The Best TV of 2018
Just about everyone is getting into the original programming space, from countless streaming services, to premium cable, to the big four networks. Hell, even Facebook launched a few original series last year. With so many options it can be hard to keep up and in 2018 we had another year of too much television. So Marcus has selected five shows, from old favorites to exciting newcomers, that he feels were some of the best 2018.
Escape At Dannemora
For many reasons, including goofy accents, interesting cinematography, and odd tonal shifts, Ben Stiller’s Escape at Dannemora feels like Stiller has created his own Fargo, right down to the icy winter setting. And that’s a great thing. The new Showtime miniseries chronicles a real life escape from a New York prison in 2015 by two prisoners, played here by Benicio Del Toro and Paul Dano. The two charm and dupe one of the prison’s supervisors, played by Patricia Arquette, into aiding the escape. Arquette steals every frame with her raw performance, and Stiller’s direction is as compelling as it is bizarre. As I write this I am only a few episodes into this seven episode run, but I was hooked immediately.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Somehow, some way, the creative team behind Always Sunny has managed to keep these terrible people and the terrible things they do relevant for over thirteen years. The thirteenth season follows the Gang as they try out an escape room for the first time, attend a sexual harassment seminar, and do whatever is in their power to help the Eagles win the Super Bowl, and each moment is as hilarious as the last. Experimental episodes like the “Ladies Reboot” and the clip show keep the series fresh and unique. The final episode ends on a poignant note with maybe the most genuinely moving scene I’ve experienced all year in TV (or film, for that matter), in which Mac (Rob McElhenney) performs an interpretive dance in front of a prison crowd to come out as gay to his inmate father. The visually jaw-dropping segment is so far out of left field that its a remarkable creative achievement and something truly special.
Season two of the JJ Abrams produced huge budget cyborg-western ramps up nearly everything. Whole new areas of the park are explored, most notably Samurai World, and with them come brand new dangers. Most of the denizens of the parks have started a violent revolution, mercilessly killing all humans who come to stop them as they work on a way to escape into the real world. The action scenes have started to rival those found on sister show Game of Thrones, as have the numerous twists and turns, making this one of the most watchable shows on TV. While I think it has ultimately failed to create a compelling villain, and the existential questions raised don’t inspire much other than eyerolls, it remains an insanely entertaining spectacle.
History of Horror
All throughout October, AMC aired one of the best docuseries ever made about horror. Each episode focuses on a different type of monster that’s frequent in the genre; including zombies, ghosts, and vampires. Host Eli Roth acts as a guide to all of best to be found in the subgenre of the week, from well known classics to underseen gems. Each episode features tons of interviews with various horror luminaries, including directors, writers, actors, and other experts, and also shows great footage of the films and TV shows being discussed. Its not often more than surface level appreciation, but even still, History of Horror is so well done that it is a must for anybody that considers themselves a fan of the genre.
Bolstered by some great acting work by Bill Hader, Sarah Goldberg, Paula Newsome, a career-best turn from Henry Winkler, some impressive filmmaking, and great writing, Barry is one of the biggest surprises of the year. Barry (Hader) is a marine-turned-hitman who discovers far too late that his true passion is acting and does whatever he can to balance his murder-for-hire business and acting classes. Hader’s dynamic performance captures changes with the show’s masterfully erratic tone, shifting from mercilessly brutal to broadly comedic on a dime. Barry’s struggle is wonderfully told, and simply put I think this was the best show of 2018, new or returning.