“Television is becoming a collage – there are so many channels that you move through them making a collage yourself. In that sense, everyone sees something a bit different.”
– David Hockney
There was a time when working for television was labelled a “demotion,” a professional death sentence for movie stars whose careers were on an irreparable descent.
Today, we have Meryl Streep joining HBO‘s Big Little Lies, Idris Elba returning to BBC One as DCI John Luther, and Henry Cavill beginning work on Netflix‘s fantasy series The Witcher.
There was a time when it was thought for a show to succeed it needed to start every September, end every April/May, and run at least 20 episodes per season.
Today, fans wait over 18 months for an eight-episode season of Game of Thrones, and remain loyal to BBC One’s Sherlock – even after a two-year break between seasons.
There was a time when television meant “The Big Three,” HBO went off-air at 11 pm, and “water cooler” moments before the VCR could be a very select club at the office.
Today, cable and streaming have turned “The Big Three” into “The Big 333;” with the DVR, on-demand, and binge-watching making any time a great time to talk television.
Yes, it can be said that “The Platinum Age of Television” comes with a price: as more shows saturate the pop culture landscape, the more difficult it is for individual shows to stand out. When choosing our top selections, it felt like we were trying to find ten needles in a pile of needles – and nearly as painful when you see later in the countdown what didn’t make the cut.
But Bleeding Cool prefers an embarrassment of programming riches to our television cupboards being bare; so here’s a look at the ten shows we feel best represented a medium ripe with possibilities in 2018 – as well as a few words on why the series was so deserving.
#10 The Good Place (NBC)
Shows are always a toss up as to when they hit their stride. Some start great, some achieve greatness, and others start strong, falter, but then really get back on track and find their footing later on. NBC’s quirky comedy, The Good Place is decidedly in the latter category.
Now halfway through its third season, the series is a high-concept comedic look at the afterlife starring Kristen Bell and Ted Danson. The first season was reminiscent of Pushing Daisies in the witty dialogue, colorful and stylized world and characters, and the story that packs an emotional punch.
Why should you be watching this? Other than the fact it’s forking hilarious, it is a seriously tight combination of storytelling, improv, and dedication to the craft of making quality television. It doesn’t rely on cheap laughs or schtick to remain relevant because it is always relevant.
Everybody dies. It’s a fact. But before you find out what really happens after we go, do yourself a favor and check out The Good Place. It’s a safer (and hilarious) peek at the life that may or may not be waiting for us after this.
– Adriel Porter
From creator Michael Schur (“Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” “Parks and Recreation” and “Master of None”) comes a unique comedy about what makes a good person. The show follows Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell, “House of Lies,” “Veronica Mars”), an ordinary woman who enters the afterlife, and thanks to some kind of error, is sent to the Good Place instead of the Bad Place (which is definitely where she belongs). While hiding in plain sight from Good Place Architect Michael (Ted Danson – “Cheers,” “CSI” – in an Emmy Award-nominated performance), she’s determined to shed her old way of living and earn her spot.
The first two seasons featured surprise after surprise and twist after twist, including a world-upending Season 1 finale that threw everything up in the air. At the end of Season 2, Michael appeared in front of the Judge (Maya Rudolph, also Emmy nominated) to argue that the humans may have been judged unfairly and deserve a second chance. With a snap of her fingers, the Judge sent the humans back to Earth, in a new timeline where they never died.
Also seeking redemption, along with Eleanor, are Senegalese philosopher Chidi Anagonye (William Jackson Harper, “Paterson”), who is tortured by decision-making; elegant Pakistani-British socialite Tahani Al-Jamil (Jameela Jamil, “Playing It Straight”); and dance-obsessed Floridian Jason Mendoza (Manny Jacinto, “The Romeo Section”). Michael is aided by Janet (D’Arcy Carden, “Broad City”), a human-esque repository for all of the knowledge in the universe.
In addition to executive producing, Schur also serves as writer and showrunner. David Miner (“Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” “30 Rock”), Morgan Sackett (“Parks and Recreation,” “Veep”) and Drew Goddard (Oscar-nominated writer of “The Martian”) also executive produce.
“The Good Place” is produced by Universal Television, Fremulon and 3 Arts Entertainment.