Disclaimer: While we’ve done our best to avoid spoiling anything too important, please note that this list includes some specific references to You, Midnight Mass, Foreign resident, Post mortem, Snowdrops, Lupine, Its dark materials, and Wellington Paranormal, among others.
Months of lockdown in 2020 meant fewer movies but more quality TV content than ever before, much of it from streaming platforms rather than traditional TV. However, many of these shows were already in the works. We were concerned that the inevitable production shutdowns could result in reduced supply for 2021, as the industry had to contend with rising production costs and the continued fallout from an endless pandemic. And on.
Luckily, while there were indeed a few hiccups, we still had plenty of fantastic TV on hand to forget about the grim everyday reality, ranging from established franchises and quirky newcomers to imaginative adaptations and several overseas offerings coming up. turned out to be surprise successes. With our apologies for the many great shows we just didn’t have a place for on this year’s list, here are our favorite TV watches and frenzy for 2021, in no particular order:
Geekerati icon Alan Tudyk plays an alien (with an unpronounceable name) disguised as a small town doctor, Harry Vanderspiegle, who sets out to solve murders in Foreign resident. He learned English by watching Law and order, so at least he has some of the lingo down. The sci-fi comedy-drama is based on the Dark Horse comics created by Peter Hogan and Steve Parkhouse. Harry’s mission is to wipe out the human race for the good of the planet, but his resolve falters as he spends time in the small town of Patience, Colorado.
Harry is assisted by Asta Twelvetrees (Sara Tomko), who teaches him basic social cues. He is tormented by a young boy named Max (Judah Prehn), the only person in town who can see Harry’s true form. (Harry’s attempts to kill Max to protect his alien identity are hilarious, and their mutual taunts end up reluctantly relaxing.) There’s also the very insecure town sheriff, Mike (Corey Reynolds). , who insists on being called Big Black, and his long-suffering assistant, Liv (Elizabeth Bowen), who is far more competent than Mike thinks. The owner of local bar D’Arcy (Alice Wetterlund) is a former Olympic skier who returned home after a career-ending injury. She and promiscuous Julia (Jenna Lamia), who owns the bowling alley, compete (to no avail) for Harry’s romantic attentions.
Tudyk’s comedic gifts are at the heart of the show’s success, but he’s ably backed by the rest of the cast, and the writers clearly adore these small town characters and have done a terrific job of tapping them for all the humor. by developing deeper narrative arcs. Bonus points for the surprise cameos of Nathan Fillion as the telepathic voice of an octopus in a restaurant tank who converses with Harry – this implies that their respective species are closely related – and Linda Hamilton as General McCallister, who has previously saw a UFO as a child and has been looking for evidence that aliens have been around ever since. Real life ufologist Giorgio A. Tsoukalos, of Ancient aliens fame (or infamy worthy of a meme), also makes a cameo appearance at a UFO convention in the S1 finale. Foreign resident is a comedic gem, and I can’t wait for S2.
–Jennifer Ouellette, Senior Editor
Star Trek: Lower Bridges
Two seasons in, and Star Trek: Lower decks always seems to be a proposition of love or hate for people who were weaned in the 90s Star trek shows. Well, put me in the “I love” camp: of the four Trek programs being broadcast, Lower decks is easily my favorite.
Lower decks succeeds because he knows his subject inside out – it’s a rich commentary on the original shows, but he also understands why The next generation, Deep Space New, and Traveler all worked when firing at full capacity. A typical episode of its second season more confident simultaneously parodies the old Trek episodes while being just solid to excellent episodes of Star trek, and that makes for a refreshing break from the heavily serialized (and often exhausting) drama of Discovery and Picard.
—Andrew Cunningham, Senior Technology Journalist
Snowdrops is the television adaptation of TNT 2013 movie of the same name, directed by Bong Joon-ho, about the remains of humanity trying to survive an ice age inside a 1,001 car train. The train is run by a reclusive transport mogul named Mr Wilford, who has separated passengers by class and has a nefarious plan to ensure life on the train remains sustainable. The television series is set seven years after the climate catastrophe that produced the “Freeze”.
Daveed Diggs plays Andre Layton, a prisoner at the back of the train who finds himself caught in a revolutionary struggle against the social hierarchy imposed on board Snowdrops. Jennifer Connelly shares the limelight as First Class Passenger Melanie Cavill, who is the voice of the train, responsible for daily public announcements and for the smooth running of the train (both mechanically and socially).
S1 has been a bit slow but has shifted into high gear for the last few episodes, ending in a cliffhanger twist: the reappearance of Mr. Wilford (Sean Bean), with Melanie’s presumed dead daughter Alex (Rowan Blanchard) . Fortunately, the pacing issues have been resolved with S2.
Freed from the burden of building an elaborate fictional world, showrunner Graeme Manson and his team of writers delved into the complicated relationships, political machinations, and shifting political loyalties that inevitably arose with Wilford’s unexpected return. Ultimately, S2 was owned by Sean Bean, whose portrayal of Wilford gave the series the charismatic, larger-than-life (human) villain it needed to really raise the emotional stakes. He brings just the right mix of sadistic flamboyance and playful cruelty to the character – the proverbial match cast into what was already a potentially explosive situation.
–Jennifer Ouellette, Senior Editor