The top 10 TV Shows of 2018 so far include the likes of Happy!, Legion, Cooking on High and more! Check out all 10 right now:
#10. Cobra Kai (YouTube)
Thirty four years after events of the 1984 All Valley Karate Tournament, a down-and-out Johnny Lawrence seeks redemption by reopening the infamous Cobra Kai dojo, reigniting his rivalry with a now successful Daniel LaRusso.
There was an episode (or two) on How I Met Your Mother where William Zabka was brought in because he was Barney’s hero and someone that NPH’s character assumed was true protagonist of the original Karate Kid. Turns out he may have been onto something because Johnny Lawrence is back and he’s re-opening the villainous Cobra Kai Dojo in this premiere YouTube series of the same name. It’s a hardcore Karate Kid fan’s wet dream turned reality to see a TV series sequel to an 80’s cult classic and even more-so when you turn the tables and feature Johnny as a down-on-his luck antihero and a compelling underdog you can really understand and cheer for over the arrogant Daniel LaRusso. I was never a huge fan of the original Karate Kid, but I will say that this Cobra Kai series was far better than it has any right to be and shockingly well-made.
#9. Westworld (HB0)
Westworld isn’t your typical amusement park. Intended for rich vacationers, the futuristic park — which is looked after by robotic “hosts” — allows its visitors to live out their fantasies through artificial consciousness. No matter how illicit the fantasy may be, there are no consequences for the park’s guests, allowing for any wish to be indulged. “Westworld” — which is based on the 1973 Michael Crichton movie of the same name — features an all-star cast that includes Oscar winner Anthony Hopkins and Golden Globe winner Ed Harris.
Westworld season one ended in mayhem two years ago and season two kicks off confusingly right after or long after or before or around the same time as those events in which the hosts (robots) decided to turn on the humans and murder everybody. I had some major issues with the pacing and several subplots that Westworld decided to focus on in its sophomore season, but overall it was a violent and compelling thrill-ride that all came together in stunning/ albeit confusing fashion. It seems like the viewers really need to just chill and drop the whole “IS SO AND SO A HOST OR NOT?” paranoia and just enjoy the finely written and incredibly original sci-fi series that is Westworld. Major bonus points to the 8th episode ‘Kiksuya’ for taking a bit of side-step to the main narrative and exploring Ghost Nation. Actor Zahn McClarnon (Fargo) delivers his finest performance to date in this episode and steals the entire season in my opinion in a beautiful tour-de-force that truly moved me.
#8. Nailed It! (Netflix)
Home bakers who have a poor track record in the kitchen seek redemption — and cash — on this series. In each episode, three contestants try their hand at re-creating edible masterpieces. The projects don’t always turn out great, but whichever amateur baker comes closest to a successful dessert by the end of the episode takes home the $10,000 prize, which they might want to use on baking lessons. Comic Nicole Byer and renowned pastry chef Jacques Torres host the culinary competition that features such challenges as painting self-portraits on cookies.
I’m a sucker for the occasional cooking show (eg. Masterchef), but Netflix is killing it by introducing Nailed It!, which takes people that are “not-so-great” and having them try to recreate stunning desserts with disastrous results. I laugh my ass off every episode. Host Nicole Byer and chef Jacques Torres work very well together and I love the rotating array of guest judges they bring in, including this little old lady in the pilot episode who actually goes into the pantry to steal stuff at one point during the show. The Trump cake (pictured above) is my personal favourite so far but season 2 just kicked off and is just as hilarious as the first. Nailed It! is one of Netflix’s best original series and if they continue to produce more cooking themed shows like this, the Food Network is in big trouble.
#7. Roseanne (ABC)
Explore life, death and everything in between through the relatable, hilarious and brutally honest lens of the working-class Conner household, which is located in the drab, fictional exurb of Langford, Ill. With the inimitable Roseanne Barr at its epicenter as the family’s matriarch, the series tackles current issues with fresh stories and even more laughs. Roseanne is joined by her husband, Dan, and their children, D.J., Darlene and Becky. Roseanne’s warm, but neurotic, sister Jackie rounds out the core of the family.
The Roseanne ‘reboot’ was the best mainstream comedy series on television for the first half of 2018. The writing, performances and return of the original cast was so on-point and perfectly executed to fit the current political and social climate that it’s a shame that they decided to fire it’s leading lady Roseanne Barr after she tweeted an unintentionally racist remark towards a woman who resembles one of the female characters on the original Planet of The Apes. Say what you will about Barr, that tweet wasn’t racist, it was just in poor taste. There’s a difference and you know it, but the trolls love to pretend being offended in 2018 to the point where ABC canned the show only to announce they are bringing it back in the Fall without Barr. Controversy aside, Roseanne shows viewers a side of America they love to pretend doesn’t exist anymore – middle America struggling to get by from cheque to cheque. The series tackled racism, politics and family in ways that other shows of it’s kind couldn’t and wouldn’t dare to go. I loved it.
#6. Lost in Space (Netflix)
“Danger, Will Robinson!” The rest of the Robinson clan should be on the lookout for danger, as well, because they are facing challenging times. It’s 30 years in the future and the family has been chosen to start a new life in a space colony. On the way to what they believe will be a better world, the Robinsons’ ship is abruptly thrown off course and they are thrown into a dangerous alien environment. Now light-years from their original destination, they must forge new alliances and work together to survive. Stranded with the Robinsons are unsettlingly charismatic Dr. Smith and inadvertently charming Don West, two outsiders who are thrown together by circumstance and a mutual knack for deception.
I never watched the original Lost in Space and this series debuted during a time when Netflix was getting a ton of shit for their less than stellar Sci-Fi outings like Cloverfield Whatever and Altered Carbon. But, thanks to it’s gorgeous special and practical effects, Lost in Space immediately stands out because it looks like it has a major film budget and the cast are killing it. I’m a huge fan of Toby Stephens (Black Sails) so having him play the grizzled father of the Robinson family was an excellent choice, but it’s the kids who steal the show. Maxwell Jenkins, Taylor Russell and Mina Sundwall are all very believable in their roles and even when the series reaches such spectacular sci-fi levels of chaos, it’s this cast of humans that manage to ground the show and make it relatable and intriguing all the way through a tremendous debut season. I’m so happy this series turned out great – Netflix needed a sci-fi win and Lost in Space delivered big time.
#5. Cooking on High (Netflix)
“Cooking on High” is a culinary competition series that has a specific element that distinguishes it from other shows in the genre. That distinguishing factor is that each recipe prepared on the show must contain cannabis, and enough of the drug to get the judges high. Each episode pits two chefs against each other in a single round, with the challenge of creating a dish based on a particular theme and using the chosen strain of marijuana. The contestant who earns the higher score is awarded a golden pot (the kind you cook with). Despite the marijuana-centric aspect of the show, the contestants are legitimate chefs, with backgrounds that include working as executive chefs and being trained at Le Cordon Bleu. YouTube personality Josh Leyva hosts, with comic and noted cannabis enthusiast Ngaio Bealum serving as the resident “culinary weed expert.”
Every time weed expert Ngaio Bealum’s cracks that infectious laugh of his when someone makes a stoned remark you can’t help but laugh along with the shenanigans as several high people eat food infused with marijuana. The episodes are under 15 minutes long and they’re hilarious. All cooking shows should be R-Rated, contain weed and be josted by Josh Leyva. The loose structure and absurd judging choices make Cooking on High one of the most entertaining and culturally relevant reality shows on television right now. It’s only a matter of time until the Food network creates “Getting Baked with Bobby Flay”, but when that happens it won’t have shit on Ngaio Bealum coming out to talk about which strain of weed the cooks have to mix into their food. Also – you get to see just how stoned the judges get after eating and it’s never not hysterical.
#4. Atlanta (FX)
Atlanta is one of the top cities for young rappers looking to make a name for themselves in the business. Among those up-and-comers is Alfred Miles, a hot new artist who is trying to understand the line between real life and street life. He is managed by his cousin, Earn, who gets caught up in the local rap scene and his cousin’s career after returning home to the ATL. Earn does whatever he can to try to get Alfred’s career to the next level. Darius, the rapper’s right-hand man and visionary, is also in Alfred’s entourage. When Earn isn’t busy managing his cousin’s career, he spends much of his time with best friend Vanessa, who is also the mother of his daughter.
Atlanta season 2 was all over the place. But in a great way. Donald Glover decided to take so many side-steps to the main narrative that the results could have been disastrous or just as mixed as Westworld Season 2, but even as crazy as these episodes became, everything came together in the end wonderfully. Atlanta even felt like Tales From The Crypt at times, became the stories would get so dark and grim. The episode where Darius (Lakeith Stanfield) meets Teddy (PLAYED BY DONALD GLOVER – WHAT?!?) in that nightmare home (picture above) is one of 2018’s biggest surprises. Glover decided to take a backseat and let Atlanta truly become an ensemble series by giving more time to his castmates and he nailed it. Atlanta was bigger, stranger and more compelling than the first season because of the creative risks Glover took and I love that he was willing to get so damn weird when he could have played it safe.
#3. The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story (FX)
The Assassination of Gianni Versace, explores the murder of designer Gianni Versace by serial killer Andrew Cunanan, based on Maureen Orth‘s book Vulgar Favors: Andrew Cunanan, Gianni Versace, and the Largest Failed Manhunt in U. S. History.
Darren Criss’ performance as spree killer Andrew Cunanan is legendary. Think American Psycho meets Taxi Driver and we’re starting to get the whole picture here. Criss deserves every single acting award coming his way. I know that the title of the series has Versace in it, but American Crime Story is all about Andrew Cunanan. We dive deep into the psyche of a killer and although we will never know WHY he did what he did, you will damn sure have a better understanding what led Cunanan down this path of death. Writer Tom Rob Smith doesn’t sympathise with Cunanan so much as peel back the layers of mystery of his life, so that viewers get the entire story, including that of his victims who all deserved to have their stories told in a profound way. (full review HERE)
#2. Legion (FX)
David Haller is a troubled young man who was diagnosed with schizophrenia as a child. Shuffled from one psychiatric institution to the next, in his early 30s, David met and fell in love with a beautiful and troubled fellow patient named Syd. After a startling encounter with her, he was forced to confront the shocking possibility that the voices he hears and the visions he sees may actually be real. Syd led David to Melanie Bird, a demanding but nurturing therapist who heads a team of specialists — Ptonomy, Kerry, and Cary — each of whom possesses a unique and extraordinary gift. Together, they helped David to recognize and harness his hidden abilities and unlock a deeply suppressed truth — he had been haunted his entire life by a malicious parasite of unimaginable power.
It’s hard to talk about Legion without getting confused or spoilery, but let’s just say that by the end of Legion’s SHOCKING second season finale, I’m convinced that series showrunner Noah Hawley is a genius. His work on Fargo was splendid, but his unbridled and unhinged direction of Legion is mindblowing. There is no other Marvel adaptation this creative or groundbreaking and I’m floored that FX is letting him so loose with his strange set pieces, which include both a dance fight and song battle this season. Because Legion’s major set pieces and action beats tend to take place within the characters’ minds, we can get freaky and that usually results in something that can be confusing for the viewer but it’s never not entertaining as Hell. Navid Negahban joined the cast this season as the true form of The Shadow King and he did an incredible career-defining job as the big bad ‘villain’. There is no other show like Legion on television. It makes you think in ways you never knew you needed to while watching television and it plants little seeds in your head that you had no idea were ever there until the show takes such twisted and unconventional plot turns that you can’t help but sit back and be floored at how clever the writing team was who crafted this bizarre work of art.
#1. Happy! (SyFy)
Based on the graphic novel of the same name, Nick Sax is a corrupt, intoxicated, ex-cop turned hit man who is adrift in a twilight world of casual murder, soulless sex, and betrayal. After a hit goes wrong, Nick finds a bullet in his side, the cops and the mob on his tail, and a monstrous killer on the loose. But his world is about to be changed forever by a tiny, imaginary, blue-winged horse with a relentlessly positive attitude named Happy. On their journey, they must contend with a laundry list of enemies including angry mobsters, ex-mistresses, ex-wives, and one very bad Santa.
Thanks to Brian Taylor’s insane vision, SyFy has a genuine hit on their hands with this insane, complex, hilarious, disturbing and downright genius smallscreen adaptation of Grant Morrison and Darick Robertson’s Image comic mini-series. Not only is this leading man Christopher Meloni’s best acting performance since HBO’s OZ, but it could be his best ever and that goes for his little imaginary sidekick Happy himself, voiced by Patton Oswalt to perfection. Happy! goes places that the SyFy network has never dared to go before. Happy! is loaded with F-Bombs, giant insects getting blowjobs, imaginary friends fighting to the death (yes Happy isn’t the only little magical creature here) and there’s even what seems like a demonic entity that is possessing certain individuals in the cast. (full review HERE)
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