Tuesday 22 December 2020

2020 in Review: Top 10 TV Shows

Most of us had spent the better part of 2020 social distancing in our homes, so I guess it was a good thing then that there wasn't any shortage of quality shows to watch on the various streaming services like Netflix. And as the dust slowly settled on long-running shows like Game of Thrones, the void it left behind is already being filled by a number of new and ongoing shows. Here are the ones I consider my Top 10 for 2020.

10. Money Heist Season 4


I was admittedly a bit late in boarding the Money Heist hype train. But after a lockdown-inspired binge session of the first four seasons, I can finally see what all the noise was about. Like any great show, it has enough characters for fans to care about, and the execution of the increasingly-audacious plans of "The Professor" is something that needs to be seen to be believed. The whole thing does start to wear a bit thin after a while though. Still, that final season can't come soon enough.

9. Animaniacs


Any kid that grew up in the 90s should easily remember the Steven Spielberg-produced cartoon show, Animaniacs. The show was known for its slapstick humor and numerous pop culture references. This past year, it joined the long list of classic shows that recently received a revival, which aired on Hulu. The new 13-episode season proves just how timeless and relevant the show is; even though most of the gags have been updated to appeal to modern sensibilities, there's plenty for old and new fans alike to love.

8. High Score


Netflix had blessed subscribers with a number of high-quality documentaries this past year. But the retro gamer in me holds one of them above the rest. And that show is of course High Score, the 6-part documentary that chronicles several pivotal developments that paved the way for the current gaming landscape. I've been a gamer since the 8-bit era, so a lot of what was covered really spoke to me, more so than the similar CBS All-Access documentary, Console Wars.

7. Rick and Morty Season 4


The second half of the Adult Swim cartoon show, Rick & Morty, aired earlier in the year. And it proved to be the stronger of the two halves, leaving fans with instant classics like The Vat of Acid episode. And while, taken as a whole, the fourth season might not quite match the first one in overall quality, it still has all the self-deprecating humor and social commentary that fans enjoy.

6. Fargo Season 4


After taking a three-year hiatus since Season 3 aired back in 2017, the FX anthology series, Fargo, was back for its fourth season this year. This time around, the show was set in 1950, with Chris Rock serving as one of the main headliners. And while each season is usually considered standalone, it was revealed during a post-credits scene that this one actually had a very strong connection to the second season of the show.

5. Lovecraft Country


After only just gifting us with the stellar limited series Watchmen last year (which by the way was my favorite show that year), HBO made another claim for the King of TV Shows title this year with Lovecraft Country. The show serves as both an adaptation and continuation of the 2016 book of the same name, which itself borrowed heavily from the works of famed horror writer, H.P. Lovecraft. The show boasts enough blood and guts to please gorehounds, while still managing to tell a thought-provoking tale for those viewers looking for something more cerebral.

4. The Queen's Gambit


And speaking of cerebral, things don't get more so than in a show about chess. The Queen's Gambit made its debut on Netflix this year, and the limited series starred Anya Taylor-Joy, who it seems is having a solid 2020 overall, between this and her appearances in both Emma and The New Mutants. She plays an orphaned girl who would become a chess prodigy, and she convincingly brings the character to life in what is sure to remain a career highlight for the young actress.

3. The Umbrella Academy Season 2


The Five Hargreeves siblings returned to Netflix for another season of The Umbrella Academy this summer. And once again, they had to deal with the threat of yet another extinction level event. I didn't actually get into the Umbrella Academy until a good friend of mine had questioned its omission from my list of favorite TV shows last year. I could easily see why, because it definitely has a quirkiness to it that is unlike any other ongoing show, which only adds to its overall appeal.

2. The Boys Season 2


One show I did thoroughly enjoy last year was The Boys, and if it wasn't for the fact that HBO had also put out Watchmen, I would have easily awarded it my favorite TV show for the year. The second season was even more bunkers, with exploding heads galore and more double dealings and conspiracies than you can shake a stick at. But I'm sure you must be wondering why it is sitting here at number 2 then, a fact that only speaks to the strength of the show at number 1.

1. The Mandalorian Season 2


The Skywalker Saga might have ended with what many considered a heap of a mess in The Rise of Skywalker last year, but Jon Favreau and crew have proven that Star Wars is still very much alive and well with the stellar second season of The Mandalorian. If the first season was renowned for introducing the ever adorable Baby Yoda to the world, then it was in this one that we witnessed just where the show fits in with the greater Star Wars timeline.

Crossovers were made with existing shows like Clone Wars and Rebels as we saw fan favorite characters from those shows make an appearance. The long-rumored return of a certain other Mandalorian was another highlight of the season. But the biggest achievement of all came in its final episode, where long-time fans were finally given what they'd been clamoring for since The Return of Jedi. All in all, the show is further proof that it is a good time to be a Star Wars fan.

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