Samuel Brace with the 5 best TV shows of 2017 so far…
So far 2017 has been a wonderful time for TV, and now that we are virtually halfway through the year, this is a good a time as any to reflect on the content received. Pound for pound, 2017 is ahead of what the previous year managed to achieve with its own slate of shows, and 2017 has been an even better year for new TV. This is the real difference compared to the first half of 2016, providing us with an array of fascinating new series to sink our teeth into and hopefully get hooked on for years to come. Like every year, there have been some stinkers, but for now, let’s forget about those ugly ducklings and concentrate on the good, even great entries that we have been treated to. This was a hard list to whittle down, and there are plenty that only just missed out, but here are the 5 best TV shows of 2017 so far.
The tale of 2017’s TV supremacy is told by the notion that Noah Hawley’s sublime X-Men themed FX show, Legion, sits at only number five on this list. If it wasn’t for the fact that Fargo’s Hawley was behind the show, not many would have been hoping for much from this, even so, expectations were certainly tempered for the tale of Charles Xavier’s mentally gifted (damaged?) son, David. This worked wonderfully in the show’s favour however, as Legion turned out to be a dazzling affair of visual wonder and top rate storytelling.
Dan Stevens is thoroughly terrific in the lead role, portraying a scared young man trying to figure out if the mental illness he has been inflicted with since childhood might just be something even more sinister. Legion is easily the scariest superhero show to date and one of the most visually impressive products on TV. This show is pretty bonkers, and while its finale left a little to be desired, there will no doubt be plenty of excitement for its return from its passionate fan base.
Wow, what a ride this was. Bloodline recently finished its run on Netflix and delivered a final season that was just the capper the series deserved. The story of Florida’s Rayburn family has been an emotional one, watching these desperate men and women navigate a series of terrible personal decisions and family drama has been one of TV’s best treats over the last few years. Thankfully, season three only gave us more of what made the show so great in seasons past.
With Ben Mendelsohn’s Danny gone, and largely absent from any ethereal appearances this time around, the load was left for Kyle Chandler to bear, a perfect reflection of the shows themes as his character John fights to break the shackles chaining him to the hell he and his family have created. John was — as much as he tried — never going to be able to save his family, but watching him attempt to do so (while battling for his own soul) was one of the very best experiences of 2017’s first half.
What more can be said about The Leftovers, TV’s weirdest show (well, at least before Twin Peaks returned) and one of the most engrossing creations TV has ever known. While we still have one episode left before the show departs our screens forever, and could admittedly climb a little higher come the end of year should it nail its final bow, it’s safe to talk about just what a special piece of drama season three has been.
Season two was pretty immaculate, a step up from the excellent first, but season three has exceeded all expectations and delivered a string of episodes of baffling quality. Each week has showcased the very best of what TV can achieve, while delivering one of the best episode closers in this history of the format. The tragic story of Kevin and friends isn’t quite over, but what we’ve been given so far is a demonstration of how to execute a vision without compromising to those that demand answers and needless resolution. With any luck, the finale will simply let the mystery be, and The Leftovers will go down in history as one of TV’s greats.
Better Call Saul
Already boasting the mantle of the best spinoff series ever, Better Call Saul has long been able to stand on its own two feet, acknowledging its parent show while also managing to do its own thing. Its first two seasons have been some of TV’s very best in 2015 and 2016, but what has been so far achieved in season three has been on a different level entirely. Finally finding its optimum balance, perfecting its tone, pacing, and overall place in the world, Saul’s episodes to date have been everything fans of this universe of characters could ask for.
While every Breaking Bad character appearance and easter egg during this season have been a joy to behold, this has been merely a supplement to the impeccable drama unfolding before our eyes. With Jimmy now so nearly free of his brother’s hold and finally discovering the moniker that will destroy his life, Better Call Saul is truly in its element. Saul could very well end up being the best of the year should its final few instalments pan out, but regardless of what happens next, season three has to date been a near perfect set of episodes, propelling this already great show just that little bit closer to the majesty of its big brother. Could it really make it?
The Young Pope
With all the incredible series that 2017 is so far able to boast — the ones on this list, and those that so nearly made it — it would take quite some show to straddle the top without much of a second thought. Well, that is just what The Young Pope is, a truly special piece of television that will require a feat so incredibly mammoth in scale to dethrone it. We have learnt recently that this is likely the last we will see of Jude Law’s Pope Pius XIII, and while this is desperately sad, what we have here in The Young Pope is now one of TV’s finest mini-series and a performance of astonishing worth.
With such a difficult subject to tackle, it was truly incredible just how well the show’s themes and ideas were presented. The Young Pope was able to show the pitfalls of unbridled belief while also depicting the beauty and raw power that can be found in faith in something other than yourself. Considering what was expected of the series, and the fun that was poked at it before its launch, its surprise factor surely contributes to its effectiveness. But when you look a little deeper what you will find is not only everything that is great about television, but so much of what is beautiful and overwhelming heavy about the world. This is one for the ages, folks.
Most honourable mention
The opening episodes of the return of Twin Peaks have been phenomenal, and if there were more episodes available it would surely have made this list. But considering it’s an 18 episode venture, there is still so much that can go wrong. However, it keeps this up, don’t be surprised to see it very high in the ranks come the end of the year.