You’ve seen some of the more prominent awards (read Part 1), now let’s move onto some of the specialty awards.
Coming Into Its Own Award: Girl Meets World
As the second season of the continuation of a beloved 90s sitcom continued, Girl Meets World started to find its voice without the old cast getting in the way. Like Farkle (Corey Fogelmanis), who matured into something better as he grew older, so too has the show started to mature along with its cast. Though I still feel that a lot of the writing is forced — that is to say, the lessons aren’t as organic as they were on the original show — as Girl Meets World grows, its finding its way a lot more, culminating in a three-part episode that showed it wasn’t afraid to reach deep for emotions. As Riley (Rowan Blanchard) and Maya (Sabrina Carpenter) started exploring their feelings for each other as well as for their shared love of Lucas (Peyton Meyer), the show wasn’t afraid to stop mining for laughs and develop the drama in a creative, more realistic way. If its true that the show will continue to evolve into more dramatic fare and “real issues” that look to capture those strong moments while still being funny and sweet, then I’m excited to see what they’ll continue to do as season 3 progresses.
Best Twist: Heroes Reborn
The resurrection of this once cult show (at least in its first season, before it was derailed by its own self-indulgence) gave us a slow burn introduction to new breed of Evos (that is, humans who have evolved to acquire enhanced powers). But after a devastating terrorist attack on an Evo convention sent HRG (aka Noah Bennett (Jack Coleman)) searching for answers about the attack and the loss of his daughter, Claire (Hayden Panettiere), we meandered through a series of less-than-stellar story arcs. Then, Noah talked time-traveling Hiro (Masi Oka) into taking him back to that fateful day. The two-part episode not only answered almost every question the show had posed thus far, but it dug its claws into the mythology, revealing that Claire died giving birth to twins, who would turn out to be Tommy Clark (Robbie Kay) and Malina Bennett (Danika Yarosh). The entire idea brought back the fascination of that first season vibe and made the show worth watching once again.
Most Surprising Death: Norma Bates (Vera Farmiga), Bates Motel
The end of the 2015-2016 television season was not kind to a lot of its actors. First, Charles Pike (Michael Beach) put a bullet in the most established (and first revealed) grounder, Lincoln (Ricky Whittle), on The 100; then Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy) was sent her pink slip on Arrow; Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie) saw her final dance on Sleepy Hollow; and The Originals snuffed out not one but two(!) of its original cast members — Klaus’s (Joseph Morgan) on-again-off-again love interest, Cammie (Leah Pipes), and teenage witch Davina Clair (Danielle Campbell). All of these deaths were in some form or another shocking (I didn’t include The Blacklist‘s Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone), as she didn’t really die… as expected), but none could have been more shocking to this guy than Bates Motel‘s Norma Bates, not because it happened — after all, it was always meant to be — but because it happened so soon. I always expected that Norma would meet her demise in one of, if not the last episode of the series, thus setting up what would become Norman in Psycho. But lo and behold, the creative team decided to end her life in the second to last episode of its killer fourth season, setting itself up for a very intriguing season 5. Freddie Highmore already does a terrific job channeling Vera Farmiga; now we get to see how he handles mother while she’s rotting away in his basement.
Most Disappointing Milestone Episode: The Big Bang Theory
I am a big fan of The Big Bang Theory, and have been since its infancy, so I expected a lot when it came to their 200th episode. I’m not saying the episode was bad; there were still plenty of laughs to be had, as well as some touching and sentimental anecdotes as the gang celebrated Sheldon’s birthday. But there seemed to be something missing throughout the entire thing, as if the writers somehow couldn’t figure out how to celebrate their own milestone. Rather than returning to the show’s roots and delivering a comically genius bit of silliness, sarcasm and tight writing, they chose to slide by and hope that fans didn’t notice. I did.
Oddest premise that actually works: Lucifer
At first glance, Lucifer leaving Hell to hang out on the surface and join forces with a by-the-book detective seems inane and stupid. Little did I expect that Tom Ellis’s personality could be so magnetically captivating. Ellis grabs your attention with every word that oozes from his mouth — it doesn’t matter what he says, it all sounds so glamorous and important. Then to witness a character like his, who not only doesn’t try to hide his identity, but flaunts it every chance he gets, is fun and exciting. Add on top of that a chemistry with Lauren German’s Detective Chloe Decker (not to mention the rest of the cast, which mix and blend together in a spicy stew), and you get one high-energy, amusing, entertaining buddy-cop show that’s so much more than you’d ever believe it to be.
Most blatant attempt to capitalize on previous success: Minority Report
About halfway through the first episode of Minority Report, I couldn’t help but feel a slight hint of deja vu. Here we had a black female cop teaming up with a white male who has information she can use to solve recent crimes. By the end of the episode, she has all but offered him a consulting position in the police force, making sure to hide his true identity from all of those involved. Sound familiar? It should. Minus the time-traveling aspect, it’s pretty much the same premise as Sleepy Hollow, which hit big for FOX two years ago. So the studio heads did what they could to recreate that success, but lightning is very hard to manufacture. Add in the fact that this takes place a few years after the events in the Steven Spielberg/Tom Cruise film of the same name, Minority Report felt more like a copy than anything remotely original.
Worst Farewell: American Idol
American Idol was a juggernaut for FOX, helping raise its audience extensively to the point it was able to play with the Big Three. So it’s a shame that FOX completely screwed their baby with a shortened season that saw contestants booted off faster than they do on The Voice and a finale episode that gave this year’s top ten the shaft. Instead of nurturing and supporting the show that helped change the television landscape, the entire season felt as if FOX couldn’t get rid of their drunk uncle fast enough, showing very little respect to the contestants and their fans. The judges didn’t help, as they slept walked through pretty much the entire thing. Yes, the finale episode was terrific, but it should have been a completely separate episode, allowing this year’s top ten one last chance to show America why they were chosen to participate in the first place (and maybe get to sing with a celebrity they admire).
Characters in need of a spinoff: Maya Hart (Sabrina Carpenter), Katy Hart (Cheryl Texiera) and Shawn Hunter (Rider Strong) from Girl Meets World
From the first time Rider Strong made an appearance on Girl Meets World, the chemistry between Maya and Shawn has been electric. Pairing him with Maya’s mother was also a smart move (sorry Angela fans!), and now that they’re officially married, should Michael Jacobs and Disney decide not to renew Girl Meets World for a fourth season, I’d love to see them spin this family off into their own series. Now that would be pure magic.
Actor who’s better than the show: Henry Ian Cusick on Rush Hour
In the extraordinarily poor remake of an excellent film, there were a couple of actors that had no reason being present in such recycled tripe. The most egregious was Henry Ian Cusick, who’s such a good actor, it was clear he reluctantly lowered his standards to do someone a favor. Luckily, Cusick only appeared in the pilot episode, but next time, Henry, skip the trash and stick with the thought-provoking material you’ve elevated with your kinetic wonder.
Come back tomorrow for the last of the 2016 television awards, including the best doppelgänger, the most noticeable trend and the best end to a long-gestating story arc. (Go to Part 3 now.)