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Sometimes TV gets it right, and a few good shows emerged out of this crazy year that is 2016. Below are some of the new series that premiered this year and I enjoyed them enough to recommend to others. I’m a big advocate of binge-watching TV shows, and these were certainly bingeworthy.
5. Search Party (TBS)
If you only take one thing away from this series, let it be the realization that this generation is extremely self-absorbed. This dark comedy follows Dory as she searches for her missing friend Chantal with the help of her narcissistic friends. She unravels the mystery behind Chantal’s disappearance and teams up with a private investigator, and takes matters into her own hands. The show is oddly intriguing, not because of the search for Chantal, but because of Dory’s search in finding her true self. Once you get used to how self-centered the characters are, they grow on you, and they eventually become somewhat charming. Watch the trailer here and watch the series on TBS online and on demand.
4. Mars (National Geographic)
A new wave of narratives is approaching about the colonization of Mars. “Mars” tackles that impending question of if we can sustain life on Mars the show’s experts give us probable answers. Produced by Ron Howard, the docudrama is set up in a unique way; part of the show focuses on a fictionalized crew that is on a mission to colonize Mars, and the other part of the show is interviews with real people about how we are preparing to do what the narrative is portraying. The miniseries is based on the 2015 book “How We’ll Live on Mars” by Stephen Petranek about the colonization of Mars. I checked out this book when I was reading “The Martian,” and oddly enough, there are a lot of similarities between The Martian’s equipment and the crew on the Daedalus. From interviews with Mark Kelly to Elon Musk and SpaceX and NASA employees, the show is a wealth of information and is a new take on a common topic. The question of whether or not we can live on Mars is ongoing due to the state of our planet, and there is a certain amount of romanticism attached to the colonization of a new world. Watch the trailer here.
3. Luke Cage (Netflix)
It took me forever to get around to watch this series, but once I started the show, I watched all 13 episodes in one day. For fans of Netflix’s “Daredevil” and “Jessica Jones,” this series is a must-watch, mainly because you’ve already been introduced to Luke Cage. The series ties into the Marvel cinematic universe, so look for the easter eggs hidden within the series while you’re watching. “Luke Cage” follows recently escaped convict Luke, an African-American man with impenetrable skin and super strength. He roams the streets of Harlem to reluctantly battle crime bosses and a nut-bag politician with the sometimes-helpful Detective Misty Knight. What made this series so compelling is that there is a black man in Harlem, usually sporting a hoodie, and he is either running from the police or attempting to help them not-so-silently – and he is bulletproof. It’s not black versus white in this series, it’s black versus blue. Even the police think the justice system is flawed and a vigilante is here to right the wrongs that the system cannot fix. Get ready for The Defenders Marvel fans, also keep an eye out for Iron Fist. I saw Grace grab a martial arts flier at the end, so it’s next in line. Watch the trailer here and binge-watch it on Netflix immediately.
2. Stranger Things (Netflix)
This series came out of nowhere, and it left everyone wanting more, so we made memes like good millennials. Any show that opens up with kids playing Dungeons and Dragons is going to get a pretty good spot on my list. That was also the moment we all fell in love with “The Stranger Things Kids” – my personal favorite is Dustin. As a group of friends search for their friend Will, who is trapped in the “upside-down” world, they discover a telekinetic girl named “Eleven” who helps them on their search. With the police investigations, government cover-ups, and 1980s music, the show was easy to binge-watch. I seriously almost bought old-school Christmas lights for the holidays because of this show. If you’re a fan of “The X-Files,” “Alien,” “Super 8,” Stephen King stories, or anything science fiction with a dab of horror mixed in, this is a must-see. Hang in there Barb. Watch the trailer here and if you haven’t already watched the season, check it out on Netflix.
1. Westworld (HBO)
Of course, you knew this would win. Based on the movie from 1973 written by Michael Crichton, “Westworld” had everyone excited to stay in on Sunday nights to tune into the show. This new series is a big relief to “Game of Thrones” fans who had a hole in their week with the absence of the series. With Johnathan Nolan (you might have heard of his brother Christopher) and a list of producers and directors including J. J. Abrams, how could they go wrong? The show centers around an amusement park called Westworld where paying guests can interact with androids, or hosts, and do pretty much whatever they want. The series follows the robot-as-menace idea, and in a nutshell, it’s Jurassic Park with robots – but more thought-provoking. Not only was this show addictive, but the concept of artificial intelligence gaining consciousness is consistently portrayed in TV and movies, but “Westworld” managed to rise above the rest of them. Maybe the selling point was the cast list which included Anthony Hopkins, Evan Rachel Wood, Ed Harris and James Marsden. Or maybe it was just that we wanted to know what was at the center of the damn maze. Issac Asimov would be proud. Watch the “Westworld” trailer here, or catch up on the entire series on HBO on demand.