THE X-PRESS TOP 20 TV SHOWS OF 2017

Like some sort of mythical bin chicken, arising from the ashes of the garbage fire that was 2017, we have survived – tougher, wiser, and with a craving for cigarette butts. In part this was due to turning to our TVs and handheld devices to watch some of the excellent entertainment on offer. Here’s what motivated, inspired and distracted us at X-Press on the TV and streaming services this year.

20. The Bachelorette (S3)

Channel 10 threw some serious money at The Bachelorette this season but the best money spent was the wads of cash they gave Sophie Monk. In a change from previous seasons the boys this time around were not supportive of each other and openly bitchy. Outsiders looking in can shake their heads at the idea of someone being accused of pissing in a pot plant as riveting television, but what makes it good TV is how serious they play the ridiculous. Jarrod, bless his heart, made for good TV. “I’m just going to go down into the cellar, Sophie come with me.” Yikes! There was always something going on in The Bachelorette and it was usually personalities bouncing off each other, not insane expensive stunts for individual dates. Sophie Monk may be a B-grade celebrity and play dumb but she’s smarter than she projects, has charisma and is genuinely likeable. She made The Bachelorette worth watching. – Lloyd Marken

19. Workaholics (S7) 

We’ve all got mischievous workplace stories, swapping the full cream milk for soy, stealing someone’s lunch, 8 hr sessions of YouTube cat videos, or funnelling millions from the company’s corporate accounts. No matter which, the toking TelAmeriCorp trio of Workaholics probably has you beat. OK, maybe not on the latter, but you get the drift. Season 7 of The Office for stoners sees another in-the-life-of journey into the lives of the three degenerate musketeers, following their playful, sometimes ridiculously dangerous, workplace shenanigans and pre/post work capers, often in pursuit of status, a party and/or the ultimate high. Take home message: work should take the backseat on the joyride of life. – Ryan Ellis

18. Ozark (S1) 

With acting talent as strong as Jason Bateman and Laura Linney leading the way, the first season of Ozark nicely fills the suburban-family-versus-drug-crimes hole left by Breaking Bad. Nonetheless it’s a fairly different beast, from the opening episode’s knowing dissection of a middle class family falling apart to the unexpected reasons that keep them together, and the twists come thick and fast from there. Once the action moves to the summer resort community of the Missouri Ozarks, drug lords and middle class America come face to face with reckless rednecks, hotheaded hillbillies and FBI agent agendas, in an otherwise peaceful, religious community that has no idea what it’s in for. – Harvey Rae

17. Bojack Horseman (S4)

Cartoons being something for kids is a lie put to the torch decades ago, but it is nice to be given such a vivid reminder as Bojack Horseman. Season 4 continues the razor sharp satire still taking a scalpel to Hollywood. It also managed to give us a rich psychological insight, not just into the titular character, but all of its rich cast of misfits. As Bojack grows from season to season, we realise that the oft-promised redemption may not be something on the cards for him, but understanding and a growth in empathy may be enough of an emotional development for the damaged ex-sitcom star. As if the seasonal story arc wasn’t enough it also managed to cut the legs out from under us with such emotive episodes as Stupid Piece of Sh*t (where we are given an inside look at Bojack’s negative internal monologue) and Ruthie (a narration by Princess Carolyn’s future descendant, with a hell of a sting in its tail). – David O’Connell

16. Q&A (S10)

That concept of a public space for the discussion of ideas is one of the oldest and most sacrosanct of democratic traditions, be that the forums of Ancient Greece and Rome, the Viking thing, or the soap box of Victorian London. Q & A certainly fulfills that tradition, acting as a sounding board for the issue that effect us as Australians, and allowing important and informed voices in these issues to prosecute these arguments in both the light, and often blistering scrutiny, of the public eye. – David O’Connell

15. Five Came Back (S1)

A limited run series about five Hollywood directors at the height of their powers in Hollywood when Japan bombed Pearl Harbour. Middle aged, some with families they all sought military service to aid in the propaganda war. They were giants of the film industry with classics still seen today. George Stevens, William Wyler, John Ford, John Huston and Frank Capra. They went to war and they came back forever changed by it. Featuring raw footage from battlefields, archived interviews and modern directors like Steven Spielberg discussing them the show can sometimes feel rote but endlessly fascinating. That is because the stories these men have to tell are so compelling it hardly matters how they are told. The stories touch, they endure and they must be remembered. – Lloyd Marken

14. GLOW (S1)

This is a series that came out of left field, and quickly convinced me that I needed to binge watch it all – with its quirky subject matter, engaging characters, and great comedic performances (Alison Brie might carry the show, but Marc Maron steals it). Yet GLOW‘s real strength lies in its loving portrayal of a band of misfits, leaving the audience in no doubt that they support their strange dreams 100 percent. – David O’Connell

13. The Expanse (season 2)

Carrying on the excellent work from last season, the crew of the Rocinante continue to peel the layers off the conspiracy that shapes their lives. This dose of hard science fiction still stands out from the crowd by its adherence to physics and plausible technology, but it is the fascinating politics and intrigue that keeps you glued to the screen. – David O’Connell

12. The Sinner (S1)

A woman’s forgotten dark past leads the show’s star, Jessica Biel, to snap sans motive, committing a sudden, horrific murder. The Sinner is darkly compelling, sinking its teeth in and never letting go. By the first episode our interest is piqued enough to race through the curious and complex television series. The smartly paced series has you screaming for answers while digging deeper into the mysterious past of Biel’s character Cora. “Why?” is the only question bouncing around our mind, with every piece of new information feeding us momentarily, leading us closer to the reasoning behind her bloody murder. – Charlotte Saxon

11. Narcos (S3)

Who would have thought it? Even without the scene-stealing presence of Wagner Moura’s award winning portrayal of Pablo Escobar, Netflix’s crime drama Narcos still manages to excite like never before in its gripping third installment. This time around, the indefatigable Agent Pena, played to perfection once again by Pedro Pascal, is looking to take down the Cali Cartel, an illicit crime organization even bigger and more powerful than Escobar’s. Despite the major refocus in the show’s cast and scope, Narcos’ vision of the war on drugs in 80s Columbia makes for utterly essential viewing, thanks to a compelling narrative and rich character development. With excitement and action aplenty, Narcos Season 3 is a riveting, binge-watching experience to rival the very best on the small screen currently. – Zack Yusof

10. Game of Thrones (S7)

This season has been a bit of a mixed bag for the high rating fantasy drama, but the one thing Game of Thrones does better than any other show (other than sexposition, and incest – seriously why, George R. R. Martin, why?!) is giving you those epic moments, and this season really brought them to the forefront. Not only does the dragon no longer have three heads, but the last episode really did show that the night is dark and full of terrors. Winter is finally here and Season 8 is going to be one for the ages. – David O’Connell

9. Curb Your Enthusiasm (S9)

After a five year hiatus Curb Your Enthusiasm returned to bring us up to speed with the life and times of Larry David and fortunately, he hadn’t changed a bit! Not to say this new series was stagnant in any way. Curb Your Enthusiasm showed it still has the capacity to make you writhe in shock and suppressed laughter as it continued to transgress social niceties in an uncomfortable yet undeniably hilarious way. It’s a welcome addition to the series centred on the life of the legendary Seinfeld Creator, who has naturally only strengthened in playing the coveted, yet inimitable role of himself. – Brayden Edwards

8. Rick and Morty (S3)

In between all the mayhem, carnage, sharp dialogue, genre self awareness and comedic takes on sci-fi films, Rick and Morty continually gives us an insight into the frailty and fallibility of humankind. Even if a person can create exo-armour out of a collection of rat bones when they’ve been turned into a pickle, or defeat an extra-dimensional army of themselves, doesn’t mean they have all the answers or are anything like emotionally whole. This season sees Dan Harmon (Community) and Justin Roiland’s creations continue to expand both the world they inhabit and the mental landscape of the characters within it, remaining consistently true to both. The secret isn’t just that elusive Szechuan sauce but rather the rich and flawed character that craves it. – David O’Connell

7. Better Call Saul (S3) 

If you are a fan of Breaking Bad and you haven’t yet watched Better Call Saul, you really need to get on it. You’ve got some catching up to do as the fourth season starts up next year. Its focus is on our favourite bad boy lawyer, Jimmy McGill (aka Saul Goodman), set six years before Walter White comes into his life and changes it forever. It’s slower paced than Breaking Bad and centres around telling Jimmy’s story. The storytelling is sublime and it has you hooked from the beginning as familiar characters from Breaking Bad slowly get introduced into the downward spiral that is Jimmy’s life. The only bad thing about Better Call Saul? You know it’s got a limited shelf life before we have to say goodbye to our old friends again and that’s gonna suck. – Karen Lowe

6. The Good Place (S1-2)

Like almost everyone else, this slipped under my radar when released last year. Thankfully when I saw it streaming, it was a simple binge watch to prepare myself for Season 2. Setting itself up with great characters, amusing dialogue, and some stellar performances should have been enough for a simple sitcom, but with its reliance on philosophical ethics it was never that. Then after the shattering reveal at the end of Season 1, it proved how innovative it was. Season 2 has moved on from here placing it in many of the “best shows no one has heard of” lists. A deceptively intelligent show now that we’ve heard of it, and holy forking shirtballs it’s good. – David O’Connell

5. Fargo (S3)

By sticking adamantly to the mood of the original film, the TV series Fargo has become arguably even better than its source material, and it continues to keep this quality up with its third season. Again supported by an entirely new, terrific cast that are perfectly suited to the Fargo setting in season 3, including Ewan McGregor in a stunning dual performance as brothers and David Thewlis as one of the best TV baddies of the year, this show continues to be among the most well acted and most well written on TV, always venturing into the most unpredictable of areas. – David Morgan-Brown

4. Mindhunter (S1)

These days the criminal profile of serial killers is just an accepted tool used in their apprehension. It has even become a rather cliched and overused ground for TV procedural dramas. Mindhunter winds the clock back with a fictionalised (albeit heavily influenced by actual events) account of the development of this psychological discipline, giving it a new lease of life. As an audience we are often confronted by the differences and changes that have arisen in the space of a few decades, and the resistance that such an approach meets in the old guard of law enforcement. However it is the cinematic quality of this production that truly makes it, especially in the beginning and ending episodes of the season, as David Fincher (Seven, Gone Girl) mans the helm. The result is intriguing, pairing back the lurid and highly stylised approach we’ve often seen associated with the genre (Hannibal), and giving us something that is almost documentarian in its purity. – David O’Connell

3. Stranger Things (S2)

If the first season was full of nostalgia bait, the second season seems to be developing its own world and relying more on the characters to pull you in. Some sub-plots went on too long and there is definitely a recognition that having Eleven with the rest of the kids would be a good idea for Season 3, but this season expanded the scope of the world and had some wonderful, heartfelt moments. – Lloyd Marken

2. The Handmaid’s Tale  (S1)

A perfect sense of political timing, an immaculate eye for staging, and a stunning central performance turned novelist Margaret Atwood’s decades-old dystopia into something shockingly relevant, and unmissable because of it. Beautiful and horrifying in equal measure, you could not avert your eyes from the plight of Elisabeth Moss, in her Emmy Award winning role as lead heroine Offred. – David O’Connell

1. Twin Peaks (S3)

David Lynch is 71 years old and hadn’t made something for the screen since Inland Empire in 2006. We had no right to expect a return to Twin Peaks would happen nor that it would be this good and it is highly unlikely we will ever see the show continue. That’s okay, that ending will haunt us for years to come. It’s not just how the show ends that matters though, it is the slow burning journey it takes us on throughout featuring both old favourites and newcomers alike. Shot beautifully, the show takes in the US North West countryside again but also South Dakota and features some striking imagery. Lynch has not lost his capacity to unnerve with ghoulish monsters just one detail away from looking more like us. Certain cast members having already passed away before filming, still find a way into appearing; for others these are some of their last moments onscreen. The need to give them their moment in the sun reveals a great deal of Lynch’s heart. What is the great director saying with this return to Twin Peaks, is that perhaps that there are monsters in this world and they usually win but good people do fight them and they won’t stop fighting them until the bitter end. – Lloyd Marken

Don’t you love it when TV shows give in to fan service? If so, then you’re not going to like this new iteration of Twin Peaks, which comes to us 25 years after the original. There’s evidently a number of ways this new season is a different beast to the original 90s hit show: far more brooding surreal moments, a drop in the soap opera mood, unexplained character arcs, and an overall much more tar-black atmosphere. These 18 episodes are pure David Lynch goodness that takes the mystery genre into whole new realms, resulting in an unprecedented TV experience. – David Morgan-Brown

Comments are closed.