TV reviews & opinions from 2017

Twin Thrones.

In the second year—2017—of writing TV series reviews, Akhil Arora went to 2256, Westeros, and five minutes into the future.

Black Mirror Season 4 USS Callister

Black Mirror: Season 4

“The fourth season of [Charlie] Brooker’s show … revisits some familiar themes in a new approach, while expanding the topics it tackles in frightening new ways. And when everything clicks in place, Black Mirror is still one of the smartest shows around, giving us a prescient look at our inevitable future if we act before we think.”

Star Trek Discovery

Star Trek: Discovery

“Essentially, Discovery has used war and violence the way HBO shows use nudity, to draw audiences in, and will then pivot into the kind of show it wants to be. It’s why Game of Thrones cares a lot less about asking its actors to undress now because it already has our attention.”

Marvel's The Punisher

Marvel’s The Punisher

The Punisher is far from a publicity grab on the growing popularity of Marvel superheroes and pushes the notion of what we’ve come to expect from Netflix vigilante dramas. Thanks to Castle’s propensity for gunfire and Micro’s use of technology, the new series can deliver action sequences that will feel fresh to Marvel fans, and contribute to making a show that truly understands the character, warts and all.”

Marvel's Runaways

Marvel’s Runaways

Runaways doesn’t just follow the kids’ adventures, but also places a heavy focus on the adults, making for a total cast of 16. The show is centred on both generations—a staple of Schwartz and Savage’s, who are masters of weaving older characters into teen shows—giving them equal screen time in early episodes. And oh, did we tell you there’s a dinosaur in the mix?”

Blue Planet II

Blue Planet II

“Sixteen years later, and four years in the making, Blue Planet II—the sequel with a wiser and older Sir David Attenborough in the same role—has arrived, promising us a better view thanks to improvements to technology.”

Stranger Things 2

Stranger Things 2

“By allowing the kids gang to branch into their own sub-plots and inter-linking that to explore their evolving friendship, creating a bigger universe of monsters that provides action-packed thrills, and honing the art of the unexpected while knowing when to upend existing tropes, Stranger Things is a more refined version of itself in the new season.”

Rick and Morty

Rick and BoJack

“Both like to deal with our place in the universe and their shared love of subversive and upending tropes tends to leave the characters in psychological distress (rather than moments of shared joy) more often than not.”

Marvel's The Defenders

Marvel’s The Defenders

The Defenders tries so hard to drive up the stakes, but since ultimately everyone who has their own solo series must come out of it unscathed, there are no real stakes. Despite the ubiquity of superheroes today, there are not enough stories that are willing to send their heroes to the darkest of ends, after they’ve been put through the wringer.”

The Tick

The Tick

“For some audiences, that might feel a tad too heavy, especially in what originated as a superhero parody. This Amazon version of The Tick does feel it’s like attempting a balancing act, of playing out as an action-packed superhero comedy, as well as creating a more sombre tone by exploring the emotions under the surface.”

Jon Snow Game of Thrones Season 7

Game of Thrones: Season 7

“[The] books are called A Song of Ice and Fire for a reason. Jon is the son of Lyanna Stark (Ice) and Rhaegar Targaryen (Fire), which literally makes him the title of the series; the show’s name—Game of Thrones—comes from the title of the first book. He can bring Westeros together in a way no ruler can.”

Silicon Valley Season 4

Silicon Valley: Season 4

“Of course, it helps that the people out in the real world contribute so easily to satire—so much of what happens in the Bay Area seems stranger than fiction—and the show’s writers extensively research what goes into the episodes, including sitting down with the heads of the tech giants.”

American Gods Shadow Moon

American Gods

“Those moments and asides have given us the season’s best moments—an empowering gay scene involving an Omani native, and commentary on vigilante gun violence and Mexican immigrants among others—which have hopefully shone through despite American Gods’ emphasis on experience over narrative. Now, we pray and wait for season two.”

Kyle MacLachlan Twin Peaks The Return

Twin Peaks: The Return

“Yet for all its flaws, it’s great that [David] Lynch isn’t simply interested in revisiting the glory days of Twin Peaks. A lesser showrunner would have given us more of what audiences loved from the show’s first season, the perfect nostalgia throwback to the past. Instead, Lynch is serving a continuation of the story 25 years later, while still being its own wacky thing.”

Elisabeth Moss in The Handmaid's Tale

The Handmaid’s Tale

“The show—like [Margaret] Atwood’s book—is a fictional representation of a future that has existed in the past, or exists in parts today, if you know where to look. It argues for us to be eternally vigilant, and by way of Offred’s tale, it shows us why that’s so important.”

The Expanse Season 2

The Expanse: Season 2

“The show’s events, based on a series of books written by James S A Corey—a joint pen name for writers Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck—take place over two hundred years from our time, mostly across three different societies living millions of miles away from each other. But the show is still strikingly relevant, and even prescient in other matters.”

MST3K Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return

Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return

“Funnily enough, thanks to Netflix, MST3K does live right on my phone now. And just like that, the show’s return—after an incredible gap of 18 years—is proof that even the wildest dreams can come true for fans thanks to our new golden age of television. Finally, we’ve got movie sign again.”

Dan Stevens as David Haller in Legion


“[These tools exist for everyone. But no other TV show before Legion, outside the realm of animation, has cobbled all of it together for sheer appeal. In [Noah] Hawley’s hands, Legion is an aesthetically indulgent cocktail of everything under the sun, that keeps away from turning into a jumbled mess, but rather presents itself as a fascinating fever dream, inspired by numerous horror pieces of past decades.”

Netflix logo

Making TV for the world

“When it comes to content recommendation, Netflix looks at your likes from the time you signed up, the titles you bother to rate, and much more importantly—what you watch, and how much you watch it. Shifting from a five-star rating system to a binary option—thumbs up or thumbs down—is again part of that, as Yellin believes what you say with thumbs is a lot more relevant than what you say with stars.”

Kanan Gill Amazon stand-up OML

Amazon’s first Indian stand-up specials

“If Amazon is truly interested in being more inclusive, it may well need to look beyond its current partnership. […] ‘If their logic is ‘there isn’t anybody good enough’, then you know there’s a problem,‘ says [Aditi] Mittal. [Radhika] Vaz thinks the men in the industry need to be much more vocal about the issues, and even more conscious when they’re setting up a show.”