believe are worth checking out.

Movies
You Should Have Left (On Demand) – Blumhouse horror starring Kevin Bacon and Amanda Seyfried.

TV
Sherman’s Showcase Black History Month spectacular (June 19 on AMC and IFC) – Just in time for Juneteenth!
-2020 ESPYs (June 21 on ESPN)
Perry Mason Series Premiere (June 21 on HBO) – The classic defense attorney returns to TV in the form of Matthew Rhys.
Search Party Season 3 (June 25 on HBO Max)
The Twilight Zone Season 2 (June 25 on CBS All Access) – Guest stars include Joel McHale, Gillian Jacobs, and Billy Porter.

Comedy
-Eric Andre: Legalize Everything (June 23 on Netflix) – Legalize “everything”? Including … ranch?

Music
-Bob Dylan, Rough and Rowdy Ways
-Neil Young, Homegrown

Best TV Shows of 2017

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CREDIT (Clockwise from Top Left): Michael Gibson/FXX; Showtime; AMC; Kelsey McNeal/ABC

This ranking was originally posted on News Cult in December 2017.

In recent past best-of-year lists, I have pointed out the impossibility of watching every single program that airs on television. The medium is now saturated to the point that not only could one average viewer be watching a completely different set of shows than another average viewer, but so could one professional critic be similarly disconnected to another critic. It naturally follows then that no best-of is any more “correct” than any other. But this has been the case all along. The value of such year-end curating is not a matter of accuracy, but of insight and personal style. Thus, I encourage readers to seek out as many best-of lists as they find edifying, from as diverse a group of critics as possible. Think of each as the best according to a particular palette. Here is my contribution to that cornucopia.

(Shows that were top 10-worthy this year that I didn’t have enough room for include Baskets, BoJack Horseman, The Carmichael Show, Legion, Rick and Morty, Riverdale, Silicon Valley, Speechless, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, The Young Pope, and You’re the Worst.)

10. Review (Comedy Central)
If this list were determined by density of entertainment value alone, the three-episode final season of Review would easily take the top spot. Andy Daly’s career-defining work as “life reviewer” Forrest MacNeil brought his combination of explosive hilarity and existential despair to its logical eternally continuous endpoint. Great series finales tend to be either ambiguous or definitive; Review’s is somehow both open-ended and forcefully conclusive.

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What Won TV? – November 20-November 26, 2016

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In this feature, I look back at each day of the past week and determine what shows “won TV” for the night. That is, I consider every episode of television I watched that aired on a particular day and declare which was the best.

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Sunday – Bob’s Burgers
Monday – People of Earth
Tuesday – Billy on the Street has contributed so much comedy to this world, and if nothing else, it’s made people laugh, and that’s obviously a beautiful thing because if we didn’t have laughter, the world would suck a whole lot.
Wednesday – Search Party
Thursday – Search Party
Friday – Search Party … finds what it’s looking for?
Saturday – Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency comes into its own.