With the new year fast approaching and everyone doing their best of lists, I figure since I seem to be the TV guy around here (I've never gotten an official title), I figured I'd put together the best comic based TV shows of the year. It was a popular year again for the jump from the printed page to the small screen and these are the ones that stand out.
11 – Marvel's Agent Carter
We may have only gotten two seasons from the series, but it seemed to be catching it's stride and left us on a bit of a cliff hanger. The show had a strong female lead set in an era where women never got to lead. It also introduced other strong female characters on both sides of the law. Whitney Frost and Dottie Underwood were both very well done characters and the series relished in the almost pulp style of action. Reports that part of the shows demise was ABC's desire to have Hayley Atwell lead their new series Conviction has yet to be proven, but with the new series most likely cancelled, maybe ABC will fire up the adventures of Peggy Carter again.
10 – Lucifer
The strength of this series rests almost entirely on the shoulders of Tom Ellis and the writers letting him have fun. There is an interesting cast of supporting characters that each bring something unique, but the series wavers when Lucifer is not on the screen. Luckily the writers have figured that out and keep him the center of attention as much as possible. The introduction of Tricia Helfer in the second season gave the show a boost as did bringing in Michael Imperioli in one episode. Both additions gave us a chance to see Lucifer as he was before meeting Detective Decker.
9 – Preacher
The only thing holding this series back in the first season was all the set up that was needed to get the story going. The cast is great and its obvious that the network isn't asking them to hold back on any of the story from the comics. The tough part is that the slow build you can do in a comic doesn't work as well on television. For those who stuck around after the slow start, it got better and should continue to do so in future seasons.
8 – Agents of SHIELD
The biggest complaint about Marvel's Agents of SHIELD actually was one of the series strength this year. The fact that they couldn't really use any of the fun toys in Marvel's box made it seem like the series was being held back. Deathlok was as close to cool as they got or a visit from Lady Sif. Inhumans were an upgrade from that, but none of the royal family. A lot of people paid attention when the show was able to add Ghost Rider and has given us the best eight episode run of the series. With GR on the back burning now, it's hard to predict how 2017 will go.
7 – Legends of Tomorrow
The show had a strong first season which all took place in 2016, but seems to be a bit meandering in season two. We know the Legion of Doom is coming, but the best episode of the new season was the crossover. The rest of the time the team seems to be floundering for a purpose. I think the season will be stronger as a whole once its all said and done, but it misses something with Rip Hunter away and no central villain. That aside, the show is a lot of fun and gives us characters that might never gotten a live action version otherwise. And with the format, you never know who is going to show up next.
6 – Supergirl
This series has had some an improvement between seasons that it's almost shocking. The move from CBS to the CW has allowed the producers to jettison things that made it feel like a hybrid between a superhero series and an office romance comedy. The Devil Wears Prada section of the series was always the weak part, unless it was when Cat Grant was having an inspirational moment which was always delivered so well by Calista Flockhart. The move from CatCo to the DEO was a big improvement and I expect the show to continue getting better in 2017 with the additions of Guardian and Mon-El helping create Team Supergirl. The only downside to the second season was that they introduced such a good version of Superman that fans are really wanting him back. Never overshadow your lead.
5 – Luke Cage
Marvel's third Netflix series hit a lot of the right notes in it's thirteen-episode run. Mike Colter was spot on as the hero for hire and the supporting cast and villains were wonderful for the most part. The show threw in enough Easter eggs for the comic readers, but not so many that new viewers were lost. Misty Knight was a stand out character and Claire Temple once again showed she was the heart of the Marvel Netflix universe. Where the series faltered was near the end once Cornell 'Cottonmouth' Stokes was gone and Willis 'Diamondback' Stryker stepped in. Stokes had some depth and played well off of Mariah Dillard. Stryker was much more one-dimensional and the final battle was a bit too comic booky than the rest of the series.
4 – Arrow
The one thing Stephen Amell talked about was getting the series back to what it does best, which is street level fighting. The wrapping of the Damien Darhk story line was interesting and the writers did a lot to show the consequences of all of these battles. The strength of the fifth season has no only been in the returning to its roots was also pushing some of the regular characters into new positions and bringing in some unexpected new ones like Wild Dog, Ragman and Vigilante. This year has been about consequences and it does feel like the show has gotten back to what makes it good.
3 – The Walking Dead
The series has hit an interesting point in it's existence. Fans were clamoring for Negan, the build up to his appearance worked great and then the cliffhanger. But the normal universal praise the show would receive began to change. Frustration started in. And then when the show returned and the results were extremely violent, you could hear some of the die-hard fans begin to turn away. The show is still a ratings juggernaut and extremely popular, but as the seventh season progress, maybe the roller coaster has come to the top. And what do you do after Negan?
2 – The Flash
This series is about as close you can get to putting a comic book directly onto a television. It's bright, action-packed, exciting and fun. Its the show we all wanted when we were kids. A place where any hero from the DC universe can be made believable… well, maybe not Ambush Bug, but all the rest… and Grant Gustin is so likable that even when he massively screw up, you want him to win. But the show is not without flaws. We're on yet another speedster villain and dealing with more time-travel issues… and a third (or is it fourth) version of Harrison Wells. The series has lost a little of its fun and needs to branch out in some new directions, but it's still one of the best shows on TV.
1 – Marvel's Daredevil
It may have been somewhat forgotten this year having come out all at once way back in March, but the second season of Daredevil expanded on what we had already scene, grew the existing characters and introduced fan favorites the Punisher and Elektra without the series ever feeling rushed. They even found a way to work in Wilson Fisk form season one that seemed natural and were able to keep it a surprise for viewers. Not easily done in this day and age. What I think made it work was giving Frank Castle the first four episodes as the focus and then moving him to a B story when Elektra became the A. It also gave the writers a chance to explore Matt's past with her while Foggy and Karen were involved with Punisher. And with all of that going on, they were able to start setting the groundwork for The Defenders.