The Conversation Starter

It was hard to pick our top 10 movie selections – but the quality of television made it difficult to even leave our couches. So many shows (e.g. Game of Thrones, Sherlock) now deliver mini-movie episodes every week that look like big budget, big screen spectacles. And now, streaming services like Netflix and Amazon just dump entire seasons on us to ignite rampant binge watching. OTT services and cable networks have become crack dealers and we are either addicted junkies or compulsive hoarders with overflowing DVRs and instant queues.

So here’s what we hoarded or became addicted to in 2016:

Game of Thrones (HBO) – Let’s get this out of the way. GoT is like that professional athlete that delivers so many great performances night in and night out that it becomes boring. The show doesn’t carry as much buzz as it used to (typical when you get to six seasons), but it still brings the goods and prompts plenty of water cooler chatter week after week at the office. With dragons, zombies, flesh-eating dogs and uppity bastards, this show is TV’s most epic.

Preacher (AMC) – During the lunch hour on any given summer weekday, you would find at Penna Powers a gaggle of gamers and geeks enthralled by the latest episode of this gonzo AMC series. Yet another comic adapted to the small screen, this one goes pretty far off the rails from any normal TV show. That’s a good thing according to our creative department. If you share a love of Preacher, they might kiss you on the Arseface.

This is Us (NBC) – Because we need to have a least one broadcast network show on our list. This is the perfect Parenthood replacement that will make you cry, laugh and get mad at yourself for laughing and crying.

Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life (Netflix) – Netflix is pretty good at resurrecting old beloved shows. They didn’t do so well with Fuller House (despite big audiences, at least according to Netflix) but nailed it with this one. Cue more laughing and crying.

Daredevil (Netflix) – Another favorite for the Penna Powers’ creative department. Daredevil’s Season 2 was certainly no sophomore slump, despite what people have said. We’re glad Shane from Walking Dead got resurrected to keep his unbridled rage-flame burning as the Punisher.

The Crown (Netflix) – Seriously, stop making such great shows Netflix – it might go to your head and then you’ll start making really crappy stuff. But in the meantime, Penna Powers dug The Crown, which explores the rise of Queen Elizabeth II, when she first took the crown at the age of 25. If you’re having Downton Abbey withdrawals, this may be the costume drama for you.

Atlanta (FX) – If you enjoyed Donald Glover and the meta-comedy of Community, you might like this one. FX pretty much gave Glover the keys to the car to drive wherever he wanted. The road had lots of curves and rest stops, but it took us to a place TV’s never been. Never has a series created such a unique sense of place and time – it’s like he mixed Coen brothers absurdist humor with Spike Lee, Kanye West and Samuel Beckett. Now go watch it.

Black Mirror (Netflix) – The Twilight Zone for the new generation – this anthology series focuses on the scary side of technology and extrapolates the terrifying conclusion of what may happen as a result of our “progress”.  Season 3 dropped a healthy dose of six episodes. You’ll want to permanently tape up your laptop camera or go off the grid entirely after watching (with the exception of the unusually positive “San Junipero” episode). Warning: trailer video has some salty language – those bloody Brits.

Westworld (HBO) – HBO’s hoping Westworld will be it’s next Game of Thrones. The ratings have been good and the show has stirred up online discussion forums debating and conjecturing each episode. The series has certainly begged more questions than delivered answers, but the intrigue is contagious and addictive. And Anthony Hopkins is at his best, delivering a calm yet mad scientist version of his Hannibal Lecter character.

Stranger Things (Netflix) – We saved the best for last. The overwhelming favorite for the Penna Powers staff was this eight-part series that dropped out of nowhere over the summer.  If you were to mix the eighties versions of Steven Spielberg, Stephen King and John Carpenter, all the while keeping the rating at an usual and somewhat family-friendly TV-14 (OTT services and premium cable seem to relish the TV-MA rating), you would get Stranger Things. Take 11 by the hand for a trip to the Upside Down world and witness outstanding performances from Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Matthew Modine and the best kids cast assembled since Super 8. And please keep a candle lit for our beloved Barb and her puffy jeans.

Honorable Mentions: Mr. Robot, Billions, Shamless, New Girl, Madame Secretary, Luke Cage, Silicon Valley, Veep, Insecure, Atlanta, Narcos, Arrow, Flash, Supergirl, Last Week Tonight, Broad City, The Good Wife, Scandal, The Great Indoors, Ray Donovan, Goliath, The Path, Catastrophe, How to Get Away With Murder, Candle Cove

What did you watch in 2016? Let us know in the comments! Check out our 2016 movie selections and keep refreshing for more end of year selections from the Penna Powers staff.

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