Lakenheath Old Boys

We are all former students at Lakenheath High School and other public schools in East Anglia. We were in school in the 70s and 80s and drank deeply from the well of British culture of those decades - the pints, the telly, and of course the footie!

Monday, January 02, 2017

Eric Dahlgren's Best TV shows of 2016

Confirming that Eric is a true Dahlgren, he's created a list of the the best TV he watched in 2016

"Save for the fact that it’s almost at an end, there’s not much about 2016 that warrants celebration. I realize part of that is coincidental superstition that somewhat distracts from more serious issues, but the point still stands. In terms of the arts though, 2016 was far from the worst year we’ve been offered. In pitched combat with my own end of the year issues, I very nearly missed the cutoff for my end of the year contribution of best new series, though I should clarify best within the context of my own standards, meaning that yes, I’ve seen Westworld, and while I like it, I feel it makes the mistake of crafting a story in service to a mystery as opposed to the other way around. Just getting that out of the way since in the unlikely event that this list ends up stirring conversation, it seems inevitable that it’d come up.

10) Luke Cage: The 3rd Netflix series set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe may be the weakest in terms of overall story, but has the best sense of style through it’s atmosphere and soundtrack alone. Taking place roughly a year after being shot in the head by Jessica Jones, Luke Cage builds his way up to his destined “hero for hire” status by taking on organized crime in Harlem.

9) The Night Of: You all know the story: boy meets girl, boy gives girl a ride to her place, boy wakes up in a haze the following morning looking ridiculously guilty of murder. From that point in the draft, the writers would usually have to make a decision of whether to definitively prove or disprove the character’s innocence, or leave it to audience interpretation. The Night Of, however, does none of the above. Rather, it leaves it’s audience with little to go on in terms of facts, allowing the characters to speculate on and dictate the narrative within their interests, thus allowing for an interesting look at the legal system and how the mere perception of guilt can supersede any official verdict.

8) The Path: This entry will likely slip under of most critic’s radar this year, likely due to its relative lack of exposure and possible real-life connections to be made. Coinciding with their leader’s hospitalization, a member of a fictional religious group (that is absolutely NOT based on Scientology, hint, hint!) begins having visions that cause him to question his faith. Complicating matters is the group’s suspicious number of missing members, an FBI agent investigating said disappearances as possible murders, and the unstable acting leader attempting to increase their socio-political influence beyond humanitarian work.

7) Better Things: I read an article once that made the case for Louie, not Seinfeld, as the true show about nothing. And it’s true that both shows attempt to depict every day life in their own respective ways, the former through what can best be described as surreal “what-the-fuckery” and the latter through absurdist minutia. Better Things, on the other hand, is the one show I’ve seen this year where I never once doubted that everything I was seeing could, and probably was happening somewhere at the time of watching it. Though the real accomplishment of Pamela Adlon’s semi-autobiographical project is it’s handling of issues that might be considered gender exclusionary in lesser hands.

6) Outcast: Just what was it that ruined The Walking Dead? I can and probably have contributed enough material on that subject to fill a book. Fortunately, whatever those factors may be, they don’t apply to this under the radar series based on one of Robert Kirkman’s most recent books. Taking place in Rome, West Virginia, Outcast follows Kyle Barnes, a man whose ability to excise demons from human hosts has left a pattern of loved ones falling prey to demonic possession. Living in self-imposed exile, he’s recruited by his hometown’s priest when the same demons that have been plaguing him his whole life appear to have resurfaced for a specific, mysterious purpose.

5) Billions: What happens when a federal prosecutor and a hedge fund manager/ 911 profiteer engage in a complex battle of wits? Besides an almost compulsory amount of BDSM (for Showtime that is), the result is a fascinating character piece that demonstrates how one’s alignment in a conflict supposedly based on right and wrong doesn’t automatically reflect one’s character.

4) American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson: When it came time to decide which of the two legal dramas on this list would top the other, the #4 spot had to go to The People vs. O.J. Simpson if for no other reason than for it’s ability to ignite it’s audience’s interest in a famously predetermined series of events.

3) Stranger Things: In spite of my belief that the hype, rather than pride, cometh before the fall, Stranger Things has definitely earned it’s reputation. When a preteen member of a geeky quartet goes missing, the remaining friends and their families become entangled in a conspiracy involving psychic kids and pan-dimensional monsters. In terms of premise and execution, it can’t exactly make it’s case for being original. What it does achieve however is an intricate understanding of it’s influences (too many to count) and why they still resonate with audiences to this day.

2) Atlanta: In contrast with the previous entry, Atlanta is definitely the most original series I’ve seen this year, which stands as a testament to the fine line between theory and execution. In theory, the idea of a Princeton dropout managing his up and coming rapper cousin for financial stability should come off as a simple rags to riches story. In execution, it somehow manages to achieve a surreal, absurdist “slice of life” story without ever once betraying the tone set by its pilot.

1) Gomorrah: I’m technically cheating with my #1 pick since it premiered in 2014, but since it was released stateside this year, any questions comments or concerns can be addressed to no particular finger I’m currently holding. When the head of the Neapolitan mob is temporarily deposed, his spoiled, ill-prepared son is caught between the machinations of his mother, and the organization’s most promising soldier. While comparisons to both The Sopranos and The Wire are well earned, Gommorah’s most significant accomplishment is how every last second caught on film serves a purpose to the overall narrative.


Blogger gooner71 said...

Good job, Eric!

9:00 PM  
Blogger The Blue Devil said...

Excellent list, Eric. As I mentioned on FB, you've set me up nicely for my Netflix watching in 2017.

3:03 PM  

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