American Horror Story: Roanoke
The anthology series had its best season since the original "Murder House." Returning cast members Lily Rabe, Angela Bassett, Sarah Paulson, Kathy Bates, Lady Gaga, and Evan Peters were superb, and newcomers to the show Cuba Gooding Jr. and Andre Holland were excellent as well. The documentary style was a nice riff on the found-footage genre, and the shifting tone of the season made it satisfyingly unpredictable. It had legit scares without jumping the shark as some of the prior seasons did.
The Contenders: 16 for '16
PBS had a wonderful little documentary series that chronicled Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates of the past, such as Gary Hart, Ross Perot, Jesse Jackson, Shirley Chisholm, Geraldine Ferraro, Ralph Nader, and others. It was well-paced and thought-provoking, a welcome counterpoint to the often ridiculous race of 2016, while still showing that past runs for the White House had their own dramas that history should not forget.
Kiefer Sutherland returned to high-stakes political intrigue as the new President of the United States after an attack during the State of the Union Address devastates the American government. It was a fast-paced guilty pleasure with plenty of twists and turns.
The Get Down
As a Bronx boy (born and raised), I was delighted to see this music-filled drama about my borough in the late 1970s. The stylized first episode by Baz Luhrmann was the best of the bunch, but the strong writing by Stephen Adly Guirgis kept my interest throughout.
Netflix has done a spectacular job with its Marvel superheroes, starting with Daredevil and then continuing with Jessica Jones. This adaptation of Power Man was excellent, and I'm looking forward to Iron Fist and then the Defenders team-up.
The fantasy books by Lev Grossman are worth reading and this adaptation did them justice. It was like an adult version of Harry Potter, as a young man attends a college of magic in New York City.
People of Earth
What a delightful surprise! This quaint little comedy, starring Wyatt Cenac as a reporter who finds himself caught in a surreal mystery while investigating an eccentric alien abduction therapy group, had me smiling from ear to ear at its absurdity and also its heartfelt moments.
The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
I vividly remember the infamous real life events that this award-winning drama retold. The all-star cast, including Sarah Paulson, Sterling K. Brown, Courtney B. Vance, John Travolta, Nathan Lane, and David Schwimmer, was outstanding, and what a year Cuba Gooding Jr. had!
My wife and I became obsessed with this homage to 1980s supernatural tales. It felt like a nostalgic trip to the days of Steven Spielberg and Joe Dante movies and Stephen King paperbacks. The young actors were fantastic, and we're eagerly waiting for the next season.
This Is Us
Without a doubt, this was the best show of the year. A tearjerker with terrific writing and casting, it had excellent performances and surprises in each episode. To reveal more would be a disservice to your experience watching it.
Here's another guilty pleasure. Time travelers trying to save the present by going back in the past to stop a madman who wants to destroy the future sounds like a trite premise, but it was a lot of fun.
HBO's remake (or is it a direct sequel?) of Michael Crichton's 1973 science fiction film, which starred Yul Brynner, received a lot of buzz. Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton, Ed Harris, and Anthony Hopkins were all brilliant in it. Even though it raised more questions than it answered for me, I still liked it.
There you have it. Did I leave any of your favorites out? Let me know.